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´╗┐Title: Peter Schlemihl
Author: Chamisso, Adelbert von, 1781-1838
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Peter Schlemihl" ***

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Transcribed from the 1861 Robert Hardwicke edition by David Price, email






   "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
   Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."--SHAKSPEAKE.




{Schlemihl giving his shadow away: p0.jpg}



Adelung said to me one day at Petersburg--"Have you read Peter
Schlemihl?"--"No."--"If you read it, you will translate it."--I have
translated it.

The story is a moral one.  I leave its development to my readers.  It
would be little flattering to them to suspect they required my
assistance, in order to discover the obvious lessons it conveys.

I have not scrupled to introduce a few verbal alterations; but the
deviations from the original are very trifling.


To my Friend Wangner

Come to the land of shadows for awhile,
And seek for truth and wisdom!  Here below,
In the dark misty paths of fear and woe,
We weary out our souls and waste our toil;
But if we harvest in the richer soil
Of towering thoughts--where holy breezes blow,
And everlasting flowers in beauty smile--
No disappointment shall the labourer know.
Methought I saw a fair and sparkling gem
In this rude casket--but thy shrewder eye,
WANGNER! a jewell'd coronet could descry.
Take, then, the bright, unreal diadem!
Worldlings may doubt and smile insultingly,
The hidden stores of truth are not for _them_.

J. B.

To the Same, from Fouque

We must, dear Edward, protect the history of poor Schlemihl--and so
protect it that it may be concealed from the eyes that are not to look
into it.  This is a disagreeable business; for of such eyes there is a
multitude, and what mortal can decide what shall be the fate of a MS.
which is more hard to guard than even an uttered word.  In truth, I feel
as if my head were turning round, and in my anguish jump into the
abyss--let the whole affair be printed!

But, Edward! there are really stronger and better grounds for this
decision.  Unless I am wholly deceived, there beat in our beloved Germany
many hearts which are able and worthy to understand poor Schlemihl, and a
tranquil smile will light upon the countenance of many an honest
countryman of ours at the bitter sport in which life with him--and the
simple sport in which he with himself is engaged.  And you, Edward, you,
looking into this so sincerely-grounded book, and thinking how many
unknown hearts this may learn with us to love it--you will let a drop of
balsam fall into the deep wound, which death hath inflicted upon you and
all that love you.

And to conclude: there is--I know there is, from manifold experience--a
genius that takes charge of every printed book and delivers it into the
appropriate hands, and if not always, yet very often keeps at home the
undeserving: that genius holds the key to every true production of heart
and soul, and opens and closes it with never-failing dexterity.

To this genius, my much beloved Schlemihl! I confide thy smiles and thy
tears, and thus to God commend them.


_Neunhausen_, _May_ 31, 1814.

To Fouque, from Hitzig

We have done, then, the desperate deed: there is Schlemihl's story which
we were to preserve to ourselves as our own secret, and lo! not only
Frenchmen and Englishmen, Dutchmen and Spaniards have translated it, and
Americans have reprinted it from the English text, as I announced to my
own erudite Berlin, but now in our beloved Germany a new edition appears
with the English etchings, which the illustrious Cruikshank sketched from
the life, and wider still will the story be told.  Not a word didst thou
mutter to me in 1814, of the publication of the MS., and did I not deem
thy reckless enterprise suitably punished by the complaints of our
Chamisso, in his Voyage round the World from 1815 to 1818--complaints
urged in Chili and Kamtschatka, and uttered even to his departed friend
Tameramaia of Owahee, I should even now demand of you crowning

However--this by the by--bygones are bygones--and you are right in
this--that many, many friendly ones have looked upon the little book with
affection during the thirteen eventful years since it saw the world's
light.  I shall never forget the hour when I first read it to Hoffmann.
He was beside himself with delight and eagerness, and hung upon my lips
till I got to the end.  He could not wait, not he, to make the personal
acquaintance of the poet;--but though he hates all imitation, he could
not withstand the temptation to copy--though not very felicitously--the
idea of the lost shadow in the lost mirror picture of Crasinus Spekhn, in
his tale of the "Last Night of the Year."  Yes, even among children has
our marvellous history found its way, for on a bright winter evening, as
I was going up the Borough-street with its narrator, a boy busied with
his sledge laughed at him, upon which he tucked the boy under his bear-
skin mantle--you know it well--and while he carried him he remained
perfectly quiet until he was set down on the footway--and then--having
made off to a distance, where he felt safe as if nothing had happened, he
shouted aloud to his captor--"Nay, stop, Peter Schlemihl!"

Methinks, the honourable scarecrow, clad now in trist and fashionable
attire, may be welcome to those who never saw him in his modest kurtka of
1814.  These and those will be surprised in the botanizing,
circumnavigating--the once well-appointed Royal Prussian officer, in the
historiographer of the illustrious Peter Schlemihl, to discover a lyric
whose poetical heart is rightly fixed, whether he sing in Malayan or

Thanks, then, dear Fouque, heartfelt thanks, for the launching of the
first edition, and with our friends, receive my wishes for the prosperity
of the second.


_Berlin_, _January_, 1827.

* * * * *

With the second edition of Schlemihl, appeared Chamisso's Songs and
Ballads.  His Travels round the World, have also been published.  Among
his poetry are translations from various languages.


More than twenty years ago I translated "Peter Schlemihl."  I had the
advantage of the pen and genius of George Cruikshank, to make the work
popular, and two editions were rapidly sold.

At that time the real author was unknown.  Everybody attributed it to
Lamotte Fouque, on whose literary shoulders, indeed, Adelbert von
Chamisso placed the burden of its responsibilities.

The appearance of the English edition, I have reason to know--thanks to
the merit of Cruikshank's original and felicitous sketches--excited the
greatest delight in the mind of Chamisso.  In his autobiography he says
that "Peter" had been kindly received in Germany, but in England had been
renowned (_volksthumlich_).

Several English translations have since occupied the field.  Mine, as the
first-born, naturally claims its own heritage, though it has been long
out of print, and in the shape of a third edition, commends itself anew
to public patronage.


_January_, 1861.

To my old Friend, Peter Schlemihl.

Well! years and years have pass'd,--and lo! thy writing
   Comes to my hands again,--and, strange to say,
I think of times when the world's school, inviting
   Our early friendship, new before us lay;--
Now I can laugh at foolish shame--delighting
   In thee, for I am old--my hair is grey,--
And I will call thee friend, as then--not coldly,
But proudly to the world--and claim thee boldly.

My dear, dear Friend! the cunning air hath led me
   Through paths less dark and less perplexed than thine,
Struggling for blue, bright dawnings, have I sped me,
   But little, little glory has been mine.
Yet can the Grey Man boast not that he had me
   Fast by _my_ shadow!  Nay! he must resign
His claims on me,--my shadow's mine.  I boast it,--
I had it from the first, and never lost it.

On me--though guiltless as a child--the throng
   Flung all their mockery of thy naked being,--
And is the likeness then so very strong?
   They shouted for _my_ shadow--which, though seeing,
They swore they saw not--and, still bent on wrong,
   Said they were blind; and then put forth their glee in
Peals upon peals of laughter!  Well--we bear
With patience--aye, with joy--the conscience clear.

And what--what is the Shadow? may I ask ye,
   Who am myself so wearyingly asked.
Is it too high a problem, then, to task ye?
   And shall not the malignant world be tasked?
The flights of nineteen thousand days unmask ye,
   They have brought wisdom--in whose trains I basked,
And while I gave to shadows, being--saw
Being, as shadows, from life's scene withdraw.

Give me thy hand, Schlemihl--take mine, my friend:
   On, on,--we leave the future to the Grey Man,
Careless about the world,--our hearts shall blend
   In firmer, stronger union--come away, man!
We shall glide fast and faster towards life's end.
   Aye! let them smile or scorn, for all they say, man,
The tempests will be still'd that shake the deep,
And we in part sleep our untroubled sleep.


_Berlin_, _August_, 1834.

To Julius Edward Hitzig, from Adelbert von Chamisso.

You forget nobody, and surely you must remember one Peter Schlemihl, whom
you now and then met at my house in former days; a long-shanked fellow,
who had the credit of awkwardness because he was unpolished, and whose
negligence gave him an air of habitual laziness.  I loved him--you cannot
have forgotten, Edward, how often, in the spring-time of our youth, he
was the subject of our rhymes.  Once I recollect introducing him to a
poetical tea-party, where he fell asleep while I was writing, even
without waiting to hear anything read.  And that brings to my mind a
witty thing you said about him; you had often seen him, heaven knows
where and when, in an old black _kurtka_, {20} which in fact he always
wore, and you declared "he would be a lucky fellow if his soul were half
as immortal as his kurtka!"  So little did you value him.  I loved him, I
repeat; and to this Schlemihl, whom I had not seen for many a year, we
owe the following sheets.  To you, Edward, to you only, my nearest,
dearest friend--my better self, from whom I can hide no secret,--to you I
commit them; to you only, and of course to Fouque, who, like yourself, is
rooted in my soul--but to him as a friend alone, and not as a poet.  You
can easily imagine, how unpleasant it would be to me, if the secret
reposed by an honourable man, confiding in my esteem and sincerity,
should be exposed in the pillory of an _epopee_, or in any way distorted,
as if some miserable witling had engendered unnatural and impossible
things.  Indeed, I must frankly own it is a very shame that a history,
which another and cleverer hand might have exhibited in all its comic
force, has been reduced to mere insipidity by our good man's pen.  What
would not John Paul Richter have made of it!  In a word, my dear friend,
many who are yet alive may be named, but--

One word more on the way in which these leaves came into my hands.
Yesterday morning early--as soon as I was up--they were presented to me.
A strange man with a long grey beard, wearing a black, worn-out kurtka,
with a botanical case suspended at his side, and slippers over his boots,
on account of the damp rainy weather, inquired after me, and left these
papers behind him.  He pretended he came from Berlin.


_Kunersdorf_, 27 _Sept._, 1813.


At last, after a fortunate, but to me most tedious passage, we reached
our destined haven.  As soon as the boat had landed me on the shore, I
loaded myself with my little possessions, and forcing my way through the
swarming crowd, entered the first and meanest house distinguished by a
sign-board.  I ordered a chamber; the waiter measured me with a glance,
and sent me up to the garret.

I ordered fresh water, and inquired for the abode of Mr. Thomas Jones.
"Near the North gate, the first country house on the right-hand side; a
large new house of red and white marble, supported by many pillars."
Well; it was yet early; I opened my bundle, laid out my newly-turned
black coat, clad myself in my sprucest garments, put my letter of
introduction into my pocket, and bent my way to the man, who, I modestly
hoped, was destined to befriend me.

After I had gone through the long North-street, and reached the gate, I
saw the columns glimmering through the green trees.  "It is here, then,"
I thought.  I wiped the dust from my feet with my pocket-handkerchief,
arranged my cravat, and rung the bell.  The door flew open, the servants
narrowly examined me in the hall, but the porter at last announced me,
and I had the honour to be summoned into the park, where Mr. Jones was
walking with a small company.  I knew him instantly by his portly self-
complacency.  He received me tolerably well--as a rich man is wont to
receive a poor dependent devil; looked towards me, but without turning
from the rest of the company, and took from me the letter I held in my
hand.  "Aye, aye! from my brother; I have not heard from him a long time.
Is he well?  There"--he continued, addressing the company without waiting
for an answer, and pointed with the letter to a hill, "There I have
ordered a new building to be erected."  He broke the seal, but not the
conversation, of which wealth became the subject.  "He who is not the
master of at least a million," he interposed, "forgive the expression, is
a ragamuffin."--"That is true, indeed," exclaimed I, with full,
overflowing feeling.  He must have been pleased with the expression of my
concurrence, for he smiled on me and said, "Remain here, young friend: I
shall perhaps have time to tell you, by and by, what I think of it."  He
pointed to the letter, put it into his pocket, and turned again to the
company.  He then offered his arm to a young lady; other gentlemen were
busied with other fair ones; every one found some one to whom he attached
himself, and they walked towards the rose-encircled hill.

I lingered idly behind, for not a soul deemed me worthy of notice.  The
company was extremely cheerful, jocular, and witty; they spoke seriously
of trifles, and triflingly of serious matters; and I observed they
unconcernedly directed their satires against the persons and the
circumstances of absent friends.  I was too great a stranger to
understand much of these discussions; too much distressed and
self-retired to enter into the full merit of these enigmas.

We reached the rose-grove.  The lovely Fanny, the queen, as it seemed, of
the day, was capricious enough to wish to gather for herself a blooming
branch; a thorn pricked her, and a stream, as bright as if from damask
roses, flowed over her delicate hand.  This accident put the whole
company in motion.  English court-plaister was instantly inquired after.
A silent, meagre, pale, tall, elderly man, who stood next to me, and whom
I had not before observed, instantly put his hand into the close-fitting
breast-pocket of his old-fashioned, grey taffetan coat, took out a small
pocket-book, opened it, and with a lowly bow gave the lady what she had
wished for; she took it without any attention to the giver, and without a
word of thanks.  The wound was bound up, and they ascended the hill, from
whose brow they admired the wide prospect over the park's green
labyrinth, extending even to the immeasurable ocean.

It was indeed a grand and noble sight.  A light speck appeared on the
horizon between the dark waters and the azure heaven.  "A telescope,
here!" cried the merchant; and before any one from the crowds of servants
appeared to answer his call, the grey man, as if he had been applied to,
had already put his hand into his coat-pocket: he had taken from it a
beautiful Dollond, and handed it over to Mr. Jones; who, as soon as he
had raised it to his eye, informed the company that it was the ship which
had sailed yesterday, driven back by contrary winds.  The telescope
passed from hand to hand, but never again reached that of its owner.  I,
however, looked on the old man with astonishment, not conceiving how the
large machine had come out of the tiny pocket.  Nobody else seemed
surprised, and they appeared to care no more about the grey man than
about me.

Refreshments were produced; the rarest fruits of every climate, served in
the richest dishes.  Mr. Jones did the honours with easy, dignified
politeness, and for the second time directed a word to me: "Eat then, you
did not get this on your voyage."  I bowed, but he did not observe me: he
was talking to somebody else.

They would willingly have remained longer on the sod of the sloping hill,
and have stretched themselves over the outspread turf, had they not
feared its dampness.  "Now it would be enchanting," said somebody of the
company, "if we had Turkey carpets to spread here."  The wish was hardly
expressed ere the man in the grey coat had put his hand into his pocket,
and with modest, even humble demeanour, began to draw out a rich
embroidered Turkey carpet.  It was received by the attendants as a matter
of course, and laid down on the appointed spot.  Without further ceremony
the company took their stand upon it.  I looked with new surprise on the
man, the pocket, and the carpet, which was about twenty paces long, and
ten broad.  I rubbed my eyes, not knowing what to think, and especially
as nobody else seemed moved by what had passed.

I longed to learn something about the man, and to inquire who he was; but
I knew not to whom to apply, for I really was more afraid of the
gentlemen-servants than of the gentlemen served.  I mustered up my
spirits at last, and addressed myself to a young man who seemed less
pretending than the rest, and who had oftener been left to himself.  I
gently asked him, who that courteous gentleman was in grey clothes.--"Who?
he that looks like an end of thread blown away from a tailor's
needle?"--"Yes, he that stands alone."--"I do not know him," he answered;
and, determined, as it seemed, to break off the discussion with me,
turned away, and entered on a trifling conversation with somebody else.

The sun now began to shine more intensely, and to annoy the ladies.  The
lovely Fanny carelessly addressed the grey man, whom, as far as I know,
nobody had addressed before, with the frivolous question: "had he a
marquee?"  He answered with a low reverence, as if feeling an undeserved
honour had been done him; his hand was already in his pocket, from which
I perceived canvas, bars, ropes, iron-work--everything, in a word,
belonging to the most sumptuous tent, issuing forth.  The young men
helped to erect it; it covered the whole extent of the carpet, and no one
appeared to consider all this as at all extraordinary.

If my mind was confused, nay terrified, with these proceedings, how was I
overpowered when the next-breathed wish brought from his pocket three
riding horses.  I tell you, three great and noble steeds, with saddles
and appurtenances!  Imagine for a moment, I pray you, three saddled
horses from the same pocket which had before produced a pocket-book, a
telescope, an ornamented carpet twenty paces long and ten broad, a
pleasure-tent of the same size, with bars and iron-work!  If I did not
solemnly assure you that I had seen it, with my own eyes, you would
certainly doubt the narrative.

Though there was so much of embarrassment and humility in the man, and he
excited so little attention, yet his appearance to me had in it something
so appalling, that I was not able to turn away my eyes from him.  At last
I could bear it no longer.

I determined to steal away from the company; and this was easy for one
who had acted a part so little conspicuous.  I wished to hasten back to
the city, and to return in pursuit of my fortune the following morning to
Mr. J., and if I could muster up courage enough, to inquire something
about the extraordinary grey man.  Oh, had I been thus privileged to

I had hastily glided through the rose-grove, descended the hill, and
found myself on a wide grassplot, when, alarmed with the apprehension of
being discovered wandering from the beaten path, I looked around me with
enquiring apprehension.  How was I startled when I saw the old man in the
grey coat behind, and advancing towards me!  He immediately took off his
hat, and bowed to me more profoundly than any one had ever done before.
It was clear he wished to address me, and without extreme rudeness I
could not avoid him.  I, in my turn, uncovered myself, made my obeisance,
and stood still with a bare head, in the sunshine, as if rooted there.  I
shook with terror while I saw him approach; I felt like a bird fascinated
by a rattlesnake.  He appeared sadly perplexed, kept his eyes on the
ground, made several bows, approached nearer, and with a low and
trembling voice, as if he were asking alms, thus accosted me:--

"Will the gentleman forgive the intrusion of one who has stopt him in
this unusual way?  I have a request to make, but pray pardon . . ."--"In
the name of heaven, Sir!" I cried out in my anguish, "what can I do for
one who--"  We both started back, and methought both blushed deeply.

After a momentary silence he again began: "During the short time when I
enjoyed the happiness of being near you, I observed, Sir,--will you allow
me to say so--I observed, with unutterable admiration, the beautiful,
beautiful shadow in the sun, which with a certain noble contempt, and
perhaps without being aware of it, you threw off from your feet; forgive
me this, I confess, too daring intrusion, but should you be inclined to
transfer it to me?"

He was silent, and my head turned round like a water-wheel.  What could I
make of this singular proposal for disposing of my shadow?  He is crazy!
thought I; and with an altered tone, yet more forcible, as contrasted
with the humility of his own, I replied:

"How is this, good friend?  Is not your own shadow enough for you?  This
seems to me a whimsical sort of bargain indeed."  He began again, "I have
in my pocket many matters which might not be quite unacceptable to the
gentleman; for this invaluable shadow I deem any price too little."

A chill came over me: I remembered what I had seen, and knew not how to
address him who I had just ventured to call my good friend.  I spoke
again, and assumed an extraordinary courtesy to set matters in order.

"Pardon, Sir, pardon your most humble servant, I do not quite understand
your meaning; how can my shadow--"  He interrupted me: "I only beg your
permission to be allowed to lift up your noble shadow, and put it in my
pocket: how to do it is my own affair.  As a proof of my gratitude for
the gentleman, I leave him the choice of all the jewels which my pocket
affords; the genuine divining rods, mandrake roots, change pennies, money
extractors, the napkins of Rolando's Squire, and divers other miracle-
workers,--a choice assortment; but all this is not fit for you--better
that you should have Fortunatus's wishing-cap, restored spick and span
new; and also a fortune-bag which belonged to him."  "Fortunatus's
fortune-bag!" I exclaimed; and, great as had been my terror, all my
senses were now enraptured by the sound.  I became dizzy,--and nothing
but double ducats seemed sparkling before my eyes.

"Condescend, Sir, to inspect and make a trial of this bag."  He put his
hand into his pocket, and drew from it a moderately sized,
firmly-stitched purse of thick cordovan, with two convenient leather
cords hanging to it, which he presented to me.  I instantly dipped into
it, drew from it ten pieces of gold, and ten more, and ten more, and yet
ten more;--I stretched out my hand.  "Done! the bargain is made; I give
you my shadow for your purse."  He grasped my hand, and knelt down behind
me, and with wonderful dexterity I perceived him loosening my shadow from
the ground from head to foot;--he lifted it up;--he rolled it together
and folded it, and at last put it into his pocket.  He then stood erect,
bowed to me again, and returned back to the rose grove.  I thought I
heard him laughing softly to himself.  I held, however, the purse tight
by its strings--the earth was sun-bright all around me--and my senses
were still wholly confused.


At last I came to myself, and hastened from a place where apparently I
had nothing more to do.  I first filled my pockets with gold, then firmly
secured the strings of the purse round my neck, taking care to conceal
the purse itself in my bosom.  I left the park unnoticed, reached the
high road, and bent my way to the town.  I was walking thoughtfully
towards the gate, when I heard a voice behind me: "Holla! young Squire!
holla! don't you hear?"  I looked round--an old woman was calling after
me;--"Take care, sir, take care--you have lost your shadow!"--"Thanks,
good woman."--I threw her a piece of gold for her well-meant counsel, and
walked away under the trees.

At the gate I was again condemned to hear from the sentinel, "Where has
the gentleman left his shadow?" and immediately afterwards a couple of
women exclaimed, "Good heavens! the poor fellow has no shadow!"  I began
to be vexed, and carefully avoided walking in the sun.  This I could not
always do: for instance, in the Broad-street, which I was next compelled
to cross; and as ill-luck would have it, at the very moment when the boys
were being released from school.  A confounded hunch-backed vagabond--I
see him at this moment--had observed that I wanted a shadow.  He
instantly began to bawl out to the young tyros of the suburbs, who first
criticised me, and then bespattered me with mud: "Respectable people are
accustomed to carry their shadows with them when they go into the sun."  I
scattered handfuls of gold among them to divert their attention; and,
with the assistance of some compassionate souls, sprang into a hackney
coach.  As soon as I found myself alone in the rolling vehicle, I began
to weep bitterly.  My inward emotion suggested to me, that even as in
this world gold weighs down both merit and virtue, so a shadow might
possibly be more valuable than gold itself; and that, as I had sacrificed
my riches to my integrity on other occasions, so now I had given up my
shadow for mere wealth; and what ought, what could become of me?

I continued still sadly discomposed, when the coach stopped before the
old tavern.  I was shocked at the thought of again entering that vile
garret.  I sent for my baggage, took up the miserable bundle with
contempt, threw the servants some pieces of gold, and ordered to be
driven to the principal hotel.  The house faced the north, so I had
nothing to fear from the sun.  I dismissed the driver with gold, selected
the best front room, and locked myself in as soon as possible.

And how do you imagine I employed myself?  Oh! my beloved Chamisso, I
blush to confess it even to you.  I drew forth the luckless purse from my
bosom, and impelled by a sort of madness which burned and spread within
me like a furious conflagration, I shook out gold, and gold, and gold,
and still more gold;--strewed it over the floor, trampled on it, and made
it tinkle, and feasting my weak senses on the glitter and the sound, I
added pile to pile, till I sunk exhausted on the golden bed.  I rolled
about and wallowed in delicious delirium.  And so the day passed by, and
so the evening.  My door remained unopened, and night found me still
reposing on the gold, when sleep at length overcame me.

Then I dreamed of you.  I fancied I was standing close to the glass door
of your little apartment, and saw you sitting at your work-table, between
a skeleton and a parcel of dried plants.  Haller, Humboldt, and Linnaeus
lay open before you;--on your sofa were a volume of Goethe, and _The
Magic Ring_. {37}  I looked at you for a long time, then at everything
around you, and then at you again; but you moved not--you breathed
not--you were dead.

I awoke: it seemed to be yet early--my watch had stopped;--I felt as if I
had been bastinadoed--yet both hungry and thirsty, for since the previous
morning I had eaten nothing.  With weariness and disgust I pushed away
from me the gold, which but a little time before had satiated my foolish
heart: I now in my perplexity knew not how to dispose of it.  But it
could not remain there.  I tried to put it again into the purse--no; none
of my windows opened upon the sea.  I was obliged to content myself by
dragging it with immense labour and difficulty to a large cupboard, which
stood in a recess, where I packed it up.  I left only a few handfuls
lying about.  When I had finished my labour, I sat down exhausted in an
arm-chair, and waited till the people of the house began to stir.  I
ordered breakfast, and begged the landlord to be with me as soon as

With this man I arranged the future management of my household.  He
recommended to me for my personal servant a certain _Bendel_, whose
honest and intelligent countenance instantly interested me.  It was he,
who from that moment accompanied me through life with a sympathizing
attachment, and shared with me my gloomy destiny.  I passed the whole day
in my apartments with servants out of place, shoemakers, tailors, and
shopkeepers; I provided myself with all necessaries, and bought large
quantities of jewels and precious stones, merely to get rid of some of my
piles of gold; but it seemed scarcely possible to diminish the heap.

Meanwhile I contemplated my situation with most anxious doubts.  I dared
not venture one step from my door, and at evening ordered forty
wax-lights to be kindled in my saloon, before I left the dark chamber.  I
thought with horror of the dreadful scene with the schoolboys, and
determined, whatever it might cost, once more to sound public opinion.
The moon, at this season, illumined the night.  Late in the evening I
threw a wide cloak around me, pulled down my hat over my eyes, and glided
out of the house trembling like a criminal.  I walked first along the
shadows of the houses to a remote open place; I then abandoned their
protection, stepped out into the moonshine, resolving to learn my destiny
from the lips of the passers-by.

But spare me, my friend, the painful repetition of what I was condemned
to undergo!  The deepest pity seemed to inspire the fairer sex; but my
soul was not less wounded by this than by the contumely of the young, and
the proud disdain of the old, especially of those stout and well-fed men,
whose dignified shadows seemed to do them honour.  A lovely, graceful
maiden, apparently accompanying her parents, who seemed not to look
beyond their own footsteps, accidentally fixed her sparkling eyes upon
me.  She obviously started as she remarked my shadowless figure; she hid
her beautiful face beneath her veil, hung down her head, and passed
silently on.

I could bear it no longer.  Salt streams burst forth from my eyes, and
with a broken heart I hurried tremblingly back into darkness.  I was
obliged to grope along by the houses, in order to feel my steps secure,
and slowly and late I reached my dwelling.

That night was a sleepless one.  My first care at daybreak was to order
the man in the grey coat to be everywhere sought for.  Perchance I might
be lucky enough to discover him--and oh! what bliss if he as well as I
repented of our foolish bargain.  I sent for Bendel; he seemed both apt
and active.  I described to him minutely the man who held in his
possession that treasure, without which life was but a torment to me.  I
told him the time, the place where I had seen him; particularized to him
all the persons who could assist his inquiries; and added, that he should
especially ask after a Dollond's telescope, a gold embroidered Turkish
carpet, a superb tent, and also the black riding horses; whose history,--I
did not state how,--was closely connected with that of the unintelligible
man, whom nobody seemed to notice, and whose appearance had destroyed the
peace and happiness of my life.

When I had done, I brought out as much gold as I was able to carry.  I
laid jewels and precious stones to a still greater amount upon the pile.
"Bendel," I said, "this levels many a path, and makes many a difficult
thing easy; be not sparing, you know I am not; but go and rejoice your
master with the information on which his only hopes are built."

He went--he returned--and returned late and sorrowful.  None of the
merchant's servants, none of his guests--he had spoken to all--knew
anything about the man in the grey coat.  The new telescope was there,
but they were all ignorant whence it came.  The tent and the carpet were
extended on the same hill; the lackeys boasted of their master's
magnificence: but none knew from what place these new valuables had come.
They had administered to his pleasures; and he did not disturb his rest
to inquire into their origin.  Their horses were in the stalls of the
young men who had rode them; and they lauded the generosity of the
merchant, who had that day requested they would keep them as presents.
Such was the light that Bendel threw upon this extraordinary history, and
for this fruitless result received my grateful thanks.  I beckoned
gloomily to him that he should leave me alone.  But he resumed: "I have
informed you, sir, of everything connected with the affair which most
interests you.  I have also a message to deliver, which was given to me
this morning early, by a person whom I met at the door, while I was going
out on the business in which I have been so unfortunate.  His own words
were, "Say to Mr. Peter Schlemihl, he will see me here no more, as I am
going to cross the sea; and a favourable wind beckons me to the haven.
But after a year and a day I shall have the honour to seek him out, and
perhaps to propose to him another arrangement which may then be to his
liking.  Remember me most obediently to him, and assure him of my
thanks."  I asked him who he was: and he replied, that you knew.

"What was the man's appearance?" I cried, full of forebodings.  And
Bendel described the man in the grey coat, feature by feature, word for
word, precisely as he had depicted him, when inquiring about him.

"Miserable mortal!" exclaimed I, wringing my hands, "it was he! it was he
himself!"  He looked as if scales had fallen from his eyes.  "Yes, it was
he, it was indeed he!" he cried out in agony; "and I, silly, deluded one,
I did not know him--I did not know him--I have betrayed my master!"

He broke out into the loudest reproaches against himself.  He wept
bitterly; his despair could not but excite my pity.  I ministered
consolation to him; assured him again and again that I did not doubt his
fidelity, and sent him instantly to the haven, to follow the strange
man's steps if possible.  But, on that very morning, many vessels which
had been kept by contrary winds back in port, had put to sea, all
destined to distant lands and other climes; the grey man had disappeared
trackless as a shade.


Of what use would wings be to him who is fast bound in iron fetters?  He
must still despair, and despair with deeper melancholy.  I lay like
Taffner by his stronghold, far removed from any earthly consolation,
starving in the midst of riches.  They gave me no enjoyment; I cursed
them; they had cut me off from mankind.  Concealing my gloomy secret
within me, I trembled before the meanest of my servants, whom I could not
but envy: for he had his shadow, and could show himself in the sun.  Alone
in my apartments, I mourned through harassing days and nights, and
anguish fed upon my heart.

One individual was constantly sorrowing under my eyes.  My faithful
Bendel ceased not to torment himself with silent reproaches that he had
deceived the confidence of his generous master, and had not recognized
him whom he was sent to seek, and with whom my mournful fate seemed
strongly intertwined.  I could not blame him: I recognized too well in
that event the mysterious nature of the unknown being.

But, to leave nothing untried, I sent Bendel with a costly brilliant ring
to the most celebrated painter in the city, requesting he would pay me a
visit.  He came--I ordered away my servants--locked the door--sat myself
by him; and after praising his art, I came with a troubled spirit to the
great disclosure, having first enjoined on him the strictest secresy.

"Mr. Professor," I began, "can you paint a false shadow for one, who in
the most luckless way in the world has lost his own?"  "You mean a
reflected shadow?"--"To be sure."  "But," he added, "through what
awkwardness, or what negligence, could he lose his own shadow?"--"How it
happened," replied I, "that does not matter, but--" I impudently began
again with a lie,--"last winter, when he was travelling in Russia, it
froze so severely, during the extraordinary cold, that his shadow was
frozen to the ground, and it was impossible for him to get it free."

"And I," said the professor, "could only make him a sheet shadow, which
he would be apt to lose again on the slightest motion; especially for one
whose genuine shadow was so badly fixed, as must be inferred from your
account; the simplest and wisest determination for him who has no shadow,
is not to go in the sun."  He stood up and walked away, after having sent
through me a piercing glance which I could not endure.  I sunk back on my
chair, and veiled my face with my hands.

Thus Bendel found me when he entered.  He saw his master's sorrow, and
wanted silently and respectfully to turn back.  I raised my eyes: the
weight of my grief was upon me--I determined to divide it.  "Bendel!" I
called to him; "Bendel! you, who alone see and respect my sufferings, not
curiously prying into them, but secretly and devotedly sharing them with
me--come to me, Bendel, be the nearest to my heart.  The stores of my
gold I have not concealed from you: from you I will not hide the store of
my anguish.  Bendel, forsake me not.  You know I am wealthy, kind, and
generous, and perhaps you think the world should honour me for that: but,
you see, I shun the world; I hide myself from its observation.  Bendel,
the world has judged me and condemned me--and Bendel, too, perhaps, will
turn from me when he possesses my dreadful secret.  Bendel!  I am indeed
rich, liberal, and independent, but--heavens!  I have no shadow!"

"No shadow!" echoed the good young man in an agony, while bright tears
broke from his eyelids; "Alas! alas! that I should have been born to
serve a shadowless master!"  He was silent, and I hid my face in my

At last I tremblingly said, "Bendel! you have now my confidence--betray
it if you will--away! and bear witness against me."  He seemed struggling
with internal emotion; he threw himself at my feet, seized my hand, and
bathed it with his tears.  "No," he cried, "let the world say what it
may, I will not leave my good master for the sake of a shadow; I will do
what is right and not what is prudent: I will remain with you, I will
lend you my shadow; I will help you where I can; I will weep with you."  I
fell on his neck, overcome with such an unexpected self-devotion.  I felt
assured he did nothing for the sake of gold.

From that moment my fate and my mode of life changed.  It is
indescribable how carefully Bendel sought to cover my defects.  He was
ever before and with me, foreseeing everything, arranging everything, and
where unexpected danger threatened, covering me with his shadow, for he
was fortunately taller and stouter than I.  Again I mingled with mankind,
and acted my part in the scenes of the world.  It was necessary to assume
much singularity and queerness; but these sit well upon a rich man, and
while the truth lay concealed, I enjoyed all the honour and esteem to
which wealth has a claim.  I looked with more calmness on the advancing
year and day, whose close was to bring with them the visit of the
mysterious unknown.

I was well aware that I could not remain long in the place where I had
been seen without a shadow, and where I might so easily be betrayed; and
I thought perhaps more on this, remembering how I had first shown myself
to the merchant, which was now a sad recollection to me; consequently I
would only make an experiment here, that I might learn how to introduce
myself hereafter with more ease and confidence; nevertheless it happened
that I was momentarily bound down by my vanity; which is the firm ground
in man where the anchor fixes itself.

The beautiful Fanny, whom I again met in another situation, bestowed on
me some attention, without recollecting that she had seen me before; for
now I had both wit and understanding.  When I talked, all listened, and I
could not imagine when or how I had acquired the talent of leading and
directing the conversation.  The impression which I perceived I had
produced on the fair one, made me, as she would have me, a very fool; and
from this time I pursued her, where only I could pursue her, through
shades and twilight.  I was vain enough to make her vain of me; yet I
could not succeed, notwithstanding all my efforts to drive the
intoxication from my head to my heart.

{Schlemihl and Fanny: p48.jpg}

But why enter upon the details of an everyday story?  You know, and have
often told me, how other wealthy people spend their days.  From an old,
well-known drama, in which I, out of mere good-humour, was playing a
hacknied part, arose a singular and incredible catastrophe, unexpected by
me, or by Fanny, or by anybody.

According to my custom, one lovely evening I had assembled a large
company in an illuminated garden.  I was wandering about with my divinity
arm-in-arm, separated from the rest of the guests, and endeavouring to
amuse her with well-timed conversation; she looked modestly towards the
ground, and gently returned the pressure of my hand.  At this moment the
moon unexpectedly burst through the clouds: her shadow alone was
there,--she started, looked alarmed at me, then at the earth, as if her
eyes were asking for my shadow;--all her emotions were painted so
faithfully on her countenance, that I should have burst into a loud
laugh, had I not felt an icy dullness creeping over me.

She sunk down from my arms in a swoon.  I flew like an arrow through the
alarmed company, reached the door, threw myself into the first coach I
found waiting there, and hurried back to the city, where, to my
misfortune, I had left the foresighted Bendel.  He was startled at seeing
me--a word told all.  Post-horses were instantly ordered.  I took only
one of my servants with me, an interested villain called Rascal, who had
learned to make himself useful by his dexterity, and who could suspect
nothing of what had occurred.  We travelled a hundred miles before night.
Bendel was left behind to dismiss my household, to distribute my money by
paying my debts, and to bring away what was most necessary.  When he
overtook me the next day, I threw myself into his arms, solemnly
promising to commit no farther folly, but to be more discreet in future.
We continued our journey without interruption, passing over the chain of
mountains which formed the frontier; and only when on the descent, and
separated by the high bastions from the land so fatal to my peace, did I
allow myself to be comforted, and hastened away to a watering-place in
the vicinity, where I sought repose from my disappointments and my


I must hurry rapidly over a part of my history, on which I should rejoice
to linger, if I could invoke the living spirit of departed time.  But the
beautiful associations which animated it once, and which alone could
animate its memory, are now extinguished within me.  When I seek
them--that influence which ruled so mightily over my joys and sorrows--my
mingled destiny,--I strike in vain against a rock, that gives out a
living stream no longer; the divinity is fled.  O how changed is the
aspect of those days of old!  My intention was now to act an heroic
character; but it was badly studied, and I a novice on the stage, was
forgetting my part while fascinated by a pair of blue eyes.  In the
intoxication of the scene, the parents seem eager to close the bargain,
and the farce ends in a common mockery.  And this is all!  So stale, so
unprofitable, and so melancholy are the revisitings of what beat once so
nobly and proudly in my bosom.  Mina! as I wept when I lost thee, even
now I weep to have lost thee within me.  Am I become so old!  Pitiful
intellect of man!  Oh, for a pulse-beat of those days, a moment of that
consciousness,--but no!  I am a solitary wave in the dark and desolate
sea: and the sparkling glass I drank was drugged with misery.

I had previously sent Bendel with bags of gold to fit out a dwelling
suitable for me in the town.  He had scattered about a great deal of
money, and talked mysteriously of the illustrious stranger whom he had
the honour to serve (for I did not choose to be named), and this filled
the good people with strange notions.  As soon as the house was ready for
me, Bendel returned to convey me thither.  We started immediately.

About an hour's distance from the place, on a sunny plain, a great number
of persons in gala dresses arrested our progress.  The coach stopped:
music, bell-ringing, and cannonading were heard; a loud acclamation rent
the air, and a chorus of singularly beautiful maidens in white robes
appeared at the door of the carriage, one of whom, surpassing the rest as
the sun surpasses in brightness the stars of evening, stepped forward,
and with graceful and modest blushes knelt before me, and presented to me
on a silken cushion a wreath of laurel, olive, and rose branches,
garlanded together, while she uttered some words, which I understood not,
of majesty, awe, and love, whose soft and silver tones enchanted my ear
and my bosom: it seemed to me as if the heavenly apparition had once
glided before me in other days.  The chorus began, and sang the praise of
a good monarch, and the happiness of his people.

And this happened, my friend, in the bright sunshine: she continued to
kneel some two steps before me, and I, shadowless, dared not spring over
the gulf, that I might fall on my knees in her angelic presence.  What
would I not have given in that moment for a shadow!  I was obliged to
conceal my shame, my anguish, my despair, by sinking back into the
carriage.  Bendel relieved me from my embarrassment: he leaped out from
the other side--I called him back--and gave him out of my little casket,
which lay close at hand, a rich diamond crown which was intended to adorn
the lovely Fanny.  He moved forward, and spoke in his master's name, "who
neither could," he said, "nor would accept such flattering marks of
honour; there must have been some error, though he could not but thank
the worthy townspeople for their expressions of kindness."  He then took
the garland of flowers from its place, and put there instead of it the
crown of diamonds.  His hand assisted the beautiful maiden to rise, and
with a look of dignity he sent away the clergy, magistrates and deputies.
Nobody was allowed a farther audience.  He bade the crowd retire, and
make room for the horses, and flung himself into the carriage, and off we
went in a rapid gallop to the town, through the arches of flowers and
laurels which had been erected.  The cannon continued to thunder--the
coach at last reached my abode.  I turned hastily through the door,
dividing the assembly who had gathered together to see me.  The mob
cried, "God bless him!" under my window; and I ordered double ducats to
be scattered among them.  At night the town was spontaneously

And I knew not yet what all this meant, nor who I was imagined to be.  I
sent out Rascal to get information.  He discovered that the people
believed they had certain information that the good king of Prussia was
travelling through the country, under the title of count;--that my
adjutant had been recognized, and had discovered both himself and me;--in
a word, that infinite joy had been felt at the certainty of having me
among them.  They had ascertained, indeed, that as I wished to preserve
the strictest _incognito_, it had been wrong to draw up the veil so
intrudingly;--but as I had expressed my displeasure with so much
graciousness and kindness, surely my generous heart could forgive them.

It was so excellent a joke for my scoundrel servant, that he did as much
as possible by his sharp remonstrances to confirm the good people in
their opinions.  He gave me a most amusing account of his proceedings;
and as he saw it animated me, he thought to add to my enjoyment by a
display of his own knavish tricks.  Shall I confess it?  I was not a
little flattered by even the illusion of being mistaken for the head of
the kingdom.

I ordered a feast to be provided on the following evening, under the
trees which overshadowed the expanse in front of my house, and the whole
town to be invited.  The mysterious virtue of my purse, the exertions of
Bendel, and the dexterous contrivances of Rascal, succeeded in doing
wonders in the trifling space of time.  It is really astonishing how
richly and beautifully everything was arranged in so short a period.  Such
pomp and superfluity were exhibited there, and the richly-fanciful
illuminations were so admirably managed, that I felt quite at ease; I had
nothing to find fault with, and I could not but praise the diligence of
my servants.

Evening darkness came on; the guests appeared, and were introduced to me.
The word "majesty" was no more whispered; but I often heard, uttered in
deep awe and humility, "the Count."  What could I do?  The word count
satisfied me, and from that moment I was Count Peter.  But in the midst
of the festive crowd I sought but one; at last she appeared; she _was_
the crown, and she wore it.  She followed her parents modestly, and
seemed not to know that she was the loveliest of the assemblage.  The
forest-master, his wife, and daughter were introduced.  I said much that
was agreeable and obliging to the old people; but I stood before their
daughter like a checked boy, and could not utter a single word.  At last
I stammered forth a request that she would honour the festival by
undertaking that office whose badge she bore.  With a touching look she
begged blushingly that I would excuse her; but more abashed before her
than she herself, I, as her first subject, offered her my humble tribute;
and my glance served as a command to all the guests, each of whom seemed
anxious to meet it.  Over this joyful festivity presided majesty,
innocence, and grace allied with beauty.  Mina's happy parents believed
that out of respect for them, their child had been elevated to these
unexpected honours, and I was in an unspeakable transport of joy.  I
ordered every thing that was left of the jewels, pearls, and precious
stones which I had purchased with my perplexing piles of wealth, to be
placed in two covered dishes, and distributed in the name of the queen
among her playfellows and the ladies present; and I ordered gold to be
thrown over the border fence among the joyous crowds.  On the following
morning, Bendel communicated to me, in confidence, that the suspicions he
had formed against Rascal's integrity were fully confirmed; he had
yesterday purloined several bags of gold.  "Let us not envy," I replied,
"the poor devil this trifling booty; I scatter my money about profusely,
why not to him?  Yesterday, he and everybody else served me nobly, and
arranged a delightful festivity."  Nothing further was said about it;
Rascal continued to be my head-servant, and Bendel my friend and
confidant.  He had imagined my wealth to be inexhaustible, and he cared
not to inquire into its source.  Entering into my feelings, he assisted
me to find out constant occasions to display my wealth, and to spend it.
Of the unknown, pale, sneaking fellow, he only knew that without him I
could not get released from the curse which bound me, and that I dreaded
the man on whom my only hope reposed.  Besides, I was now convinced he
could discover me anywhere, while I could find him nowhere; so that I
determined to abandon a fruitless inquiry, and to await the promised day.

The magnificence of the festival, and my condescension there, confirmed
the obstinately-credulous inhabitants in their first opinion of my
dignity.  It appeared very soon, notwithstanding, in the newspapers, that
the reported journey of the king was wholly without foundation.  But I
had been a king, and a king I was unfortunately compelled to remain; and
certainly I was one of the richest and kingliest who had ever appeared.
But what king could I be?  The world has never had cause to complain of
any scarcity of monarchs, at least in our days; and the good people, who
had never seen one with their own eyes, first fixed on one, and then,
equally happily, on another; but Count Peter continued to be my name.

There once appeared among the visitors to the baths, a merchant who had
made himself a bankrupt in order to get rich, and he enjoyed the general
esteem; he was accompanied by a broad, palish shadow.  He wished
ostentatiously to display the wealth he had acquired, and he determined
to be my rival.  I applied to my bag.  I drove on the poor devil at such
a rate, that in order to save himself he was obliged to become a bankrupt
a second time.  Thus I got rid of him; and by similar means I created in
this neighbourhood many an idler and a vagabond.

Though I thus lived in apparent kingly pomp and prodigality, my habits at
home were simple and unpretending.  With thoughtful foresight, I had made
it a rule that no one except Bendel, should on any pretence enter the
chamber which I occupied.  As long as the sun shone I remained there
locked in.  People said, "the count is engaged in his cabinet."  The
crowds of couriers were kept in communication by these occupations, for I
dispatched and received them on the most trifling business.  At evening,
alone, I received company under the trees, or in my saloon, which was
skilfully and magnificently lighted, according to Bendel's arrangement.
Whenever I went out Bendel watched round me with Argus' eyes; my steps
were always tending to the forester's garden, and that only for the sake
of _her_; the inmost spirit of my existence was my love.

My good Chamisso, I will hope you have not forgotten what love is!  I
leave much to your filling up.  Mina was indeed a love-worthy, good, and
gentle girl; I had obtained full possession of her thoughts; and in her
modesty she could not imagine how she had become worthy of my regard, and
that I dwelt only upon her; but she returned love for love, in the full
youthful energy of an innocent heart.  She loved like a woman; all self-
sacrificing, self-forgetting, and living only in him who was her life,
careless even though she should perish: in a word, she truly loved.

But I--oh, what frightful moments!--frightful! yet worthy to be recalled.
How often did I weep in Bendel's bosom, after I recovered from the first
inebriety of rapture! how severely did I condemn myself, that I, a
shadowless being, should seal, with wily selfishness, the perdition of an
angel, whose pure soul I had attached to me by lies and theft!  Now I
determined to unveil myself to her; now, with solemn oaths, I resolved to
tear myself from her, and to fly; then again I broke out into tears, and
arranged with Bendel for visiting her in the forest-garden again in the

Sometimes I allowed myself to be flattered with the hopes of the now
nearly approaching visit of the unknown, mysterious old man; and wept
anew when I recollected that I had sought him in vain.  I had reckoned
the day when I was again to expect to see that awful being.  He had said
a year and a day; and I relied on his word.

Mina's parents were good, worthy old people, loving their only child most
tenderly; the whole affair had taken them by surprise, and, as matters
stood, they knew not how to act.  They could never have dreamed that
Count Peter should think of their child; but it was clear he loved her
passionately, and was loved in return.  The mother, indeed, was vain
enough to think of the possibility of such an alliance, and to prepare
for its accomplishment; but the calm good sense of the old man never gave
such an ambitious hope a moment's consideration.  But they were both
convinced of the purity of my love, and could do nothing but pray for
their child.

A letter is now in my hand which I received about this time from Mina.
This is her very character.  I will copy it for you.

   "I know I am a weak, silly girl; for I have taught myself to believe
   my beloved would not give me pain, and this because I deeply, dearly
   love him.  Alas! thou art so kind, so unutterably kind! but do not
   delude me.  For me make no sacrifice--wish to make no sacrifice.
   Heaven!  I could hate myself if I caused thee to do so.  No, thou hast
   made me infinitely happy; thou hast taught me to love thee.  But go in
   peace! my destiny tells me Count Peter is not mine, but the whole
   world's; and then I shall feel proudly as I hear: 'That it was he--and
   he again--that he had done this--that he has been adored here, and
   deified there.'  When I think of this, I could reproach thee for
   forgetting thy high destinies in a simple maiden.  Go in peace, or the
   thought will make me miserable--me, alas! who am so happy, so blessed
   through thee.  And have not I entwined in thy existence an
   olive-branch and a rose-bud, as in the garland which I dared to
   present thee?  Think of thyself, my beloved one; fear not to leave me,
   I should die so blessed--so unutterably blessed, through thee."

You may well imagine how these words thrilled through my bosom.  I told
her I was not that which I was supposed to be; I was only a wealthy, but
an infinitely-wretched man.  There was, I said, a curse upon me, which
should be the only secret between her and me; for I had not yet lost the
hope of being delivered from it.  This was the poison of my existence:
That I could have swept her away with me into the abyss; her, the sole
light, the sole bliss, the sole spirit of my life.  Then she wept again
that I was so unhappy.  She was so amiable, so full of love!  How blessed
had she felt to have offered herself up in order to spare me a single

But she was far from rightly understanding my words: she sometimes
fancied I was a prince pursued by a cruel proscription; a high and
devoted chief, whom her imagination loved to depicture, and to give to
her beloved one all the bright hues of heroism.

Once I said to her, "Mina, on the last day of the coming month, my doom
may change and be decided; if that should not happen I must die, for I
cannot make thee miserable."  She wept, and her head sunk upon my bosom.
"If thy doom should change, let me but know thou art happy; I have no
claim upon thee--but shouldst thou become miserable, bind me to thy
misery, I will help thee to bear it."

"Beloved maiden! withdraw--withdraw the rash, the foolish word which has
escaped thy lips.  Dost thou know what is my misery? dost thou know what
is my curse?  That thy beloved--what he?  Dost thou see me shuddering
convulsively before thee, and concealing from thee--"  She sunk sobbing
at my feet, and renewed her declaration with a solemn vow.

I declared to the now approaching forest-master, my determination to ask
the hand of his daughter for the first day of the coming month.  I fixed
that period, because in the meanwhile many an event might occur which
would have great influence on my fortunes.  My love for his daughter
could not but be unchangeable.

The good old man started back, as it were, while the words escaped from
Count Peter's lips.  He fell upon my neck, and then blushed that he had
so far forgotten himself.  Then he began to doubt, to ponder, to inquire;
he spoke of dowry, of security for the future for his beloved child.  I
thanked him for reminding me of it.  I told him I wished to settle and
live a life free from anxiety, in a neighbourhood where I appeared to be
beloved.  I ordered him to buy, in the name of his daughter, the finest
estates that were offered, and refer to me for the payment.  A father
would surely best serve the lover of his child.  This gave him trouble
enough, for some stranger or other always forestalled him: but he bought
for only the amount of about a million florins.

The truth is, this was a sort of innocent trick to get rid of him, which
I had already once done before: for I must own he was rather tedious.  The
good mother, on the contrary, was somewhat deaf, and not, like him,
always jealous of the honour of entertaining the noble Count.

The mother pressed forward.  The happy people crowded around me,
entreating me to lengthen the evening among them.  I dared not linger a
moment: the moon was rising above the twilight of evening: my time was

Next evening I returned again to the forest-garden.  I had thrown my
broad mantle over my shoulders, my hat was slouched over my eyes.  I
advanced towards Mina; as she lifted up her eyes and looked at me, an
involuntary shudder came over her.  The frightful night in which I had
shown myself shadowless in the moonlight, returned in all its brightness
to my mind.  It was indeed she!  Had she, too, recognized me?  She was
silent and full of thought.  I felt the oppression of a nightmare on my
breast.  I rose from my seat; she threw herself speechless on my bosom.  I
left her.

But now I often found her in tears; my soul grew darker and darker, while
her parents seemed to revel in undisturbed joy.  The day so big with fate
rolled onwards, heavy and dark, like a thunder-cloud.  Its eve had
arrived, I could scarcely breathe.  I had been foresighted enough to fill
some chests with gold.  I waited for midnight:--it tolled.

And there I sat, my eyes directed to the hand of the clock; the seconds,
the minutes, as they tinkled, entered me like a dagger.  I rose up at
every sound I heard.  The day began to dawn; the leaden hours crowded one
on another; it was morning--evening--night.  The hands of the timepiece
moved slowly on, and hope was departing.  It struck eleven, and nothing
appeared.  The last minutes of the last hour vanished--still nothing
appeared; the first stroke--the last stroke of _twelve_ sounded.  I sank
hopeless on my couch in ceaseless tears.  To-morrow--shadowless for
ever!--to-morrow I should solicit the hand of my beloved.  Towards
morning a heavy sleep closed my eyes.

{Schlemihl in his room: p66.jpg}


It was yet early, when I was awakened by the sound of voices violently
disputing in my antechamber.  I listened: Bendel was forbidding access to
my door.  Rascal swore loudly and deeply that he would take no orders
from his fellow-servant, and insisted on rushing into my apartment.  The
good Bendel warned him that if such language reached my ears, he might
perchance lose a profitable place; but Rascal threatened to lay violent
hands upon him, if he impeded his entrance any longer.

I had half dressed myself.  I angrily flung the door open, and called out
to Rascal, "What dost want, thou scoundrel?"  He retreated two paces, and
answered with perfect coldness,

"Humbly to request, may it please your lordship, for once to show me your
shadow; the sun is shining so beautifully in the court."

I felt as if scathed by a thunderbolt, and it was long before I could
utter a word: "How can a servant presume against his master that--"  He
interrupted me with provoking calmness: "A servant may be a very honest
man, and yet refuse to serve a shadowless master--I must have my
discharge."  I tried another weapon.

"But, Rascal, my dear Rascal, who has put this wild notion into your
head?  How can you imagine--"  But he continued in the same tone, "There
are people who assert you have no shadow; so, in a word, either show me
your shadow, or give me my discharge!"

Bendel, pale and trembling, but more discreet than I, made me a sign to
seek a resource in the silence-imposing gold--but it had lost its power;
Rascal flung it at my feet: "I will take nothing from a shadowless
being."  He turned his back upon me, put his hat on his head, and went
slowly out of the apartment whistling a tune.  I stood there like a
petrifaction--looking after him, vacant and motionless.

Heavy and melancholy, with a deathlike feeling within me, I prepared to
redeem my promise, and, like a criminal before his judges, to show myself
in the forester's garden.  I ascended to the dark arbour which had been
called by my name, where an appointment had been made to meet me.  Mina's
mother came forwards toward me, gay, and free from care.  Mina was seated
there, pale and lovely, as the earliest snow when it kisses the last
autumnal flower, and soon dissolves into bitter drops.  The
forest-master, with a written sheet in his hand, wandered in violent
agitation from side to side, seemingly overcome with internal feelings,
which painted his usually unvarying countenance with constantly changing
paleness and scarlet.  He came towards me as I entered, and with broken
accents requested to speak to me alone.  The path through which he
invited me to follow him led to an open sunny part of the garden.  I
seated myself down without uttering a word; a long silence followed,
which even our good mother dared not interrupt.

With irregular steps the forest-master paced the arbour backwards and
forwards; he stood for a moment before me, looked into the paper which he
held, and said with a most penetrating glance, "Count, and do you indeed
know one Peter Schlemihl?"  I was silent--"a man of reputable character,
and of great accomplishments."  He waited for my answer.  "And what if I
were he?"--"He!" added he vehemently, "who has in some way got rid of his
shadow!"--"Oh, my forebodings! my forebodings!" exclaimed Mina, "alas!  I
knew long ago that he had no shadow!" and she flung herself into her
mother's arms, who, alarmed, pressed her convulsively to her bosom,
reproaching me with having concealed such a fatal secret from her:--but
she, like Arethusa, was bathed in a fountain of tears, which flowed
abundantly at the sound of my voice, and at my approach tempestuously
burst forth.

"And so," cried the forest-master furiously, "your matchless impudence
has sought to betray that poor girl and me--and you pretended to love
her--her whom you have dragged to the abyss--see how she weeps, how she
is agonized!  O shame!  O sin!"

I was so completely confused that I answered incoherently: "After all,
'twas but a shadow--nothing but a shadow--one can manage without it; and
surely it is not worth making such a noise about."  But I felt so deeply
the deception of my language, that I was silent before he deigned to give
me an answer.  I added, "What a man has lost to-day he may find again to-

He spoke angrily: "Explain to me, sir, explain how you got rid of your
shadow."  I was compelled again to lie: "A vulgar fellow trod so clumsily
upon my shadow, that he tore a great hole in it; I sent it to be
mended--gold can do everything; I ought to have received it back

"Very well, sir, very well," he replied.  "You sue for my daughter--others
do the same; as her father I must take care of her.  I give you three
days' respite, which you may employ in procuring a shadow.  Come to me
after this, and if you have one that suits you, you will be welcome: but
if not, on the fourth day, I must tell you, my daughter shall be the wife
of another."  I attempted to address a word to Mina; but she clung,
violently agitated, closer to her mother, who silently beckoned to me
that I should retire.  I slunk away as if the world's gates had closed
behind me.

Escaped to Bendel's affectionate guidance, I wandered with erring
footsteps through fields and woods, sweat-drops of anguish fell from my
brow; deep groans broke from my bosom; within me raged a wild frenzy.

I know not how long it had lasted, when on a sunny heath I found myself
held by the sleeve--I stood still, and looked around me.  It was the grey-
coated stranger; he seemed to have followed me till he was out of breath.
He instantly began:

"I had announced myself for to-day; you have hardly been able to wait so
long--but all is well--you will take good counsel: exchange your shadow
again; it only waits your commands, and then turn back.  You will be
welcome in the forester's garden; it was but a jest.  Rascal, who has
betrayed you, and who is a suitor to your betrothed, I will dispose
of--the fellow is ripe."

{Schlemihl offered the parchment: p72.jpg}

I stood there still, as if I were asleep--"Announced for to-day?"--I
reckoned the time over again; it was so.  I had erred in my calculations.
I put my right hand on the bag in my bosom; he discovered my meaning, and
drew back two paces.

"No, Sir Count, that is in good hands; that you may retain."  I looked on
him with staring and inquiring eyes.  He spoke: "May I ask for a trifling
memento?  Be so good as to sign this note."  The following words were on
the parchment he held:

   "I hereby promise to deliver over my soul to the bearer after its
   natural separation from my body."

I looked with dumb astonishment, now on the grey unknown, and now on the
writing.  In the mean time he had dipped a new pen in a drop of my blood,
which was flowing from a scratch made by a thorn in my hand.  He handed
the pen to me.

"Who are you, then?" I at last inquired.

"What does that matter?" he answered.  "Don't you see what I am?--a poor
devil; a sort of philosopher or alchemist, who receives spare thanks for
great favours he confers on his friends; one who has no enjoyment in this
world, except a little _experimentializing_:--but sign, I pray--ay, just
there on the right, _Peter Schlemihl_."

I shook my head.  "Forgive me, sir, for I will not sign."--"Not!" replied
he, with seeming surprise, "why not?"

"'Tis an affair that requires some consideration--to add my soul to my
shadow in the bargain."--"Oh, oh!" he exclaimed, "consideration!" and
burst into a loud laugh.  "May I then be allowed to ask, what sort of a
thing is your soul?  Have you ever seen it?  Do you know what will become
of it when you are once departed?  Rejoice that you have found somebody
to take notice of it; to buy, even during your lifetime, the reversion of
this X, this galvanic power, this polarising influence, or whatever the
silly trifle may turn out to be; to pay for it with your bodily shadow,
with something really substantial; the hand of your mistress, the
fulfilment of your prayers.  Or will you rather deliver over the sweet
maiden to that contemptible scoundrel, Mr. Rascal?  No, no! look to that
with your own eyes.  Come hither; I will lend you the wishing-cap too,
(he drew something from his pocket), and we will have a ramble unseen
through the forest-garden."

I must confess I was sadly ashamed to be thus laughed at by this fellow.
I hated him from the bottom of my soul; and I believe this personal
antipathy prevented me, more than my principles, from giving the required
signature for my shadow, necessary as it was to me.  The thought was
unbearable, that I should undertake such a walk in his company.  This
sneaking scoundrel, this scornful, irritating imp, placing himself
betwixt me and my beloved, sporting with two bleeding hearts, roused my
deepest feelings.  I looked on what had past as ordained, and considered
my misery as irretrievable.  I turned upon the man and said:

"Sir, I sold you my shadow for this most estimable bag of yours: I have
repented it enough; if the bargain can be annulled, in the name of--"  He
shook his head--looked at me with a dark frown.  I began again: "I will
sell you nothing more of my possessions, though you may offer as high a
price as for my shadow; and I will sign nothing.  Hence you may conclude
that the metamorphosis to which you invite me would perhaps be more
agreeable to you than to me.  Forgive me, but it cannot be otherwise; let
us part."

"I am sorry, Mr. Schlemihl, that you so capriciously push away the
favours which are presented to you; but I may be more fortunate another
time.  Farewell, till our speedy meeting!  By the way, you will allow me
to mention, that I do not by any means permit my purchases to get mouldy;
I hold them in special regard, and take the best possible care of them."
With this he took my shadow out of his pocket, and with a dexterous fling
it was unrolled and spread out on the heath on the sunny side of his
feet, so that he stood between the two attendant shadows, mine and his,
and walked away; mine seemed to belong to him as much as his own; it
accommodated itself to all his movements and all his necessities.

When I saw my poor shadow again, after so long a separation, and found it
applied to such base uses, at a moment when for its sake I was suffering
nameless anguish, my heart broke within me, and I began to weep most
bitterly.  The hated one walked proudly on with his spoil, and
unblushingly renewed his proposals.

"You may have it--'tis but a stroke of the pen; you will save, too, your
poor unhappy Mina from the claws of the vagabond; save her for the arms
of the most honourable Count.  'Tis but a stroke of the pen, I say."
Tears broke forth with new violence; but I turned away, and beckoned him
to be gone.

Bendel, who had followed my steps to the present spot, approached me full
of sadness at this instant.  The kind-hearted fellow perceived me
weeping, and observed my shadow, which he could not mistake, attached to
the figure of the extraordinary, grey, unknown one, and he endeavoured by
force to put me in possession of my property; but not being able to lay
firm hold on this subtle thing, he ordered the old man, in a peremptory
tone, to abandon what did not belong to him.  He, for a reply, turned his
back upon my well-meaning servant, and marched away.  Bendel followed him
closely, and lifting up the stout black-thorn cudgel which he carried,
required the man to give up the shadow, enforcing the command with the
strength of his nervous arm; but the man, accustomed perhaps to such
encounters, bowed his head, raised his shoulders, and walked silently and
calmly over the heath, accompanied by my shadow and my faithful man.  For
a long time I heard the dull sound echoed over the waste.  It was lost at
last in the distance.  I stood alone with my misery as before.


Thus left behind on the dreary heath, I gave vent to countless tears,
which seemed to lighten my bosom of its intolerable weight.  But I saw no
bounds, no outlet, no term to my terrible misery, and with wild
impatience I sucked in the poison which the mysterious being had poured
into my wounds.  When I recalled the image of Mina, her soft and lovely
form appeared pale and weeping before me, as I had seen her in my hour of
ignominy; and the shade of Rascal impudently and contumaciously seemed to
step between us.  I veiled my face, I fled across the waste; but the
ghastly vision still pursued me; I ran--it was close to me.  I sank
breathless to the ground, and watered it with renewed springs of tears.

And all about a shadow! a shadow which a stroke of the pen would have
restored to me!  I mused again on the strange proposal and my refusal.
All was dark and desolate within me; I had neither argument nor reason

The day rolled by.  I calmed my hunger with wild fruits; my thirst with
the nearest mountain stream.  Night approached; I stretched myself under
a tree.  The damp dawn awaked me from a heavy sleep, in which I had heard
myself groan, as if struggling with death.  Bendel had surely lost my
traces, and I rejoiced to think so.  I determined to return no more among
men, from whom I fled like the shy beasts of the mountain.  Thus I
existed through three weary days.

On the morning of the fourth I found myself on a shady plain, where the
sun was shining brightly.  I sat down there on the fragment of rock in
its beam, for I enjoyed to bask again in its long-forbidden glance.  I
nourished my heart with its own despair.  But I was alarmed by a gentle
rustling.  I looked eagerly round me preparing to fly--I saw no one; but
there passed by on the sunny sand a man's shadow not unlike my own,
wandering about alone, and which appeared straying from its owner.

A mighty impulse was roused within me.  Shadow, thought I, art thou
seeking thy master.  I will be he; and I sprang forward to possess myself
of it.  I imagined that if I were lucky enough to get into its track, I
could so arrange that its feet should just meet mine; it would even
attach and accommodate itself to me.

{Schlemihl chasing his shadow: p78.jpg}

The shadow on my moving fled before me, and I was compelled to begin an
active chase after the unsubstantial wanderer.  The eager desire to be
released from the perplexities in which I stood armed me with unusual
strength.  It fled to a distant wood, in whose obscurity it necessarily
would have been immediately lost.  I saw it--a terror pierced my heart,
kindled my burning desire, and gave wings to my feet.  I gained on the
shadow, approached it nearer and nearer,--I was within reach of it.  It
stopped suddenly and turned round towards me; like the lion pouncing on
its prey, I sprang forward upon it with a mighty effort to take
possession.  I felt most unexpectedly that I had dashed against something
which made a bodily resistance--I received from an unseen power the most
violent thrust which a human being ever felt.  The working of terror was
acting dreadfully within me; its effect was to close my arms as in a
spasm, to seize on what stood unseen before me.  I staggered onwards, and
fell prostrate on the ground; beneath me on his back was a man whom I
held fast, and who now was visible.

The whole affair was now naturally explained.  The man must have
possessed the viewless charm which makes the possessor but not his
shadow, invisible.  He first held it, and afterwards had thrown it away.
I looked round, and immediately discovered the shadow of the invisible
charm.  I leaped up and sprang towards it, and did not miss at last the
valuable spoil; unseen, and shadowless, I held the charm in my hand.

The man rose up speedily; he looked round after his fortunate subduer,
not being able to discover in the broad sunny plain either him or his
shadow, which he sought with the greatest anxiety: for he had no reason
to suspect, and no time to observe, that I was a shadowless being.  As
soon as he discovered that every trace was vanished, he raised his hands
against himself in the wildest despair, and tore his hair.  But this
newly-acquired treasure gave me the means and the disposition to mingle
again among my fellow-men.  No pretext was wanting for palliating to my
own mind this despicable robbery; or, rather, it wanted no such pretext.
With a view of ridding myself of any internal reproaches, I hurried away,
not even looking back on the unfortunate victim, whose agonized tones I
heard long repeated after me.  So, at least, at that time I looked upon
the circumstances of that event.

I longed to go to the forest-garden, in order to inform myself of the
truth of what the hated one had announced to me; but I knew not where I
was; and in order to inform myself as to the neighbourhood, I mounted the
nearest hill, and saw from its brow the tower of the forest-garden lying
at my feet.  My heart beat with agitation, and tears, very different from
those I had before shed, burst into my eyes.  I was to see her again.  An
anxious, longing desire hurried my steps down the straightest path.  A
crowd of peasants I passed unseen going from town; they were talking of
me and of Rascal, and of the forester.  I would listen to nothing; I
hastened by.

I walked into the garden, my bosom trembling with the alarm of
expectation.  A laugh approached me.  I shook; looked eagerly around me,
but could perceive nobody.  I moved farther forward, and a noise as of
the pacing of human feet seemed near me.  Still I could see nothing--I
thought my ears were deceived; but it was early, nobody was in Count
Peter's arbour--the garden was empty.  I rambled over the familiar paths,
until I came near to the mansion.  I heard the same sound more
distinctly.  I sat down with a sorrowful heart upon a bank immediately
opposite the front door, in a sunny spot.  It appeared to me as if I
heard the invisible imp laughing insultingly.  The key was turned in the
door, which opened, and the forest-master walked out with papers in his
hand.  I felt something like a mist around my eyes--I looked round--and,
oh horrible! the man in the grey coat was sitting close to me, looking on
me with a satanic smile.  He had drawn his wishing cap over my head.  At
his feet my shadow and his own lay peacefully one against the other; he
was playing carelessly with the well-known parchment, which he held in
his hand; and while the forest-master was walking backwards and forwards
in the shade of the arbour, he bent himself familiarly to my ear, and
whispered to me these words:--

"Now, then, you have at last accepted my offer, and so we set two heads
under one cap.  Very good! very good!  But pray give me my charm
again--you do not want it any more, and are too honourable a man to keep
what does not belong to you: no thanks--I assure you I lent it to you
from my heart."  He took it gently from my hand, put it into his pocket,
laughed insultingly at me, and so loudly, that the forest-master looked
round attracted by the noise.  I sat there as if I had been petrified.

"You must agree," he rejoined, "that such a cap is much more convenient.
It does not cover its possessor alone, but his shadow also, and as many
people besides as he likes to have with him.  Look, now, to-day I get two
of ye."  He laughed again.  "You must know, Schlemihl, that what is not
done by fair means at first, may be enforced at last; I still thought you
would have bought the trifle.  Take back your bride (there is yet time),
and send Rascal to swing on the gallows; that is an easy matter while we
have a rope at hand.  Hearken, I give you the cap into the bargain."

The mother came forth, and this conversation followed.  "What is my Mina
doing?"--"Weeping."--"Simple child! but can it not be altered?"--"No,
indeed."--"But to give her so soon to another--O husband! you are cruel
to your own child!"--"Mother! you don't see clearly.  Even before she has
wept out her childish tears, when she finds herself the wife of a rich
and noble man, she will be consoled for her sorrows, as if awakened from
a dream.  She will thank Heaven and us; and that you will see."--"God
grant it!"--"She already possesses a pretty handsome dowry; but after the
noise made by that unfortunate adventurer, do you believe that so
brilliant a proposal as Mr. Rascal's will soon or easily be found?  Do
you know what wealth he possesses?  He has six million florins in landed
property in this country paid for in cash, free from all incumbrances.  I
have the writings in hand.  It was he who forestalled me always in the
best purchases.  Besides this, he has in his portfolio bills of exchange
on Mr. Thomas Jones for above three millions and a half of florins."--"He
must have pilfered at a pretty rate."--"That's all nonsense.  He has
hoarded wisely, where others foolishly squandered."--"But a man who has
worn a livery!"--"Folly! he has an irreproachable shadow!"--"You are
right, but--"

The man in the great coat laughed and looked full in my face.  The door
opened, and Mina came out; she was supporting herself on her maid's arm;
silent tears were flowing over her pale and lovely cheeks.  She sat down
in a chair placed for her under the lime-trees, and her father seated
himself beside her.  He gently seized her hand, and while she wept still
more bitterly, addressed her in the gentlest accents.

"Thou art my best, my dearest child; thou wilt be prudent too; thou wilt
not grieve thy old father, who thinks only of making thee happy.  I well
understand, my sweet girl, that this has sadly shaken thee; thou hast
wonderfully escaped from misery.  Before the shameless cheat was
unveiled, thou lovedst that unworthy one most affectionately.  I know it,
Mina, but I do not reproach thee.  I, too, loved him, while I deemed him
to be a rich and noble man.  But thou hast seen in what it ended.  The
veriest vagabond has his own shadow; and shall my beloved, my only
daughter, be married to--Oh, no! thou thinkest of him no more.  Listen,
my Mina: a lover addresses thee, who does not dread the sun; an
honourable man, who is no Count indeed, but who possesses ten millions,
ten times more than thou hast ever possessed; a man who will make my
beloved child happy.  Do not oppose me; make no reply; be my good,
obedient daughter.  Let thy affectionate father care for thee, and dry
thy tears.  Promise me to give thy hand to Mr. Rascal; say, wilt thou
promise me?"

She answered with a dying voice, "I have no farther will nor wish on
earth; let my father's will be accomplished!"  On this Mr. Rascal was
announced, and daringly joined the circle.  Mina lay in a swoon.  My
hated evil genius fixed his eyes angrily on me, and whispered in these
rapid words, "Can you bear _that_ too?  What runs in your veins instead
of blood?"  With a swift motion he made a slight wound in my hand--blood
gushed forth: he cried, "Red blood, truly! sign."  The parchment and the
pen were in my hand.


I shall expose myself, dear Chamisso, to your criticism, and not seek to
elude it.  I have long visited myself with the heaviest judgment, for I
have fed the devouring worm in my heart.  This terrible moment of my
existence is everlastingly present to my soul; and I can contemplate it
only in a doubting glance, with humility and contrition.  My friend, he
who carelessly takes a step out of the straight path, is imperceptibly
impelled into another course, in which he will be deluded farther and
farther astray.  For him in vain the pole-star twinkles in the heavens;
there is no choice for him; he must slide down the declivity, and offer
himself up to Nemesis.  After the false and precipitate step which had
brought down the curse upon me, I had daringly thrust myself upon the
fate of another being.  What now remained, but where I had sowed
perdition, and prompt salvation was urgent--again blindly to rush forward
to save?--for the last knell had tolled.  Do not think so basely of me,
my Chamisso, as to imagine that I should have thought any price too dear,
or should have been more sparing with anything I possessed than with my
gold?  No! but my soul was filled with unconquerable hatred towards this
mysterious sneaker in crooked paths.  Perhaps I might be unjust to him,
yet my mind revolted against all communication with him.  But here, as
often in my life, and generally in the history of the world, an accident
rather than an intention, determined the issue.  Afterwards I became
reconciled to myself.  I learnt, in the first place, to respect
necessity, and those accidents which are yet more the result of necessity
than any will of our own.  Then was I also taught to obey this necessity,
as a wise arrangement of Providence, which sets all this machinery in
action, in which we only co-operate by moving and setting other wheels in
motion.  What must be, will happen; what should have been, was; and not
without the intervention of that Providence, which I at last learnt to
reverence in my fate, and in the fate of her who controlled mine.

I know not if I should ascribe it to the strain of my soul under the
pressure of such mighty emotions, or to the exhaustion of my physical
strength, weakened by the unwonted abstinence of the days gone by, or to
that fatal agitation which the approach of this grey adversary produced
through my whole frame; but certain it is, that while preparing to sign,
I fell into a deep swoon, and lay a long time as in the arms of death.

On coming to my recollection, the first tones that reached my ears were
the stamping of feet and cursing.  I opened my eyes; it was dark; my
hated companion was there holding me, but scolding thus: "Now, is not
that behaving like a silly old woman?  Let the gentleman rise up--conclude
the business--as he intended--or, perhaps he has other thoughts--would
like still to weep."  With difficulty I raised myself from the ground
where I lay, and looked silently around me.  The evening was advanced;
festive music broke from the brightly-lighted forest-house, and groups of
company were scattered over the garden walks.  Some drew near who were
engaged in conversation, and seated themselves on the benches.  They
spoke of the nuptials of the daughter of the house with the rich Mr.
Rascal--they had taken place in the morning--all--all was over.

I struck away with my hand from my head the wishing-cap of the instantly-
vanishing unknown one, and fled in silence to conceal myself in the
deepest darkness of the wood, hurrying to the garden gate before Count
Peter's arbour.  But my evil genius accompanied me unseen, pursuing me
with bitter words.  "This, then, is the reward one is to get for the
trouble of taking care, through the live-long day, of the nervous
gentleman!  And I am then to be fooled at last?  Very well, very well,
Mr. Wronghead: fly from me, but we are inseparable.  You have my gold,
and I your shadow; they leave no rest to either.  Did anybody ever hear
of a shadow abandoning its master?  Yours draws me after you, till you
condescend to take it again, and I get rid of it.  What you have sold, or
neglected to do, of your own free-will, that will you be compelled to
repair with repugnance and weariness; man cannot oppose his destiny."  He
continued to talk in the same tone,--I fled from him in vain--he was
always behind me--ever present--and speaking sneeringly of gold and
shadow.  I could not repose on a single thought.

Through untrodden, vacant streets, I hastened to my abode.  I stood
before it--looked up--and hardly recognized it.  Behind the closed
windows no light was burning; the doors were shut--no servants appeared
to be moving.  He stood behind me, and laughed aloud.  "Ay, ay! but your
Bendel is certainly at home; he was sent hither so thoroughly exhausted,
that no doubt he has carefully kept house."  He laughed again--"He will
have some stories to amuse you--take courage.  Good night for to-day,
till an early interview."

I rang again, and a light appeared.  Bendel asked from within, "who is
there?"  When he heard my voice, the poor fellow could scarcely contain
his joy; the door flew open, and we lay weeping in each other's arms.  He
was greatly changed--weak and ill.  My hair had become wholly grey.

He led me through the vacant chambers to an inner apartment, which
remained furnished.  He fetched meat and drink--we sat down--he again
began to weep; he then told me that he had lately beaten the grey-clad
meagre man, whom he had met with my shadow, so lustily and so long, that
he lost all trace of me, and had sunk exhausted to the earth; that
afterwards, not being able to discover me, he had returned home, and that
the mob, excited by Rascal, had raised a tumult, broken the windows of
the house, and given full reins to their love of destruction.  Thus they
had rewarded their benefactors.  One after another my servants had fled.
The police of the place had ordered me to leave the town as a suspicious
person, allowing me a delay of only four-and-twenty hours to quit their
territory.  He had a great deal to add to what I already knew of Rascal's
wealth and espousals.  This scoundrel, who had originated all the
proceedings against me, must have possessed my secret from the beginning.
It seemed that, attracted by the gold, he had forced himself upon me, and
had procured a key for that treasure-chest where he laid the foundation
of his fortune, which he now seemed determined to enjoy.

Bendel told me all with abundant tears, and wept anew for joy at seeing
me again, and again possessing me: and he rejoiced that, after all his
fears as to what misfortune might have brought me, he found me bearing
everything with calmness and fortitude; for such was the form in which
despair reigned over me, while I saw gigantic and unchangeable misery
before me.  I had wept away all my tears; grief could force out no other
accent of distress from my bosom.  I raised against it, coldly and
unconcernedly, my uncovered head.

"Bendel," said I, "you know my fate.  Not without certain guilt does the
heavy penalty fall on me.  You, innocent being as you are, shall no
longer bind your destiny to mine, I will no longer let it be so.  To-night
I will hasten away.  Saddle me my horse--I ride alone--you must remain--I
require it.  Some chests of gold must yet be here.  They are now yours.  I
shall wander restlessly through the world; but if a happier day should
dawn, and bliss should again smile upon me, I will faithfully think of
you; for on your faithful bosom I have wept in many a weary, wretched,
sorrowful hour."

The honest fellow obeyed with a broken heart this last command of his
master.  It agonized his soul; but I was deaf to his representations and
entreaties, and blind to his tears.  He brought the horse to me, I
pressed him while he wept against my breast, sprang into the saddle, and
pursued my way under the mantle of night from the grave of my existence;
indifferent as to the direction my horse might take.  On the earth I had
no goal--no wish--no hope.


A foot passenger soon joined me, and, after walking some time by my
horse's side, begged me, as we were bound the same way, to be allowed to
throw the cloak which he carried on the crupper; I quietly allowed him to
do so.  He thanked me with a graceful address for this trifling service,
praised my horse, and thence took the opportunity of lauding the
happiness and the influence of the wealthy.  He went on I know not how,
in a sort of soliloquy, for I was only a hearer.

He unfolded his views of life and the world, and soon introduced
metaphysics, from whence the word was to emanate which should solve all
mysteries.  He developed his theme with great distinctness, and led
forward to its deductions.

You know very well that I have often confessed, since I drove through the
school of philosophy, that I do not consider myself as by any means
calculated for philosophical speculations, and that I have altogether
renounced that branch of study.  From that time I have let many things be
settled as they could, renounced much which I might have understood or
learnt, and, following your counsels by trusting to my innate senses,
that voice of the heart, I have gone forward in my own road as far as I
was able.  This rhetorician appeared to me to build his firmly-cemented
edifice with great ability.  It seemed to bear itself on its firm and
solid foundation, and stood, as it were, on its own absolute necessity.
Then I missed in the edifice what I particularly sought; and it was to me
merely a piece of art, whose completeness and decorations served only to
delight the eye; but I listened willingly to the eloquent man, who seemed
to transfer to himself my observations on my own sorrows; and I should
have cheerfully surrendered myself to him, if he would have taken
possession of my soul as well as of my understanding.

In the mean while time passed on, and morning dawn had imperceptibly
stolen over the heaven.  I trembled as I looked around, and saw the
magnificent colours blending in the east, and heralding the ascending
sun; and at that hour, when the shadows stretch themselves out in all
their extension, no shelter, no protection was to be discovered--and I
was not alone!  I looked upon my companion, and again I trembled: it was
even the man in the grey coat.

He smiled at my alarms, and without allowing me to utter a word, began:
"Let us then, as is the custom of the world, unite our different
advantages for a while! we have always time to separate.  The road along-
side the mountain, if you have not already thought about it, is the only
one which you can prudently take.  You dare not descend into the valley;
and over the hill you will hardly think of returning as it would lead you
whence you came; and the road in which you are is just mine.  I see the
uprising sun makes you look pale; I will lend you your shadow while we
remain together, and this may induce you to bear my being near to you.
Your Bendel is no longer with you, but I will do you good service.  You
do not love me: I am sorry for it; but you may make use of me
notwithstanding.  The devil is not so black as he is represented.
Yesterday, you vexed me, 'tis true, but I will bear you no grudge to-day.
I have shortened your way thus far, as you must yourself confess; now
take your shadow on trial again."

The sun had arisen; travellers were approaching us on the road, and in
spite of an internal repugnance, I accepted his offer.  He smiled, and
let my shadow fall on the ground; it took its station upon that of my
horse, and cheerfully moved forward.  My mind was in a strange mood.  I
rode by a body of country people, who were respectfully making room with
their heads uncovered as for a wealthy-looking man.  I rode farther, and
looked aside from my horse with eager eyes and beating heart, on what was
once my shadow; but which I had now borrowed from a stranger, ay, from an

He came on carelessly by my side, and whistled a tune--he on foot, I on
horseback.  A dizziness seized me, the temptation was too great; I
hastily turned the reins, drove both spurs into the horse, and thus went
off at full speed through a cross road.  I could not elope with the
shadow, it slipped away when the horse started, and waited on the road
for its lawful owner.  I was obliged to turn round, ashamed; the man in
the grey coat, as he unconcernedly finished his tune, began to laugh at
me, and fixing the shadow again in its place, informed me it would only
stick to me, and remain with me, when I had properly and lawfully become
possessed of it.  "I hold you fast," he cried, "fast attached to the
shadow; you cannot escape from me.  A wealthy man like you may want a
shadow: likely enough--and you are only to blame for not having earlier
looked into the matter."

I continued my journey on the same road as before.  I possessed all the
comforts of life, and all its luxuries.  I could move about freely and
easily; and I possessed a shadow too, though but a borrowed one, and I
imposed everywhere that reverence which wealth commands; but death was at
my heart.  My marvellous conductor, who represented himself to be the
unworthy slave of the richest man in the world, had extraordinary
readiness as a servant, and was exceedingly dexterous and clever, the
very model of a valet for a wealthy gentleman; but he never separated
himself from my side, and incessantly plagued me, exhibiting the greatest
assurance in order that I should conclude the bargain with him respecting
the shadow, if it were only to get rid of him.  He was as troublesome as
hateful to me; I always stood in awe of him.  I had made myself dependent
on him; I was still in his power, and he had again driven me into the
vanities of the world which I had abandoned: I was compelled to allow to
his eloquence full mastery over me, and almost felt he was in the right.
A wealthy man ought to have a shadow in the world; and so long as I
wished to occupy that station which he had induced me to fill, there was
only one outlet for me.  But on this I determined--having sacrificed my
love, and made my existence a curse, I would not transfer my soul to this
being--no, not for all the shadows in the world; but I knew not how it
would end.

One day we were sitting before a cave, which the travellers who had to
cross the mountain were accustomed to visit.  There was heard the noise
of subterraneous streams roaring from unmeasurable deeps; and the stone
that was thrown into the abyss seemed in its echoing fall to find no
bottom.  He depicted to me, as he had often done, with a luxuriant fancy,
and in the glowing charms of the brightest colouring, careful and
detailed pictures of the brilliant figure I might make in the world by
means of my purse, if I had only my shadow again in my possession.  My
elbows were supported on my knees while I covered my face with my hands,
listening to the evil one, my heart twice rent between temptation and my
own earnest will.  Such internal discord I could no longer endure, and
the decisive struggle began.

"You seem to forget, good sir, that I have allowed you to remain in my
company only on certain conditions, and that I retained for myself my
unrestrained liberty."--"If you order me, I shall move off:" the threat
was one to which he was accustomed.--I ceased: he sat himself quietly
down, and began to roll up my shadow.  I grew pale, but I stood dumb
while he did so.  There was a long silence.  He thus broke it:

"You cannot endure me, sir! you hate me--I know it: but why do you hate
me?  Is it because, when you attacked me on the highway, you attempted to
steal my charm by force? or is it because you endeavoured fraudulently to
get possessed of my property, the shadow, which had been confided to your
simple honour?  For myself, I do not hate you for that; it is quite
natural you should seek to turn your advantages, your cunning, your
strength to good account.  That you have the most rigid principles, and
are honesty itself, is a hobby-horse belief of your own, to which I can
have no objection.  My notions are not so strict as yours: I only act
according to your notions.  But did I ever attempt to strangle you in
order to possess your valuable soul, to which I really have a great
liking?  Have I, for the sake of my bartered purse, let loose a servant
upon you, and endeavoured to run away with it?"  I could answer nothing
to all this,--and he continued.--"Well then, sir, well!  You cannot
endure me, I understand it, and am not displeased with you for that.  It
is clear we must part, and you really are become very tedious to me; but
to get rid of my perplexing presence altogether for the future, I will
give you a piece of advice--buy the thing of me!"  I held out the purse
to him.  "At the price?"--"No!"--I sighed deeply, and began again.--"Well,
then, I insist upon it, we must part,--do not stop up my way any longer
in a world which is wide enough for both of us."  He smiled, and
replied:--"I go, sir; but I will first instruct you how to summon me,
when you wish for the presence of your most humble slave: you need only
shake your purse, that its exhaustless pieces may tinkle, and the sound
will draw me instantly to you.  Everybody in this world thinks of his own
interests; you see I also am attending to yours--for I give you
spontaneously a new power.--Excellent purse! and even if the moths had
devoured your shadow, there would be a strong bond of union between us.
But enough--you possess me while you possess my gold; however distant,
command your servant--you know I am always ready to do honour to my
friends, and that I have for the wealthy an especial regard; that you
yourself have seen--but as for your shadow, sir, allow me to assure you,
your shadow will never be yours but on one condition."

Visions of old time floated in my soul.  I inquired hastily: "Did Mr.
Jones give you his signature?"  He smiled: "With so good a friend it was
not necessary."--"Where is he--where?  By Heavens I will know!"  He put
his hand slowly into his pocket, and drew out by the hair the pale and
ghastly form of Thomas Jones.  Its blue and deadly lips trembled with the
dreadful words: "_Justo judicio Dei judicatus sum_; _justo judicio Dei
condemnatus sum_."  I was horror-struck--I dashed the clinking purse
hastily into the abyss, and uttered these last words, "I conjure thee, in
the name of God, monster, begone, and never again appear before these
eyes."  He rose up with a gloomy frown, and vanished instantaneously
behind the dark masses of rock which surrounded that wild and savage


I sat there shadowless and penniless: but a heavy weight had been removed
from my bosom, and I was calm.  Had I not lost my love, or had that loss
left me free from self-reproach, I believe I might have been happy; but I
knew not what steps I should take.  I searched my pockets, and found that
a few pieces of gold remained to me; I counted them smilingly.  I had
left my horse at the inn below.  I was ashamed to return there, at least
till the setting of the sun--and the sun was high in the heavens.  I laid
myself down in the shade of a neighbouring tree, and fell quietly asleep.

The sweetest images danced cheerfully around me in my delightful dreams.
Mina, crowned with a garland of flowers, hovered over me, and cheered me
with an affectionate smile.  The noble Bendel was there, too, weaving a
flowery wreath, and approaching me with a friendly greeting.  Many others
also were there, and among them methought I saw even thee, Chamisso, in
the distant crowd.  A bright light shone, but there were no shadows; and,
what was more singular, all appeared happy--flowers and songs, and love
and joy, under groves of palms.  I could hardly realize, understand, or
point out the flitting, swiftly dispersed, and lovely forms; but I
enjoyed such visions, I would fain not awake--but I awoke,--though I kept
my eyes closed, that the vanishing dreams might play a little longer
round my soul.

But I opened my eyes at last--the sun was in the heavens, but in the
east; I had slept through the night.  I took this for a sign that I ought
not to return to the inn.  I willingly abandoned that which I had so
lately left there, and determined to take on foot a by-road, which led
through the forest-girded base of the hill, leaving it to fate to
determine what might be my lot.  I looked not back; I thought not even of
applying to Bendel, whom I had left in wealth behind me, which I might so
easily have done.  I began to consider what new character I should assume
in the world.  My appearance was very unpretending: I wore an old black
coat, which I had formerly worn in Berlin, and which, I know not how, I
had taken for this journey.  I had only a travelling-cap on my head, and
a pair of worn-out boots on my feet.  I rose up, cut a knobbed stick from
the spot as a sort of memento, and began my wanderings.

I overtook in the wood an old peasant, who greeted me with great
kindness, and with whom I entered into conversation.  I first inquired,
like a curious traveller, about the road, then about the neighbourhood
and its inhabitants, the productions of the mountain, and such matters.
He answered my inquiries talkatively and sensibly.  We came to the bed of
a mountain-stream, which had spread its devastations over a wide part of
the forest.  I shuddered inwardly before the wide sunny place, and let
the countryman precede me.  He however stood still in the middle of this
frightful spot, and turned round towards me, in order to give me the
history of the overflow.  He soon observed what was wanting to me, and
stopped in the middle of his narrative to say: "But how is this--the
gentleman has got no shadow!"  "Alas! alas!" I replied with a sigh, "I
had a long and dreadful illness, and lost my hair, my nails, and my
shadow!  Look, father, at my time of life, my hair, which has grown
again, quite white, my nails sadly short, and my shadow is not yet
springing forth."--"Ay! ay," said the old man, shaking his head, "no
shadow! that's odd--the gentleman must have had a sad illness!"  But he
did not go on with his story, and at the next cross path he glided away
from, me without saying a word.  Bitter tears trembled again on my
cheeks--all my serenity was gone.

With a heavy heart I moved forwards, and sought the society of man no
longer.  I concealed myself in the thickest of the forest, and was often
obliged to wait for hours in order to get over sunny spots, even where no
human eye forbade my progress; in the evening I sought a retreat in the
villages.  At last I bent my course towards a mine in the mountain, where
I hoped to find employment under ground; for besides that my situation
required me even to procure my daily bread, I clearly perceived that
nothing but the most laborious toil would be any protection from my
convulsive thoughts.

A couple of rainy days helped me far on my way, but at the cost of my
boots, whose soles were made to suit Count Peter, and not a running
footman: I soon walked on my naked feet, and was obliged to procure
another pair of boots.  The next morning I attended earnestly to this
affair in a village, where a fair was held, and where old and new boots
were exposed in a shop for sale.  I selected and bargained for a long
time.  I was obliged to abandon a new pair which I wished to possess--I
was frightened by the extravagant price, and satisfied myself, therefore,
with old ones, which were yet firm and strong, and which the fair and
light-haired shop-boy handed to me for my ready cash with a smile, while
he wished me a prosperous journey.  I put them on immediately, and went
away through a door which lay to the north.

I was lost in my own thoughts, and hardly observed where I put my
foot--for I was still planning about the mine, whither I hoped to arrive
by the evening, and hardly knew how I should manage to introduce myself
there.  I had not advanced two hundred paces ere I discovered that I had
lost my way; I looked round, and found myself in an antique and desert
wood of firs, to the roots of which it appeared the axe had never been
laid.  I still hastened onwards a few steps, and perceived I was among
dreary rocks, surrounded only by moss and stones, between which lay piles
of snow and ice.  The wind was extremely cold, and when I looked round,
the forest had wholly disappeared.  Yet a few paces forward, the
stillness of death possessed me--the ice on which I stood stretched
boundlessly before me--a dark mist hung over it--the red sun looked from
the edge of the horizon.  The cold was intolerable; I knew not how it had
happened, but the benumbing frost forced me to accelerate my steps.  I
heard the roar of distant waters--another bewildered step, and I was on
the ice-borders of the ocean.  Countless herds of seals dashed splashing
into the stream.  I followed the sea-shore, and saw again naked rocks,
land, forests of birch and pine-trees.  I moved forwards for a few
minutes--it was burning hot: around me were richly cultivated rice-fields
under mulberry-trees, in whose shadow I sat down, and looking at my
watch, I found it not less than a quarter of an hour since I left the
village.  I fancied I was dreaming--I bit my tongue to awake myself, and
I was aroused most thoroughly.  I closed my eyes in order to assemble my
thoughts.  I heard strange nasal sounds--I looked around; two Chinese,
whose Asiatic countenances I could not mistake, were saluting me
according to the custom of their country, and in their own language; I
arose and walked back two steps.  I saw them no longer--the landscape was
wholly changed; trees and woods had succeeded to the rice-fields.  I
looked pensively on the trees and plants which were blooming around me,
and saw that they were the productions of South-eastern Asia.  I went
towards a tree--and all was again changed.  I walked forwards like a
drilled recruit, with slow paces.  Wonderful varieties of countries,
fields, meadows, mountains, wastes, and sandy deserts rolled along before
my astounded sight; doubtless I had the seven-leagued boots on my legs.


I fell down on my knees in speechless devotion, and shed tears of
gratitude--my future destiny seemed bright in my soul.  Shut out from
human society by my early guilt, nature, which I had ever loved, was
given me for my enjoyment, spread out like a rich garden before me, an
object of study for the guide and strength of my life, of which science
was to be the end.  It was no decision of my own.  What then appeared
bright and perfect in my inner thoughts I have since endeavoured to
describe with calm, earnest, unremitting diligence, and my happiness has
depended on the intensity of my recollections.

I rose up hastily, in order that by a rapid survey I might take
possession of the field in which I wished to make my harvest.  I stood
upon the mountains of Thibet, and the sun, which had risen a few hours
before, was now sinking in the evening sky.  I journeyed from the east
towards the west of Asia, overtaking the sun in his progress, and passed
the boundaries of Africa.  I looked round with great curiosity, and
crossed it in all directions.  As I glanced over the old pyramids and
temples of Egypt, I observed in the deserts near the hundred-gated
Thebes, the caverns once occupied by Christian anchorites: instantly it
occurred impressively and distinctly to me--there is thy abode.  I chose
for my future dwelling, one of the most secret chambers, which was at the
same time roomy, convenient, and inaccessible to the jackals, and moved
forward with my staff.

I passed into Europe by the Pillars of Hercules, and, after I had taken a
rapid survey of its southern and northern provinces, I hastened to North
Asia, and thence over the polar glaciers to Greenland and America.  I
rambled through both parts of that continent, and the winter which had
begun to reign in the south now drove me quickly back northwards from
Cape Horn.

I lingered till the day dawned in eastern Asia, and after a short repose
again entered on my wanderings.  I followed the chains of mountains,
through the two Americas, some of the highest elevations known in our
globe.  I trod slowly and prudently from height to height, now over
flaming volcanos, and now over snowy cupolas.  I was often almost
breathless with weariness, but I reached the Elias mountain and sprung to
Asia across Behring's Straits.  I pursued the western coast along its
numerous windings, and endeavoured to ascertain by special observation
which of the islands in the neighbourhood were accessible to me.  From
the Malacca peninsula my boots took me to Sumatra, Java, Balli, and
Lamboc.  I endeavoured, often with peril, and always in vain, to find a
north-west passage over the inlets and the rocks with which the ocean is
studded, to Borneo and the other islands of the Eastern Archipelago--but
I was obliged to abandon the hope.  I sat down at last on the farthest
verge of Lamboc, and turning my eyes to the south and east, I wept as if
within the grates of a prison, that I could proceed no farther.  New
Holland, {112} that extraordinary country, so essentially necessary to
understanding the philosophy of the earth, and its sun-embroidered dress,
the vegetable and the animal world; and the South Sea with its Zoophyte
islands, were interdicted to me; and thus everything on which I would
have gathered together and erected my hopes was condemned to be left a
mere fragment, even in its very origin.  O, my Adalbert! such is the
reward for all the labours of man!

In the coldest winter of the southern hemisphere I have stood on Cape
Horn, meditating on the two hundred paces, or thereabouts, which divided
me from New Holland and Van Diemen's Land--careless about the means of
returning, and indifferent even though that strange land should lie over
me like the cover of my bier.  I attempted to cross the polar glaciers
towards the west, and, with foolishly daring yet desponding steps, to
pass upon the floating ice, braving the frost and the waves.  In vain--I
have never yet been in New Holland.  I returned again to Lamboc--again I
sat myself on the outer verge--my face turned to the south and east, and
wept again, as if at the fast-closed iron-window of my prison.

{Schlemihl using the boots: p113.jpg}

I rose up at last from this spot, and with a dejected heart journeyed to
the interior of Asia.  I hastened onwards, perceiving the day break
towards the west, and at night reached my before-described abode in
Thebes, which I had just looked into the previous afternoon.

As soon as I had taken some repose, and the day had dawned upon Europe,
my first care was to provide for my necessities.  First, stop-shoes; for
I had discovered that, however inconvenient it might be, there was no way
of shortening my pace in order to move conveniently in my immediate
neighbourhood, except by drawing off my boots.  A pair of slippers,
however, produced the wished-for effect, and henceforward I always took
care to be provided with a couple of pair, as I often threw one pair away
if I had not time to lay hold of them, when the approach of lions, men,
or hyaenas interrupted my botanizing.  My excellent watch was an
admirable chronometer to me for the short period of my peregrinations;
but I required a sextant, some philosophical instruments, and books.

In order to obtain all these things, I made some tedious journeys to
London, and Paris, which were both overshadowed by friendly fogs.  As I
had exhausted the remainder of my magic gold, I brought with me for the
purposes of payment, some African elephants' teeth which I easily
obtained, though I was obliged to choose the smallest among them, that
they might not be too much for my strength.  I was soon supplied and
stocked with everything I required, and began my new mode of life as a
retired philosopher.

I journeyed over the east, now measuring its mountains--now the
temperature of its streams and of its air; now observing its animals--now
examining its plants.  I hastened from the equator to the pole--from one
world to another--comparing experience with experience.  The eggs of the
African ostrich, or the northern sea-fowl, and fruits, especially
tropical palms and bananas, were my usual refreshments.  Instead of my
departed fortune I enjoyed my _Nicotiana_--it served instead of the good
opinion of mankind.  And then as to my affections: I had a love of a
little dog, that watched my Theban cave, and when I returned to it laden
with new treasures, it sprang forwards to meet me, making me feel the
spirit of humanity within me, and that I was not quite alone on the
earth.  But, notwithstanding this, calamity was yet to drive me back to
the haunts of men!


Once, being on the northern coast, having drawn on my boots while I was
gathering together my straggling plants and seaweeds, a white bear
approached unawares the verge of the rock on which I stood.  I wished to
throw off my slippers and move off to an adjacent island, which I
expected to reach over a rock whose head towered above the waves.  With
one foot I reached the rock; I stretched out the other and fell into the
sea: I had not observed that my foot was only half-released from the

{Schlemihl and the bear: p116.jpg}

Overpowered by the tremendous cold, I had the greatest difficulty in
rescuing my life from this peril; but as soon as I reached the land, I
hurried off to the wastes of Libya to dry myself there in the sun.  I
had, however, scarcely set out ere the burning heat so oppressed my head,
that I reeled back again to the north very ill.  I sought relief in rapid
movements; and with uncertain and hurried steps I hastened from the west
to the east, and from the east to the west.  I placed myself in the most
rapid vicissitudes of day and night; now in the heats of summer, and now
in the winter's cold.

I know not how long I thus wandered over the earth.  A burning fever
glowed through my veins, and with dreadful agony I perceived my intellect
abandoning me.  Misfortune would have it that I should carelessly tread
on a traveller's heel; I must have hurt him, for I received a violent
blow; I staggered, and fell.

When I recovered my senses I was comfortably stretched on an excellent
bed, which stood among many others in a roomy and handsome apartment.
Somebody was sitting near my pillow; many persons passed through the
hall, going from one bed to another.  They stood before mine, and I was
the subject of their conversation.  They called me _Number Twelve_; and
on the wall at the foot of my bed that number certainly stood--it was no
illusion, for I could read it most distinctly: there was a black marble
slab, on which was inscribed in large golden letters, my name,

Peter Schlemihl,

quite correctly written.  On the slab, and under my name, were two lines
of letters, but I was too weak to connect them, and closed my eyes again.

I heard something of which Peter Schlemihl was the subject, loudly and
distinctly uttered, but I could not collect the meaning.  I saw a
friendly man and a beautiful woman in black apparel, standing before my
bed.  Their forms were not strangers to me, though I could not recognize

Some time passed by, and I gradually gathered strength.  I was called No.
12, and No. 12, by virtue of his long beard, passed off for a Jew, but
was not the less attended to on that account.  Nobody seemed to notice
that he had no shadow.  My boots were, as I was assured, to be found,
with everything else that had been discovered with me, in good and safe
keeping, and ready to be delivered to me on my recovery.  The place in
which I lay ill was called the _Schlemihlium_; and there was a daily
exhortation to pray for Peter Schlemihl, as the founder and benefactor of
the hospital.  The friendly man whom I had seen at my bedside was Bendel;
the lovely woman was Mina.

I lived peaceably in the _Schlemihlium_, quite unknown; but I discovered
that I was in Bendel's native place, and that he had built this hospital
with the remainder of my once-unhallowed gold.  The unfortunate blessed
me daily, for he had built it in my name, and conducted it wholly under
his own inspection.  Mina was a widow: an unlucky criminal process had
cost Mr. Rascal his life, and taken from her the greater part of her
property.  Her parents were no more.  She dwelt here like a pious widow,
and dedicated herself to works of charity.

She was once conversing with Mr. Bendel near the bed No. 12.--"Why, noble
woman, expose yourself to the bad air which is so prevalent here?  Is
your fate then so dreary that you long for death?"--"No, Mr. Bendel;
since I have dreamt out my long dreams, and my inner self was awakened,
all is well--death is the object of neither my hopes nor my fears.  Since
then, I think calmly of the past and of the future.  And you--do you not
yet serve your master and friend in this godlike manner, with sweet and
silent satisfaction?"--"Yes, noble woman--God be praised!  Ours has been
a marvellous destiny.  From our full cup we have thoughtlessly drunk much
joy and much bitter sorrow: 'tis empty now.  Hitherto we have had only a
trial; now, with prudent solicitude, we wait for the real introduction to
substantial things.  Far different is the true beginning; but who would
play over again the early game of life, though it is a blessing, on the
whole, to have lived?  I am supported by the conviction that our old
friend is better provided for now than then."--"I feel it too," answered
the lovely widow, and they left me.

This conversation had produced a deep impression within me; but I doubted
in my mind if I should discover myself, or set out unknown from the
place.  I decided, however; I ordered paper and pencil to be brought to
me, and wrote these words:--

"Your old friend too is better provided for than formerly, and if he do
penance it is the penance of reconciliation."

On this, finding myself better, I desired to dress myself.  The keys were
deposited on the little trunk which stood close to my bed.  I found in it
everything that belonged to me: I put on my clothes; and hung over my
black coat my botanical case, where I found again, with transport, my
northern plants.  I drew on my boots, laid the note which I had written
on my bed, and when the door opened, was far on my way towards Thebes.

A long time ago, as I was tracing back my way homewards along the Syrian
coast, the last time I had wandered from my dwelling, I saw my poor
Figaro approaching me.  This charming spaniel seemed to wish to follow
the steps of his master, for whom he must have so long waited.  I stood
still and called him to me.  He sprang barking towards me, with a
thousand expressions of his innocent and extravagant joy.  I took him
under my arm, for, in truth, he could not follow me, and brought him with
me safely home.

I found everything thus in order, and returned again, as my strength
returned, to my former engagements and habits of life.  And now for a
whole twelvemonth I have refrained from exposing myself to the unbearable
winter's cold.

And thus, my beloved Chamisso--thus do I yet live.  My boots have not
lost their virtues, as the very learned tome of Tieckius, _De rebus
gestis Pollicilli_, gave me reason to apprehend.  Their power is
unbroken: but my strength is failing, though I have confidence I have
applied them to their end, and not fruitlessly.  I have learned more
profoundly than any man before me, everything respecting the earth: its
figure, heights, temperature; its atmosphere in all its changes; the
appearance of its magnetic strength; its productions, especially of the
vegetable world; all in every part whither my boots would carry me.  I
have published the facts, clearly arranged, with all possible accuracy,
in different works, with my ideas and conclusions set down in various
treatises.  I have established the geography of interior Africa and of
the North Pole,--of central Asia and its eastern coasts.  My _Historia
Stirpium Plantarum utriusque Orbis_ has appeared, being but a large
fragment of my _Flora universalis Terrae_, and a companion to my _Systema
Naturae_.  In that I believe I have not only increased the number of
known species more than a third (moderately speaking), but have thrown
some light on the general system of nature, and the geography of plants.
I am now busily engaged with my Fauna.  I will take care before my death
that my MSS. be disposed in the Berlin university.

And you, my beloved Chamisso, you have I chosen for the keeper of my
marvellous history, which, when I shall have vanished from the earth, may
tend to the improvement of many of its inhabitants.  But, my friend,
while you live among mankind, learn above all things first to reverence
your shadow, and next your money.  If you will only live for Chamisso and
his better self, you need no counsel of mine.




{20}  A frock coat.

{37}  Another novel of Fouque.

{112}  Australia.

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