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Title: Memories - A Story of German Love
Author: Müller, F. Max (Friedrich Max), 1823-1900
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.

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the German text

Transcriber's note:  This book contains several brief passages in German,
                     each of which is followed by an English translation.
                     Several of the German words contain "o-umlaut",
                     which has been rendered as "oe".  Several others
                     contain the German "Eszett" character, which has
                     been rendered as "ss".


A Story of German Love

Translated from the German of



George P. Upton

A. C. McClurg & Co.





The translation of any work is at best a difficult task, and must
inevitably be prejudicial to whatever of beauty the original possesses.
When the principal charm of the original lies in its elegant
simplicity, as in the case of the "Deutsche Liebe," the difficulty is
still further enhanced.  The translator has sought to reproduce the
simple German in equally simple English, even at the risk of
transferring German idioms into the English text.

The story speaks for itself.  Without plot, incidents or situations, it
is nevertheless dramatically constructed, unflagging in interest,
abounding in beauty, grace and pathos, and filled with the tenderest
feeling of sympathy, which will go straight to the heart of every lover
of the ideal in the world of humanity, and every worshipper in the
world of nature.  Its brief essays upon theology, literature and social
habits, contained in the dialogues between the hero and the heroine,
will commend themselves to the thoughtful reader by their clearness and
beauty of statement, as well as by their freedom from prejudice.
"Deutsche Liebe" is a poem in prose, whose setting is all the more
beautiful and tender, in that it is freed from the bondage of metre,
and has been the unacknowledged source of many a poet's most striking

As such, the translator gives it to the public, confident that it will
find ready acceptance among those who cherish the ideal, and a tender
welcome by every lover of humanity.

The translator desires to make acknowledgments to J. J. Lalor, Esq.,
late of the Chicago _Tribune_ for his hearty co-operation in the
progress of the work, and many valuable suggestions; to Prof. Feuling,
the eminent philologist, of the University of Wisconsin, for his
literal version of the extracts from the "Deutsche Theologie," which
preserve the quaintness of the original, and to Mrs. F. M. Brown, for
her metrical version of Goethe's almost untranslatable lines, "Ueber
allen Gipfeln, ist Ruh," which form the keynote of the beautiful
harmony in the character of the heroine.

  Chicago, November, 1874.


Who has not, at some period of his life, seated himself at a
writing-table, where, only a short time before, another sat, who now
rests in the grave?  Who has not opened the drawers, which for long
years have hidden the secrets of a heart now buried in the holy peace
of the church-yard?  Here lie the letters which were so precious to
him, the beloved one; here the pictures, ribbons, and books with marks
on every leaf.  Who can now read and interpret them?  Who can gather
again the withered and scattered leaves of this rose, and vivify them
with fresh perfume?  The flames, in which the Greeks enveloped the
bodies of the departed for the purpose of destruction; the flames, into
which the ancients cast everything once dearest to the living, are now
the securest repository for these relics.  With trembling fear the
surviving friend reads the leaves no eye has ever seen, save those now
so firmly closed, and if, after a glance, too hasty even to read them,
he is convinced these letters and leaves contain nothing which men deem
important, he throws them quickly upon the glowing coals--a flash and
they are gone.

From such flames the following leaves have been saved.  They were at
first intended only for the friends of the deceased, yet they have
found friends even among strangers, and, since it is so to be, may
wander anew in distant lands.  Gladly would the compiler have furnished
more, but the leaves are too much scattered and mutilated to be
rearranged and given complete.


Childhood has its secrets and its mysteries; but who can tell or who
can explain them!  We have all roamed through this silent
wonder-wood--we have all once opened our eyes in blissful astonishment,
as the beautiful reality of life overflowed our souls.  We knew not
where, or who, we were--the whole world was ours and we were the whole
world's.  That was an infinite life--without beginning and without end,
without rest and without pain.  In the heart, it was as clear as the
spring heavens, fresh as the violet's perfume--hushed and holy as a
Sabbath morning.

What disturbs this God's-peace of the child?  How can this unconscious
and innocent existence ever cease?  What dissipates the rapture of this
individuality and universality, and suddenly leaves us solitary and
alone in a clouded life?

Say not, with serious face.  It is sin!  Can even a child sin?  Say
rather, we know not, and must only resign ourselves to it.

Is it sin, which makes the bud a blossom, and the blossom fruit, and
the fruit dust?

Is it sin, which makes the worm a chrysalis, and the chrysalis a
butterfly, and the butterfly dust?

And is it sin, which makes the child a man, and the man a gray-haired
man, and the gray-haired man dust?  And what is dust?

Say rather, we know not, and must only resign ourselves to it.

Yet it is so beautiful, recalling the spring-time of life, to look back
and remember one's self.  Yes, even in the sultry summer, in the
melancholy autumn and in the cold winter of life, there is here and
there a spring day, and the heart says: "I feel like spring."  Such a
day is this--and so I lay me down upon the soft moss of the fragrant
woods, and stretch out my weary limbs, and look up, through the green
foliage, into the boundless blue, and think how it used to be in that

Then, all seems forgotten.  The first pages of memory are like the old
family Bible.  The first leaves are wholly faded and somewhat soiled
with handling.  But, when we turn further, and come to the chapters
where Adam and Eve were banished from Paradise, then, all begins to
grow clear and legible.  Now if we could only find the title-page with
the imprint and date--but that is irrevocably lost, and, in their
place, we find only the clear transcript--our baptismal
certificate--bearing witness when we were born, the names of our
parents and godparents, and that we were not issued _sine loco et anno_.

But, oh this beginning!  Would there were none, since, with the
beginning, all thought and memories alike cease.  When we thus dream
back into childhood, and from childhood into infinity, this bad
beginning continually flies further away.  The thoughts pursue it and
never overtake it; just as a child seeks the spot where the blue sky
touches the earth, and runs and runs, while the sky always runs before
it, yet still touches the earth--but the child grows weary and never
reaches the spot.

But even since we were once there--wherever it may be, where we had a
beginning, what do we know now?  For memory shakes itself like the
spaniel, just come out of the waves, while the water runs in, his eyes
and he looks very strangely.

I believe I can even yet remember when I saw the stars for the first
time.  They may have seen me often before, but one evening it seemed as
if it were cold.  Although I lay in my mother's lap, I shivered and was
chilly, or I was frightened.  In short, something came over me which
reminded me of my little Ego in no ordinary manner.  Then my mother
showed me the bright stars, and I wondered at them, and thought that
she had made them very beautifully.  Then I felt warm again, and could
sleep well.

Furthermore, I remember how I once lay in the grass and everything
about me tossed and nodded, hummed and buzzed.  Then there came a great
swarm of little, myriad-footed, winged creatures, which lit upon my
forehead and eyes and said, "Good day."  Immediately my eyes smarted,
and I cried to my mother, and she said: "Poor little one, how the gnats
have stung him!"  I could not open my eyes or see the blue sky any
longer, but my mother had a bunch of fresh violets in her hand, and it
seemed as if a dark-blue, fresh, spicy perfume were wafted through my
senses.  Even now, whenever I see the first violets, I remember this,
and it seems to me that I must close my eyes so that the old dark-blue
heaven of that day may again rise over my soul.

Still further do I remember, how, at another time, a new world
disclosed itself to me--more beautiful than the star-world or the
violet perfume.  It was on an Easter morning, and my mother had dressed
me early.  Before the window stood our old church.  It was not
beautiful, but still it had a lofty roof and tower, and on the tower a
golden cross, and it appeared very much older and grayer than the other
buildings.  I wondered who lived in it, and once I looked in through
the iron-grated door.  It was entirely empty, cold and dismal.  There
was not even one soul in the whole building, and after that I always
shuddered when I passed the door.  But on this Easter morning, it had
rained early, and when the sun came out in full splendor, the old
church with the gray sloping roof, the high windows and the tower with
the golden cross glistened with a wondrous shimmer.  All at once the
light which streamed through the lofty windows began to move and
glisten.  It was so intensely bright that one could have looked within,
and as I closed my eyes the light entered my soul and therein
everything seemed to shed brilliancy and perfume, to sing and to ring.
It seemed to me a new life had commenced in myself and that I was
another being, and when I asked my mother what it meant, she replied it
was an Easter song they were singing in the church.  What bright, holy
song it was, which at that time surged through my soul, I have never
been able to discover.  It must have been an old church hymn, like
those which many a time stirred the rugged soul of our Luther.  I never
heard it again, but many a time even now when I hear an adagio of
Beethoven's, or a psalm of Marcellus, or a chorus of Handel's, or a
simple song in the Scotch Highlands or the Tyrol, it seems to me as if
the lofty church windows again glistened and the organ-tones once more
surged through my soul, and a new world revealed itself--more beautiful
than the starry heavens and the violet perfume.

These things I remember in my earliest childhood, and intermingled with
them are my dear mother's looks, the calm, earnest gaze of my father,
gardens and vine leaves, and soft green turf, and a very old and quaint
picture-book--and this is all I can recall of the first scattered
leaves of my childhood.

Afterwards it grows brighter and clearer.  Names and faces appear--not
only father and mother, but brothers and sisters, friends and teachers,
and a multitude of _strange people_.  Ah! yes, of these _strange
people_ there is so much recorded in memory.


Not far from our house, and opposite the old church with the golden
cross, stood a large building, even larger than the church, and having
many towers.  They looked exceedingly gray and old and had no golden
cross, but stone eagles tipped the summits and a great white and blue
banner fluttered from the highest tower, directly over the lofty
doorway at the top of the steps, where, on either side, two mounted
soldiers stood sentinels.  The building had many windows, and behind
the windows you could distinguish red-silk curtains with golden
tassels.  Old lindens encircled the grounds, which, in summer,
overshadowed the gray masonry with their green leaves and bestrewed the
turf with their fragrant white blossoms.  I had often looked in there,
and at evening when the lindens exhaled their perfumes and the windows
were illuminated, I saw many figures pass and repass like shadows.
Music swept down from on high, and carriages drove up, from which
ladies and gentlemen alighted and ascended the stairs.  They all looked
so beautiful and good!  The gentlemen had stars upon their breasts, and
the ladies wore fresh flowers in their hair; and I often thought,--Why
do I not go there too?

One day my father took me by the hand and said: "We are going to the
castle; but you must be very polite if the Princess speaks to you, and
kiss her hand."

I was about six years of age and as delighted as only one can be at six
years of age.  I had already indulged in many quiet fancies about the
shadows which I had seen evenings through the lighted windows, and had
heard many good things at home of the beneficence of the Prince and
Princess; how gracious they were; how much help and consolation they
brought to the poor and sick; and that they had been chosen by the
grace of God to protect the good and punish the bad.  I had long
pictured to myself what transpired in the castle, so that the Prince
and Princess were already old acquaintances whom I knew as well as my
nut-crackers and leaden soldiers.

My heart beat quickly as I ascended the high stairs with my father, and
just as he was telling me I must call the Princess "Highness," and the
Prince "Serene Highness," the folding-door opened and I saw before me a
tall figure with brilliantly piercing eyes.  She seemed to advance and
stretch out her hand to me.  There was an expression on her countenance
which I had long known, and a heavenly smile played about her cheeks.
I could restrain myself no longer, and while my father stood at the
door bowing very low--I knew not why--my heart sprang into my throat.
I ran to the beautiful lady, threw my arms round her neck and kissed
her as I would my mother.  The beautiful, majestic lady willingly
submitted, stroked my hair and smiled; but my father took my hand, led
me away, and said I was very rude, and that he should never take me
there again.  I grew utterly bewildered.  The blood mounted to my
cheeks, for I felt that my father had been unjust to me.  I looked at
the Princess as if she ought to shield me, but upon her face was only
an expression of mild earnestness.  Then I looked round upon the ladies
and gentlemen assembled in the room, believing that they would come to
my defense.  But as I looked, I saw that they were laughing.  Then the
tears sprang into my eyes, and out of the door, down the stairs, and
past the lindens in the castle yard, I rushed home, where I threw
myself into my mother's arms and sobbed and wept.

"What has happened to you?" said she.

"Oh! mother!" I cried; "I was at the Princess', and she was such a good
and beautiful woman, just like you, dear mother, that I had to throw my
arms round her neck and kiss her."

"Ah!" said my mother; "you should not have done that, for they are
strangers and high dignitaries."

"And what then are strangers?" said I.

"May I not love all people who look upon me with affectionate and
friendly eyes?"

"You can love them, my son," replied my mother, "but you should not
show it."

"Is it then something wrong for me to love people?" said I.  "Why
cannot I show it?"

"Well, perhaps you are right," said she, "but you must do as your
father says, and when you are older you will understand why you cannot
embrace every woman who regards you with affectionate and friendly

That was a sad day.  Father came home, agreed I had been very uncivil.
At night my mother put me to bed, and I prayed, but I could not sleep,
and kept wondering what these strange people were, whom one must not

      *      *      *      *      *

Thou poor human heart!  So soon in the spring are thy leaves broken and
the feathers torn from the wings!  When the spring-red of life opens
the hidden calyx of the soul, it perfumes our whole being with love.
We learn to stand and to walk, to speak and to read, but no one teaches
us love.  It is inherent in us like life, they say, and is the very
deepest foundation of our existence.  As the heavenly bodies incline to
and attract each other, and will always cling together by the
everlasting law of gravitation, so heavenly souls incline to and
attract each other, and will always cling together by the everlasting
law of love.  A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man cannot
live without love.  Would not the child's heart break in despair when
the first cold storm of the world sweeps over it, if the warm sunlight
of love from the eyes of mother and father did not shine upon him like
the soft reflection of divine light and love?  The ardent yearning,
which then awakes in the child, is the purest and deepest love.  It is
the love which embraces the whole world; which shines resplendent
wherever the eyes of men beam upon it, which exults wherever it hears
the human voice.  It is the old, immeasurable love, a deep well which
no plummet has ever sounded; a fountain of perennial richness.  Whoever
knows it also knows that in love there is no More and no Less; but that
he who loves can only love with the whole heart, and with the whole
soul; with all his strength and with all his will.

But, alas, how little remains of this love by the time we have finished
one-half of our life-journey!  Soon the child learns that there are
strangers, and ceases to be a child.  The spring of love becomes hidden
and soon filled up.  Our eyes gleam no more, and heavy-hearted we pass
one another in the bustling streets.  We scarcely greet each other, for
we know how sharply it cuts the soul when a greeting remains
unanswered, and how sad it is to be sundered from those whom we have
once greeted, and whose hands we have clasped.  The wings of the soul
lose their plumes; the leaves of the flower fast fall off and wither;
and of this fountain of love there remain but a few drops.  We still
call these few drops love, but it is no longer the clear, fresh,
all-abounding child-love.  It is love with anxiety and trouble, a
consuming flame, a burning passion; love which wastes itself like
rain-drops upon the hot sand; love which is a longing, not a sacrifice;
love which says "Wilt thou be mine," not love which says, "I must be
thine."  It is a most selfish, vacillating love.  And this is the love
which poets sing and in which young men and maidens believe; a fire
which burns up and down, yet does not warm, and leaves nothing behind
but smoke and ashes.  All of us at some period of life have believed
that these rockets of sunbeams were everlasting love, but the brighter
the glitter, the darker the night which follows.

And then when all around grows dark, when we feel utterly alone, when
all men right and left pass us by and know us not, a forgotten feeling
rises in the breast.  We know not what it is, for it is neither love
nor friendship.  You feel like crying to him who passes you so cold and
strange: "Dost thou not know me?"  Then one realizes that man is nearer
to man than brother to brother, father to son, or friend to friend.
How an old, holy saying rings through our souls, that strangers are
nearest to us.  Why must we pass them in silence?  We know not, but
must resign ourselves to it.  When two trains are rushing by upon the
iron rails and thou seest a well-known eye that would recognize thee,
stretch out thy hand and try to grasp the hand of a friend, and perhaps
thou wilt understand why man passes man in silence here below.

An old sage says: "I saw the fragments of a wrecked boat floating on
the sea.  Only a few meet and hold together a long time.  Then comes a
storm and drives them east and west, and here below they will never
meet again.  So it is with mankind.  Yet no one has seen the great


The clouds in the sky of childhood do not last long, and disappear
after a short, warm tear-rain.  I was shortly again at the castle, and
the Princess gave me her hand to kiss and then brought her children,
the young princes and princesses, and we played together, as if we had
known each other for years.  Those were happy days when, after
school--for I was now attending school--I could go to the castle and
play.  We had everything the heart could wish.  I found playthings
there which my mother had shown me in the shop-windows, and which were
so dear, she told me, that poor people could live a whole week on what
they cost.  When I begged the Princess' permission to take them home
and show them to my mother, she was perfectly willing.  I could turn
over and over and look for hours at a time at beautiful picture books,
which I had seen in the book stores with my father, but which were made
only for very good children.  Everything which belonged to the young
princes belonged also to me--so I thought, at least.  Furthermore, I
was not only allowed to carry away what I wished, but I often gave away
the playthings to other children.  In short, I was a young Communist,
in the full sense of the term.  I remember at one time the Princess had
a golden snake which coiled itself around her arm as if it were alive,
and she gave it to us for a plaything.  As I was going home I put the
snake on my arm and thought I would give my mother a real fright with
it.  On the way, however, I met a woman who noticed the snake and
begged me to show it to her; and then she said if she could only keep
the golden snake, she could release her husband from prison with it.
Naturally I did not stop to think for a minute, but ran away and left
the woman alone with the golden serpent-bracelet.  The next day there
was much excitement.  The poor woman was brought to the castle and the
people said she had stolen it.  Thereupon I grew very angry and
explained with holy zeal that I had given her the bracelet and that I
would not take it back again.  What further occurred I know not, but I
remember that after that time, I showed the Princess everything I took
home with me.

It was a long time before my conceptions of Meum and Tuum were fully
settled, and at a very late period they were at times confused, just as
it was a long time before I could distinguish between the blue and red
colors.  The last time I remember my friends laughing at me on this
account was when my mother gave me some money to buy apples.  She gave
me a groschen.  The apples cost only a sechser, and when I gave the
woman the groschen, she said, very sadly as it seemed to me, that she
had sold nothing the whole livelong day and could not give me back a
sechser.  She wished I would buy a groschen's worth.  Then it occurred
to me that I also had a sechser in my pocket, and thoroughly delighted
that I had solved the difficult problem, I gave it to the woman and
said: "Now you can give me back a sechser."  She understood me so
little however that she gave me back the groschen and kept the sechser.

At this time, while I was making almost daily visits to the young
princes at the castle, both to play as well as to study French with
them, another image comes up in my memory.  It was the daughter of the
Princess, the Countess Marie.  The mother died shortly after the birth
of the child and the Prince subsequently married a second time.  I know
not when I saw her for the first time.  She emerges from the darkness
of memory slowly and gradually--at first like an airy shadow which
grows more and more distinct as it approaches nearer and nearer, at
last standing before my soul like the moon, which on some stormy night
throws back the cloud-veils from across its face.  She was always sick
and suffering and silent, and I never saw her except reclining upon her
couch, upon which two servants brought her into the room and carried
her out again, when she was tired.  There she lay in her flowing white
drapery, with her hands generally folded.  Her face was so pale and yet
so mild, and her eyes so deep and unfathomable, that I often stood
before her lost in thought and looked upon her and asked myself if she
was not one of the "strange people" also.  Many a time she placed her
hand upon my head and then it seemed to me that a thrill ran through
all my limbs and that I could not move or speak, but must forever gaze
into her deep, unfathomable eyes.  She conversed very little with us,
but watched our sports, and when at times we grew very noisy and
quarrelsome, she did not complain but held her white hands over her
brow and closed her eyes as if sleeping.  But there were days when she
said she felt better, and on such days she sat up on her couch,
conversed with us and told us curious stories.  I do not know how old
she was at that time.  She was so helpless that she seemed like a
child, and yet was so serious and silent that she could not have been
one.  When people alluded to her they involuntarily spoke gently and
softly.  They called her "the angel," and I never heard anything said
of her that was not good and lovely.  Often when I saw her lying so
silent and helpless, and thought that she would never walk again in
life, that there was for her neither work nor joy, that they would
carry her here and there upon her couch until they laid her upon her
eternal bed of rest, I asked myself why she had been sent into this
world, when she could have rested so gently on the bosom of the angels
and they could have borne her through the air on their white wings, as
I had seen in some sacred pictures.  Again I felt as if I must take a
part of her burden, so that she need not carry it alone, but we with
her.  I could not tell her all this for I knew it was not proper.  I
had an indefinable feeling.  It was not a desire to embrace her.  No
one could have done that, for it would have wronged her.  It seemed to
me as if I could pray from the very bottom of my heart that she might
be released from her burden.

One warm spring day she was brought into our room.  She looked
exceedingly pale; but her eyes were deeper and brighter than ever, and
she sat upon her couch and called us to her.  "It is my birth-day,"
said she, "and I was confirmed early this morning.  Now, it is
possible," she continued as she looked upon her father with a smile,
"that God may soon call me to him, although I would gladly remain with
you much longer.  But if I am to leave you, I desire that you should
not wholly forget me; and, therefore, I have brought a ring for each of
you, which you must now place upon the fore-finger.  As you grow older
you can continue to change it until it fits the little finger; but you
must wear it for your lifetime."

With these words she took the five rings she wore upon her fingers,
which she drew off, one after the other, with a look so sad and yet so
affectionate, that I pressed my eyes closely to keep from weeping.  She
gave the first ring to her eldest brother and kissed him, the second
and third to the two princesses, and the fourth to the youngest prince,
and kissed them all as she gave them the rings.  I stood near by, and,
looking fixedly at her white hand, saw that she still had a ring upon
her finger; but she leaned back and appeared wearied.  My eyes met
hers, and as the eyes of a child speak so loudly, she must have easily
known my thoughts, I would rather not have had the last ring, for I
felt that I was a stranger; that I did not belong to her, and that she
was not as affectionate to me as to her brothers and sisters.  Then
came a sharp pain in my breast as if a vein had burst or a nerve had
been severed, and I knew not which way to turn to conceal my anguish.

She soon raised herself again, placed her hand upon my forehead and
looked down into my heart so deeply that I felt I had not a thought
invisible to her.  She slowly drew the last ring from her finger, gave
it to me and said; "I intended to have taken this with me, when I went
from you, but it is better you should wear it and think of me when I am
no longer with you.  Read the words engraved upon the ring: 'As God
wills.'  You have a passionate heart, easily moved.  May life subdue
but not harden it."  Then she kissed me as she had her brothers and
gave me the ring.

All my feelings I do not truly know.  I had then grown up to boyhood,
and the mild beauty of the suffering angel could not linger in my young
heart without alluring it.  I loved her as only a boy can love, and
boys love with an intensity and truth and purity which few preserve in
their youth and manhood; but I believed she belonged to the "strange
people" to whom you are not allowed to speak of love.  I scarcely
understood the earnest words she spoke to me.  I only felt that her
soul was as near to mine as one human soul can be to another.  All
bitterness was gone from my heart.  I felt myself no longer alone, no
longer a stranger, no longer shut out.  I was by her, with her and in
her.  I thought it might be a sacrifice for her to give me the ring,
and that she might have preferred to take it to the grave with her, and
a feeling arose in my soul which overshadowed all other feelings, and I
said with quivering voice: "Thou must keep the ring if thou dost not
wish to give it to me; for what is thine is mine."  She looked at me a
moment surprised and thoughtfully.  Then she took the ring, placed it
on her finger, kissed me once more on the forehead, and said gently to
me: "Thou knowest not what thou sayest.  Learn to understand thyself.
Then shall thou be happy and make many others happy."


Every life has its years in which one progresses as on a tedious and
dusty street of poplars, without caring to know where he is.  Of these
years nought remains in memory but the sad feeling that we have
advanced and only grown older.  While the river of life glides along
smoothly, it remains the same river; only the landscape on either bank
seems to change.  But then come the cataracts of life.  They are firmly
fixed in memory, and even when we are past them and far away, and draw
nearer and nearer to the silent sea of eternity, even then it seems as
if we heard from afar their rush and roar.  We feel that the life-force
which yet remains and impels us onward still has its source and supply
from those cataracts.

School time was ended, the first fleeting years of university life were
over, and many beautiful life-dreams were over also.  But one of them
still remained: Faith in God and man.  Otherwise life would have been
circumscribed within one's narrow brain.  Instead of that, a nobler
consecration had preserved all, and even the painful and
incomprehensible events of life became a proof to me of the
omnipresence of the divine in the earthly.  "The least important thing
does not happen except as God wills it."  This was the brief
life-wisdom I had accumulated.

During the summer holidays I returned to my little native city.  What
joy in these meetings again!  No one has explained it, but in this
seeing and finding again, and in these self-memories, lie the real
secrets of all joy and pleasure.  What we see, hear or taste for the
first time may be beautiful, grand and agreeable, but it is too new.
It overpowers, but gives no repose, and the fatigue of enjoying is
greater than the enjoyment itself.  To hear again, years afterward, an
old melody, every note of which we supposed we had forgotten, and yet
to recognize it as an old acquaintance; or, after the lapse of many
years, to stand once more before the Sistine Madonna at Dresden, and
experience afresh all the emotions which the infinite look of the child
aroused in us for years; or to smell a flower or taste a dish again
which we have not thought of since childhood--all these produce such an
intense charm that we do not know which we enjoy most, the actual
pleasure or the old memory.  So when we return again, after long
absence, to our birth-place, the soul floats unconsciously in a sea of
memories, and the dancing waves dreamily toss themselves upon the
shores of times long passed.  The belfry clock strikes and we fear we
shall be late to school, and recovering from this fear feel relieved
that our anxiety is over.  The same dog runs along the street on whose
account we used to go far out of our way.  Here sits the old huckster
whose apples often led us into temptation, and even now, we fancy they
must taste better than all other apples in the world, notwithstanding
the dust on them.  There one has torn down a house and built a new one.
Here the old music-teacher lived.  He is dead--and yet how beautiful it
seemed as we stood and listened on summer evenings under the window
while the True Soul, when the hours of the day were over, indulged in
his own enjoyment and played fantasies, like the roaring and hissing
engine letting off the steam which has accumulated during the day.
Here in this little leafy lane, which seemed at that time so much
larger, as I was coming home late one evening, I met our neighbor's
beautiful daughter.  At that time I had never ventured to look at or
address her, but we school-children often spoke of her and called her
"the Beautiful Maiden," and whenever I saw her passing along the street
at a distance I was so happy that I could only think of the time when I
should meet her nearer.  Here in this leafy walk which leads to the
church-yard, I met her one evening and she took me by the arm, although
we had never spoken together before, and asked me to go home with her.
I believe neither of us spoke a word the whole way; but I was so happy
that even now, after all these years, I wish it were that evening, and
that I could go home again, silently and blissfully, with "the
Beautiful Maiden."

Thus one memory follows another until the waves dash together over our
heads, and a deep sigh swells the breast, which warns us that we have
forgotten to breathe in the midst of these pure thoughts.  Then all at
once, the whole dream-world vanishes, like uprisen ghosts at the
crowing of the cock.

As I passed by the old castle and the lindens, and saw the sentinels
upon their horses, how many memories awakened in my soul, and how
everything had changed!  Many years had flown since I was at the
castle.  The Princess was dead.  The Prince had given up his rule and
gone back to Italy, and the oldest prince, with whom I had grown up,
was regent.  His companions were young noblemen and officers, whose
intercourse was congenial to him, and whose company in our early days
had often estranged us.  Other circumstances combined to weaken our
young friendship.  Like every young man who perceives for the first
time the lack of unity in the German folk-life, and the defects of
German rule, I had caught up some phrases of the Liberal party, which
sounded as strangely at court as unseemly expressions in an honest
minister's family.  In short, it was many years since I had ascended
those stairs, and yet a being dwelt in that castle whose name I had
named almost daily, and who was almost constantly present in my memory.
I had long dwelt upon the thought that I should never see her again in
this life.  She was transformed into an image which I felt neither did
nor could exist in reality.  She had become my good angel--my other
self, to whom I talked instead of talking with myself.  How she became
so I could not explain to myself, for I scarcely knew her.  Just as the
eye sometimes pictures figures in the clouds, so I fancied my
imagination had conjured up this sweet image in the heaven of my
childhood, and a complete picture of phantasy developed itself out of
the scarcely perceptible outlines of reality.  My entire thought had
involuntarily become a dialogue with her, and all that was good in me,
all for which I struggled, all in which I believed, my entire better
self, belonged to her.  I gave it to her.  I received it from her, from
her my good angel.

I had been at home but a few days, when I received a letter one
morning.  It was written in English, and came from the Countess Marie:

_Dear Friend_: I hear you are with us for a short time.  We have not
met for many years, and if it is agreeable to you, I should like to see
an old friend again.  You will find me alone this afternoon in the
Swiss Cottage.           Yours sincerely, MARIE.

I immediately replied, also in English, that I would call in the

The Swiss Cottage constituted a wing of the castle, which overlooked
the garden, and could be reached without going through the castle yard.
It was five o'clock when I passed through the garden and approached the
cottage.  I repressed all emotion and prepared myself for a formal
meeting.  I sought to quiet my good angel, and to assure her that this
lady had nothing to do with her.  And yet I felt very uneasy, and my
good angel would not listen to counsel.  Finally I took courage,
murmuring something to myself about the masquerade of life, and rapped
on the door, which stood ajar.

There was no one in the room except a lad whom I did not know, and who
likewise spoke English, and said the Countess would be present in a
moment.  She then left, and I was alone, and had time to look about.

The walls of the room were of rose-chestnut, and over an openwork
trellis, a luxuriant broadleaved ivy twined around the whole room.  All
the tables and chairs were of carved rose-chestnut.  The floor was of
variegated woodwork.  It gave me a curious sensation to see so much
that was familiar in the room.  Many articles from our old play-room in
the castle were old friends, but the others were new, especially the
pictures, and yet they were the same as those in my University
room--the same portraits of Beethoven, Handel and Mendelssohn, as I had
selected--hung over the grand piano.  In one corner I saw the Venus di
Milo, which I always regarded as the masterpiece of antiquity.  On the
table were volumes of Dante, Shakspeare, Tauler's Sermons, the "German
Theology," Ruckert's Poems, Tennyson and Burns, and Carlyle's "Past and
Present,"--the very same books--all of which I had had but recently in
my hands.  I was growing thoughtful, but I repressed my thoughts and
was just standing before the portrait of the deceased Princess, when
the door opened, and the same two servants, whom I had so often seen in
childhood, brought the Countess into the room upon her couch.

What a vision!  She spoke not a word, and her countenance was as placid
as the sea, until the servants left the room.  Then her eyes sought
me--the old, deep, unfathomable eyes.  Her expression grew more
animated each instant.  At last her whole face lit up, and she said:

"We are old friends--I believe; we have not changed.  I cannot say
'You,' and if I may not say 'Thou,' then we must speak in English.  Do
you understand me?"

I had not anticipated such a reception, for I saw here was no
masquerade--here was a soul which longed for another soul--here was a
greeting like that between two friends who recognize each other by the
glance of the eye, notwithstanding their disguises and dark masks.  I
seized the hand she held out to me, and replied: "When we address an
angel, we cannot say 'You.'"

And yet how singular, is the influence of the forms and habits of life!
How difficult it is to speak the language of nature even to the most
congenial souls!  Our conversation halted, and both of us felt the
embarrassment of the moment.  I broke the silence and spoke out my
thoughts: "Men become accustomed to live from youth up as it were in a
cage, and when they are once in the open air they dare not venture to
use their wings, fearing, if they fly, that they may stumble against

"Yes," replied she, "and that is very proper and cannot well be
otherwise.  One often wishes that he could live like the birds which
fly in the woods, and meet upon the branches and sing together without
being presented to each other.  But, my friend, even among the birds
there are owls and sparrows, and in life it is well that one can pass
them without knowing them.  It is sometimes with life as with poetry.
As the real poet can express the Truest and most Beautiful, although
fettered by metrical form, so man should know how to preserve freedom
of thought and feeling notwithstanding the restraints of society."

I could not help recalling the words of Platen: "That which proves
itself everlasting under all circumstances, told in the fetters of
words, is the unfettered spirit."

"Yes," said she, with a cordial but sweetly playful smile; "but I have
a privilege which is at the same time my burden and loneliness.  I
often pity the young men and maidens, for they cannot have a friendship
or an intimacy without their relatives or themselves pronouncing it
love, or what they call love.  They lose much on this account.  The
maiden knows not what slumbers in her soul, and what might be awakened
by earnest conversation with a noble friend; and the young man in turn
would acquire so much knightly virtue if women were suffered to be the
distant witnesses of the inner struggles of the spirit.  It will not
do, however, for immediately love comes in play, or what they call
love--the quick beating of the heart--the stormy billows of hope--the
delight over a beautiful face--the sweet sentimentality--sometimes also
prudent calculation--in short, all that troubles the calm sea, which is
the true picture of pure human love------"

She checked herself suddenly, and an expression of pain passed over her
countenance.  "I dare not talk more to-day," said she; "my physician
will not allow it.  I would like to hear one of Mendelssohn's
songs--that duet, which my young friend used to play years ago.  Is it
not so?"

I could not answer, for as she ceased speaking and gently folded her
hands, I saw upon her hand a ring.  She wore it on her little
finger--the ring which she had given me and I had given her.  Thoughts
came too fast for utterance, and I seated myself at the piano and
played.  When I had done, I turned around and said: "Would one could
only speak thus in tones without words!"

"That is possible," said she; "I understood it all.  But I must not do
anything more to-day, for every day I grow weaker.  We must be better
acquainted, and a poor sick recluse may certainly claim forbearance.
We meet to-morrow evening, at the same hour; shall we not?"

I seized her hand and was about to kiss it, but she held my hand
firmly, pressed it and said: "It is better thus.  Good bye."


It would be difficult to describe my thoughts and emotions as I went
home.  The soul cannot at once translate itself perfectly in words, and
there are "thoughts without words," which in every man are the prelude
of supreme joy and suffering.  It was neither joy nor pain, only an
indescribable bewilderment which I felt; thoughts flew through my
innermost being like meteors, which shoot from heaven towards earth but
are extinguished before they reach the goal.  As we sometimes say in a
dream, "I am dreaming," so I said to myself "thou livest"--"it is she."
I tried again to reflect and calm myself, and said, "She is a lovely
vision--a very wonderful spirit."  At another time, I pictured the
delightful evenings I should pass during the holidays.  But no, no,
this cannot be.  She is everything I sought, thought, hoped and
believed.  Here was at last a human soul, as clear and fresh as a
spring morning.  I had seen at the first glance what she was and how
she felt, and we had greeted and recognized one another.  And my good
angel in me, she answered me no more.  She was gone and I felt there
was no place on earth where I should find her again.

Now began a beautiful life, for I was with her every evening.  We soon
realized that we were in truth old acquaintances and that we could only
call each other Thou.  It seemed also as if we had lived near and with
one another always, for she manifested not an emotion that did not find
its counterpart in my soul, and there was no, thought which I uttered
to which she did not nod friendly assent, as much as to say: "I thought
so too."  I had previously heard the greatest master of our time and
his sister extemporize on the piano, and scarcely comprehended how two
persons could understand and feel themselves so perfectly and yet
never, not even in a single note, disturb the harmony of their playing.
Now it became intelligible to me.  Yes, now I understood for the first
time that my soul was not so poor and empty as it had seemed to me, and
that it had been only the sun that was lacking to open all its germs,
and buds to the light.  And yet what a sad and brief spring-time it was
that our souls experienced!  We forget in May that roses so soon
wither, but here every evening reminded us that one leaf after another
was falling to the ground.  She felt it before I did, and alluded to it
apparently without pain, and our interviews grew more earnest and
solemn daily.

One evening, as I was about to leave, she said: "I did not think I
should grow so old.  When I gave you the ring on my confirmation day I
thought I should have to take my departure from you all, very soon.
And yet I have lived so many years, and enjoyed so much beauty--and
suffered so very much!  But one forgets that!  Now, while I feel that
my departure is near, every hour, every minute, grows precious to me.
Good night!  Do not come too late to-morrow."

One day as I went into her room, I met an Italian painter with her.
She spoke Italian with him, and although he was evidently more artisan
than artist, she addressed him with such amiability and modesty, with
such respect even, one could not avoid recognizing that nobility of
soul which is the true nobility of birth.  When the painter had taken
his leave, she said to me: "I wish to show you a picture which will
please you.  The original is in the gallery at Paris.  I read a
description of it, and have had it copied by the Italian."  She showed
me the painting, and waited my opinion.  It was a picture of a man of
middle age, in the old German costume.  The expression was dreamy and
resigned, and so characteristic that no one could doubt this man once
lived.  The whole tone of the picture in the foreground was dark and
brownish; but in the background was a landscape, and on the horizon the
first gleams of daybreak appeared.  I could discover nothing special in
the picture, and yet it produced a feeling of such satisfaction that
one might have tarried to look at it for hours at a time.  "There is
nothing like a genuine human face," said I; "Raphael himself could not
have imagined a face like this."

"No," said she.  "But now I will tell you why I wished to have the
picture.  I read that no one knew the artist, nor whom the picture
represents.  But it is very clearly a philosopher of the Middle Ages.
Just such a picture I wanted for my gallery, for you are aware that no
one knows the author of the 'German Theology,' and moreover, that we
have no picture of him.  I wished to try whether the picture of an
Unknown by an Unknown would answer for our German theologian, and if
you have no objections we will hang it here between the 'Albigenses'
and the 'Diet of Worms,' and call it the 'German Theologian.'"

"Good," said I; "but it is somewhat too vigorous and manly for the

"That may be," replied she.  "But for a suffering and dying life like
mine, much consolation and strength may be derived from his book.  I
thank him much, for it disclosed to me for the first time the true
secret of Christian doctrine in all its simplicity.  I felt that I was
free to believe or disbelieve the old teacher, whoever he may have
been, for his doctrines had no external constraint upon me; at last it
seized upon me with such power that it seemed to me I knew for the
first time what revelation was.  It is precisely this fact that bars so
many out from true Christianity, namely: that its doctrines confront us
as revelation before revelation takes place in ourselves.  This has
often given me much anxiety; not that I had ever doubted the truth and
divinity of our religion, but I felt I had no right to a belief which
others had given me, and that what I, had learned and received when a
child, without comprehending, did not belong to me.  One can believe
for us as little as one can live and die for us."

"Certainly," said I; "therein lies the cause of many hot and bitter
struggles; that the teachings of Christ, instead of winning our hearts
gradually and irresistibly, as they won the hearts of the apostles and
early Christians, confront us from the earliest childhood as the
infallible law of a mighty church, and demand of us an unconditional
submission, which they call faith.  Doubts arise sooner or later in the
breast of every one who has the power of thinking and reverence for the
truth; and then even when we are on the right road, to overcome our
faith, the terrors of doubt and unbelief arise and disturb the tranquil
development of the new life."

"I read recently in an English work," she interrupted, "that truth
makes revelation, and not revelation truth.  This perfectly expressed
what I found in reading the 'German Theology.' I read the book, and I
felt the power of its truths so overwhelmingly that I was compelled to
submit to it.  The truth was revealed to me; or rather, I was revealed
to myself, and I felt for the first time what belief meant.  The truth
which had long slumbered in my soul belonged to me, but it was the word
of the unknown teacher which filled me with light, illuminated my inner
vision, and brought out my indistinct presentiments in fuller clearness
before my soul.  When I had thus experienced for the first time how the
human soul can believe, I read the Gospels as if they, too, had been
written by an Unknown man, and banished the thought as well as I could
that they were an inspiration from the Holy Ghost to the apostles, in
some wonderful manner; that they had been endorsed by the councils and
proclaimed by the church as the supreme authority of the alone-saving
belief.  Then, for the first time, I understood what Christian faith
and revelation were."

"It is wonderful," said I, "that the theologians have not broken down
all religion, and they will succeed yet, if the believers do not
seriously confront them and say: 'Thus far but no farther.'  Every
church must have its servants, but there has been as yet no religion
which the Priests, the Brahmins, the Schamins, the Bonzes, the Lamas,
the Pharisees, or the Scribes have not corrupted and perverted.  They
wrangle and dispute in a language unintelligible to nine-tenths of
their congregations, and instead of permitting themselves to be
inspired by the apostles, and of inspiring others with their
inspiration, they construct long arguments to show that the Gospels
must be true, because they were written by inspired men.  But this is
only a makeshift for their own unbelief.  How can they know that these
men were inspired in a wonderful manner, without ascribing to
themselves a still more wonderful inspiration?  Therefore they extend
the gift of inspiration to the fathers of the church; they attribute to
them those very things which the majority have incorporated in the
canons of the councils; and there again, when the question arises how
we know that of fifty bishops twenty-six were inspired and twenty-four
were not, they finally take the last desperate step, and say that
infallibility and inspiration are inherent in the heads of the church
down to the present day, through the laying on of hands, so that
infallibility, majority and inspiration make all our convictions, all
resignation, all devout intuitions, superfluous.  And yet,
notwithstanding all these connecting links, the first question returns
in all its simplicity: How can B know that A is inspired, if B is not
equally, or even more, inspired than A?  For it is of more consequence
to know that A was inspired than for one's self to be inspired."

"I have never comprehended this so clearly myself," said she.  "But I
have often felt how difficult it must be to know whether one loves who
shows not a sign of love that could not be imitated.  And, again, I
have thought that no one could know it unless he knew love himself, and
that he could only believe in the love of another so far as he believed
in his own love.  As with the gift of love so is it with the gift of
the Holy Spirit.  They upon whom it descended heard a rushing from
heaven as of a mighty wind, and there appeared to them cloven tongues
like as of fire.  But the rest were either amazed and perplexed, or
they made sport of them and said: 'They are full of sweet wine.'

"Still, as I said to you, it is the 'German Theology' to which I am
indebted for learning to believe in my belief, and what will seem a
weakness to many, strengthened me the most; namely, that the old master
never stops to demonstrate his propositions rigidly, but scatters them
like a sower, in the hope that some grains will fall upon good soil and
bear fruit a thousand fold.  So our Divine Master never attempted to
prove his doctrines, for the perfect conviction of truth disdains the
form of a demonstration."

"Yes," I interrupted her, for I could not help thinking of the
wonderful chain of proof in Spinoza's 'Ethics,' the straining after
demonstration by Spinoza gives me the impression that this acute
thinker could not have believed in his own doctrines with his whole
heart, and that he therefore felt the necessity of fastening every mesh
of his net with the utmost care.  "Still," I continued, "I must
acknowledge I do not share this great admiration for the 'German
Theology,' although I owe the book many a doubt.  To me there is a lack
of the human and the poetical in it, and of warm feeling and reverence
for reality altogether.  The entire mysticism of the fourteenth century
is wholesome as a preparative, but it first reaches solution in the
divinely holy and divinely courageous return to real life, as was
exemplified by Luther.  Man must at some time in his life recognize his
nothingness.  He must feel that he is nothing of himself, that his
existence, his beginning, his everlasting life are rooted in the
superearthly and incomprehensible.  That is the returning to God which
in reality is never concluded on earth but yet leaves behind in the
soul a divine home sickness, which never again ceases.  But man cannot
ignore the creation as the Mystics would.  Although created out of
nothing, that is, through and out of God, he cannot of his own power
resolve himself back into this nothingness.  The self-annihilation of
which Tauler so often speaks is scarcely better than the sinking away
of the human soul in Nirvana, as the Buddhists have it.  Thus Tauler
says: 'That if he by greater reverence and love could reach the highest
existence in non-existence, he would willingly sink from his height
into the deepest abyss.'  But this annihilation of the creature was not
the purpose of the Creator since he made it.  'God is transformed in
man,' says Augustine, 'not man in God.'  Thus mysticism should be only
a fire-trial which steels the soul but does not evaporate it like
boiling water in a kettle.  He who has recognized the nothingness of
self ought to recognize this self as a reflection of the actual divine.
The 'German Theology' says:

["Was nu us geflossen ist, das ist nicht war wesen, und hat kein wesen
anders dan in dem volkomen, sunder es ist ein zufal oder ein glast und
ein schin, der nicht wesen ist oder nicht wesen hat anders, dan in dem
sewer, da der glast us flusset, als in der sunnen oder in einem

"What has flown out is not real substance and has no other reality
except in the perfect; but it is an incident or a glare or a shimmer,
which is no substance, and has no other reality, except in the fire
from which a glare proceeds, as in the sun or a light."

"What is emitted from the divine, though it be only like the reflection
from the fire, still has the divine reality in itself, and one might
almost ask what were the fire without glow, the sun without light, or
the Creator without the creature?  These are questions of which it is
said very truthfully:

["Welch mensche und welche creatur begert zu erfaren und zu wissen den
heimlichen rat und willen gottes, der begert nicht anders denne als
Adam tet und der boese geist."]

"What man or creature desires to learn and to know the secret counsel
and will of God--desires nothing else but what Adam did and the evil

"For this reason, it should be enough for us to feel and to appear that
we are a reflection of the divine until we are divine.  No one should
place under a bushel or extinguish the divine light which illuminates
us, but let it beam out, that it may brighten and warm all about it.
Then one feels a living fire in his veins, and a higher consecration
for the struggle of life.  The most trivial duties remind us of God.
The earthly becomes divine, the temporal eternal, and our entire life a
life in God.  God is not eternal repose.  He is everlasting life, which
Angelus Silesius forgets when he says: 'God is without will.'

  "'We pray: 'Thy will my Lord and God be done,'
  And lo, He has no will!  He is an eternal silence.'"

She listened to me quietly, and, after a moment's reflection, said:
"Health and strength belong to your faith; but there are life-weary
souls, who long for rest and sleep, and feel so lonely that when they
fall asleep in God, they miss the world as little as the world misses
them.  It is a foretaste of divine rest to them when they can wrap
themselves in the divine; and this they can do, since no tie binds them
fast to earth, and no wish troubles their hearts except the wish for

  "'Rest is the highest good, and were God not rest,
  Then would I avert my gaze even from Him.'

"You do the German theologian an injustice.  It is true he teaches the
nothingness of the external life, but he does not wish to see it
annihilated.  Read me the twenty-eighth chapter."

I took the book and read, while she closed her eyes and listened:

["Und wa die voreinunge geschicht in der wahrheit und wesentlich wirt,
da stet vorbass der inner mensche in der einung unbeweglich und got
lest den ussern menschen her und dar bewegt werden von diesem zu dem.
Das muss und sol sin und geschehen, dass der usser mensche spricht und
es ouch in der warheit also ist, 'ich wil weder sin noch nit sin, weder
leben oder sterben, wissen oder nicht wissen, tun oder lassen, und
alles das disem glich ist, sunder alles, das da muss und sol sin und
geschehen, da bin ich bereit und gehorsam zu, es si in lidender wise
oder in tuender wise.'  Und alsoe hat der usser mensch kein warumbe
oder gesuch, sunder alleine dem ewigen willen genuk zu sin.  Wan das
wirt bekannt in der warheit, das der inner mensche sten sol unbeweglich
und der usser mensch muss und sol bewegt werden, und hat der inner
mensch in siner beweglikeit ein warumb, das ist anders nichts dann ein
muss- und sol-sin, geordnet von dem ewigen willen.  Und wa got selber
der mensch were oder ist, da ist es also.  Das merket man wol in
Kristo.  Auch wa das in goetlichem und us goetlichem liechte ist, da
ist nit geistliche hochfart noch unachtsame friheit oder frie gemute,
sunder ein gruntlose demutigkeit und ein nider geschlagen und ein
gesunken betrubet gemut, und alle ordenligkeit und redeligkeit,
glichheit und warheit, fride und genugsamkeit, und alles das, das allen
tugenden zu gehoert, das muss da sin.  Wa es anders ist, da ist im nit
recht, als vor gesprochen ist.  Wan recht als dises oder das zu diser
einung nit gehelfen oder gedienen kan, also is ouch nichtes, das es
geirren oder gehindern mag, denn alleine der mensch mit sinem eigen
willen, der tut im disen grossen schaden.  Das sol man wissen."]

"And when the union takes place in truth and becomes real, then the
inner man stands henceforth immovable in the union, and God permits the
outer man to be driven hither and thither from this to that.  It must
and shall be and happen, that the outer man says--and is so also in
truth--'I will neither be nor not be, neither live nor die, neither
know nor not know, neither do nor leave undone--and everything which is
similar to this, but I am ready and obedient to do everything, which
must and shall be done, be it passively or actively.'  And thus has the
outer man no question or desire, but to, satisfy only the Eternal Will.
When this will be known in truth, that the inner man shall stand,
immovable, and that the outer man shall and must be moved,--the inner
man has a why and wherefore of his moving, which is nothing but an 'it
must and shall be' ordered by the Eternal Will.  And if God himself
were or is the man, it would be so.  This is well seen in Christ.  And
what in the Divine Light is and from the Divine Light, has neither
spiritual pride nor careless license nor an independent spirit--but a
great humility, and a broken and contrite heart,--and all propriety and
honesty, justice and truth, peace and happiness,--all that belongs to
all virtues, it must have.  When it is otherwise, then he is not happy,
as has been said.  When this does not help to this union, then there is
nothing which may hinder it but man alone with his own will, which does
him such great harm.  That, one ought to know."

"This is sufficient," said she; "I believe we understand each other
now.  In another place, our unknown friend says still more unmistakably
that no man is passive before death, and that the glorified man is like
the hand of God, which does nothing of itself except as God wills; or,
like a house in which God dwells.  A God-possessed man feels this
perfectly, but does not speak of it.  He treasures his life in God like
a love secret.  It often seems to me like that silver poplar before my
window.  It is perfectly still at evening, and not a leaf trembles or
stirs.  When the morning breeze rustles and tosses every leaf, the
trunk with its branches stands still and immovable, and when autumn
conies, though every leaf which once rustled falls to the ground and
withers, the trunk waits for a new spring."

She had lived so deep a life in her world that I did not wish to
disturb it.  I had but just released myself with difficulty from the
magic circle of these thoughts, and scarcely knew whether she had not
chosen the better part which could not be taken away from her; while we
have so much trouble and care.

Thus every evening brought its new conversation, and with each evening,
some new phase of her fathomless mind disclosed itself.  She kept no
secret from me.  Her talk was only thinking and feeling aloud, and what
she said must have dwelt with her many long years, for she poured out
her thoughts as freely as a child that picks its lap full of flowers
and then sprinkles them upon the grass.  I could not disclose my soul
to her as freely as she did to me, and this oppressed and pained me.
Yet how few can, with those continual deceptions imposed upon us by
society, called manners, politeness, consideration, prudence, and
worldly wisdom, which make our entire life a masquerade!  How few, even
when they would, can regain the complete truth of their existence!
Love itself dares not speak its own language and maintain its own
silence, but must learn the set phrases of the poet and idealize, sigh
and flirt instead of freely greeting, beholding and surrendering
itself, I would most gladly have confessed and said to her: "You know
me not," but I found that the words were not wholly true.  Before I
left, I gave her a volume of Arnold's poems, which I had had a short
time, and begged her to read the one called "The Buried Life."  It was
my confession, and then I kneeled at her couch and said "Good Night."
"Good Night," said she, and laid her hand upon my head, and again her
touch thrilled through, every limb and the dreams of childhood uprose
in my soul.  I could not go, but gazed into her deep unfathomable eyes
until the peace of her soul completely overshadowed mine.  Then I arose
and went home in silence--and in the night I dreamed of the silver
poplar around which the wind roared--but not a leaf stirred on its


  Light flows our war of mocking words, and yet
  Behold, with tears my eyes are wet;
  I feel a nameless sadness o'er me roll.

  Yes, yes, we know that we can jest;
  We know, we know that we can smile;
  But there's a something in this breast
  To which thy light words bring no rest,
  And thy gay smiles no anodyne.

  Give me thy hand, and hush awhile,
  And turn those limpid eyes on mine,
  And, let me read there, love, thy inmost soul.

  Alas, is even love too weak
  To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
  Are even lovers powerless to reveal
  To one another what indeed they feel?
  I knew the mass of men concealed
  Their thoughts, for fear that if revealed
  They would by other men be met
  With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
  I knew they lived and moved,
  Tricked in disguises, alien to the rest
  Of men and alien to themselves--and yet,
  The same heart beats in every human breast.

  But we, my love--does a like spell benumb
  Our hearts--our voices?--must we too be dumb?

  Ah! well for us, if even we,
  Even for a moment, can yet free
  Our hearts and have our lips unchained;
  For that which seals them hath been deep ordained.
  Fate which foresaw
  How frivolous a baby man would be,
  By what distractions he would be possessed,
  How he would pour himself in every strife,
  And well-nigh change his own identity,
  That it might keep from his capricious play
  His genuine self, and force him to obey,
  Even in his own despite, his being's law,
  Bade through the deep recesses of our breast
  The unregarded River of our Life,
  Pursue with indiscernible flow its way;
  And that we should not see
  The buried stream, and seem to be
  Eddying about in blind uncertainty,
  Though driving on with it eternally.

  But often, in the world's most crowded streets,
  But often in the din of strife,
  There rises an unspeakable desire
  After the knowledge of our buried life;

  A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
  In tracking out our true original course;
  A longing to inquire
  Into the mystery of this heart that beats
  So wild, so deep, in us; to know
  Whence our thoughts come, and where they go.
  And many a man in his own breast then delves,
  But deep enough, alas, none ever mines;
  And we have been on many thousand lines,
  And we have shown on each, talent and power,
  But hardly have we, for one little hour,
  Been on our own line, have we been ourselves;
  Hardly had skill to utter one of all
  The nameless feelings that course through our breast,
  But they course on forever unexpressed.
  And long we try in vain to speak and act
  Our hidden self, and what we say and do
  Is eloquent, is well--but 'tis not true.

  And then we will no more be racked
  With inward striving, and demand
  Of all the thousand nothings of the hour
  Their stupefying power;
  Ah! yes, and they benumb us at our call;
  Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,
  From the soul's subterranean depth upborne,
  As from an infinitely distant land,
  Come airs and floating echoes, and convey
  A melancholy into all our day.

  Only--but this is rare--
  When a beloved hand is laid in ours,
  When, jaded with the rush and glare
  Of the interminable hours,
  Our eyes can in another's eyes read clear,
  When our world-deafened ear
  Is by the tones of a loved voice caressed,--
  A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,
  And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again:
  The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,
  And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know;

  A man becomes aware of his life's flow,
  And, hears its winding murmur, and he sees
  The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.

  And there arrives a lull in the hot race
  Wherein he doth forever chase
  That flying and elusive shadow, Rest;
  An air of coolness plays upon his face,
  And an unwonted calm pervades his breast.

  And then he thinks he knows
  The Hills where his life rose,
  And the Sea where it goes. . . . . . .


Early the next morning, there was a knock at the door, and my old doctor,
the Hofrath, entered.  He was the friend, the body-and-soul-guardian of
our entire little village.  He had seen two generations grow up.
Children whom he had brought into the world had in turn become fathers
and mothers, and he treated them as his children.  He himself was
unmarried, and even in his old age was strong and handsome to look upon.
I never knew him otherwise than as he stood before me at that time; his
clear blue eyes gleaming under the bushy brows, his flowing white hair
still full of youthful strength, curling and vigorous.  I can never
forget, also, his shoes, with their silver buckles, his white stockings,
his brown coat, which always looked new, and yet seemed to be old, and
his cane, which was the same I had seen standing by my bedside in
childhood, when he felt my pulse and prescribed my medicines.  I had
often been sick, but it was always faith in this man which made me well
again.  I never had the slightest doubt of his ability to cure me, and
when my mother said she must send for the Hofrath that I might get well
again, it was as if she had said she must send for the tailor to mend my
torn trousers.  I had only to take the medicine, and I felt that I must
be well again.

"How are you, my child?" said he, as he entered the room.  "You are not
looking perfectly well.  You must not study too much.  But I have little
time to-day to talk, and only came to tell you, you must not go to see
the Countess Marie again.  I have been with her all night, and it is your
fault.  So be careful, if her life is dear to you, that you do not go
again.  She must leave here as soon as possible, and be taken into the
country.  It would be best for you also to travel for a long time.  So
good morning, and be a good child."

With these words, he gave me his hand, looked at me affectionately in the
eyes, as if he would exact the promise, and then went on his way to look
after his sick children.

I was so astonished that another had penetrated so deeply into the
secrets of my soul, and that he knew what I did not know myself, that
when I recovered from it he had already been long upon the street.  An
agitation began to seize me, as water, which has long been over the fire
without stirring, suddenly bubbles up, boils, heaves and rages until it

Not see her again!  I only live when I am with her.  I will be calm; I
will not speak a word to her; I will only stand at her window as she
sleeps and dreams.  But not to see her again!  Not to take one farewell
from her!  She knows not, they cannot know, that I love her.  Surely I do
not love her--I desire nothing, I hope for nothing, my heart never beats
more quietly then when I am with her.  But I must feel her presence--I
must breathe her spirit--I must go to her!  She waits for me.  Has
destiny thrown us together without design?  Ought I not to be her
consolation, and ought she not to be my repose?  Life is not a sport.  It
does not force two souls together like the grains of sand in the desert,
which the sirocco whirls together and then asunder.  We should hold fast
the souls which friendly fate leads to us, for they are destined for us,
and no power can tear them from us if we have the courage to live, to
struggle, and to die for them.  She would despise me if I deserted her
love at the first roll of the thunder, as it were in the shadow of a
tree, under which I have dreamed so many happy hours.

Then I suddenly grew calm, and heard only the words "her love;" they
reverberated through all the recesses of my soul like an echo, and I was
terrified at myself.  "Her love," and how had I deserved it?  She hardly
knows me, and even if she could love me, must I not confess to her I do
not deserve the love of an angel?  Every thought, every hope which arose
in my soul, fell back like a bird which essays to soar into the blue sky
and does not see the wires which restrain it.  And yet, why all this
blissfulness, so near and so unattainable?  Cannot God work wonders?
Does He not work wonders every morning?  Has He not often heard my prayer
when it importuned him, and would not cease, until consolation and help
came to the weary one?  These are not earthly blessings for which we
pray.  It is only that two souls, which have found and recognized each
other, may be allowed to finish their brief life-journey, arm in arm, and
face to face; that I may be a support to her in suffering, and that she
may be a consolation and precious burden to me until we reach the end.
And if a still later spring were promised to her life, if her burdens
were taken from her--Oh, what blissful scenes crowded upon my vision!
The castle of her deceased mother, in the Tyrol, belonged to her.  There,
on the green mountains, in the fresh mountain air, among a sturdy and
uncorrupted people, far away from the hurly-burly of the world, its cares
and its struggles, its opinion and its censure, how blissfully we could
await the close of life, and silently fade away like the evening-red!
Then I pictured the dark lake, with the dancing shimmer of waves, and the
clear shadows of distant glaciers reflected in it; I heard the lowing of
cattle and the songs of the herdsmen; I saw the hunters with their rifles
crossing the mountains, and the old and young gathering together at
twilight in the village; and, to crown all, I saw her passing along like
an angel of peace in benediction, and I was her guide and friend.  "Poor
fool!" I cried out, "poor fool!  Is thy heart always to be so wild and so
weak?  Be a man.  Think who thou art, and how far thou art from her.  She
is a friend.  She gladly reflects herself in another's soul, but her
childlike trust and candor at best only show that no deeper feeling lives
in her breast for thee.  Hast thou not, on many a clear summer's night,
wandering alone, through the beech groves, seen how the moon sheds its
light upon all the branches and leaves, how it brightens the dark, dull
water of the pool and reflects itself clearly in the smallest drops?  In
like manner she shines upon this dark life, and thou may'st feel her
gentle radiance reflected in thy heart--but hope not for a warmer glow!"

Suddenly an image approached me as it were from life; she stood before
me, not like a memory but as a vision, and I realized for the first time
how beautiful she was.  It was not that beauty of form and face which
dazzles us at the first sight of a lovely maiden, and then fades away as
suddenly as a blossom in spring.  It was much more the harmony of her
whole being, the reality of every emotion, the spirituality of
expression, the perfect union of body and soul which blesses him so who
looks upon it.  The beauty which nature lavishes so prodigally does not
bring any satisfaction, if the person is not adapted to it and as it were
deserves and overcomes it.  On the other hand, it is offensive, as when
we look upon an actress striding along the stage in queenly costume, and
notice at every step how poorly the attire fits her, how little it
becomes her.  True beauty is sweetness, and sweetness is the
spiritualizing of the gross, the corporeal and the earthly.  It is the
spiritual presence which transforms ugliness into beauty.  The more I
looked upon the vision which stood before me, the more I perceived, above
all else, the majestic beauty of her person and the soulful depths of her
whole being.  Oh, what happiness was near me!  And was this all--to be
shown the summit of earthly bliss and then be thrust out into the flat,
sandy wastes of existence?  Oh, that I had never known what treasures the
earth conceals!  Once to love, and then to be forever alone!  Once to
believe, and then forever to doubt!  Once to see the light, and then
forever to be blinded!  In comparison with this rack, all the
torture-chambers of man are insignificant.

Thus rushed the wild chase of my thoughts farther and farther away until
at last all was silent.  The confused sensations gradually collected and
settled.  This repose and exhaustion they call meditation, but it is
rather an inspection--one allows time for the mixture of thoughts to
crystallize themselves according to eternal laws, and regards the process
like an observing chemist; and the elements having assumed a form, we
often wonder that they, as well as ourselves, are so entirely different
from what we expected.

When I awoke from my abstraction, my first words were, "I must away."  I
immediately sat down and wrote the Hofrath that I should travel for
fourteen days and submit entirely to him.  I easily made an excuse to my
parents, and at night I was on my way to the Tyrol.


Wandering, arm in arm with a friend, through the valleys and over the
mountains of the Tyrol, one sips life's fresh air and enjoyment; but to
travel the same road solitary and alone with your thoughts is time and
trouble lost.  Of what interest to me are the green mountains, the dark
ravines, the blue lake, and the mighty cataracts?  Instead of
contemplating them they look at me and wonder among themselves at this
solitary being.  It smote me to the heart that I had found no one in
all the world who loved me more than all others.  With such thoughts I
awoke every morning, and they haunted me all the day like a song which
one cannot drive away.  When I entered the inn at night and sat down
wearied, and the people in the room watched me, and wondered at the
solitary wanderer, it often urged me out into the night again, where no
one could see I was alone.  At a late hour I would steal back, go
quietly up to my room and throw myself upon my hot bed, and the song of
Schubert's would ring through my soul until I went to sleep: "Where
thou art not, is happiness."  At last the sight of men, whom I
continually met laughing, rejoicing and exulting in this glorious
nature, became so intolerable that I slept by day, and pursued my
journey from place to place in the clear moonlight nights.  There was
at least one emotion which dispelled and dissipated my thoughts: it was
fear.  Let any one attempt to scale mountains alone all night long in
ignorance of the way--where the eye, unnaturally strained, beholds
distant shapes it cannot solve--where the ear, with morbid acuteness,
hears sounds without knowing whence they come--where the foot suddenly
stumbles, it may be over a root which forces its way through the rocks,
or on a slippery path which the waterfall has drenched with its
spray--and besides all this, a disconsolate waste in the heart, no
memory to cheer us, no hope to which we may cling--let any one attempt
this, and he will feel the cold chill of night both outwardly and
inwardly.  The first fear of the human heart arises from God forsaking
us; but life dissipates it, and mankind, created after the image of
God, consoles us in our solitariness.  When even this consolation and
love, however, forsake us, then we feel what it means to be deserted by
God and man, and nature with her silent face terrifies rather than
consoles us.  Even when we firmly plant our feet upon the solid rocks,
they seem to tremble like the mists of the sea from which they once
slowly emerged.  When the eye longs for the light, and the moon rises
behind the firs, reflecting their tapering tops against the bright rock
opposite, it appears to us like the dead hand of a clock which was once
wound up, and will some day cease to strike.  There is no retreat for
the soul, which feels itself alone and forsaken even among the stars,
or in the heavenly world itself.  One thought brings us a little
consolation: the repose, the regularity, the immensity, and the
unavoidableness of nature.  Here, where the waterfall has clothed the
gray rocks on either side with green moss, the eye suddenly recognizes
a blue forget-me-not in the cool shade.  It is one of millions of
sisters now blossoming along all the rivulets and in all the meadows of
earth, and which have blossomed ever since the first morning of
creation shed its entire inexhaustible wealth over the world.  Every
vein in its leaves, every stamen in its cup, every fibre of its roots,
is numbered, and no power on earth can make the number more or less.
Still more, when we strain our weak eyes and, with superhuman power,
cast a more searching glance into the secrets of nature, when the
microscope discloses to us the silent laboratory of the seed, the bud
and the blossom, do we recognize the infinite, ever-recurring form in
the most minute tissues and cells, and the eternal unchangeableness of
Nature's plans in the most delicate fibre.  Could we pierce still
deeper, the same form-world would reveal itself, and the vision would
lose itself as in a hall hung with mirrors.  Such an infinity as this
lies hidden in this little flower.  If we look up to the sky, we see
again the same system--the moon revolving around the planets, the
planets around suns, and the suns around new suns, while to the
straining eye the distant star-nebulae themselves seem to be a new and
beautiful world.  Reflect then how these majestic constellations
periodically revolve, that the seasons may change, that the seed of
this forget-me-not may shed itself again and again, the cells open, the
leaves shoot out, and the blossoms decorate the carpet of the meadow;
and look upon the lady-bug which rocks itself in the blue cup of the
flower, and whose awakening into life, whose consciousness of
existence, whose living breath, are a thousand-fold more wonderful than
the tissue of the flower, or the dead mechanism of the heavenly bodies.
Consider that thou also belongest to this infinite warp and woof, and
that thou art permitted to comfort thyself with the infinite creatures
which revolve and live and disappear with thee.  But if this All, with
its smallest and its greatest, with its wisdom and its power, with the
wonders of its existence, and the existence of its wonders, is the work
of a Being in whose presence thy soul does not shrink back, before whom
thou fallest prostrate in a feeling of weakness and nothingness, and to
whom thou risest again in the feeling of His love and mercy--if thou
really feelest that something dwells in thee more endless and eternal
than the cells of the flowers, the spheres of the planets, and the life
of the insect--if thou recognizest in thyself as in a shadow the
reflection of the Eternal which illuminates thee--if thou feelest in
thyself, and under and above thyself, the omnipresence of the Real, in
which thy seeming becomes being, thy trouble, rest, thy solitude,
universality--then thou knowest the One to Whom thou criest in the dark
night of life: "Creator and Father, Thy will be done in Heaven as upon
earth, and as on earth so also in me."  Then it grows bright in and
about thee.  The daybreak disappears with its cold mists, and a new
warmth streams through shivering nature.  Thou hast found a hand which
never again leaves thee, which holds thee when the mountains tremble
and moons are extinguished.  Wherever thou may'st be, thou art with
Him, and He with thee.  He is the eternally near, and His is the world
with its flowers and thorns, His is man with his joys and sorrows.
"The least important thing does not happen except as God wills it."

With such thoughts I went on my way.  At one time, all was well with
me; at another, troubled; for even when we have found rest and peace in
the lowest depths of the soul, it is still hard to remain undisturbed
in this holy solitude.  Yes, many forget it after they find it and
scarcely know the way which leads back to it.

Weeks had flown, and not a syllable had reached me from her.  "Perhaps
she is dead and lies in quiet rest," was another song forever on my
tongue, and always returning as often as I drove it from me.  It was
not impossible, for the Hofrath had told me she suffered with heart
troubles, and that he expected to find her no more among the living
every morning he visited her.  Could I ever forgive myself if she had
left this world and I had not taken farewell of her, nor told her at
the last moment how I loved her?  Must I not follow until I found her
again in another life, and heard from her that she loved me and that I
was forgiven?  How mankind defers from day to day the best it can do,
and the most beautiful things it can enjoy, without thinking that every
day may be the last one, and that lost time is lost eternity!  Then all
the words of the Hofrath, the last time I saw him, recurred to me, and
I felt that I had only resolved to make my sudden journey to show my
strength to him, and that it would have been a still more difficult
task to have confessed my weakness and remained.  It was clear to me
that it was my simple duty to return to her immediately and to bear
everything which Heaven ordained.  But as soon as I had laid the plan
for my return journey, I suddenly remembered the words of the Hofrath:
"As soon as possible she must go away and be taken into the country."
She had herself told me that she spent the most of her time, in summer,
at her castle.  Perhaps she was there, in my immediate vicinity; in one
day I could be with her.  Thinking was doing; at daybreak I was off,
and at evening I stood at the gate of the castle.

The night was clear and bright.  The mountain peaks glistened in the
full gold of the sunset and the lower ridges were bathed in a rosy
blue.  A gray mist rose from the valleys which suddenly glistened when
it swept up into the higher regions, and then like a cloud-sea rolled
heavenwards.  The whole color-play reflected itself in the gently
agitated breast of the dark lake from whose shores the mountains seemed
to rise and fall, so that only the tops of the trees and the peaks of
the church steeples and the rising smoke from the houses defined the
limits which separated the reality of the world from its reflection.
My glance, however, rested upon only one spot--the old castle--where a
presentiment told me I should find her again.  No light could be seen
in the windows, no footstep broke the silence of the night.  Had my
presentiment deceived me?  I passed slowly through the outer gateway
and up the steps until I stood at the fore-court of the castle.  Here I
saw a sentinel pacing back and forwards, and I hastened to the soldier
to inquire who was in the castle.  "The Countess and her attendants are
here," was the brief reply, and in an instant I stood at the main
portal and had even pulled the bell.  Then, for the first time, my
action occurred to me.  No one knew me.  I neither could nor dare say
who I was.  I had wandered for weeks about the mountains, and looked
like a beggar.  What should I say?  For whom should I ask?  There was
little time for consideration, however, for the door opened and a
servant in princely livery stood before me, and regarded me with

I asked if the English lady, who I knew would never forsake the
Countess, was in the castle, and when the servant replied in the
affirmative, I begged for paper and ink and wrote her I was present to
inquire after the health of the Countess.

The servant called an attendant, who took the letter away.  I heard
every step in the long halls, and every moment I waited, my position
became more unendurable.  The old family portraits of the princely
house hung upon the walls--knights in full armor, ladies in antique
costume, and in the center a lady in the white robes of a nun with a
red cross upon her breast.  At any other time I might have looked upon
these pictures and never thought that a human heart once beat in their
breasts.  But now it seemed to me I could suddenly read whole volumes
in their features, and that all of them said to me: "We also have once
lived and suffered."  Under these iron armors secrets were once hidden
as even now in my own breast.  These white robes and the red cross are
real proofs that a battle was fought here like that now raging in my
own heart.  Then I fancied all of them regarded me with pity, and a
loftier haughtiness rested on their features as if they would say, Thou
dost not belong to us.  I was growing uneasy every moment, when
suddenly a light step dissipated my dream.  The English lady came down
the stairs and asked me to step into an apartment.  I looked at her
closely to see if she suspected my real emotions, but her face was
perfectly calm, and without manifesting the slightest expression of
curiosity or wonder, she said in measured tones, the Countess was much
better to-day and would see me in half an hour.

When I heard these words, I felt like the good swimmer who has ventured
far out into the sea, and first thinks of returning when his arms have
begun to grow weary.  He cleaves the waves with haste, scarcely
venturing to cast a glance at the distant shore, feeling with every
stroke that his strength is failing and that he is making no headway,
until at last, purposeless and cramped, he scarcely has any realization
of his position; then suddenly his foot touches the firm bottom, and
his arm hugs the first rock on the shore.  A fresh reality confronted
me, and my sufferings were a dream.  There are but few such moments in
the life of man, and thousands have never known their rapture.  The
mother whose child rests in her arms for the first time, the father
whose only son returns from war covered with glory, the poet in whom
his countrymen exult, the youth whose warm grasp of the hand is
returned by the beloved being with a still warmer pressure--they know
what it means when a dream becomes a reality.

At the expiration of the half hour, a servant came and conducted me
through a long suite of rooms, opened a door, and in the fading light
of the evening I saw a white figure, and above her a high window, which
looked out upon the lake and the shimmering mountains.

"How singularly people meet!" she cried out in a clear voice, and every
word was like a cool rain-drop on a hot summer's day.

"How singularly people meet, and how singularly they lose each other,"
said I; and thereupon I seized her hand, and realized that we were
together again.

"But people are to blame if they lose each other," she continued; and
her voice, which seemed always to accompany her words, like music,
involuntarily modulated into a tenderer key.

"Yes, that is true," I replied; "but first tell me, are you well, and
can I talk with you?"

"My dear friend," said she, smiling, "you know I am always sick, and if
I say that I feel well, I do so for the sake of my old Hofrath; for he
is firmly convinced that my entire life since my first year is due to
him and his skill.  Before I left the Court-residence I caused him much
anxiety, for one evening my heart suddenly ceased beating, and I
experienced such distress that I thought it would never beat again.
But that is past, and why should we recall it?  Only one thing troubles
me, I have hitherto believed I should some time close my eyes in
perfect repose, but now I feel that my sufferings will disturb and
embitter my departure from life."  Then she placed her hand upon her
heart, and said: "But tell me, where have you been, and why have I not
heard from you all this time?  The old Hofrath has given me so many
reasons for your sudden departure, that I was finally compelled to tell
him I did not believe him--and at last he gave me the most incredible
of all reasons, and counselled--what do you suppose?"

"He might seem untruthful," I interrupted, so that she should not
explain the reason, "and yet, perhaps he was only too truthful.  But
this also is past, and why should we recall it?"

"No, no, my friend," said she, "why call it past?  I told the Hofrath,
when he gave me the last reason for your sudden departure, that I
understood neither him nor you.  I am a poor sick, forsaken being, and
my earthly existence is only a slow death.  Now if Heaven sends me a
few souls who understand me, or love me, as the Hofrath calls it, why
then should it disturb their joy or mine?  I had been reading my
favorite poet, the old Wordsworth, when the Hofrath made his
acknowledgment, and I said: 'My dear Hofrath, we have so many thoughts
and so few words that we must express many thoughts in every word.  Now
if one who does not know us understood that our young friend loved me,
or I him, in such manner as we suppose Romeo loved Juliet and Juliet
Romeo, you would be entirely right in saying it should not be so.  But
is it not true that you love me also, my old Hofrath, and that I love
you, and have loved you for many years?  And has it not sometimes
occurred to you that I have neither been past remedy nor unhappy on
that account?  Yes, my dear Hofrath, I will tell you still more--I
believe you have an unfortunate love for me, and are jealous of our
young friend.  Do you not come every morning and inquire how I am, even
when you know I am very well?  Do you not bring me the finest flowers
from your garden?  Did you not oblige me to send you my portrait,
and--perhaps I ought not to disclose it--did you not come to my room
last Sunday and think I was asleep?  I was really sleeping--at least I
could not stir myself.  I saw you sitting at my bedside for a long
time, your eyes steadfastly fixed upon me, and I felt your glances
playing upon my face like sunbeams.  At last your eyes grew weary, and
I perceived the great tears falling from them.  You held your face in
your hands, and loudly sobbed: Marie, Marie!  Ah, my dear Hofrath, our
young friend has never done that, and yet you have sent him away.'  As
I thus talked with him, half in jest and half in earnest, as I always
speak, I perceived that I had hurt the old man's feelings.  He became
perfectly silent, and blushed like a child.  Then I took the volume of
Wordsworth's poems which I had been reading, and said: 'Here is another
old man whom I love, and love with my whole heart, who understands me,
and whom I understand, and yet I have never seen him, and shall never
see him on earth, since it is so to be.  Now I will read you one of his
poems, that you may see how one can love, and that love is a silent
benediction which the lover lays upon the head of the beloved, and then
goes on his way in rapturous sorrow.'  Then I read to him Wordsworth's
'Highland Girl;' and now, my friend, place the lamp nearer, and read
the poem to me, for it refreshes me every time I hear it.  A spirit
breathes through it like the silent, everlasting evening-red, which
stretches its arms in love and blessing over the pure breast of the
snow-covered mountains."

As her words thus gradually and peacefully filled my soul, it at last
grew still and solemn in my breast again; the storm was over, and her
image floated like the silvery moonlight upon the gently rippling waves
of my love--this world-sea which rolls through the hearts of all men,
and which each calls his own while it is an all-animating pulse-beat of
the whole human race.  I would most gladly have kept silent like Nature
as it lay before our view without, and ever grew stiller and darker:
But she gave me the book, and I read:

  Sweet Highland Girl, a very shower
  Of beauty is thy earthly dower!
  Twice seven consenting years have shed
  Their utmost bounty on thy head:
  And these gray rocks, that household lawn,
  Those trees, a veil just half withdrawn,
  This fall of water that doth make
  A murmur near the silent lake,
  This little bay; a quiet road
  That holds in shelter thy abode--
  In truth, together do ye seem
  Like something fashioned in a dream;
  Such forms as from their covert peep
  When earthly cares are laid asleep!
  But, O fair creature! in the light
  Of common day, so heavenly bright,
  I bless thee, vision as thou art,
  I bless thee with a human heart;
  God shield thee to thy latest years!
  Thee neither know I, nor thy peers;
  And yet my eyes are filled with tears.

  With earnest feeling I shall pray
  For thee when I am far away;
  For never saw I mien or face,
  In which more plainly I could trace
  Benignity and home-bred sense
  Ripening in perfect innocence.
  Here scattered, like a random seed,
  Remote from men, thou dost not need
  The embarrassed look of shy distress,
  And maidenly shamefacedness:
  Thou wear'st upon thy forehead clear
  The freedom of a mountaineer:
  A face with gladness overspread!
  Soft smiles, by human kindness bred!
  And seemliness complete, that sways
  Thy courtesies, about thee plays;
  With no restraint, but such as springs
  From quick and eager visitings
  Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach
  Of thy few words of English speech:
  A bondage sweetly brooked, a strife
  That gives thy gestures grace and life!
  So have I, not unmoved in mind,
  Seen birds of tempest-loving kind--
  Thus beating up against the wind.

  What hand but would a garland cull
  For thee who art so beautiful?
  O happy pleasure! here to dwell
  Beside thee in some heathy dell;
  Adopt your homely ways and dress,
  A shepherd, thou a shepherdess:
  But I could frame a wish for thee
  More like a grave reality:
  Thou art to me but as a wave
  Of the wild sea; and I would have
  Some claim upon thee, if I could,
  Though but of common neighborhood
  What joy to hear thee, and to see!
  Thy elder brother I would be,
  Thy father--anything to thee!

  Now thanks to heaven! that of its grace
  Hath led me to this lonely place.
  Joy have I had; and going hence
  I bear away my recompense.
  In spots like these it is we prize
  Our memory, feel that she hath eyes:
  Then why should I be loth to stir?
  I feel this place was made for her;
  To give new pleasure like the past,
  Continued long as life shall last.
  Nor am I loth, though pleased at heart,
  Sweet Highland Girl, from thee to part;
  For I, methinks, till I grow old,
  As fair before me shall behold,
  As I do now, the cabin small,
  The lake, the bay, the waterfall,
  And thee, the spirit of them all!

I had finished, and the poem had been to me like a draught of the fresh
spring-water which I had sipped so often of late as it dropped from the
cup of some large green leaf.

Then I heard her gentle voice, like the first tone of the organ, which
wakens us from our dreamy devotion, and she said:

"Thus I desire you to love me, and thus the old Hofrath loves me, and
thus in one way or another we should all love and believe in each
other.  But the world, although I scarcely know it, does not seem to
understand this love and faith, and, on this earth, where we could have
lived so happily, men have made existence very wretched.

"It must have been otherwise of old, else how could Homer have created
the lovely, wholesome, tender picture of Nausikaa?  Nausikaa loves
Ulysses at the first glance.  She says at once to her female friends:
'Oh, that I could call such a man my spouse, and that it were his
destiny to remain here.'  She was even too modest to appear in public
at the same time with him, and she says, in his presence, that if she
should bring such a handsome and majestic stranger home, the people
would say, she may have taken him for a husband.  How simple and
natural all this is!  But when she heard that he was going home to his
wife and children, no murmur escaped her.  She disappears from our
sight, and we feel that she carried the picture of the handsome and
majestic stranger a long time afterward in her breast, with silent and
joyful admiration.  Why do not our poets know this love--this joyful
acknowledgment, this calm abnegation?  A later poet would have made a
womanish Werter out of Nausikaa, for the reason that love with us is
nothing more than the prelude to the comedy, or the tragedy, of
marriage.  Is it true there is no longer any other love?  Has the
fountain of this pure happiness wholly dried up?  Are men only
acquainted with the intoxicating draught, and no longer with the
invigorating well-spring of love?"

At these words the English poet occurred to me, who also thus complains:

  From heaven if this belief be sent,
    If such be nature's holy plan,
  Have I not reason to lament
    What man has made of man.

"Yet, how happy the poets are," said she.  "Their words call the
deepest feelings into existence in thousands of mute souls, and how
often their songs have become a confession of the sweetest secrets!
Their heart beats in the breasts of the poor and the rich.  The happy
sing with them, and the sad weep with them.  But I cannot feel any poet
so completely my own as Wordsworth.  I know many of my friends do not
like him.  They say he is not a poet.  But that is exactly why I like
him; he avoids all the hackneyed poetical catch-words, all
exaggeration, and everything comprehended in Pegasus-flights.  He is
true--and does not everything lie in this one word?  He opens our eyes
to the beauty which lies under our feet like the daisy in the meadow.
He calls everything by its true name.  He never intends to startle,
deceive, or dazzle any one.  He seeks no admiration for himself.  He
only shows mankind how beautiful everything is which man's hand has not
yet spoiled or broken.  Is not a dew-drop on a blade of grass more
beautiful than a pearl set in gold?  Is not a living spring, which
gushes up before us, we know not whence, more beautiful than all the
fountains of Versailles?  Is not his Highland Girl a lovelier and truer
expression of real beauty than Goethe's Helena, or Byron's Haidee?  And
then the plainness of his language, and the purity of his thoughts!  Is
it not a pity that we have never had such a poet?  Schiller could have
been our Wordsworth, had he had more faith in himself than in the old
Greeks and Romans.  Our Ruckert would come the nearest to him, had he
not also sought consolation and home under Eastern roses, away from his
poor Fatherland.  Few poets have the courage to be just what they are.
Wordsworth had it; and as we gladly listen to great men, even in those
moments when they are not inspired, but, like other mortals, quietly
cherish their thoughts, and patiently wait the moment that will
disclose new glimpses into the infinite, so have I also listened gladly
to Wordsworth himself, in his poems, which contain nothing more than
any one might have said.  The greatest poets allow themselves rest.  In
Homer we often read a hundred verses without a single beauty, and just
so in Dante; while Pindar, whom all admire so much, drives me to
distraction with his ecstacies.  What would I not give to spend one
summer on the lakes; visit with Wordsworth all the places to which he
has given names; greet all the trees which he has saved from the axe;
and only once watch a far-off sunset with him, which he describes as
only Turner could have painted."

It was a peculiarity of hers that her voice never dropped at the close
of her talk, as with most people; on the contrary, it rose and always
ended, as it were, in the broken seventh chord.  She always talked up,
never down, to people.  The melody of her sentences resembled that of
the child when it says: "Can't I, father?"  There was something
beseeching in her tones, and it was well-nigh impossible to gainsay her.

"Wordsworth," said I, "is a dear poet, and a still dearer man to me,
and as one often has a more beautiful, wide-spread, and stirring
outlook from a little hill which he ascends without effort, than when
he has clambered up Mont Blanc with difficulty and weariness, so it
seems to me with Wordsworth's poetry.  At first, he often appeared
commonplace to me, and I have frequently laid down his poems unable to
understand how the best minds of England to-day can cherish such an
admiration for him.  The conviction has grown upon me that no poet whom
his nation, or the intellectual aristocracy of his people, recognize as
a poet, should remain unenjoyed by us, whatever his language.
Admiration is an art which we must learn.  Many Germans say Racine does
not please them.  The Englishman says, 'I do not understand Goethe.'
The Frenchman says Shakespeare is a boor.  What does all this amount
to?  Nothing more than the child who says it likes a waltz better than
a symphony of Beethoven's.  The art consists in discovering and
understanding what each nation admires in its great men.  He who seeks
beauty will eventually find it, and discover that the Persians are not
entirely deceived in their Hafiz, nor the Hindoos in their Kalidasa.
We cannot understand a great man all at once.  It takes strength,
effort, and perseverance, and it is singular that what pleases us at
first sight seldom captivates us any length of time.

"And yet," she continued, "there is something common to all great
poets, to all true artists, to all the world's heroes, be they Persian
or Hindoo, heathen or Christian, Roman or German; it is--I hardly know
what to call it--it is the Infinite which seems to lie behind them, a
far away glance into the Eternal, an apotheosis of the most trifling
and transitory things.  Goethe, the grand heathen, knew the sweet peace
which comes from Heaven; and when he sings:

    "On every mountain-height
      Is rest.
    O'er each summit white
      Thou feelest
    Scarcely a breath.
  The bird songs are still from each bough;
  Only wait, soon shalt thou
    Rest too, in death.

"does not an endless distance, a repose which earth cannot give,
disclose itself to him above the fir-clad summits?  This background is
never wanting with Wordsworth.  Let the carpers say what they will, it
is nevertheless only the super-earthly, be it ever so obscure, which
charms and quiets the human heart.  Who has better understood this
earthly beauty than Michel Angelo?--but he understood it, because it
was to him a reflection of superearthly beauty.  You know his sonnet:

  ["La forza d'un bel volto al ciel mi sprona
  (Ch'altro in terra non e che mi diletti),
  E vivo ascendo tra gli spirti eletti;
  Grazia ch'ad uom mortal raro si dona.
  Si ben col suo Fattor l'opra consuona,
  Ch'a lui mi levo per divin concetti;
  E quivi informo i pensier tutti e i detti;
  Ardendo, amando per gentil persona.
  Onde, se mai da due begli occhi il guardo
  Torcer non so, conosco in lor la luce
  Che mi mostra la via, ch'a Dio mi guide;
  E se nel lume loro acceso io ardo,
  Nel nobil foco mio dolce riluce
  La gioja che nel cielo eterna ride."]

  "The might of one fair face sublimes my love,
  For it hath weaned my heart from low desires;
  Nor death I heed nor purgatorial fires.
  Thy beauty, antepast of joys above
  Instructs me in the bliss that saints approve;
  For, Oh! how good, how beautiful must be
  The God that made so good a thing as thee,
  So fair an image of the Heavenly Dove.
  Forgive me if I cannot turn away
  From those sweet eyes that are my earthly heaven,
  For they are guiding stars, benignly given
  To tempt my footsteps to the upward way;
  And if I dwell too fondly in thy sight,
  I live and love in God's peculiar light."

She was exhausted and silent, and how could I disturb that silence?
When human hearts, after friendly interchange of thoughts feel calmed
and quieted, it is as if an angel had flown through the room and we
heard the gentle flutter of wings over our heads.  As my gaze rested
upon her, her lovely form seemed illuminated in the twilight of the
summer evening, and her hand, which I held in mine, alone gave me the
consciousness of her real presence.  Then suddenly a bright refulgence
spread over her countenance.  She felt it, opened her eyes and looked
upon me wonderingly.  The wonderful brightness of her eyes, which the
half-closed eyelids covered as with a veil, shone like the lightning.
I looked around and at last saw that the moon had arisen in full
splendor between two peaks opposite the castle, and brightened the lake
and the village with its friendly smiles.  Never had I seen Nature,
never had I seen her dear face so beautiful, never had such holy rest
settled down upon my soul.  "Marie," said I, "in this resplendent
moment, let me, just as I am, confess my whole love.  Let us, while we
feel so powerfully the nearness of the superearthly, unite our souls in
a tie which can never again be broken.  Whatever love may be, Marie, I
love you and I feel, Marie, you are mine for I am thine."

I knelt before her, but ventured not to look into her eyes.  My lips
touched her hand and I kissed it.  At this she withdrew her hand from
me, slowly at first and then quickly and decidedly, and as I looked at
her an expression of pain was on her face.  She was silent for a time,
but at last she raised herself and said with a deep sigh:

"Enough for to-day.  You have caused me pain, but it is my fault.
Close the window.  I feel a cold chill coming over me as if a strange
hand were touching me.  Stay with me--but no, you must go.  Farewell!
Sleep well!  Pray that the peace of God may abide with us.  We see each
other again--shall we not?  To-morrow evening I await you."

Oh, where all at once had this heavenly rest flown?  I saw how she
suffered, and all that, I could do was to quickly hurry away, summon
the English lady and then go alone in the darkness of night to the
village.  Long time I wandered back and forth about the lake, long my
gaze strayed to the lighted window where I had just been.  Finally, the
last light in the castle was extinguished.  The moon mounted higher and
higher, and every pinnacle and projection and decoration on the lofty
walls grew visible in the fairy-like illumination.  Here was I all
alone in the silent night.  It seemed to me my brain had refused its
office, for no thought came to an end and I only felt I was alone on
this earth, that it contained no soul for me.  The earth was like a
coffin, the black sky a funeral pall, and I scarcely knew whether I was
living or had long been dead.  Then I suddenly looked up to the stars
with their blinking eyes, which went their way so quietly--and it
seemed to me that they were only for the lighting and consolation of
men, and then I thought of two heavenly stars which had risen in my
dark heaven so unexpectedly, and a thanksgiving rang through my
breast--a thanksgiving for the love of my angel.


The sun was already looking into my window over the mountains when I
awoke.  Was it the same sun which looked upon us the evening before with
lingering gaze, like a departing friend, as if it would bless the union
of our souls, and which set like a lost hope?  It shone upon me now, like
a child which bursts into our room with beaming glance to wish us good
morning on a joyful holiday.  And was I the same man who, only a few
hours before, had thrown himself upon his bed, broken in body and spirit?
Immediately I felt once more the old life-courage and trust in God and
myself, which quickened and animated my soul like the fresh morning,
breeze.  What would become of man without sleep?  We know not where this
nightly messenger leads us; and when he closes our eyes at night who can
assure us that he will open them again in the morning--that he will bring
us to ourselves?  It required courage and faith for the first man to
throw himself into the arms of this unknown friend; and were there not in
our nature a certain helplessness which forces us to submission, and
compels us to have faith in all things we are to believe, I doubt whether
any man, notwithstanding all his weariness, could close his eyes of his
own free will and enter into this unknown dream-land.  The very
consciousness of our weakness and our weariness gives us faith in a
higher power, and courage to resign ourselves to the beautiful system of
the All, and we feel invigorated and refreshed when, in waking or in
sleeping, we have loosened, even for a short time only, the chains which
bind our Eternal Self to our temporal Ego.

What had appeared to me, only yesterday, dark as an evening cloud flying
overhead, became instantly clear.  We belonged to one another, that I
felt; be it as brother and sister, father and child, bridegroom and
bride, we must remain together now and forever.  It only concerned us to
find the right name for that which we in our stammering speech call Love.

  "Thy elder brother I would be,
  Thy father--anything to thee."

It was this "anything" for which a name must be found, for the world now
recognizes nothing as nameless.  She had told me herself that she loved
me with that pure all-human love, out of which springs all other love.
Her shuddering, her uneasiness, when I confessed my full love to her,
were still incomprehensible to me, but it could no longer shatter my
faith in our love.  Why should we desire to understand all that takes
place in other human natures, when there is so much that is
incomprehensible in our own?  After all, it is the inconceivable which
generally captivates us, whether in nature, in man, or in our own
breasts.  Men whom we understand, whose motives we see before us like an
anatomical preparation, leave us cold, like the characters in most of our
novels.  Nothing spoils our delight in life and men more than this ethic
rationalism which insists upon clearing up everything, and illuminating
every mystery of our inner being.  There is in every person a something
that is inseparable--we call it fate, the suggestive power or
character--and he knows neither himself nor mankind, who believes that he
can analyze the deeds and actions of men without taking into account this
ever-recurring principle.  Thus I consoled myself on all those points
which had troubled me in the evening; and at last no streak of cloud
obscured the heaven of the future.

In this frame of mind I stepped out of the close house into the open air,
when a messenger brought a letter for me.  It was from the Countess, as I
saw by the beautiful, delicate handwriting.  I breathlessly opened it--I
looked for the most blissful tidings man can expect.  But all my hopes
were immediately shattered.  The letter contained only a request not to
visit her to-day, as she expected a visit at the castle from the Court
Residence.  No friendly word--no news of her health--only at the close, a
postscript: "The Hofrath will be here to-morrow and the next day."

Here were two days torn out at once from the book of life.  If they could
only be completely obliterated--but no, they hang over me like the leaden
roof of a prison.  They must be lived.  I could not give them away as a
charity to king or beggar, who would gladly have sat two days longer upon
his throne, or on his stone at the church door.  I remained in this
abstraction for a long time; but then I thought of my morning prayer, and
how I said to myself there was no greater unbelief than despondency--how
the smallest and greatest in life are part of one great divine plan, to
which we must submit, however hard it may be.  Like a rider who sees a
precipice before him, I drew in the reins.  "Be it so, since it must be!"
I cried out; "but God's earth is not the place for complaints and
lamentations.  Is it not a happiness to hold in my hand these lines which
she has written? and is not the hope of seeing her again in a short time
a greater bliss than I have ever deserved?  'Always keep the head above
water,' say all good life-swimmers.  As well sink at once as allow the
water to run into your eyes and throat."  If it is hard for us, amid
these little ills of life, to keep God's providence continually in view,
and if we hesitate, perhaps rightly, in every struggle, to step out of
the common-places of life into the presence of the divine, then life
ought to appear, to us at least, an art, if not a duty.  What is more
disagreeable than the child who behaves ungovernably and grows dejected
and angry at every little loss and pain?  On the other hand, nothing is
more beautiful than the child in whose tearful eyes the sunshine of joy
and innocence soon beams again, like the flower, which quivers and
trembles in the spring shower, and soon after blossoms and exhales its
fragrance, as the sun dries the tears upon its cheeks.

A good thought speedily occurred to me, that I could live both these days
with her, notwithstanding fate.  For a long time I had intended to write
down the dear words she had said, and the many beautiful thoughts she had
confided to me; and so the days passed away in memory of the many
charming hours spent, together, and in the hope of a still more beautiful
future, and I was by her and with her, and lived in her, and felt the
nearness of her spirit and her love more than I had ever felt them when I
held her hand in mine.

How dear to me now are these leaves!  How often have I read and re-read
them--not that I had forgotten one word she said, but they were the
witnesses of my happiness, and something looked out of them upon me like
the gaze of a friend, whose silence speaks more than words.  The memory
of a past happiness, the memory of a past sorrow, the silent meditation
upon the past, when everything disappears that surrounds and restrains
us, when the soul throws itself down, like a mother upon the green
grave-mound of her child who has slept under it many long years, when no
hope, no desire, disturbs the silence of peaceful resignation, we may
well call sadness, but there is a rapture in this sadness which only
those know who have loved and suffered much.  Ask the mother what she
feels when she ties upon the head of her daughter the veil _she_ once
wore as a bride, and thinks of the husband no longer with her!  Ask a man
what he feels when the maiden whom he has loved, and the world has torn
from him, sends him after death the dried rose which he gave her in
youth!  They may both weep, but their tears are not tears of sorrow, but
tears of joy; tears of sacrifice, with which man consecrates himself to
the Divine, and with faith in God's love and wisdom, looks upon the
dearest he has passing away from him.

Still let us go back in memory, back in the living presence of the past.
The two days flew so swiftly that I was agitated, as the happiness of
seeing her again drew nearer and nearer.  As the carriages and horsemen
arrived on the first day from the city, I saw that the castle was alive
with gaily-dressed visitors.  Banners fluttered from the roof, music
sounded through the castle-yard.  In the evening, the lake swarmed with
pleasure-boats.  The moennerchors sounded over the waves, and I could not
but listen, for I fancied she also listened to these songs from the
window.  Everything was stirring, also, on the second day, and early in
the afternoon the guests prepared for departure.  Late in the evening I
saw the Hofrath's carriage also going back alone to the city.  I could
not restrain myself any longer, I knew she was alone.  I knew she thought
of me, and longed for me.  Should I allow one night to pass without at
least pressing her hand, without saying to her that the separation was
over, that the next morning would waken us to new rapture.  I still saw a
light in her window--why should she be alone?  Why should I not, for one
moment at least, feel her sweet presence?  Already I stood at the castle;
already I was about to pull the bell--then suddenly I stopped and said:
"No! no weakness!  You should be ashamed to stand before her like a thief
in the night.  Early in the morning go to her like a hero, returning from
battle, for whom she is now weaving the crown of love, which she will
place upon thy head in the morning."

And the morning came--and I was with her, really with her.  Oh, speak not
of the spirit as if it could exist without the body.  Complete existence,
consciousness, and enjoyment, can only be where body and soul are one--an
embodied spirit, a spiritualized body.  There is no spirit without body,
else it would be a ghost: there is no body without spirit, else it would
be a corpse.  Is the flower in the field without spirit? Does it not
appear in a divine will, in a creative thought which preserves it, and
gives it life and existence?  That is its soul--only it is silent in the
flower, while it manifests itself in man by words.  Real life is, after
all, the bodily and spiritual life; real consciousness is, after all, the
bodily and spiritual consciousness; real being together is, after all,
bodily and spiritually being together, and the whole world of memory in
which I had lived so happily for two days, disappeared like a shadow,
like a nonentity, as I stood before her, and was really with her.  I
could have laid my hands upon her brow, her eyes, and her cheeks, to
know, to unmistakably know, if it were really she--not only the image
which had hovered before my soul day and night, but a being who was not
mine, and still could and would be mine; a being in whom I could believe
as in myself; a being far from me and yet nearer to me than my own self;
a being without whom my life was no life, death was no death; without
whom my poor existence would dissolve into infinity like a sigh.  I felt,
as my thoughts and glances rested upon her, that now, in this very
instant, the happiness of my existence was complete--and a shudder crept
over me as I thought of death--but it seemed no longer to have any terror
for me; for death could not destroy this love; it would only purify;
ennoble, and immortalize it.

It was so beautiful to be silent with her.  The whole depth of her soul
was reflected in her countenance, and as I looked upon her I saw and
heard her every thought and emotion.  "You make me sad," she seemed on
the point of saying, and yet would not, "Are we not together again at
last?  Be quiet!  Complain not!  Ask not!  Speak not!  Be welcome to me!
Be not bad to me!"  All this looked from her eyes, and still we did not
venture to disturb the peace of our happiness with a word.

"Have you received a letter from the Hofrath?" was the first question,
and her voice trembled with each word.

"No," I replied.

She was silent for a time, and then said:

"Perhaps it is better it has happened thus, and that I can tell you
everything myself.  My friend, we see each other to-day for the last
time.  Let us part in peace, without complaint and without anger.  I feel
that I have done you a great wrong.  I have intruded upon your life
without thinking that even a light breath often withers a flower.  I know
so little of the world that I did not believe a poor suffering being like
myself could inspire anything but pity.  I welcome you in a frank and
friendly way because I had known you so long, because I felt so well in
your presence--why should I not tell all?--because I loved you.  But the
world does not understand or tolerate this love.  The Hofrath has opened
my eyes.  The whole city is talking about us.  My brother, the Regent,
has written to the Prince, and he requests me never to see you again.  I
deeply regret that I have caused you this sorrow.  Tell me you forgive
me--and then let us separate as friends."

Her eyes had filled with tears, and she closed them that I should not see
her weeping.

"Marie," said I, "for me there is but one life which is with you; but for
you there is one will which is your own.  Yes, I confess, I love you with
the whole fire of love, but I feel I am not worthily yours.  You stand
far above me in nobility, sublimity and purity, and I can scarcely
understand the thought of ever calling you my wife.  And, yet, there is
no other road on which we could travel through life together.  Marie, you
are wholly free; I ask for no sacrifice.  The world is great, and if you
wish it, we shall never see each other again.  But if you love me, if you
feel you are mine, oh, then, let us forget the world and its cold
verdict.  In my arms I will bear you to the altar, and on my knees I will
swear to be yours in life and in death."

"My friend," said she, "we must never wish for the impossible.  Had it
been God's will that such a tie should unite us in this life, would He,
forsooth, have imposed these burdens upon me which make me incapable of
being else than a helpless child?  Do not forget that what we call Fate,
Circumstance, Relations, in life, is in reality only the work of
Providence.  To resist it is to resist God himself, and were it not so
childish one might call it presumptuous.  Men wander on earth like the
stars in heaven.  God has indicated the paths upon which they meet, and
if they are to separate, they must.  Resistance were useless, otherwise
it would destroy the whole system of the world.  We cannot understand it,
but we can submit to it.  I cannot myself understand why my inclination
towards you was wrong.  No!  I cannot, will not call it wrong.  But it
cannot be, it is not to be.  My friend, this is enough--we must submit in
humility and faith."

Notwithstanding the calmness with which she spoke, I saw how deeply she
suffered; and yet I thought it wrong to surrender so quickly in this
battle of life.  I restrained myself as much as I could, so that no
passionate word should increase her trouble, and said:

"If this is the last time we are to meet in this life, let us see clearly
to whom we offer this sacrifice.  If our love violated any higher law
whatsoever, I would, as you say, bow myself in humility.  It were a
forgetfulness of God to oppose one's self to a higher will.  It may seem
at times as if men could delude God, as if their small sense had gained
some advantage over the Divine wisdom.  This is frenzy--and the man who
commences this Titanic battle; will be crushed and annihilated.  But what
opposes our love? Nothing but the talk of the world.  I respect the
customs of human society.  I even respect them when, as in our time, they
are over-refined and confused.  A sick body needs artificial medicines,
and without the barriers, the respect and the prejudices of society, at
which we smile, it were impossible to hold mankind together as at present
existing, and to accomplish the purpose of our temporal co-existence.  We
must sacrifice much to these divinities.  Like the Athenians, we send
every year a heavy boatload of youths and maidens as tribute to this
monster which rules the labyrinth of our society.  There is no longer a
heart that has not broken; there is no longer a man of true feelings who
has not been obliged to break the wings of his love before he came into
the cage of society for rest.  It must be so.  It cannot be otherwise.
You know not life, but thinking only of my friends, I can tell you many
volumes of tragedy.

"One loved a maiden, and the love was returned; but he was poor, she was
rich.  The fathers and relatives wrangled and sneered, and two hearts
were broken.  Why?  Because the world looked upon it as a misfortune for
a woman to wear a dress made of the wool of a shrub in America, and not
of the fibres of a worm in China.

"Another loved a maiden, and was loved in return; but he was a
Protestant, she was a Catholic.  The mothers and the priests bred
mischief, and two hearts were broken.  Why?  On account of a political
game of chess which Charles V and Henry VIII played together, three
hundred years ago.

"A third loved a maiden, and was loved in return; but he was a noble, she
a peasant.  The sisters were angry, and quarreled, and two hearts were
broken.  Why?  Because, a hundred years ago, one soldier slew another in
battle, who threatened the life of his king.  This gave him title and
honors, and his great grandson expiated the blood shed at that time, with
a disappointed life.

"The statisticians say a heart is broken every hour, and I believe it.
But why?  In almost every case, because the world does not recognize love
between 'strange people,' unless it be between man and wife.  If two
maidens love the same man--the one must fall as a sacrifice.  If two men
love the same maiden, one or both must fall as a sacrifice.  Why?  Cannot
one love a maiden, without wishing to marry her?  Cannot one look upon a
woman, without desiring her for his own?  You close your eyes, and I feel
I have said too much.  The world has changed the most sacred things in
life into the most common.  But, Marie, enough!  Let us talk the language
of the world when we must talk, and act in it, and with it.  But let us
preserve a sanctuary where two hearts can speak the pure language of the
heart, undisturbed by the raging of the world without.  The world itself
honors this seclusion, this courageous resistance, which noble hearts,
conscious of their own rectitude, oppose to the ordinary course of
things.  The attentions, the amenities, the prejudices of the world are
like a climbing plant.  It is pleasant to see an ivy, with its thousand
tendrils and roots, decorating the solid wall-work; but it should not be
allowed too luxuriant growth, else it will penetrate every crevice of the
structure, and destroy the cement which welds it together.  Be mine,
Marie; follow the voice of your heart.  The word which now hangs upon
your lips decides forever your life and mine--my happiness and yours."

I was silent.  The hand I held in mine returned the warm pressure of the
heart.  A storm raged in her breast, and the blue heaven before me never
seemed so beautiful as now, while the storm swept by, cloud upon cloud.

"Why do you love me?" said she, gently, as if she must still delay the
moment of decision.

"Why, Marie?  Ask the child why it is born; ask the flower why it
blossoms; ask the sun why it shines.  I love you because I must love you.
But if I am compelled to answer further, let this book, lying by you,
which you love so much, speak for me:

["Das beste solte das liebste sin, und in diser libe solte nicht
angesehen werden nuss und unnuss, fromen oder schaden, gewin oder
vorlust, ere oder unere, lob oder unlob oder diser keins, sunder was in
der warheit das edelste und das aller beste ist, das solt auch das
allerliebste sin, und umb nichts anders dan allein umb das, das es das
edelst und das beste ist.  Hie nach mocht ein mensche sin leben gerichten
von ussen und von innen.  Von ussen: wan under den creaturen ist eins
besser dan das ander, dar nach dan das ewig gut in einem mer oder minner
schinet und wurket dan in dem andern.  In welchem nun das ewig gut aller
meist schinet, luchtet, wurket und bekant und geliebet wirt, das ist ouch
das beste under den creaturen; und in welchem dis minst ist, das ist ouch
das aller minst gut.  So nu der mensche die creatur handelt und da mit
umb get, und disen underscheit bekennet, so sol im ie die beste creatur
die liebste sin und sol sich mit flis zu ir halden und sich da mit
voreinigen. . ."]

"The best should be the most loved, and in this love there should be no
consideration of advantage or disadvantage, gain or loss, honor or
dishonor, praise or blame, or anything else, but of that which in reality
is the noblest and best, which should be the dearest of all; and for no
other reason, but because it is the noblest and best.  According to this
a man should plan his inner and outer life.  From without: if among
mankind there is one better than another, in proportion as the eternally
good shines or works more in one than in another.  That being in whom the
eternally good shines, works, is known and loved most, is therefore the
best among mankind; and in whom this is most, there is also the most
good.  As now a man has intercourse with a being, and apprehends this
distinction, then the best being should be the dearest to him, and he
should fervently cling to it, and unite himself with it. . . . . ."

"Because you are the most perfect creature that I know, Marie, therefore
I am good to you, therefore you are dear to me, therefore we love each
other.  Speak the word which lives in you, say that you are mine.  Deny
not your innermost convictions.  God has imposed a life of suffering upon
you.  He sent me to bear it with you.  Your sorrow shall be my sorrow,
and we will bear it together, as the ship bears the heavy sails which
guide it through the storms of life into the safe haven at last."

She grew more and more silent, A gentle flush played upon her cheeks like
the quiet evening gleam.  Then she opened her eyes full--the sun gleamed
all at once with marvellous lustre.

"I am yours," said she.  "God wills it.  Take me just as I am; so long as
I live I am yours, and may God bring us together again in a more
beautiful life, and recompense your love."

We lay heart to heart.  My lips closed the lips upon which had just now
hung the blessing of my life, with a gentle kiss.  Time stood still for
us.  The world about us disappeared.  Then a deep sigh escaped from her
breast.  "May God forgive me for this rapture," she whispered.  "Leave me
alone now, I cannot endure more.  _Auf wiedersehen_!  my friend, my loved
one, my savior."

These were the last words I ever heard from her.  But no--I had reached
home and was lying upon my bed in troubled dreams.  It was past midnight
when the Hofrath entered my room.  "Our angel is in Heaven," said he;
"here is the last greeting she sends you."  With these words he gave me a
letter.  It enclosed the ring which she had given me, and I once had
given her, with the words: "_As God wills_."  It was wrapped in an old
paper, whereon she had some time written the words I spoke to her when a
child: "What is thine, is mine.  Thy Marie."

Hours long, we sat together without speaking.  It was a spiritual swoon
which Heaven sends us when the load of pain becomes greater than we can
bear.  At last the old man arose, took my hand and said: "We see each
other to-day for the last time, for you must leave here, and my days are
numbered.  There is but one thing I must say to you--a secret which I
have carried all my life, and confessed to no one.  I have always longed
to confess it to some one.  Listen to me.  The spirit which has left us
was a beautiful spirit, a majestic, pure soul, a deep, true heart.  I
knew one spirit as beautiful as hers--still more beautiful.  It was her
mother.  I loved her mother, and she loved me.  We were both poor, and I
struggled with life to obtain an honorable position both on her account
and my own.  The young Prince saw my bride and loved her.  He was my
Prince; he loved her ardently.  He was ready to make any sacrifice and to
elevate her, the poor orphan, to the rank of Princess.  I loved her so
that I sacrificed the happiness of my love for her.  I forsook my native
land and wrote her I would release her from her vow.  I never saw her
again, except on her death-bed.  She died in giving birth to her first
daughter.  Now you know why I loved your Marie, and prolonged her life
from day to day.  She was the only being that linked my heart to this
life.  Bear life as I have borne it.  Lose not a day in useless
lamentation.  Help mankind whenever you can.  Love them and thank God
that you have seen and known and loved on this earth such a human heart
as hers--and that you have lost it."

"_As God will_." said I, and we parted for life.

      *      *      *      *      *

And days and weeks and months and years have flown.  Home is a stranger
to me, and a foreign land is my home.  But her love remains with me, and
as a tear drops into the ocean, so has her love dropped into the living
ocean of humanity and pervades and embraces millions--millions of the
"strange people" whom I have so loved from childhood.

      *      *      *      *      *

Only on quiet summer days like this, when one in the green woods has
nature alone at heart, and knows not whether there are human beings.
without, or he is living entirely alone in the world, then there is a
stir in the graveyard of memory, the dead thoughts, rise again, the full
omnipotence of love returns to the heart and streams out from that
beautiful being who once looked upon me with her deep unfathomable eyes.
Then it seems as if the love for the millions were lost in the love for
the one, my good angel, and my thoughts are dumb in the presence of the
incomprehensible enigma of endless and everlasting love.

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