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Title: Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship and Travels, Vol. I (of 2)
Author: Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 1749-1832
Language: English
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Transcriber's note:

      Text enclosed by equal signs is in bold face (=bold=).

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italice (=italics=).


Translated from the German of GOETHE.

by Thomas Carlyle.

Complete in Two Volumes.


New York:
A. L. Burt, Publisher.



    BOOK I.                             15

    BOOK II.                            74

    BOOK III.                          134

    BOOK IV.                           185

    BOOK V.                            254

    BOOK VI.                           320

    BOOK VII.                          372


These two translations, "Meister's Apprenticeship" and "Meister's
Travels," have long been out of print, but never altogether out of
demand; nay, it would seem, the originally somewhat moderate demand has
gone on increasing, and continues to increase. They are, therefore, here
republished; and the one being in some sort a sequel to the other,
though in rather unexpected sort, they are now printed together. The
English version of "Meister's Travels" has been extracted, or
extricated, from a compilation of very various quality named "German
Romance," and placed by the side of the "Apprenticeship," its
forerunner, which, in the translated as in the original state, appeared
hitherto as a separate work.

In the "Apprenticeship," the first of these translations, which was
executed some fifteen years ago, under questionable auspices, I have
made many little changes, but could not, unfortunately, change it into a
right translation; it hung, in many places, stiff and labored, too like
some unfortunate buckram cloak round the light, harmonious movement of
the original,--and, alas! still hangs so, here and there, and may now
hang. In the second translation, "Meister's Travels," two years later in
date, I have changed little or nothing. I might have added much; for the
original, since that time, was, as it were, taken to pieces by the
author himself in his last years, and constructed anew, and, in the
final edition of his works, appears with multifarious intercalations,
giving a great expansion, both of size and of scope. Not pedagogy only,
and husbandry and art and religion and human conduct in the nineteenth
century, but geology, astronomy, cotton-spinning, metallurgy,
anatomical lecturing, and much else, are typically shadowed forth in
this second form of the "Travels," which, however, continues a fragment
like the first, significantly pointing on all hands towards
infinitude,--not more complete than the first was, or indeed perhaps
less so. It will well reward the trustful student of Goethe to read this
new form of the "Travels," and see how in that great mind, beaming in
mildest mellow splendor, beaming if also trembling, like a great sun on
the verge of the horizon, near now to its long farewell, all these
things were illuminated and illustrated: but, for the mere English
reader, there are probably in our prior edition of the "Travels" already
novelties enough; for us, at all events, it seemed unadvisable to meddle
with it further at present.

Goethe's position towards the English public is greatly altered since
these translations first made their appearance. Criticisms near the
mark, or farther from the mark, or even altogether far and away from any
mark,--of these there have been enough. These pass on their road: the
man and his works remain what they are and were,--more and more
recognizable for what they are. Few English readers can require now to
be apprised that these two books, named novels, come not under the
Minerva-Press category, nor the Ballantyne-Press category, nor any such
category; that the author is one whose secret, by no means worn upon his
sleeve, will never, by any ingenuity, be got at in that way.

For a translator, in the present case, it is enough to reflect, that he
who imports into his own country any true delineation, a rationally
spoken word on any subject, has done well. Ours is a wide world,
peaceably admitting many different modes of speech. In our wide world,
there is but one altogether fatal personage,--the dunce,--he that speaks
_ir_rationally, that sees not, and yet thinks he sees. A genuine seer
and speaker, under what conditions soever, shall be welcome to us: has
he not _seen_ somewhat of great Nature our common mother's bringing
forth,--seen it, loved it, laid his heart open to it and to the mother
of it, so that he can now rationally speak it for us? He is our brother,
and a good, not a bad, man: his words are like gold, precious,
whether stamped in our mint, or in what mint soever stamped.
                                                            T. CARLYLE.
  LONDON, November, 1839.




Whether it be that the quantity of genius among ourselves and the
French, and the number of works more lasting than brass produced by it,
have of late been so considerable as to make us independent of
additional supplies; or that, in our ancient aristocracy of intellect,
we disdain to be assisted by the Germans, whom, by a species of second
sight, we have discovered, before knowing any thing about them, to be a
tumid, dreaming, extravagant, insane race of mortals,--certain it is,
that hitherto our literary intercourse with that nation has been very
slight and precarious. After a brief period of not too judicious
cordiality, the acquaintance on our part was altogether dropped: nor, in
the few years since we partially resumed it, have our feelings of
affection or esteem been materially increased. Our translators are
unfortunate in their selection or execution, or the public is tasteless
and absurd in its demands; for, with scarcely more than one or two
exceptions, the best works of Germany have lain neglected, or worse than
neglected: and the Germans are yet utterly unknown to us. Kotzebue still
lives in our minds as the representative of a nation that despises him;
Schiller is chiefly known to us by the monstrous production of his
boyhood; and Klopstock by a hacked and mangled image of his "Messiah,"
in which a beautiful poem is distorted into a theosophic rhapsody, and
the brother of Virgil and Racine ranks little higher than the author of
"Meditations among the Tombs."

But of all these people there is none that has been more unjustly dealt
with than Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. For half a century the
admiration--we might almost say the idol--of his countrymen, to us he
is still a stranger. His name, long echoed and re-echoed through reviews
and magazines, has become familiar to our ears; but it is a sound and
nothing more: it excites no definite idea in almost any mind. To such as
know him by the faint and garbled version of his "Werther," Goethe
figures as a sort of poetic Heraclitus; some woe-begone hypochondriac,
whose eyes are overflowing with perpetual tears, whose long life has
been spent in melting into ecstasy at the sight of waterfalls and
clouds, and the moral sublime, or dissolving into hysterical wailings
over hapless love-stories, and the miseries of human life. They are not
aware that Goethe smiles at this performance of his youth, or that the
German Werther, with all his faults, is a very different person from his
English namesake; that his Sorrows are in the original recorded in a
tone of strength and sarcastic emphasis, of which the other offers no
vestige, and intermingled with touches of powerful thought, glimpses of
a philosophy deep as it is bitter, which our sagacious translator has
seen proper wholly to omit. Others, again, who have fallen in with
Retsch's "Outlines" and the extracts from "Faust," consider Goethe as a
wild mystic, a dealer in demonology and osteology, who draws attention
by the aid of skeletons and evil spirits, whose excellence it is to be
extravagant, whose chief aim it is to do what no one but himself has
tried. The tyro in German may tell us that the charm of "Faust" is
altogether unconnected with its preternatural import; that the work
delineates the fate of human enthusiasm struggling against doubts and
errors from within, against scepticism, contempt, and selfishness from
without; and that the witch-craft and magic, intended merely as a
shadowy frame for so complex and mysterious a picture of the moral world
and the human soul, are introduced for the purpose, not so much of being
trembled at as laughed at. The voice of the tyro is not listened to; our
indolence takes part with our ignorance; "Faust" continues to be called
a monster; and Goethe is regarded as a man of "some genius," which he
has perverted to produce all manner of misfashioned prodigies,--things
false, abortive, formless, Gorgons and hydras, and chimeras dire.

Now, it must no doubt be granted, that, so long as our invaluable
constitution is preserved in its pristine purity, the British nation may
exist in a state of comparative prosperity with very inadequate ideas of
Goethe; but, at the same time, the present arrangement is an evil in
its kind,--slight, it is true, and easy to be borne, yet still more easy
to be remedied, and which, therefore, ought to have been remedied ere
now. Minds like Goethe's are the common property of all nations; and,
for many reasons, all should have correct impressions of them.

It is partly with the view of doing something to supply this want, that
"Wilhelm Meister's Lehrjahre" is now presented to the English public.
Written in its author's forty-fifth year, embracing hints or
disquisitions on almost every leading point in life and literature, it
affords us a more distinct view of his matured genius, his manner of
thought, and favorite subjects, than any of his other works. Nor is it
Goethe alone whom it portrays: the prevailing taste of Germany is
likewise indicated by it. Since the year 1795, when it first appeared at
Berlin, numerous editions of "Meister" have been printed: critics of all
ranks, and some of them dissenting widely from its doctrines, have
loaded it with encomiums; its songs and poems are familiar to every
German ear; the people read it, and speak of it, with an admiration
approaching in many cases to enthusiasm.

That it will be equally successful in England, I am far indeed from
anticipating. Apart from the above considerations,--from the curiosity,
intelligent or idle, which it may awaken,--the number of admiring, or
even approving, judges it will find can scarcely fail of being very
limited. To the great mass of readers, who read to drive away the tedium
of mental vacancy, employing the crude phantasmagoria of a modern novel,
as their grandfathers employed tobacco and diluted brandy, "Wilhelm
Meister" will appear beyond endurance weary, flat, stale, and
unprofitable. Those, in particular, who take delight in "King Cambyses'
vein," and open "Meister" with the thought of "Werther" in their minds,
will soon pause in utter dismay; and their paroxysm of dismay will pass
by degrees into unspeakable contempt. Of romance interest there is next
to none in "Meister;" the characters are samples to judge of, rather
than persons to love or hate; the incidents are contrived for other
objects than moving or affrighting us; the hero is a milksop, whom, with
all his gifts, it takes an effort to avoid despising. The author
himself, far from "doing it in a passion," wears a face of the most
still indifference throughout the whole affair; often it is even
wrinkled by a slight sardonic grin. For the friends of the sublime,
then,--for those who cannot do without heroical sentiments, and "moving
accidents by flood and field,"--there is nothing here that can be of any

Nor among readers of a far higher character, can it be expected that
many will take the praiseworthy pains of Germans, reverential of their
favorite author, and anxious to hunt out his most elusive charms. Few
among us will disturb themselves about the allegories and typical
allusions of the work; will stop to inquire whether it includes a remote
emblem of human culture, or includes no such matter; whether this is a
light, airy sketch of the development of man in all his endowments and
faculties, gradually proceeding from the first rude exhibitions of
puppets and mountebanks, through the perfection of poetic and dramatic
art, up to the unfolding of the principle of religion, and the greatest
of all arts,--the art of life,--or is nothing more than a bungled piece
of patchwork, presenting in the shape of a novel much that should have
been suppressed entirely, or at least given out by way of lecture.
Whether the characters do or do not represent distinct classes of men,
including various stages of human nature, from the gay, material
vivacity of Philina to the severe moral grandeur of the uncle and the
splendid accomplishment of Lothario, will to most of us be of small
importance; and the everlasting disquisitions about plays and players,
and politeness and activity, and art and nature, will weary many a mind
that knows not and heeds not whether they are true or false. Yet every
man's judgment is, in this free country, a lamp to himself: whoever is
displeased will censure; and many, it is to be feared, will insist on
judging "Meister" by the common rule, and, what is worse, condemning it,
let Schlegel bawl as loudly as he pleases. "To judge," says he, "of this
book,--new and peculiar as it is, and only to be understood and learned
from itself, by our common notion of the novel, a notion pieced together
and produced out of custom and belief, out of accidental and arbitrary
requisitions,--is as if a child should grasp at the moon and stars, and
insist on packing them into its toy-box."[1] Unhappily the most of us
have boxes, and some of them are very small.

Yet, independently of these its more recondite and dubious qualities,
there are beauties in "Meister" which cannot but secure it some degree
of favor at the hands of many. The philosophical discussions it
contains; its keen glances into life and art; the minute and skilful
delineation of men; the lively, genuine exhibition of the scenes they
move in; the occasional touches of eloquence and tenderness, and even of
poetry, the very essence of poetry; the quantity of thought and
knowledge embodied in a style so rich in general felicities, of which,
at least, the new and sometimes exquisitely happy metaphors have been
preserved,--cannot wholly escape an observing reader, even on the most
cursory perusal. To those who have formed for themselves a picture of
the world, who have drawn out, from the thousand variable circumstances
of their being, a philosophy of life, it will be interesting and
instructive to see how man and his concerns are represented in the first
of European minds: to those who have penetrated to the limits of their
own conceptions, and wrestled with thoughts and feelings too high for
them, it will be pleasing and profitable to see the horizon of their
certainties widened, or at least separated with a firmer line from the
impalpable obscure which surrounds it on every side. Such persons I can
fearlessly invite to study "Meister." Across the disfigurement of a
translation, they will not fail to discern indubitable traces of the
greatest genius in our times. And the longer they study, they are likely
to discern them the more distinctly. New charms will successively arise
to view; and of the many apparent blemishes, while a few superficial
ones may be confirmed, the greater and more important part will vanish,
or even change from dark to bright. For, if I mistake not, it is with
"Meister" as with every work of real and abiding excellence,--the first
glance is the least favorable. A picture of Raphael, a Greek statue, a
play of Sophocles or Shakspeare, appears insignificant to the
unpractised eye; and not till after long and patient and intense
examination, do we begin to descry the earnest features of that beauty,
which has its foundation in the deepest nature of man, and will continue
to be pleasing through all ages.

If this appear excessive praise, as applied in any sense to "Meister,"
the curious sceptic is desired to read and weigh the whole performance,
with all its references, relations, purposes, and to pronounce his
verdict after he has clearly seized and appreciated them all. Or, if a
more faint conviction will suffice, let him turn to the picture of
Wilhelm's states of mind in the end of the first book, and the beginning
of the second; the eulogies of commerce and poesy, which follow; the
description of Hamlet; the character of histrionic life in Serlo and
Aurelia; that of sedate and lofty manhood in the uncle and Lothario.
But, above all, let him turn to the history of Mignon. This mysterious
child, at first neglected by the reader, gradually forced on his
attention, at length overpowers him with an emotion more deep and
thrilling than any poet since the days of Shakspeare has succeeded in
producing. The daughter of enthusiasm, rapture, passion, and despair,
she is of the earth, but not earthly. When she glides before us through
the light mazes of her fairy dance, or twangs her cithern to the notes
of her homesick verses, or whirls her tambourine and hurries round us
like an antique Mænad, we could almost fancy her a spirit; so pure is
she, so full of fervor, so disengaged from the clay of this world. And
when all the fearful particulars of her story are at length laid
together, and we behold in connected order the image of her hapless
existence, there is, in those dim recollections,--those feelings so
simple, so impassioned and unspeakable, consuming the closely shrouded,
woe-struck, yet ethereal spirit of the poor creature,--something which
searches into the inmost recesses of the soul. It is not tears which her
fate calls forth, but a feeling far too deep for tears. The very fire of
heaven seems miserably quenched among the obstructions of this earth.
Her little heart, so noble and so helpless, perishes before the smallest
of its many beauties is unfolded; and all its loves and thoughts and
longings do but add another pang to death, and sink to silence utter and
eternal. It is as if the gloomy porch of Dis, and his pale kingdoms,
were realized and set before us, and we heard the ineffectual wail of
infants reverberating from within their prison-walls forever.

    "Continuò auditæ voces, vagitus et ingens,
    Infantumque animæ flentes in limine primo:
    Quos dulcis vitæ exsortes, et ab ubere raptos,
    Abstulit atra dies, et funere mersit acerbo."

The history of Mignon runs like a thread of gold through the tissue of
the narrative, connecting with the heart much that were else addressed
only to the head. Philosophy and eloquence might have done the rest, but
this is poetry in the highest meaning of the word. It must be for the
power of producing such creations and emotions, that Goethe is by many
of his countrymen ranked at the side of Homer and Shakspeare, as one of
the only three men of genius, that have ever lived.

But my business here is not to judge of "Meister" or its author, it is
only to prepare others for judging it; and for this purpose the most
that I had room to say is said. All I ask in the name of this
illustrious foreigner is, that the court which tries him be pure, and
the jury instructed in the cause; that the work be not condemned for
wanting what it was not meant to have, and by persons nowise called to
pass sentence on it.

Respecting my own humble share in the adventure, it is scarcely
necessary to say any thing. Fidelity is all the merit I have aimed at:
to convey the author's sentiments, as he himself expressed them; to
follow the original, in all the variations of its style,--has been my
constant endeavor. In many points, both literary and moral, I could have
wished devoutly that he had not written as he has done; but to alter any
thing was not in my commission. The literary and moral persuasions of a
man like Goethe are objects of a rational curiosity, and the duty of a
translator is simple and distinct. Accordingly, except a few phrases and
sentences, not in all amounting to a page, which I have dropped as
evidently unfit for the English taste, I have studied to present the
work exactly as it stands in German. That my success has been
indifferent, I already know too well. In rendering the ideas of Goethe,
often so subtle, so capriciously expressive, the meaning was not always
easy to seize, or to convey with adequate effect. There were thin tints
of style, shades of ridicule or tenderness or solemnity, resting over
large spaces, and so slight as almost to be evanescent: some of these I
may have failed to see; to many of them I could do no justice. Nor, even
in plainer matters, can I pride myself in having always imitated his
colloquial familiarity without falling into sentences bald and rugged,
into idioms harsh or foreign; or in having copied the flowing oratory of
other passages, without at times exaggerating or defacing the swelling
cadences and phrases of my original. But what work, from the translating
of a German novel to the writing of an epic, was ever as the workman
wished and meant it? This version of "Meister," with whatever faults it
may have, I honestly present to my countrymen: if, while it makes any
portion of them more familiar with the richest, most gifted of living
minds, it increase their knowledge, or even afford them a transient
amusement, they will excuse its errors, and I shall be far more than
paid for all my labor.

[Footnote 1: Charakteristik des Meister.]




The play was late in breaking up: old Barbara went more than once to the
window, and listened for the sound of carriages. She was waiting for
Mariana, her pretty mistress, who had that night, in the afterpiece,
been acting the part of a young officer, to the no small delight of the
public. Barbara's impatience was greater than it used to be, when she
had nothing but a frugal supper to present: on this occasion Mariana was
to be surprised with a packet, which Norberg, a young and wealthy
merchant, had sent by the post, to show that in absence he still thought
of his love.

As an old servant, as confidant, counsellor, manager, and housekeeper,
Barbara assumed the privilege of opening seals; and this evening she had
the less been able to restrain her curiosity, as the favor of the
open-handed gallant was more a matter of anxiety with herself than with
her mistress. On breaking up the packet, she had found, with unfeigned
satisfaction, that it held a piece of fine muslin and some ribbons of
the newest fashion, for Mariana; with a quantity of calico, two or three
neckerchiefs, and a moderate _rouleau_ of money, for herself. Her esteem
for the absent Norberg was of course unbounded: she meditated only how
she might best present him to the mind of Mariana, best bring to her
recollection what she owed him, and what he had a right to expect from
her fidelity and thankfulness.

The muslin, with the ribbons half unrolled, to set it off by their
colors, lay like a Christmas present on the small table; the position of
the lights increased the glitter of the gilt; all was in order, when the
old woman heard Mariana's step on the stairs, and hastened to meet her.
But what was her disappointment, when the little female officer, without
deigning to regard her caresses, rushed past her with unusual speed and
agitation, threw her hat and sword upon the table, and walked hastily up
and down, bestowing not a look on the lights, or any portion of the

"What ails thee, my darling?" exclaimed the astonished Barbara. "For
Heaven's sake, what is the matter? Look here, my pretty child! See what
a present! And who could have sent it but thy kindest of friends?
Norberg has given thee the muslin to make a night-gown of; he will soon
be here himself; he seems to be fonder and more generous than ever."

Barbara went to the table, that she might exhibit the memorials with
which Norberg had likewise honored _her_, when Mariana, turning away
from the presents, exclaimed with vehemence, "Off! off! Not a word of
all this to-night. I have yielded to thee; thou hast willed it; be it
so! When Norberg comes, I am his, am thine, am any one's; make of me
what thou pleasest; but till then I will be my own; and, if thou hadst a
thousand tongues, thou shouldst never talk me from my purpose. All, all
that _is_ my own will I give up to him who loves me, whom I love. No
sour faces! I will abandon myself to this affection, as if it were to
last forever."

The old damsel had abundance of objections and serious considerations to
allege: in the progress of the dialogue, she was growing bitter and
keen, when Mariana sprang at her, and seized her by the breast. The old
damsel laughed aloud. "I must have a care," she cried, "that you don't
get into pantaloons again, if I mean to be sure of my life. Come, doff
you! The girl will beg my pardon for the foolish things the boy is doing
to me. Off with the frock. Off with them all. The dress beseems you not;
it is dangerous for you, I observe; the epaulets make you too bold."

Thus speaking, she laid hands upon her mistress: Mariana pushed her off,
exclaiming, "Not so fast! I expect a visit to-night."

"Visit!" rejoined Barbara: "you surely do not look for Meister, the
young, soft-hearted, callow merchant's son?"

"Just for him," replied Mariana.

"Generosity appears to be growing your ruling passion," said the old
woman with a grin: "you connect yourself with minors and moneyless
people, as if they were the chosen of the earth. Doubtless it is
charming to be worshipped as a benefactress."

"Jeer as thou pleasest. I love him! I love him! With what rapture do I
now, for the first time, speak the word! _This_ is the passion I have
mimicked so often, when I knew not what it meant. Yes! I will throw
myself about his neck: I will clasp him as if I could hold him forever.
I will show him all my love, will enjoy all his in its whole extent."

"Moderate yourself," said the old dame coolly, "moderate yourself. A
single word will interrupt your rapture: Norberg is coming! Coming in a
fortnight! Here is the letter that arrived with the packet."

"And, though the morrow were to rob me of my friend, I would conceal it
from myself and him. A fortnight! An age! Within a fortnight, what may
not happen, what may not alter?"

Here Wilhelm entered. We need not say how fast she flew to meet him,
with what rapture he clasped the red uniform, and pressed the beautiful
wearer of it to his bosom. It is not for us to describe the blessedness
of two lovers. Old Barbara went grumbling away: we shall retire with
her, and leave the happy two alone.


When Wilhelm saluted his mother next morning, she informed him that his
father was very greatly discontented with him, and meant to forbid him
these daily visits to the playhouse. "Though I myself often go with
pleasure to the theatre," she continued, "I could almost detest it
entirely, when I think that our fireside-peace is broken by your
excessive passion for that amusement. Your father is ever repeating,
'What is the use of it? How can any one waste his time so?'"

"He has told me this already," said Wilhelm, "and perhaps I answered him
too hastily; but, for Heaven's sake, mother, is nothing, then, of use
but what immediately puts money in our purse? but what procures us some
property that we can lay our hands on? Had we not, for instance, room
enough in the old house? and was it indispensable to build a new one?
Does not my father every year expend a large part of his profit in
ornamenting his chambers? Are these silk carpets, this English
furniture, likewise of no use? Might we not content ourselves with
worse? For my own part, I confess, these striped walls, these hundred
times repeated flowers and knots and baskets and figures, produce a
really disagreeable effect upon me. At best, they but remind me of the
front curtain of our theatre. But what a different thing it is to sit
and look at that! There, if you must wait for a while, you are always
sure that it will rise at last, and disclose to you a thousand curious
objects to entertain, to instruct, and to exalt you."

"But you go to excess with it," said the mother. "Your father wishes to
be entertained in the evenings as well as you: besides, he thinks it
diverts your attention; and, when he grows ill-humored on the subject,
it is I that must bear the blame. How often have I been upbraided with
that miserable puppet-show, which I was unlucky enough to provide for
you at Christmas, twelve years ago! It was the first thing that put
these plays into your head."

"Oh, do not blame the poor puppets! do not repent of your love and
motherly care! It was the only happy hour I had enjoyed in the new empty
house. I never can forget that hour; I see it still before me; I
recollect how surprised I was, when, after we had got our customary
presents, you made us seat ourselves before the door that leads to the
other room. The door opened, but not, as formerly, to let us pass and
repass: the entrance was occupied by an unexpected show. Within it rose
a porch, concealed by a mysterious curtain. All of us were standing at a
distance: our eagerness to see what glittering or jingling article lay
hid behind the half-transparent veil was mounting higher and higher,
when you bade us each sit down upon his stool, and wait with patience.

"At length all of us were seated and silent: a whistle gave the signal;
the curtain rolled aloft, and showed us the interior of the temple,
painted in deep-red colors. The high-priest Samuel appeared with
Jonathan, and their strange alternating voices seemed to me the most
striking thing on earth. Shortly after entered Saul, overwhelmed with
confusion at the impertinence of that heavy-limbed warrior, who had
defied him and all his people. But how glad was I when the little dapper
son of Jesse, with his crook and shepherd's pouch and sling, came
hopping forth, and said, 'Dread king and sovereign lord, let no one's
heart sink down because of this: if your Majesty will grant me leave, I
will go out to battle with this blustering giant!' Here ended the first
act, leaving the spectators more curious than ever to see what further
would happen; each praying that the music might soon be done. At last
the curtain rose again. David devoted the flesh of the monster to the
fowls of the air and the beasts of the field: the Philistine scorned and
bullied him, stamped mightily with both his feet, and at length fell
like a mass of clay, affording a splendid termination to the piece. And
then the virgins sang, 'Saul hath slain his thousands, but David his ten
thousands!' The giant's head was borne before his little victor, who
received the king's beautiful daughter to wife. Yet withal, I remember,
I was vexed at the dwarfish stature of this lucky prince; for the great
Goliath and the small David had both been formed, according to the
common notion, with a due regard to their figures and proportions. I
pray you, mother, tell me what has now become of those puppets? I
promised to show them to a friend, whom I was lately entertaining with a
history of all this child's work."

"I can easily conceive," said the mother, "how these things should stick
so firmly in your mind: I well remember what an interest you took in
them,--how you stole the little book from me, and learned the whole
piece by heart. I first noticed it one evening when you had made a
Goliath and a David of wax: you set them both to declaim against each
other, and at length gave a deadly stab to the giant, fixing his
shapeless head, stuck upon a large pin with a wax handle, in little
David's hand. I then felt such a motherly contentment at your fine
recitation and good memory, that I resolved to give you up the whole
wooden troop to your own disposal. I did not then foresee that it would
cause me so many heavy hours."

"Do not repent of it," said Wilhelm: "this little sport has often made
us happy." So saying, he got the keys, made haste to find the puppets,
and, for a moment, was transported back into those times when they
almost seemed to him alive, when he felt as if he himself could give
them life by the cunning of his voice and the movements of his hands.
He took them to his room, and locked them up with care.


If the first love is indeed, as I hear it everywhere maintained to be,
the most delicious feeling which the heart of man, before it or after,
can experience, then our hero must be reckoned doubly happy, as
permitted to enjoy the pleasure of this chosen period in all its
fulness. Few men are so peculiarly favored: by far the greater part are
led by the feelings of their youth into nothing but a school of
hardship, where, after a stinted and checkered season of enjoyment, they
are at length constrained to renounce their dearest wishes, and to learn
forever to dispense with what once hovered before them as the highest
happiness of existence.

Wilhelm's passion for that charming girl now soared aloft on the wings
of imagination. After a short acquaintance, he had gained her
affections: he found himself in possession of a being, whom, with all
his heart, he not only loved, but honored; for she had first appeared
before him in the flattering light of theatric pomp, and his passion for
the stage combined itself with his earliest love for woman. His youth
allowed him to enjoy rich pleasures, which the activity of his fancy
exalted and maintained. The situation of his mistress, too, gave a turn
to her conduct which greatly enlivened his emotions. The fear lest her
lover might, before the time, detect the real state in which she stood,
diffused over all her conduct an interesting tinge of anxiety and
bashfulness; her attachment to the youth was deep; her very inquietude
appeared but to augment her tenderness; she was the loveliest of
creatures while beside him.

When the first tumult of joy had passed, and our friend began to look
back upon his life and its concerns, every thing appeared new to him:
his duties seemed holier, his inclinations keener, his knowledge
clearer, his talents stronger, his purposes more decided. Accordingly,
he soon fell upon a plan to avoid the reproaches of his father, to still
the cares of his mother, and, at the same time, to enjoy Mariana's love
without disturbance. Through the day he punctually transacted his
business, commonly forbore attending the theatre, strove to be
entertaining at table in the evening; and, when all were asleep, he
glided softly out into the garden, and hastened, wrapped up in his
mantle, with all the feelings of Leander in his bosom, to meet his
mistress without delay.

"What is this you bring?" inquired Mariana, as he entered one evening,
with a bundle, which Barbara, in hopes it might turn out to be some
valuable present, fixed her eyes upon with great attention. "You will
never guess," said Wilhelm.

Great was the surprise of Mariana, great the scorn of Barbara, when the
napkin, being loosened, gave to view a perplexed multitude of span-long
puppets. Mariana laughed aloud, as Wilhelm set himself to disentangle
the confusion of the wires, and show her each figure by itself. Barbara
glided sulkily out of the room.

A very little thing will entertain two lovers; and accordingly our
friends, this evening, were as happy as they wished to be. The little
troop was mustered: each figure was minutely examined, and laughed at,
in its turn. King Saul, with his golden crown and his black velvet robe,
Mariana did not like: he looked, she said, too stiff and pedantic. She
was far better pleased with Jonathan, his sleek chin, his turban, his
cloak of red and yellow. She soon got the art of turning him deftly on
his wire: she made him bow, and repeat declarations of love. On the
other hand, she refused to give the least attention to the prophet
Samuel; though Wilhelm commended the pontifical breastplate, and told
her that the taffeta of the cassock had been taken from a gown of his
own grandmother's. David she thought too small; Goliath was too big; she
held by Jonathan. She grew to manage him so featly, and at last to
extend her caresses from the puppet to its owner, that, on this
occasion, as on others, a silly sport became the introduction to happy

Their soft, sweet dreams were broken in upon by a noise which arose on
the street. Mariana called for the old dame, who, as usual, was occupied
in furbishing the changeful materials of the playhouse wardrobe for the
service of the play next to be acted. Barbara said the disturbance arose
from a set of jolly companions, who were just then sallying out of the
Italian tavern hard by, where they had been busy discussing fresh
oysters, a cargo of which had just arrived, and by no means sparing
their champagne.

"Pity," Mariana said, "that we did not think of it in time: we might
have had some entertainment to ourselves."

"It is not yet too late," said Wilhelm, giving Barbara a _louis-d'or_:
"get us what we want, then come and take a share with us."

The old dame made speedy work: erelong a trimly covered table, with a
neat collation, stood before the lovers. They made Barbara sit with
them: they ate and drank, and enjoyed themselves.

On such occasions, there is never want of enough to say. Mariana soon
took up little Jonathan again, and the old dame turned the conversation
upon Wilhelm's favorite topic. "You were once telling us," she said,
"about the first exhibition of a puppet-show on Christmas Eve: I
remember you were interrupted just as the ballet was going to begin. We
have now the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with the honorable
company by whom those wonderful effects were brought about."

"Oh, yes!" cried Mariana: "do tell us how it all went on, and how you
felt then."

"It is a fine emotion, Mariana," said the youth, "when we bethink
ourselves of old times, and old, harmless errors, especially if this is
at a period when we have happily gained some elevation, from which we
can look around us, and survey the path we have left behind. It is so
pleasant to think, with composure and satisfaction, of many obstacles,
which often with painful feelings we may have regarded as
invincible,--pleasant to compare what we now are with what we then were
struggling to become. But I am happy above others in this matter, that I
speak to you about the past, at a moment when I can also look forth into
the blooming country, which we are yet to wander through together, hand
in hand."

"But how was it with the ballet?" said Barbara. "I fear it did not quite
go off as it should have done."

"I assure you," said Wilhelm, "it went off quite well. And certainly the
strange caperings of these Moors and Mooresses, these shepherds and
shepherdesses, these dwarfs and dwarfesses, will never altogether leave
my recollection while I live. When the curtain dropped, and the door
closed, our little party skipped away, frolicking as if they had been
tipsy, to their beds. For myself, however, I remember that I could not
go to sleep: still wanting to have something told me on the subject, I
continued putting questions to every one, and would hardly let the maid
away who had brought me up to bed.

"Next morning, alas! the magic apparatus had altogether vanished; the
mysterious veil was carried off; the door permitted us again to go and
come through it without obstruction; the manifold adventures of the
evening had passed away, and left no trace behind. My brothers and
sisters were running up and down with their playthings; I alone kept
gliding to and fro: it seemed to me impossible that two bare door-posts
could be all that now remained, where the night before so much
enchantment had been displayed. Alas! the man that seeks a lost love can
hardly be unhappier than I then thought myself."

A rapturous look, which he cast on Mariana, convinced her that he was
not afraid of such ever being his case.


"My sole wish now," continued Wilhelm, "was to witness a second
exhibition of the play. For this purpose I had recourse, by constant
entreaties, to my mother; and she attempted in a favorable hour to
persuade my father. Her labor, however, was in vain. My father's
principle was, that none but enjoyments of rare occurrence were
adequately prized; that neither young nor old could set a proper value
on pleasures which they tasted every day.

"We might have waited long, perhaps till Christmas returned, had not the
contriver and secret director of the spectacle himself felt a pleasure
in repeating the display of it, partly incited, I suppose, by the wish
to produce a brand-new harlequin expressly prepared for the afterpiece.

"A young officer of the artillery, a person of great gifts in all sorts
of mechanical contrivance, had served my father in many essential
particulars during the building of the house; for which, having been
handsomely rewarded, he felt desirous of expressing his thankfulness to
the family of his patron, and so made us young ones a present of this
complete theatre, which, in hours of leisure, he had already carved and
painted, and strung together. It was this young man, who, with the help
of a servant, had himself managed the puppets, disguising his voice to
pronounce their various speeches. He had no great difficulty in
persuading my father, who granted, out of complaisance to a friend,
what he had denied from conviction to his children. In short, our
theatre was again set up, some little ones of the neighborhood were
invited, and the play was again represented.

"If I had formerly experienced the delights of surprise and
astonishment, I enjoyed on this second occasion the pleasure of
examining and scrutinizing. _How_ all this happened was my present
concern. That the puppets themselves did not speak, I had already
decided; that of themselves they did not move, I also conjectured; but,
then, how came it all to be so pretty, and to look just as if they both
spoke and moved of themselves? and where were the lights, and the people
that managed the deception? These enigmas perplexed me the more, as I
wished to be at the same time among the enchanters and the enchanted, at
the same time to have a secret hand in the play, and to enjoy, as a
looker-on, the pleasure of illusion.

"The play being finished, preparations were making for the farce: the
spectators had risen, and were all busy talking together. I squeezed
myself closer to the door, and heard, by the rattling within, that the
people were packing up some articles. I lifted the lowest screen, and
poked in my head between the posts. As our mother noticed it, she drew
me back: but I had seen well enough that here friends and foes, Saul and
Goliath, and whatever else their names might be, were lying quietly down
together in a drawer; and thus my half-contented curiosity received a
fresh excitement. To my great surprise, moreover, I had noticed the
lieutenant very diligently occupied in the interior of the shrine.
Henceforth, Jack-pudding, however he might clatter with his heels, could
not any longer entertain me. I sank into deep meditation: my discovery
made me both more satisfied, and less so, than before. After a little,
it first struck me that I yet comprehended nothing: and here I was
right; for the connection of the parts with each other was entirely
unknown to me, and every thing depends on that."


"In well adjusted and regulated houses," continued Wilhelm, "children
have a feeling not unlike what I conceive rats and mice to have: they
keep a sharp eye on all crevices and holes, where they may come at any
forbidden dainty; they enjoy it also with a fearful, stolen
satisfaction, which forms no small part of the happiness of childhood.

"More than any other of the young ones, I was in the habit of looking
out attentively, to see if I could notice any cupboard left open, or key
standing in its lock. The more reverence I bore in my heart for those
closed doors, on the outside of which I had to pass by for weeks and
months, catching only a furtive glance when our mother now and then
opened the consecrated place to take something from it, the quicker was
I to make use of any opportunities which the forgetfulness of our
housekeepers at times afforded me.

"Among all the doors, that of the storeroom was, of course, the one I
watched most narrowly. Few of the joyful anticipations in life can equal
the feeling which I used to have when my mother happened to call me,
that I might help her to carry out something, whereupon I might pick up
a few dried plums, either with her kind permission, or by help of my own
dexterity. The accumulated treasures of this chamber took hold of my
imagination by their magnitude: the very fragrance exhaled by so
multifarious a collection of sweet-smelling spices produced such a
craving effect on me, that I never failed, when passing near, to linger
for a little, and regale myself at least on the unbolted atmosphere. At
length, one Sunday morning, my mother, being hurried by the ringing of
the church-bells, forgot to take this precious key with her on shutting
the door, and went away, leaving all the house in a deep Sabbath
stillness. No sooner had I marked this oversight than, gliding softly
once or twice to and from the place, I at last approached very gingerly,
opened the door, and felt myself, after a single step, in immediate
contact with these manifold and long-wished-for means of happiness. I
glanced over glasses, chests, and bags, and drawers and boxes, with a
quick and doubtful eye, considering what I ought to choose and take;
turned finally to my dear withered plums, provided myself also with a
few dried apples, and completed the forage with an orange-chip. I was
quietly retreating with my plunder, when some little chests, lying
piled over one another, caught my attention,--the more so as I noticed a
wire, with hooks at the end of it, sticking through the joint of the lid
in one of them. Full of eager hopes, I opened this singular package; and
judge of my emotions, when I found my glad world of heroes all sleeping
safe within! I meant to pick out the topmost, and, having examined them,
to pull up those below; but in this attempt the wires got very soon
entangled: and I fell into a fright and flutter, more particularly as
the cook just then began making some stir in the kitchen, which was
close by; so that I had nothing for it but to squeeze the whole together
the best way I could, and to shut the chest, having stolen from it
nothing but a little written book, which happened to be lying above, and
contained the whole drama of Goliath and David. With this booty I made
good my retreat into the garret.

"Henceforth all my stolen hours of solitude were devoted to perusing the
play, to learning it by heart, and picturing in thought how glorious it
would be, could I but get the figures, to make them move along with it.
In idea I myself became David and Goliath by turns. In every corner of
the court-yard, of the stables, of the garden, under all kinds of
circumstances, I labored to stamp the whole piece upon my mind; laid
hold of all the characters, and learned their speeches by heart, most
commonly, however, taking up the parts of the chief personages, and
allowing all the rest to move along with them, but as satellites, across
my memory. Thus day and night the heroic words of David, wherewith he
challenged the braggart giant, Goliath of Gath, kept their place in my
thoughts. I often muttered them to myself; while no one gave heed to me,
except my father, who, frequently observing some such detached
exclamation, would in secret praise the excellent memory of his boy,
that had retained so much from only two recitations.

"By this means growing bolder and bolder, I one evening repeated almost
the entire piece before my mother, whilst I was busied in fashioning
some bits of wax into players. She observed it, questioned me hard; and
I confessed.

"By good fortune, this detection happened at a time when the lieutenant
had himself been expressing a wish to initiate me in the mysteries of
the art. My mother forthwith gave him notice of these unexpected
talents; and he now contrived to make my parents offer him a couple of
chambers in the top story, which commonly stood empty, that he might
accommodate the spectators in the one, while the other held his actors,
the proscenium again filling up the opening of the door: my father had
allowed his friend to arrange all this; himself, in the mean time,
seeming only to look at the transaction, as it were, through his
fingers; for his maxim was, that children should not be allowed to see
the kindness which is felt towards them, lest their pretensions come to
extend too far. He was of opinion, that, in the enjoyments of the young,
one should assume a serious air; often interrupting the course of their
festivities, to prevent their satisfaction from degenerating into excess
and presumption."


"The lieutenant now set up his theatre, and managed all the rest. During
the week I readily observed that he often came into the house at unusual
hours, and I soon guessed the cause. My eagerness increased immensely;
for I well understood, that, till Sunday evening, I could have no share
in what was going on. At last the wished-for day arrived. At five in the
evening my conductor came, and took me up with him. Quivering with joy,
I entered, and descried, on both sides of the framework, the puppets all
hanging in order as they were to advance to view. I considered them
narrowly, and mounted on the steps, which raised them above the scene,
and allowed me to hover aloft over all that little world. Not without
reverence did I look down between the pieces of board, and recollect
what a glorious effect the whole would produce, and feel into what
mighty secrets I was now admitted. We made a trial, which succeeded

"Next day a party of children were invited: we performed rarely; except
that once, in the fire of action, I let poor Jonathan fall, and was
obliged to reach down with my hand, and pick him up,--an accident which
sadly marred the illusion, produced a peal of laughter, and vexed me
unspeakably. My father, however, seemed to relish this misfortune not a
little. Prudently shrouding up the contentment he felt at the expertness
of his little boy, after the play was finished, he dwelt on the mistakes
we had committed, saying it would all have been very pretty had not
this or that gone wrong with us.

"I was vexed to the heart at these things, and sad for all the evening.
By next morning, however, I had quite slept off my sorrow, and was
blessed in the persuasion, that, but for this one fault, I had acted
delightfully. The spectators also flattered me with their unanimous
approval: they all maintained, that though the lieutenant, in regard to
the coarse and the fine voices, had done great things, yet his
declamation was in general too stiff and affected; whereas the new
aspirant spoke his Jonathan and David with exquisite grace. My mother in
particular commended the gallant tone in which I had challenged Goliath,
and acted the modest victor before the king.

"From this time, to my extreme delight, the theatre continued open; and
as the spring advanced, so that fires could be dispensed with, I passed
all my hours of recreation lying in the garret, and making the puppets
caper and play together. Often I invited up my comrades, or my brothers
and sisters; but, when they would not come, I staid by myself not the
less. My imagination brooded over that tiny world, which soon afterwards
acquired another form.

"Scarcely had I once or twice exhibited the first play, for which my
scenery and actors had been formed and decorated, when it ceased to give
me any pleasure. On the other hand, among some of my grandfather's
books, I had happened to fall in with 'The German Theatre,' and a few
translations of Italian operas; in which works I soon got very deeply
immersed, on each occasion first reckoning up the characters, and then,
without further ceremony, proceeding to exhibit the play. King Saul,
with his black velvet cloak, was therefore now obliged to personate
Darius or Cato, or some other pagan hero; in which cases, it may be
observed, the plays were never wholly represented,--for most part, only
the fifth acts, where the cutting and stabbing lay.

"It was natural that the operas, with their manifold adventures and
vicissitudes, should attract me more than any thing beside. In these
compositions I found stormy seas, gods descending in chariots of cloud,
and, what most of all delighted me, abundance of thunder and lightning.
I did my best with pasteboard, paint, and paper: I could make night very
prettily; my lightning was fearful to behold; only my thunder did not
always prosper, which, however, was of less importance. In operas,
moreover, I found frequent opportunities of introducing my David and
Goliath,--persons whom the regular drama would hardly admit. Daily I
felt more attachment for the hampered spot where I enjoyed so many
pleasures; and, I must confess, the fragrance which the puppets had
acquired from the storeroom added not a little to my satisfaction.

"The decorations of my theatre were now in a tolerable state of
completeness. I had always had the knack of drawing with compasses, and
clipping pasteboard, and coloring figures; and here it served me in good
stead. But the more sorry was I, on the other hand, when, as frequently
happened, my stock of actors would not suffice for representing great

"My sisters, dressing and undressing their dolls, awoke in me the
project of furnishing my heroes by and by with garments which might also
be put off and on. Accordingly, I slit the scraps of cloth from off
their bodies, tacked the fragments together as well as possible, saved a
particle of money to buy new ribbons and lace, begged many a rag of
taffeta, and so formed, by degrees, a full theatrical wardrobe, in which
hoop-petticoats for the ladies were especially remembered.

"My troop was now fairly provided with dresses for the most important
play, and you might have expected that henceforth one exhibition would
follow close upon the heels of another; but it happened with me, as it
often happens with children,--they embrace wide plans, make mighty
preparations, then a few trials, and the whole undertaking is abandoned.
I was guilty of this fault. My greatest pleasure lay in the inventive
part, and the employment of my fancy. This or that piece inspired me
with interest for a few scenes of it, and immediately I set about
providing new apparel suitable for the occasion. In such fluctuating
operations, many parts of the primary dresses of my heroes had fallen
into disorder, or totally gone out of sight; so that now the first great
play could no longer be exhibited. I surrendered myself to my
imagination; I rehearsed and prepared forever; built a thousand castles
in the air, and failed to see that I was at the same time undermining
the foundations of these little edifices."

       *       *       *       *       *

During this recital, Mariana had called up and put in action all her
courtesy for Wilhelm, that she might conceal her sleepiness. Diverting
as the matter seemed on one side, it was too simple for her taste, and
her lover's view of it too serious. She softly pressed her foot on his,
however, and gave him all visible signs of attention and approval. She
drank out of his glass: Wilhelm was convinced that no word of his
history had fallen to the ground. After a short pause, he said, "It is
now your turn, Mariana, to tell me what were your first childish joys.
Till now we have always been too busy with the present to trouble
ourselves, on either side, about our previous way of life. Let me hear,
Mariana, under what circumstances you were reared: what are the first
lively impressions which you still remember?"

These questions would have very much embarrassed Mariana, had not
Barbara made haste to help her. "Think you," said the cunning old woman,
"we have been so mindful of what happened to us long ago, that we have
merry things like these to talk about, and, though we had, that we could
give them such an air in talking of them?"

"As if they needed it!" cried Wilhelm. "I love this soft, good, amiable
creature so much, that I regret every instant of my life which has not
been spent beside her. Allow me, at least in fancy, to have a share in
thy by-gone life; tell me every thing; I will tell every thing to thee!
If possible, we will deceive ourselves, and win back those days that
have been lost to love."

"If you require it so eagerly," replied the old dame, "we can easily
content you. Only, in the first place, let us hear how your taste for
the theatre gradually reached a head; how you practised, how you
improved so happily, that now you can pass for a superior actor. No
doubt you must have met with droll adventures in your progress. It is
not worth while to go to bed now: I have still one flask in reserve; and
who knows whether we shall soon all sit together so quiet and cheery

Mariana cast upon her a mournful look, not noticed by Wilhelm, who
proceeded with his narrative.


"The recreations of youth, as my companions began to increase in number,
interfered with this solitary, still enjoyment. I was by turns a hunter,
a soldier, a knight, as our games required; and constantly I had this
small advantage above the rest, that I was qualified to furnish them
suitably with the necessary equipments. The swords, for example, were
generally of my manufacture; I gilded and decorated the scabbards; and a
secret instinct allowed me not to stop till our militia was accoutred
according to the antique model. Helmets, with plumes of paper, were got
ready; shields, even coats of mail, were provided; undertakings in which
such of the servants as had aught of the tailor in them, and the
seamstresses of the house, broke many a needle.

"A part of my comrades I had now got well equipped; by degrees, the rest
were likewise furbished up, though on a thriftier plan; and so a very
seemly corps at length was mustered. We marched about the court-yards
and gardens, smote fearfully upon each other's shields and heads: many
flaws of discord rose among us, but none that lasted.

"This diversion greatly entertained my fellows; but scarcely had it been
twice or thrice repeated, when it ceased to content me. The aspect of so
many harnessed figures naturally stimulated in my mind those ideas of
chivalry, which for some time, since I had commenced the reading of old
romances, were filling my imagination.

"Koppen's translation of 'Jerusalem Delivered' at length fell into my
hands, and gave these wandering thoughts a settled direction. The whole
poem, it is true, I could not read; but there were passages which I
learned by heart, and the images expressed in these hovered round me.
Particularly was I captivated with Clorinda, and all her deeds and
bearing. The masculine womanhood, the peaceful completeness of her
being, had a greater influence upon my mind, just beginning to unfold
itself, than the factitious charms of Armida; though the garden of that
enchantress was by no means an object of my contempt.

"But a hundred and a hundred times, while walking in the evenings on the
balcony which stretches along the front of the house, and looking over
the neighborhood, as the quivering splendor streamed up at the horizon
from the departed sun, and the stars came forth, and night pressed
forward from every cleft and hollow, and the small, shrill tone of the
cricket tinkled through the solemn stillness,--a hundred and a hundred
times have I repeated to myself the history of the mournful duel between
Tancred and Clorinda.

"However strongly I inclined by nature to the party of the Christians, I
could not help declaring for the Paynim heroine with all my heart when
she engaged to set on fire the great tower of the besiegers. And when
Tancred in the darkness met the supposed knight, and the strife began
between them under that veil of gloom, and the two battled fiercely, I
could never pronounce the words,--

    "'But now the sure and fated hour is nigh:
    Clorinda's course is ended,--she must die;'--

without tears rushing into my eyes, which flowed plentifully when the
hapless lover, plunging his sword into her breast, opened the departing
warrior's helmet, recognized the lady of his heart, and, shuddering,
brought water to baptize her.

"How my heart ran over when Tancred struck with his sword that tree in
the enchanted wood; when blood flowed from the gash, and a voice sounded
in his ears, that now again he was wounding Clorinda; that Destiny had
marked him out ever unwittingly to injure what he loved beyond all else.

"The recital took such hold of my imagination, that what I had read of
the poem began dimly, in my mind, to conglomerate into a whole;
wherewith I was so taken that I could not but propose to have it some
way represented. I meant to have Tancred and Rinaldo acted; and, for
this purpose, two coats of mail, which I had before manufactured, seemed
expressly suitable. The one, formed of dark-gray paper with scales, was
to serve for the solemn Tancred; the other, of silver and gilt paper,
for the magnificent Rinaldo. In the vivacity of my anticipations, I told
the whole project to my comrades, who felt quite charmed with it, except
that they could not well comprehend how so glorious a thing could be
exhibited, and, above all, exhibited by them.

"Such scruples I easily set aside. Without hesitation, I took upon me,
in idea, the management of two rooms in the house of a neighboring
playmate; not calculating that his venerable aunt would never give them
up, or considering how a theatre could be made of them, whereof I had
no settled notion, except that it was to be fixed on beams, to have
side-scenes made of parted folding-screens, and on the floor a large
piece of cloth. From what quarter these materials and furnishings were
to come, I had not determined.

"So far as concerned the forest, we fell upon a good expedient. We
betook ourselves to an old servant of one of our families, who had now
become a woodman, with many entreaties that he would get us a few young
firs and birches; which actually arrived more speedily than we had
reason to expect. But, in the next place, great was our embarrassment as
to how the piece should be got up before the trees were withered. Now
was the time for prudent counsel. We had no house, no scenery, no
curtain: the folding-screens were all we had.

"In this forlorn condition we again applied to the lieutenant, giving
him a copious description of all the glorious things we meant to do.
Little as he understood us, he was very helpful: he piled all the tables
he could get in the house or neighborhood, one above the other, in a
little room: to these he fixed our folding-screens, and made a back-view
with green curtains, sticking up our trees along with it.

"At length the appointed evening came: the candles were lit, the maids
and children were sitting in their places, the piece was to go forward,
the whole corps of heroes was equipped and dressed,--when each for the
first time discovered that he knew not what he was to say. In the heat
of invention, being quite immersed in present difficulties, I had
forgotten the necessity of each understanding what and where he was to
speak; nor, in the midst of our bustling preparations, had it once
occurred to the rest; each believing he could easily enact a hero,
easily so speak and bear himself, as became the personage into whose
world I had transplanted him. They all stood wonder-struck, asking, What
was to come first? I alone, having previously got ready Tancred's part,
entered _solus_ on the scene, and began reciting some verses of the
epic. But as the passage soon changed into narrative, and I, while
speaking, was at once transformed into a third party, and the bold
Godfredo, when his turn came, would not venture forth, I was at last
obliged to take leave of my spectators under peals of laughter,--a
disaster which cut me to the heart. Thus had our undertaking proved
abortive; but the company still kept their places, still wishing to see
something. All of us were dressed: I screwed my courage up, and
determined, foul or fair, to give them David and Goliath. Some of my
companions had before this helped me to exhibit the puppet-play; all of
them had often seen it; we shared the characters among us; each promised
to do his best; and one small, grinning urchin painted a black beard
upon his chin, and undertook, if any _lacuna_ should occur, to fill it
with drollery as harlequin,--an arrangement to which, as contradicting
the solemnity of the piece, I did not consent without extreme
reluctance; and I vowed within myself, that, if once delivered out of
this perplexity, I would think long and well before risking the
exhibition of another play."


Mariana, overpowered with sleep, leaned upon her lover, who clasped her
close to him, and proceeded in his narrative; while the old damsel
prudently sipped up the remainder of the wine.

"The embarrassment," he said, "into which, along with my companions, I
had fallen, by attempting to act a play that did not anywhere exist, was
soon forgotten. My passion for representing each romance I read, each
story that was told me, would not yield before the most unmanageable
materials. I felt convinced that whatever gave delight in narrative must
produce a far deeper impression when exhibited: I wanted to have every
thing before my eyes, every thing brought forth upon the stage. At
school, when the elements of general history were related to us, I
carefully marked the passages where any person had been slain or
poisoned in a singular way; and my imagination, glancing rapidly along
the exposition and intrigue, hastened to the interesting fifth act.
Indeed, I actually began to write some plays from the end backwards,
without, however, in any of them reaching the beginning.

"At the same time, partly by inclination, partly by the counsel of my
good friends, who had caught the fancy of acting plays, I read a whole
wilderness of theatrical productions, as chance put them into my hands.
I was still in those happy years when all things please us, when number
and variety yield us abundant satisfaction. Unfortunately, too, my taste
was corrupted by another circumstance. Any piece delighted me
especially, in which I could hope to give delight; there were few which
I did not peruse in this agreeable delusion: and my lively conceptive
power enabling me to transfer myself into all the characters, seduced me
to believe that I might likewise represent them all. Hence, in the
distribution of the parts, I commonly selected such as did not fit me,
and always more than one part, if I could by any means accomplish more.

"In their games, children can make all things out of any: a staff
becomes a musket, a splinter of wood a sword, any bunch of cloth a
puppet, any crevice a chamber. Upon this principle was our private
theatre got up. Totally unacquainted with the measure of our strength,
we undertook all: we stuck at no _quid pro quo_, and felt convinced that
every one would take us for what we gave ourselves out to be. Now,
however, our affairs went on so soberly and smoothly, that I have not
even a curious insipidity to tell you of. We first acted all the few
plays in which only males are requisite, next we travestied some of
ourselves, and at last took our sisters into the concern along with us.
In one or two houses, our amusement was looked upon as profitable; and
company was invited to see it. Nor did our lieutenant of artillery now
turn his back upon us. He showed us how we ought to make our exits and
our entrances; how we should declaim, and with what attitudes and
gestures. Yet generally he earned small thanks for his toil, we
conceiving ourselves to be much deeper in the secrets of theatrical art
than he himself was.

"We very soon began to grow tired of tragedy; for all of us believed, as
we had often heard, that it was easier to write or represent a tragedy
than to attain proficiency in comedy. In our first attempts,
accordingly, we had felt as if exactly in our element: dignity of rank,
elevation of character, we studied to approach by stiffness and
affectation, and imagined that we succeeded rarely; but our happiness
was not complete, except we might rave outright, might stamp with our
feet, and, full of fury and despair, cast ourselves upon the ground.

"Boys and girls had not long carried on these amusements in concert,
till Nature began to take her course; and our society branched itself
off into sundry little love-associations, as generally more than one
sort of comedy is acted in the playhouse. Behind the scenes, each happy
pair pressed hands in the most tender style; they floated in
blessedness, appearing to one another quite ideal persons, when so
transformed and decorated; whilst, on the other hand, unlucky rivals
consumed themselves with envy, and out of malice and spite worked every
species of mischief.

"Our amusements, though undertaken without judgment, and carried on
without instruction, were not without their use to us. We trained our
memories and persons, and acquired more dexterity in speech and gesture
than is usually met with at so early an age. But, for me in particular,
this time was in truth an epoch: my mind turned all its faculties
exclusively to the theatre; and my highest happiness was in reading, in
writing, or in acting, plays.

"Meanwhile the labors of my regular teachers continued: I had been set
apart for the mercantile life, and placed under the guidance of our
neighbor in the counting-house; yet my spirit at this very time recoiled
more forcibly than ever from all that was to bind me to a low
profession. It was to the stage that I aimed at consecrating all my
powers,--on the stage that I meant to seek all my happiness and

"I recollect a poem, which must be among my papers, where the Muse of
tragic art and another female form, by which I personified Commerce,
were made to strive very bravely for my most important self. The idea is
common, nor do I recollect that the verses were of any worth; but you
shall see it, for the sake of the fear, the abhorrence, the love and
passion, which are prominent in it. How repulsively did I paint the old
housewife, with the distaff in her girdle, the bunch of keys by her
side, the spectacles on her nose, ever toiling, ever restless,
quarrelsome, and penurious, pitiful and dissatisfied! How feelingly did
I describe the condition of that poor man who has to cringe beneath her
rod, and earn his slavish day's wages by the sweat of his brow!

"And how differently advanced the other! What an apparition for the
overclouded mind! Formed as a queen, in her thoughts and looks she
announced herself the child of freedom. The feeling of her own worth
gave her dignity without pride: her apparel became her, it veiled her
form without constraining it; and the rich folds repeated, like a
thousand-voiced echo, the graceful movements of the goddess. What a
contrast! How easy for me to decide! Nor had I forgotten the more
peculiar characteristics of my Muse. Crowns and daggers, chains and
masks, as my predecessors had delivered them, were here produced once
more. The contention was keen: the speeches of both were palpably
enough contrasted, for at fourteen years of age one usually paints the
black lines and the white pretty near each other. The old lady spoke as
beseemed a person that would pick up a pin from her path; the other,
like one that could give away kingdoms. The warning threats of the
housewife were disregarded; I turned my back upon her promised riches:
disinherited and naked, I gave myself up to the Muse; she threw her
golden veil over me, and called me hers.

"Could I have thought, my dearest," he exclaimed, pressing Mariana close
to him, "that another, a more lovely goddess would come to encourage me
in my purpose, to travel with me on my journey, the poem might have had
a finer turn, a far more interesting end. Yet it is no poetry, it is
truth and life that I feel in thy arms: let us prize the sweet
happiness, and consciously enjoy it."

The pressure of his arms, the emotion of his elevated voice, awoke
Mariana, who hastened by caresses to conceal her embarrassment; for no
word of the last part of his story had reached her. It is to be wished,
that in future, our hero, when recounting his favorite histories, may
find more attentive hearers.


Thus Wilhelm passed his nights in the enjoyment of confiding love, his
days in the expectation of new happy hours. When desire and hope had
first attracted him to Mariana, he already felt as if inspired with new
life; felt as if he were beginning to be another man: he was now united
to her; the contentment of his wishes had become a delicious habitude.
His heart strove to ennoble the object of his passion; his spirit, to
exalt with it the young creature whom he loved. In the shortest absence,
thoughts of her arose within him. If she had once been necessary to him,
she was now grown indispensable, now that he was bound to her by all the
ties of nature. His pure soul felt that she was the half, more than the
half, of himself. He was grateful and devoted without limit.

Mariana, too, succeeded in deceiving herself for a season: she shared
with him the feeling of his liveliest blessedness. Alas! if but the
cold hand of self-reproach had not often come across her heart! She was
not secure from it, even in Wilhelm's bosom, even under the wings of his
love. And when she was again left alone, again left to sink from the
clouds, to which passion had exalted her, into the consciousness of her
real condition, then she was indeed to be pitied. So long as she had
lived among degrading perplexities, disguising from herself her real
situation, or rather never thinking of it, frivolity had helped her
through; the incidents she was exposed to had come upon her each by
itself; satisfaction and vexation had cancelled one another; humiliation
had been compensated by vanity; want by frequent, though momentary,
superfluity; she could plead necessity and custom as a law or an excuse;
and hitherto all painful emotions from hour to hour, and from day to
day, had by these means been shaken off. But now, for some instants, the
poor girl had felt herself transported to a better world; aloft, as it
were, in the midst of light and joy, she had looked down upon the abject
desert of her life, had felt what a miserable creature is the woman,
who, inspiring desire, does not also inspire reverence and love: she
regretted and repented, but found herself outwardly or inwardly no
better for regret. She had nothing that she could accomplish or resolve
upon. When she looked into and searched herself, all was waste and void
within her soul: her heart had no place of strength or refuge. But the
more sorrowful her state was, the more vehemently did her feelings cling
to the man she loved: her passion for him even waxed stronger daily, as
the danger of losing him came daily nearer.

Wilhelm, on the other hand, soared serenely happy in higher regions: to
him also a new world had been disclosed, but a world rich in the most
glorious prospects. Scarcely had the first excess of joy subsided, when
all that had long been gliding dimly through his soul stood up in bright
distinctness before it. She is mine! She has given herself up to me!
She, the loved, the wished for, the adored, has given herself up to me
in trust and faith: she shall not find me ungrateful for the gift.
Standing or walking, he talked to himself; his heart constantly
overflowed; with a copiousness of splendid words, he uttered to himself
the loftiest emotions. He imagined that he understood the visible
beckoning of Fate, reaching out its hand by Mariana to save him from the
stagnant, weary, drudging life, out of which he had so often wished for
deliverance. To leave his father's house and people, now appeared a
light matter. He was young, and had not tried the world: his eagerness
to range over its expanses, seeking fortune and contentment, was
stimulated by his love. His vocation for the theatre was now clear to
him: the high goal, which he saw raised before him, seemed nearer whilst
he was advancing to it with Mariana's hand in his; and, in his
comfortable prudence, he beheld in himself the embryo of a great
actor,--the future founder of that national theatre, for which he heard
so much and various sighing on every side. All that till now had
slumbered in the innermost corners of his soul, at length awoke. He
painted for himself a picture of his manifold ideas, in the colors of
love, upon a canvas of cloud: the figures of it, indeed, ran sadly into
one another; yet the whole had an air but the more brilliant on that


He was now in his chamber at home, ransacking his papers, making ready
for departure. Whatever savored of his previous employment he threw
aside, meaning at his entrance upon life to be free, even from
recollections that could pain him. Works of taste alone, poets and
critics, were, as acknowledged friends, placed among the chosen few.
Heretofore he had given little heed to the critical authors: his desire
for instruction now revived, when, again looking through his books, he
found the theoretical part of them lying generally still uncut. In the
full persuasion that such works were absolutely necessary, he had bought
a number of them; but, with the best disposition in the world, he had
not reached midway in any.

The more steadfastly, on the other hand, he had dwelt upon examples,
and, in every kind that was known to him, had made attempts himself.

Werner entered the room; and, seeing his friend busied with the
well-known sheets, he exclaimed, "Again among your papers? And without
intending, I dare swear, to finish any one of them! You look them
through and through once or twice, then throw them by, and begin
something new."

"To finish is not the scholar's care: it is enough if he improves
himself by practice."

"But also completes according to his best ability."

"And still the question might be asked, 'Is there not good hope of a
youth, who, on commencing some unsuitable affair, soon discovers its
unsuitableness, and discontinues his exertions, not choosing to spend
toil and time on what never can be of any value?'"

"I know well enough it was never your concern to bring aught to a
conclusion: you have always sickened on it before it came half way. When
you were the director of our puppet-show, for instance, how many times
were fresh clothes got ready for the dwarfish troop, fresh decorations
furbished up? Now this tragedy was to be acted, now that; and at the
very best you gave us some fifth act, where all was going topsy-turvy,
and people cutting one another's throats."

"If you talk of those times, whose blame really was it that we ripped
off from our puppets the clothes that fitted them, and were fast
stitched to their bodies, and laid out money for a large and useless
wardrobe? Was it not yours, my good friend, who had always some fragment
of ribbon to traffic with; and skill, at the same time, to stimulate my
taste, and turn it to your profit?"

Werner laughed, and continued, "I still recollect, with pleasure, how I
used to extract gain from your theatrical campaigns, as army contractors
do from war. When you mustered for the 'Deliverance of Jerusalem,' I,
for my part, made a pretty thing of profit, like the Venetians in the
corresponding case. I know of nothing in the world more rational than to
turn the folly of others to our own advantage."

"Perhaps it were a nobler satisfaction to cure men of their follies."

"From the little I know of men, this might seem a vain endeavor. But
something towards it is always done, when any individual man grows wise
and rich; and generally this happens at the cost of others."

"Well, here is 'The Youth at the Parting of the Ways;' it has just come
into my hand," said Wilhelm, drawing out a bunch of papers from the
rest; "this at least is finished, whatever else it may be."

"Away with it! to the fire with it!" cried Werner. "The invention does
not deserve the smallest praise: that affair has plagued me enough
already, and drawn upon yourself your father's wrath. The verses may
be altogether beautiful, but the meaning of them is fundamentally
false. I still recollect your Commerce personified: a shrivelled,
wretched-looking sibyl she was. I suppose you picked up the image of her
from some miserable huckster's shop. At that time you had no true idea
at all of trade; whilst I could not think of any man whose spirit was,
or needed to be, more enlarged than the spirit of a genuine merchant.
What a thing is it to see the order which prevails throughout his
business! By means of this he can at any time survey the general whole,
without needing to perplex himself in the details. What advantages does
he derive from the system of book-keeping by double entry! It is among
the finest inventions of the human mind: every prudent master of a house
should introduce it into his economy."

"Pardon me," said Wilhelm, smiling; "you begin by the form, as if it
were the matter: you traders commonly, in your additions and balancings,
forget what is the proper net result of life."

"My good friend, you do not see how form and matter are in this case
one, how neither can exist without the other. Order and arrangement
increase the desire to save and get. A man embarrassed in his
circumstances, and conducting them imprudently, likes best to continue
in the dark: he will not gladly reckon up the debtor entries he is
charged with. But, on the other hand, there is nothing to a prudent
manager more pleasant than daily to set before himself the sums of his
growing fortune. Even a mischance, if it surprise and vex, will not
affright, him; for he knows at once what gains he has acquired to cast
into the other scale. I am convinced, my friend, that, if you once had a
proper taste for our employments, you would grant that many faculties of
the mind are called into full and vigorous play by them."

"Possibly this journey I am thinking of may bring me to other thoughts."

"Oh, certainly! Believe me, you want but to look upon some great scene
of activity to make you ours forever; and, when you come back, you will
joyfully enroll yourself among that class of men whose art it is to draw
towards themselves a portion of the money, and materials of enjoyment,
which circulate in their appointed courses through the world. Cast a
look on the natural and artificial productions of all the regions of the
earth; consider how they have become, one here, another there, articles
of necessity for men. How pleasant and how intellectual a task is it to
calculate, at any moment, what is most required, and yet is wanting, or
hard to find; to procure for each easily and soon what he demands; to
lay in your stock prudently beforehand, and then to enjoy the profit of
every pulse in that mighty circulation. This, it appears to me, is what
no man that has a head can attend to without pleasure."

Wilhelm seemed to acquiesce, and Werner continued.

"Do but visit one or two great trading-towns, one or two seaports, and
see if you can withstand the impression. When you observe how many men
are busied, whence so many things have come, and whither they are going,
you will feel as if you, too, could gladly mingle in the business. You
will then see the smallest piece of ware in its connection with the
whole mercantile concern; and for that very reason you will reckon
nothing paltry, because every thing augments the circulation by which
you yourself are supported."

Werner had formed his solid understanding in constant intercourse with
Wilhelm; he was thus accustomed to think also of _his_ profession, of
_his_ employments, with elevation of soul; and he firmly believed that
he did so with more justice than his otherwise more gifted and valued
friend, who, as it seemed to him, had placed his dearest hopes, and
directed all the force of his mind, upon the most imaginary objects in
the world. Many a time he thought his false enthusiasm would infallibly
be got the better of, and so excellent a soul be brought back to the
right path. So hoping in the present instance, he continued, "The great
ones of the world have taken this earth of ours to themselves; they live
in the midst of splendor and superfluity. The smallest nook of the land
is already a possession which none may touch or meddle with: offices and
civil callings bring in little profit. Where, then, will you find more
honest acquisitions, juster conquests, than those of trade? If the
princes of this world hold the rivers, the highways, the havens, in
their power, and take a heavy tribute from every thing that passes
through them, may not we embrace with joy the opportunity of levying tax
and toll, by _our_ activity, on those commodities which the real or
imaginary wants of men have rendered indispensable? I can promise you,
if you would rightly apply your poetic view, my goddess might be
represented as an invincible, victorious queen, and boldly opposed to
yours. It is true, she bears the olive rather than the sword: dagger or
chain she knows not. But she, too, gives crowns to her favorites; which,
without offence to yours be it said, are of true gold from the furnace
and the mine, and glance with genuine pearls, which she brings up from
the depths of the ocean by the hands of her unwearied servants."

This sally somewhat nettled Wilhelm; but he concealed his sentiments,
remembering that Werner used to listen with composure to _his_
apostrophes. Besides, he had fairness enough to be pleased at seeing
each man think the best of his own peculiar craft, provided only _his_,
of which he was so passionately fond, were likewise left in peace.

"And for you," exclaimed Werner, "who take so warm an interest in human
concerns, what a sight will it be to behold the fortune, which
accompanies bold undertakings, distributed to men before your eyes! What
is more spirit-stirring than the aspect of a ship arriving from a lucky
voyage, or soon returning with a rich capture? Not only the relatives,
the acquaintances, and those that share with the adventurers, but every
unconcerned spectator also, is excited, when he sees the joy with which
the long-imprisoned shipman springs on land before his keel has wholly
reached it, feeling that he is free once more, and now can trust what he
has rescued from the false sea to the firm and faithful earth. It is
not, my friend, in figures of arithmetic alone that gain presents itself
before us. Fortune is the goddess of breathing men: to feel her favors
truly, we must live and be men who toil with their living minds and
bodies, and enjoy with them also."


It is now time that we should know something more of Wilhelm's father
and of Werner's,--two men of very different modes of thinking, but whose
opinions so far coincided, that both regarded commerce as the noblest
calling; and both were peculiarly attentive to every advantage which any
kind of speculation might produce to them. Old Meister, when his father
died, had turned into money a valuable collection of pictures, drawings,
copper-plates, and antiquities: he had entirely rebuilt and furnished
his house in the newest style, and turned his other property to profit
in all possible ways. A considerable portion of it he had embarked in
trade, under the direction of the elder Werner,--a man noted as an
active merchant, whose speculations were commonly favored by fortune.
But nothing was so much desired by Meister as to confer upon his son
those qualities of which himself was destitute, and to leave his
children advantages which he reckoned it of the highest importance to
possess. Withal, he felt a peculiar inclination for magnificence,--for
whatever catches the eye, and possesses at the same time real worth and
durability. In his house he would have all things solid and massive; his
stores must be copious and rich, all his plate must be heavy, the
furniture of his table must be costly. On the other hand, his guests
were seldom invited; for every dinner was a festival, which, both for
its expense and for its inconvenience, could not often be repeated. The
economy of his house went on at a settled, uniform rate; and every thing
that moved or had place in it was just what yielded no one any real

The elder Werner, in his dark and hampered house, led quite another sort
of life. The business of the day, in his narrow counting-house, at his
ancient desk, once done, Werner liked to eat well, and, if possible, to
drink better. Nor could he fully enjoy good things in solitude; with his
family he must always see at table his friends, and any stranger that
had the slightest connection with his house. His chairs were of unknown
age and antic fashion, but he daily invited some to sit on them. The
dainty victuals arrested the attention of his guests, and none remarked
that they were served up in common ware. His cellar held no great stock
of wine, but the emptied niches were usually filled by more of a
superior sort.

So lived these two fathers, often meeting to take counsel about their
common concerns. On the day we are speaking of, it had been determined
to send Wilhelm out from home, for the despatch of some commercial

"Let him look about him in the world," said old Meister, "and at the
same time carry on our business in distant parts. One cannot do a young
man any greater kindness than initiate him early in the future business
of his life. Your son returned so happily from his first expedition, and
transacted his affairs so cleverly, that I am very curious to see how
mine will do: _his_ experience, I fear, will cost him dearer."

Old Meister had a high notion of his son's faculties and capabilities:
he said this in the hope that his friend would contradict him, and hold
up to view the admirable gifts of the youth. Here, however, he deceived
himself. Old Werner, who, in practical concerns, would trust no man but
such as he had proved, answered placidly, "One must try all things. We
can send him on the same journey: we shall give him a paper of
directions to conduct him. There are sundry debts to be gathered in, old
connections are to be renewed, new ones to be made. He may likewise help
the speculation I was lately talking of; for, without punctual
intelligence gathered on the spot, there is little to be done in it."

"He must prepare," said Meister, "and set forth as soon as possible.
Where shall we get a horse for him to suit this business?"

"We shall not seek far. The shopkeeper in H----, who owes us somewhat,
but is withal a good man, has offered me a horse instead of payment. My
son knows it, and tells me it is a serviceable beast."

"He may fetch it himself. Let him go with the diligence; the day after
to-morrow he is back again betimes; we have his saddle-bags and letters
made ready in the mean time; he can set out on Monday morning."

Wilhelm was sent for, and informed of their determination. Who so glad
as he, now seeing the means of executing his purpose put into his hands,
the opportunity made ready for him, without co-operation of his own! So
intense was his love, so full was his conviction of the perfect
rectitude of his intention to escape from the pressure of his actual
mode of life, and follow a new and nobler career, that his conscience
did not in the least rebel; no anxiety arose within him; he even
reckoned the deception he was meditating holy. He felt certain, that, in
the long-run, parents and relations would praise and bless him for this
resolution: he acknowledged in these concurring circumstances the signal
of a guiding fate.

How slowly the time passed with him till night, till the hour when he
should again see his Mariana! He sat in his chamber, and revolved the
plan of his journey; as a conjurer, or a cunning thief in durance, often
draws out his feet from the fast-locked irons, to cherish in himself the
conviction that his deliverance is possible, nay, nearer than
short-sighted turnkeys believe.

At last the appointed hour struck: he went out, shook off all anxiety,
and hastened through the silent streets. In the middle of the great
square he raised his hands to the sky, feeling as if all was behind him
and below him: he had freed himself from all. One moment he figured
himself as in the arms of his beloved, the next as glancing with her in
the splendors of the stage: he soared aloft in a world of hopes, only
now and then the call of some watchman brought to his recollection that
he was still wandering on the vulgar earth.

Mariana came to the stairs to meet him,--and how beautiful, how lovely!
She received him in the new white _negligée_: he thought he had never
seen her so charming. Thus did she handsel the gift of her absent lover
in the arms of a present one; with true passion she lavished on her
darling the whole treasure of those caresses which nature suggested, or
art had taught: need we ask if he was happy, if he was blessed?

He disclosed to her what had passed, and showed her, in general terms,
his plan and his wishes. He would try, he said, to find a residence,
then come back for her: he hoped she would not refuse him her hand. The
poor girl was silent: she concealed her tears, and pressed her friend
against her bosom. Wilhelm, though interpreting her silence in the most
favorable manner, could have wished for a distinct reply; and still
more, when at last he inquired of her in the tenderest and most delicate
terms, if he might not think himself a father. But to this she answered
only with a sigh, with a kiss.


Next morning Mariana awoke only to new despondency; she felt herself
very solitary; she wished not to see the light of day, but staid in bed,
and wept. Old Barbara sat down by her, and tried to persuade and console
her; but it was not in her power so soon to heal the wounded heart. The
moment was now at hand to which the poor girl had been looking forward
as to the last of her life. Who could be placed in a more painful
situation? The man she loved was departing; a disagreeable lover was
threatening to come; and the most fearful mischiefs were to be
anticipated, if the two, as might easily happen, should meet together.

"Calm yourself, my dear," said the old woman: "do not spoil your pretty
eyes with crying. Is it, then, so terrible a thing to have two lovers?
And though you can bestow your love but on the one, yet be thankful to
the other, who, caring for you as he does, certainly deserves to be
named your friend."

"My poor Wilhelm," said the other, all in tears, "had warning that a
separation was at hand. A dream discovered to him what we strove so much
to hide. He was sleeping calmly at my side; on a sudden I heard him
mutter some unintelligible sounds: I grew frightened, and awoke him. Ah!
with what love and tenderness and warmth did he clasp me! 'O Mariana!'
cried he, 'what a horrid fate have you freed me from! How shall I thank
you for deliverance from such torment? I dreamed that I was far from you
in an unknown country, but your figure hovered before me; I saw you on a
beautiful hill, the sunshine was glancing over it all; how charming you
looked! But it had not lasted long, before I observed your image sinking
down, sinking, sinking: I stretched out my arms towards you; they could
not reach you through the distance. Your image still kept gliding down:
it approached a great sea that lay far extended at the foot of the
hill,--a marsh rather than a sea. All at once a man gave you his hand,
and seemed meaning to conduct you upwards; but he led you sidewards, and
appeared to draw you after him. I cried out: as I could not reach you, I
hoped to warn you. If I tried to walk, the ground seemed to hold me
fast; if I could walk, the water hindered me; and even my cries were
smothered in my breast.' So said the poor youth, while recovering from
his terror, and reckoning himself happy to see a frightful dream thrust
aside by the most delicious reality."

Barbara made every effort to reduce, by her prose, the poetry of her
friend to the domain of common life; employing, in the present case, the
ingenious craft which so often succeeds with bird-catchers, when they
imitate with a whistle the tones of those luckless creatures they soon
hope to see by dozens safely lodged in their nets. She praised Wilhelm:
she expatiated on his figure, his eyes, his love. The poor girl heard
her with a gratified heart, then arose, let herself be dressed, and
appeared calmer. "My child, my darling," continued the old woman, in a
cozening tone, "I will not trouble you or injure you: I cannot think of
tearing from you your dearest happiness. Could you mistake my
intention? Have you forgotten that on all occasions I have cared for
you more than for myself? Tell me only what you wish: we shall soon see
how it may be brought about."

"What can I wish?" said Mariana; "I am miserable, miserable for life: I
love him, and he loves me; yet I see that I must part with him, and know
not how I shall survive it. Norberg is coming, to whom we owe our whole
subsistence, whom we cannot live without. Wilhelm is straitened in his
fortune: he can do nothing for me."

"Yes, unfortunately, he is of those lovers who bring nothing but their
hearts; and these people, too, have the highest pretensions of any."

"No jesting! The unhappy youth thinks of leaving his home, of going upon
the stage, of offering me his hand."

"Of empty hands we have already four."

"I have no choice," continued Mariana; "do you decide for me. Cast me
away to this side or to that: mark only one thing,--I think I carry in
my bosom a pledge that ought to unite me with him still more closely.
Consider and determine: whom shall I forsake? whom shall I follow?"

After a short silence, Barbara exclaimed. "Strange, that youth should
always be for extremes! To my view, nothing would be easier than for us
to combine both the profit and the enjoyment. Do you love the one, let
the other pay for it: all we have to mind, is being sharp enough to keep
the two from meeting."

"Do as you please: I can imagine nothing, but I will obey."

"We have this advantage: we can humor the manager's caprice and pride
about the morals of his troop. Both lovers are accustomed already to go
secretly and cautiously to work. For hours and opportunity I will take
thought: only henceforth you must act the part that I prescribe to you.
Who knows what circumstances may arise to help us? If Norberg would
arrive even now, when Wilhelm is away! Who can hinder you from thinking
of the one in the arms of the other? I wish you a son, and good fortune
with him: he will have a rich father."

These projects lightened Mariana's despondency only for a very short
time. She could not bring her situation into harmony with her feelings,
with her convictions: she would fain have forgotten the painful
relations in which she stood, and a thousand little circumstances forced
them back every moment to her recollection.


In the mean time, Wilhelm had completed the short preliminary journey.
His merchant being from home, he delivered the letter of introduction to
the mistress of the house. But neither did this lady give him much
furtherance in his purposes: she was in a violent passion, and her whole
economy was in confusion.

He had not waited long when she disclosed to him, what in truth could
not be kept a secret, that her step-daughter had run off with a
player,--a person who had parted lately from a small strolling company,
and had staid in the place, and commenced teaching French. The father,
distracted with grief and vexation, had run to the _Amt_ to have the
fugitives pursued. She blamed her daughter bitterly, and vilified the
lover, till she left no tolerable quality with either: she deplored at
great length the shame thus brought upon the family; embarrassing our
hero not a little, who here felt his own private scheme beforehand
judged and punished, in the spirit of prophecy as it were, by this
frenzied sibyl. Still stronger and deeper was the interest he took in
the sorrows of the father, who now returned from the _Amt_, and with
fixed sorrow, in broken sentences, gave his wife an account of the
errand, and strove to hide the embarrassment and distraction of his
mind; while, after looking at the letter, he directed that the horse it
spoke of should be given to Wilhelm.

Our friend thought it best to mount his steed immediately, and quit a
house where, in its present state, he could not possibly be comfortable;
but the honest man would not allow the son of one to whom he had so many
obligations to depart without tasting of his hospitality, without
remaining at least a night beneath his roof.

Wilhelm had partaken of a melancholy supper, worn out a restless night,
and hastened, early in the morning, to get rid of these people, who,
without knowing it, had, by their narratives and utterances, been
constantly wounding him to the quick.

In a musing mood, he was riding slowly along, when all at once he
observed a number of armed men coming through the fields. By their long,
loose coats, with enormous cuffs; by their shapeless hats, clumsy
muskets; by their unpretending gait, and contented bearing of the
body,--he recognized in these people a detachment of provincial
militia. They halted beneath an old oak, set down their fire-arms, and
placed themselves at their ease upon the sward, to smoke a pipe of
tobacco. Wilhelm lingered near them, and entered into conversation with
a young man who came up on horseback. The history of the two runaways,
which he knew but too well, was again detailed to him, and that with
comments not particularly flattering, either to the young pair
themselves, or to the parents. He also learned that the military had
come hither to take into custody the loving couple, who had already been
seized and detained in a neighboring village. After some time,
accordingly, a cart was seen advancing to the place, encircled with a
city guard more ludicrous than appalling. An amorphous town-clerk rode
forth, and made his compliments to the _Actuarius_ (for such was the
young man Wilhelm had been speaking to), on the border of their several
districts, with great conscientiousness and queer grimaces; as perhaps
the ghost and the conjurer do, when they meet, the one within the circle
and the other out of it, in their dismal midnight operations.

But the chief attention of the lookers-on was directed to the cart: they
could not behold, without compassion, the poor, misguided creatures, who
were sitting upon bundles of straw, looking tenderly at one another, and
scarcely seeming to observe the by-standers. Accident had forced their
conductors to bring them from the last village in that unseemly style;
the old chaise, which had previously transported the lady, having there
broken down. On that occurrence she had begged for permission to sit
beside her friend; whom, in the conviction that his crime was of a
capital sort, the rustic bailiffs had so far brought along in irons.
These irons certainly contributed to give the tender group a more
interesting appearance, particularly as the young man moved and bore
himself with great dignity, while he kissed more than once the hands of
his fair companion.

"We are unfortunate," she cried to the by-standers, "but not so guilty
as we seem. It is thus that cruel men reward true love; and parents, who
entirely neglect the happiness of their children, tear them with fury
from the arms of joy, when it has found them after many weary days."

The spectators were expressing their sympathy in various ways, when, the
officers of law having finished their ceremonial, the cart went on; and
Wilhelm, who took a deep interest in the fate of the lovers, hastened
forward by a foot path to get some acquaintance with the _Amtmann_
before the procession should arrive. But scarcely had he reached the
_Amthaus_, where all was in motion, and ready to receive the fugitives,
when his new friend, the _Actuarius_, laid hold of him; and giving him a
circumstantial detail of the whole proceedings, and then launching out
into a comprehensive eulogy of his own horse, which he had got by barter
the night before, put a stop to every other sort of conversation.

The luckless pair, in the mean time, had been set down behind, at the
garden, which communicated by a little door with the _Amthaus_, and thus
brought in unobserved. The _Actuarius_, for this mild and handsome
treatment, accepted of a just encomium from Wilhelm; though in truth his
sole object had been to mortify the crowd collected in front of the
_Amthaus_, by denying them the satisfaction of looking at a neighbor in

The _Amtmann_, who had no particular taste for such extraordinary
occurrences, being wont on these occasions to commit frequent errors,
and, with the best intentions, to be often paid with sour admonitions
from the higher powers, went with heavy steps into his office-room; the
_Actuarius_ with Wilhelm and a few respectable citizens following him.

The lady was first produced; she advanced without pertness, calm and
self-possessed. The manner of her dress, the way in which she bore
herself, showed that she was a person not without value in her own eyes.
She accordingly began, without any questions being put, to speak, not
unskilfully, about her situation.

The _Actuarius_ bade her be silent, and held his pen over the folded
sheet. The _Amtmann_ gathered up his resolution, looked at his
assistant, cleared his throat by two or three hems, and asked the poor
girl what was her name, and how old she was.

"I beg your pardon, sir," said she, "but it seems very strange to me
that you ask my name and age, seeing you know very well what my name is,
and that I am just of the age of your oldest son. What you do want to
know of me, and need to know, I will tell freely without circumlocution.

"Since my father's second marriage, my situation in his house has not
been of the most enviable sort. Oftener than once I have had it in my
power to make a suitable marriage, had not my step-mother, dreading the
expense of my portion, taken care to thwart all such proposals. At
length I grew acquainted with the young Melina; I felt constrained to
love him; and, as we both foresaw the obstacles that stood in the way of
our regular union, we determined to go forth together, and seek in the
wide world the happiness denied us at home. I took nothing with me that
was not my own: we did not run away like thieves and robbers; and my
lover does not merit to be hauled about in this way, with chains and
handcuffs. The prince is just, and will not sanction such severity. If
we are liable to punishment, it is not punishment of this kind."

The old _Amtmann_ hereupon fell into double and treble confusion. Sounds
of the most gracious eulogies were already humming through his brain,
and the girl's voluble speech had entirely confounded the plan of his
protocol. The mischief increased, when to repeated official questions
she refused giving any answer, but constantly referred to what she had
already said.

"I am no criminal," she said. "They have brought me hither on bundles of
straw to put me to shame, but there is a higher court that will bring us
back to honor."

The _Actuarius_, in the mean time, had kept writing down her words: he
whispered the _Amtmann_, "just to go on,--a formal protocol might be
made out by and by."

The senior then again took heart, and began, with his heavy words, in
dry prescribed formulas, to seek information about the sweet secrets of

The red mounted into Wilhelm's cheeks, and those of the pretty criminal
likewise glowed with the charming tinge of modesty. She was silent, she
stammered, till at last her embarrassment itself seemed to exalt her

"Be assured," she cried, "that I should have strength enough to confess
the truth, though it made against myself; and shall I now hesitate and
stammer, when it does me honor? Yes: from the moment when I first felt
certain of his love and faith, I looked upon him as my husband; I freely
gave him all that love requires,--that a heart once convinced cannot
long refuse. Now do with me what you please. If I hesitated for a moment
to confess, it was solely owing to fear lest the admission might prove
hurtful to my lover."

On hearing this confession, Wilhelm formed a high opinion of the young
woman's feelings, while her judges marked her as an impudent strumpet;
and the townsfolk present thanked God that in their families no such
scandal had occurred, or at least been brought to light.

Wilhelm transported his Mariana into this conjuncture, answering at the
bar: he put still finer words in her mouth, making her uprightness yet
more affecting, her confession still nobler. The most violent desire to
help the two lovers took possession of him. Nor did he conceal this
feeling, but signified in private to the wavering _Amtmann_, that it
were better to end the business; all being clear as possible, and
requiring no further investigation.

This was so far of service that the young woman was allowed to retire;
though, in her stead, the lover was brought in, his fetters having
previously been taken off him at the door. This person seemed a little
more concerned about his fate. His answers were more careful; and, if he
showed less heroic generosity, he recommended himself by the precision
and distinctness of his expressions.

When this audience also was finished, and found to agree in all points
with the former, except that, from regard for his mistress, Melina
stubbornly denied what had already been confessed by herself, the young
woman was again brought forward; and a scene took place between the two,
which made the heart of our friend entirely their own.

What usually occurs nowhere but in romances and plays, he saw here in a
paltry court-room before his eyes,--the contest of reciprocal
magnanimity, the strength of love in misfortune.

"Is it, then, true," said he internally, "that timorous affection, which
conceals itself from the eye of the sun and of men, not daring to taste
of enjoyment save in remote solitude and deep secrecy, yet, if torn
rudely by some cruel chance into light, will show itself more
courageous, strong, and resolute than any of our loud and ostentatious

To his comfort, the business now soon came to a conclusion. The lovers
were detained in tolerable quarters: had it been possible, he would that
very evening have brought back the young lady to her parents. For he
firmly determined to act as intercessor in this case, and to forward a
happy and lawful union between the lovers.

He begged permission of the _Amtmann_ to speak in private with Melina, a
request which was granted without difficulty.


The conversation of these new acquaintances very soon grew confidential
and lively. When Wilhelm told the downcast youth of his connection with
the lady's parents, and offered to mediate in the affair, showing at the
same time the strongest expectation of success, a light was shed across
the dreary and anxious mind of the prisoner: he felt himself already
free, already reconciled with the parents of his bride, and now began to
speak about his future occupation and support.

"On this point," said our friend, "you cannot long be in difficulty; for
you seem to me directed, not more by your circumstances than by nature,
to make your fortune in the noble profession you have chosen. A pleasing
figure, a sonorous voice, a feeling heart! Could an actor be better
furnished? If I can serve you with a few introductions, it will give me
the greatest pleasure."

"I thank you with all my heart," replied the other, "but I shall hardly
be able to make use of them; for it is my purpose, if possible, not to
return to the stage."

"Here you are certainly to blame," said Wilhelm, after a pause, during
which he had partly recovered out of his astonishment; for it had never
once entered his head, but that the player, the moment his young wife
and he were out of durance, would repair to some theatre. It seemed to
him as natural and as necessary as for the frog to seek pools of water.
He had not doubted of it for a moment, and he now heard the contrary
with boundless surprise.

"Yes," replied Melina, "I have it in view not to re-appear upon the
stage, but rather to take up some civil calling, be it what it will, so
that I can but obtain one."

"This is a strange resolution, which I cannot give my approbation to.
Without especial reasons, it can never be advisable to change the mode
of life we have begun with; and, besides, I know of no condition that
presents so much allurement, so many charming prospects, as the
condition of an actor."

"It is easy to see that you have never been one," said the other.

"Alas, sir," answered Wilhelm, "how seldom is any man contented with the
station where he happens to be placed! He is ever coveting that of his
neighbor, from which the neighbor in his turn is longing to be free."

"Yet still there is a difference," said Melina, "between bad and worse.
Experience, not impatience, makes me determine as you see. Is there in
the world any creature whose morsel of bread is attended with such
vexation, uncertainty, and toil? It were almost as good to take the
staff and wallet, and beg from door to door. What things to be endured
from the envy of rivals, from the partiality of managers, from the
ever-altering caprices of the public! In truth, one would need to have a
hide like a bear's, that is led about in a chain along with apes, and
dogs of knowledge, and cudgelled into dancing at the sound of a bagpipe
before the populace and children."

Wilhelm thought a thousand things, which he would not vex the worthy man
by uttering. He merely, therefore, led the conversation round them at a
distance. His friend explained himself the more candidly and
circumstantially on that account. "Is not the manager obliged," said he,
"to fall down at the feet of every little _Stadtrath_, that he may get
permission, for a month between the fairs, to cause another _groschen_
or two to circulate in the place? Ours, on the whole, a worthy man, I
have often pitied; though at other times he gave me cause enough for
discontentment. A good actor drains him by extortion; of the bad he
cannot rid himself; and, should he try to make his income at all equal
to his outlay, the public immediately takes umbrage, the house stands
empty; and, not to go to wreck entirely, he must continue acting in the
midst of sorrow and vexation. No, no, sir! Since you are so good as to
undertake to help me, have the kindness, I entreat you, to plead with
the parents of my bride: let them get me a little post of clerk or
collector, and I shall think myself well dealt with."

After exchanging a few words more, Wilhelm went away with the promise to
visit the parents early in the morning, and see what could be done.
Scarcely was he by himself, when he gave utterance to his thoughts in
these exclamations: "Unhappy Melina! not in thy condition, but in
thyself, lies the mean impediment over which thou canst not gain the
mastery. What mortal in the world, if without inward calling he take up
a trade, an art, or any mode of life, will not feel his situation
miserable? But he who is born with capacities for any undertaking, finds
in executing this the fairest portion of his being. Nothing upon earth
without its difficulties! It is the secret impulse within, it is the
love and the delight we feel, that help us to conquer obstacles, to
clear out new paths, and to overleap the bounds of that narrow circle in
which others poorly toil. For _thee_ the stage is but a few boards: the
parts assigned thee are but what a task is to a school-boy. The
spectators thou regardest as on work-days they regard each other. For
thee, then, it may be well to wish thyself behind a desk, over ruled
ledgers, collecting tolls, and picking out reversions. Thou feelest not
the co-operating, co-inspiring whole, which the mind alone can invent,
comprehend, and complete: thou feelest not that in man there lives a
spark of purer fire, which, when it is not fed, when it is not fanned,
gets covered by the ashes of indifference and daily wants, yet not till
late, perhaps never, can be altogether quenched. Thou feelest in thy
soul no strength to fan this spark into a flame, no riches in thy heart
to feed it when aroused. Hunger drives thee on, inconveniences withstand
thee; and it is hidden from thee, that, in every human condition, foes
lie in wait for us, invincible except by cheerfulness and equanimity.
Thou dost well to wish thyself within the limits of a common station,
for what station that required soul and resolution couldst thou rightly
fill? Give a soldier, a statesman, a divine, thy sentiments, and as
justly will he fret himself about the miseries of _his_ condition. Nay,
have there not been men so totally forsaken by all feeling of existence,
that they have held the life and nature of mortals as a nothing, a
painful, short, and tarnished gleam of being? Did the forms of active
men rise up living in thy soul; were thy breast warmed by a sympathetic
fire; did the vocation which proceeds from within diffuse itself over
all thy frame; were the tones of thy voice, the words of thy mouth,
delightful to hear; didst thou feel thy own being sufficient for
thyself,--then wouldst thou doubtless seek place and opportunity
likewise to feel it in others."

Amid such words and thoughts, our friend undressed himself, and went to
bed, with feelings of the deepest satisfaction. A whole romance of what
he now hoped to do, instead of the worthless occupations which should
have filled the approaching day, arose within his mind: pleasant
fantasies softly conducted him into the kingdom of sleep, and then gave
him up to their sisters, sweet dreams, who received him with open arms,
and encircled his reposing head with the images of heaven.

Early in the morning he was awake again, and thinking of the business
that lay before him. He revisited the house of the forsaken family,
where his presence caused no small surprise. He introduced his proposal
in the most prudent manner, and soon found both more and fewer
difficulties than he had anticipated. For one thing, the evil was
already _done_: and though people of a singularly strict and harsh
temper are wont to set themselves forcibly against the past, and thus to
increase the evil that cannot now be remedied; yet, on the other hand,
what is actually done exerts an irresistible effect upon most minds: an
event which lately appeared impossible takes its place, so soon as it
has really occurred, with what occurs daily. It was accordingly soon
settled, that Herr Melina was to wed the daughter; who, however, in
return, because of her misconduct, was to take no marriage-portion with
her, and to promise that she would leave her aunt's legacy, for a few
years more, at an easy interest, in her father's hands. But the second
point, touching a civil provision for Melina, was attended with greater
difficulties. They liked not to have the luckless pair continually
living in their sight: they would not have a present object ever calling
to their minds the connection of a mean vagabond with so respectable a
family,--a family which could number even a superintendent among its
relatives; nay, it was not to be looked for, that the government would
trust him with a charge. Both parents were alike inflexible in this
matter; and Wilhelm, who pleaded very hard, unwilling that a man whom he
contemned should return to the stage, and convinced that he deserved not
such a happiness, could not, with all his rhetoric, produce the
slenderest impression. Had he known the secret springs of the business,
he would have spared himself the labor of attempting to persuade. The
father would gladly have kept his daughter near him; but he hated the
young man, because his wife herself had cast an eye upon him: while the
latter could not bear to have, in her step-daughter, a happy rival
constantly before her eyes. So Melina with his young wife, who already
manifested no dislike to go and see the world, and be seen of it, was
obliged, against his will, to set forth in a few days, and seek some
place in any acting company where he could find one.


Happy season of youth! Happy times of the first wish of love! A man is
then like a child that can for hours delight itself with an echo, can
support alone the charges of conversation, and be well contented with
its entertainment if the unseen interlocutor will but repeat the
concluding syllables of the words addressed to it.

So was it with Wilhelm in the earlier and still more in the later period
of his passion for Mariana; he transferred the whole wealth of his own
emotions to her, and looked upon himself as a beggar that lived upon her
alms: and as a landscape is more delightful, nay, is delightful only,
when it is enlightened by the sun; so likewise in his eyes were all
things beautified and glorified which lay round her or related to her.

Often would he stand in the theatre behind the scenes, to which he had
obtained the freedom of access from the manager. In such cases, it is
true, the perspective magic was away; but the far mightier sorcery of
love then first began to act. For hours he could stand by the sooty
light-frame, inhaling the vapor of tallow lamps, looking out at his
mistress; and when she returned, and cast a kindly glance upon him, he
could feel himself lost in ecstasy: and, though close upon laths and
bare spars, he seemed transported into paradise. The stuffed bunches of
wool denominated lambs, the waterfalls of tin, the paper roses, and the
one-sided huts of straw, awoke in him fair poetic visions of an old
pastoral world. Nay, the very dancing-girls, ugly as they were when seen
at hand, did not always inspire him with disgust: they trod the same
floor with Mariana. So true is it, that love, which alone can give their
full charm to rose-bowers, myrtle-groves, and moonshine, can also
communicate, even to shavings of wood, and paper-clippings, the aspect
of animated nature. It is so strong a spice, that tasteless or even
nauseous soups are by it rendered palatable.

So potent a spice was certainly required to render tolerable, nay, at
last agreeable, the state in which he usually found her chamber, not to
say herself.

Brought up in a substantial burgher's house, cleanliness and order were
the elements in which he breathed; and, inheriting as he did a portion
of his father's taste for finery, it had always been his care, in
boyhood, to furbish up his chamber, which he regarded as his little
kingdom, in the stateliest fashion. His bed-curtains were drawn together
in large, massy folds, and fastened with tassels, as they are usually
seen in thrones; he had got himself a carpet for the middle of his
chamber, and a finer one for his table; his books and apparatus he had,
almost instinctively, arranged in such a manner, that a Dutch painter
might have imitated them for groups in his still-life scenes. He had a
white cap, which he wore straight up like a turban; and the sleeves of
his night-gown he had caused to be cut short, in the mode of the
Orientals. By way of reason for this, he pretended that long, wide
sleeves encumbered him in writing. When, at night, the boy was quite
alone, and no longer dreaded any interruption, he usually wore a silk
sash tied round his body; and often, it is said, he would fix in his
girdle a sword, which he had appropriated from an old armory, and thus
repeat and declaim his tragic parts; nay, in the same trim he would
kneel down and say his evening prayer.

In those times, how happy did he think the players, whom he saw
possessed of so many splendid garments, trappings, and arms; and in the
constant practice of a lofty demeanor, the spirit of which seemed to
hold up a mirror of whatever, in the opinions, relations, and passions
of men, was stateliest and most magnificent. Of a piece with this,
thought Wilhelm, is also the player's domestic life,--a series of
dignified transactions and employments, whereof their appearance on the
stage is but the outmost portion; like as a mass of silver, long
simmering about in the purifying furnace, at length gleams with a bright
and beautiful tinge in the eye of the refiner, and shows him, at the
same time, that the metal now is cleansed of all foreign mixture.

Great, accordingly, was his surprise at first, when he found himself
beside his mistress, and looked down, through the cloud that environed
him, on tables, stools, and floor. The wrecks of a transient, light,
and false decoration lay, like the glittering coat of a skinned
fish, dispersed in wild disorder. The implements of personal
cleanliness,--combs, soap, towels,--with the traces of their use, were
not concealed. Music, portions of plays and pairs of shoes, washes and
Italian flowers, pin-cushions, hair-skewers, rouge-pots, and ribbons,
books and straw hats,--no article despised the neighborhood of another:
all were united by a common element,--powder and dust. Yet as Wilhelm
scarcely noticed in her presence aught except herself; nay, as all that
had belonged to her, that she had touched, was dear to him,--he came at
last to feel, in this chaotic housekeeping, a charm which the proud pomp
of his own habitation never had communicated. When, on this hand, he
lifted aside her bodice, to get at the harpsichord; on that, threw her
gown upon the bed, that he might find a seat; when she herself, with
careless freedom, did not seek to hide from him many a natural office,
which, out of respect for the presence of a second person, is usually
concealed,--he felt as if by all this he was coming nearer to her every
moment, as if the communion betwixt them was fastening by invisible

It was not so easy to reconcile with his previous ideas the behavior of
the other players, whom, on his first visits, he often met with in her
house. Ever busied in being idle, they seemed to think least of all on
their employment and object: the poetic worth of a piece they were never
heard to speak of, or to judge of, right or wrong; their continual
question was simply, How much will it _bring_? Is it a stock-piece? How
long will it run? How often think you it may be played? and other
inquiries and observations of the same description. Then commonly they
broke out against the manager, that he was stinted with his salaries,
and especially unjust to this one or to that; then against the public,
how seldom it recompensed the right man with its approval, how the
German theatre was daily improving, how the player was ever growing more
honored, and never could be honored enough. Then they would descant
largely about wine-gardens and coffee-houses; how much debt one of their
comrades had contracted, and must suffer a deduction from his wages on
account of; about the disproportion of their weekly salaries; about the
cabals of some rival company: on which occasions, they would pass again
to the great and merited attention which the public now bestowed upon
them; not forgetting the importance of the theatre to the improvement of
the nation and the world.

All this, which had already given Wilhelm many a restless hour, came
again into his memory, as he walked his horse slowly homewards, and
contemplated the various occurrences in which he had so lately been
engaged. The commotion produced by a girl's elopement, not only in a
decent family, but in a whole town, he had seen with his own eyes; the
scenes upon the highway and in the _Amthaus_, the views entertained by
Melina, and whatever else he had witnessed, again arose before him, and
brought his keen, forecasting mind into a sort of anxious disquietude;
which no longer to endure, he struck the spurs into his horse, and
hastened towards home.

By this expedient, however, he but ran to meet new vexations. Werner,
his friend and future brother-in-law, was waiting for him, to begin a
serious, important, unexpected conversation.

Werner was one of those tried, sedate persons, with fixed principles and
habits, whom we usually denominate cold characters, because on
emergencies they do not burst forth quickly or very visibly.
Accordingly, his intercourse with Wilhelm was a perpetual contest;
which, however, only served to knit their mutual affection the more
firmly; for, notwithstanding their very opposite modes of thinking, each
found his account in communicating with the other. Werner was very well
contented with himself, that he could now and then lay a bridle on the
exalted but commonly extravagant spirit of his friend; and Wilhelm often
felt a glorious triumph, when the staid and thinking Werner could be
hurried on with him in warm ebullience. Thus each exercised himself upon
the other; they had been accustomed to see each other daily; and you
would have said, their eagerness to meet and talk together had even been
augmented by the inability of each to understand the other. At bottom,
however, being both good-hearted men, they were both travelling together
towards one goal; and they could never understand how it was that
neither of the two could bring the other over to his own persuasion.

For some time Werner had observed that Wilhelm's visits had been rarer;
that in his favorite discussions he was brief and absent-minded; that he
no longer abandoned himself to the vivid depicting of singular
conceptions,--tokens by which, in truth, a mind getting rest and
contentment in the presence of a friend is most clearly indicated. The
considerate and punctual Werner first sought for the root of the evil in
his own conduct; till some rumors of the neighborhood set him on the
proper trace, and some unguarded proceedings on the part of Wilhelm
brought him nearer to the certainty. He began his investigation, and
erelong discovered, that for some time Wilhelm had been openly visiting
an actress, had often spoken with her at the theatre, and accompanied
her home. On discovering the nightly visits of his friend, Werner's
anxiety increased to a painful extent: for he heard that Mariana was a
most seductive girl, who probably was draining the youth of his money;
while, at the same time, she herself was supported by another and a
very worthless lover.

Having pushed his suspicions as near certainty as possible, he had
resolved to make a sharp attack on Wilhelm: he was now in full readiness
with all his preparations, when his friend returned, discontented and
unsettled, from his journey.

That very evening Werner laid the whole of what he knew before him,
first calmly, then with the emphatic earnestness of a well-meaning
friendship. He left no point of the subject undiscussed, and made
Wilhelm taste abundance of those bitter things which men at ease are
accustomed, with virtuous spite, to dispense so liberally to men in
love. Yet, as might have been expected, he accomplished little. Wilhelm
answered with interior commotion, though with great confidence, "You
know not the girl! Appearances, perhaps, are not to her advantage; but I
am certain of her faithfulness and virtue, as of my love."

Werner maintained his accusations, and offered to bring proofs and
witnesses. Wilhelm waived these offers, and parted with his friend out
of humor and unhinged, like a man in whose jaw some unskilful dentist
has been seizing a diseased, yet fast-rooted, tooth, and tugging at it
harshly to no purpose.

It exceedingly dissatisfied Wilhelm to see the fair image of Mariana
overclouded and almost deformed in his soul, first by the capricious
fancies of his journey, and then by the unfriendliness of Werner. He
adopted the surest means of restoring it to complete brilliancy and
beauty, by setting out at night, and hastening to his wonted
destination. She received him with extreme joy: on entering the town, he
had ridden past her window; she had been expecting his company; and it
is easy to conceive that all scruples were soon driven from his heart.
Nay, her tenderness again opened up the whole stores of his confidence;
and he told her how deeply the public, how deeply his friend, had sinned
against her.

Much lively talking led them at length to speak about the earliest
period of their acquaintance, the recollection of which forms always one
of the most delightful topics between two lovers. The first steps that
introduce us to the enchanted garden of love are so full of pleasure,
the first prospects so charming, that every one is willing to recall
them to his memory. Each party seeks a preference above the other; each
has loved sooner, more devotedly; and each, in this contest, would
rather be conquered than conquer.

Wilhelm repeated to his mistress, what he had so often told her before,
how she soon abstracted his attention from the play, and fixed it on
herself; how her form, her acting, her voice, inspired him; how at last
he went only on the nights when _she_ was to appear; how, in fine,
having ventured behind the scenes, he had often stood by her unheeded;
and he spoke with rapture of the happy evening when he found an
opportunity to do her some civility, and lead her into conversation.

Mariana, on the other hand, would not allow that she had failed so long
to notice him: she declared that she had seen him in the public walk,
and for proof she described the clothes which he wore on that occasion;
she affirmed that even then he pleased her before all others, and made
her long for his acquaintance.

How gladly did Wilhelm credit all this! How gladly did he catch at the
persuasion, that, when he used to approach her, she had felt herself
drawn towards him by some resistless influence; that she had gone with
him between the side-scenes on purpose to see him more closely, and get
acquainted with him; and that, in fine, when his backwardness and
modesty were not to be conquered, she had herself afforded him an
opportunity, and, as it were, compelled him to hand her a glass of

In this affectionate contest, which they pursued through all the little
circumstances of their brief romance, the hours passed rapidly away; and
Wilhelm left his mistress with his heart at peace, and firmly determined
on proceeding forthwith to the execution of his project.


The necessary preparations for his journey his father and mother had
attended to: some little matters, that were yet wanting to his equipage,
delayed his departure for a few days. Wilhelm took advantage of this
opportunity to write to Mariana, meaning thus to bring to a decision the
proposal, about which she had hitherto avoided speaking with him. The
letter was as follows:--

"Under the kind veil of night, which has often over-shadowed us
together, I sit and think, and write to thee: all that I meditate and do
is solely on thy account. O Mariana! with me, the happiest of men, it is
as with a bridegroom who stands in the festive chamber, dreaming of the
new universe that is to be unfolded to him, and by means of him, and,
while the holy ceremonies are proceeding, transports himself in longing
thought before the mysterious curtains, from which the loveliness of
love whispers out to him.

"I have constrained myself not to see thee for a few days: the sacrifice
was easy, when united with the hope of such a recompense, of being
always with thee, of remaining ever thine! Need I repeat what I desire?
I must! for it seems as if yet thou hadst never understood me.

"How often, in the low tones of true love, which, though wishing to gain
all, dares speak but little, have I sought in thy heart for the desire
of a perpetual union. Thou hast understood me, doubtless; for in thy own
heart the same wish must have arisen: thou _didst_ comprehend me, in
that kiss, in the intoxicating peace of that happy evening. Thy silence
testified to me thy modest honor; and how did it increase my love!
Another woman would have had recourse to artifice, that she might ripen
by superfluous sunshine the purpose of her lover's heart, might elicit a
proposal, and secure a firm promise. Mariana, on the contrary, drew
back: she repelled the half-opened confidence of him she loved, and
sought to conceal her approving feelings by apparent indifference. But I
have understood thee! What a miserable creature must I be, if I did not
by these tokens recognize the pure and generous love that cares not for
itself, but for its object! Confide in me, and fear nothing. We belong
to one another; and neither of us leaves aught or forsakes aught, if we
live for one another.

"Take it, then, this hand! Solemnly I offer this unnecessary pledge! All
the joys of love we have already felt, but there is a new blessedness in
the firm thought of duration. Ask not how,--care not. Fate takes care of
love, and the more certainly as love is easy to provide for.

"My heart has long ago forsaken my paternal home: it is with thee, as my
spirit hovers on the stage. O my darling! to what other man has it been
given to unite all his wishes, as it is to me? No sleep falls upon my
eyes: like the redness of an everlasting dawn, thy love and thy
happiness still glow around me.

"Scarcely can I hold myself from springing up, from rushing forth to
thee, and forcing thy consent, and, with the first light of to-morrow,
pressing forward into the world for the mark I aim at. But, no! I will
restrain myself; I will not act like a thoughtless fool, will do nothing
rashly: my plan is laid, and I will execute it calmly.

"I am acquainted with the manager Serlo: my journey leads me directly to
the place where he is. For above a year he has frequently been wishing
that his people had a touch of my vivacity, and my delight in theatrical
affairs: I shall doubtless be very kindly received. Into your company I
cannot enter, for more than one reason. Serlo's theatre, moreover, is at
such a distance from this, that I may there begin my undertaking without
any apprehension of discovery. With him I shall thus at once find a
tolerable maintenance: I shall look about me in the public, get
acquainted with the company, and then come back for thee.

"Mariana, thou seest what I can force myself to do, that I may certainly
obtain thee. For such a period not to see thee; for such a period to
know thee in the wide world! I dare not view it closely. But yet if I
recall to memory thy love, which assures me of all; if thou shalt not
disdain my prayer, and give me, ere we part, thy hand, before the
priest,--I may then depart in peace. It is but a form between us, yet a
form so touching,--the blessing of Heaven to the blessing of the earth.
Close by thy house, in the Ritterschaftliche Chapel, the ceremony will
be soon and secretly performed.

"For the beginning I have gold enough; we will share it between us; it
will suffice for both; and, before that is finished, Heaven will send us

"No, my darling, I am not downcast about the issue. What is begun with
so much cheerfulness must reach a happy end. I have never doubted that a
man may force his way through the world, if he really is in earnest
about it; and I feel strength enough within me to provide a liberal
support for two, and many more. The world, we are often told, is
unthankful: I have never yet discovered that it was unthankful, if one
knew how, in the proper way, to do it service. My whole soul burns at
the idea, that _I_ shall at length step forth, and speak to the hearts
of men something they have long been yearning to hear. How many thousand
times has a feeling of disgust passed through me, alive as I am to the
nobleness of the stage, when I have seen the poorest creatures fancying
they could speak a word of power to the hearts of the people! The tone
of a man's voice singing treble sounds far pleasanter and purer to my
ear: it is incredible how these blockheads, in their coarse ineptitude,
deform things beautiful and venerable.

"The theatre has often been at variance with the pulpit: they ought not,
I think, to quarrel. How much is it to be wished, that in both the
celebration of nature and of God were intrusted to none but men of noble
minds! These are no dreams, my darling! As I have felt in thy heart that
thou couldst love, I seize the dazzling thought, and say,--no, I will
not say, but I will hope and trust,--that we two shall yet appear to men
as a pair of chosen spirits, to unlock their hearts, to touch the
recesses of their nature, and prepare for them celestial joys, as surely
as the joys I have tasted with thee deserved to be named celestial,
since they drew us from ourselves, and exalted us above ourselves.

"I cannot end. I have already said too much, and know not whether I have
yet said all, all that concerns _thy_ interests; for to express the
agitations of the vortex that whirls round within myself, is beyond the
power of words.

"Yet take this sheet, my love! I have again read it over: I observe it
ought to have begun more cautiously; but it contains in it all that thou
hast need to know,--enough to prepare thee for the hour when I shall
return with the lightness of love to thy bosom. I seem to myself like a
prisoner that is secretly filing his irons asunder. I bid good-night to
my soundly sleeping parents. Farewell, my beloved, farewell! For this
time I conclude; my eyelids have more than once dropped together; it is
now deep in the night."


It seemed as if the day would never end, while Wilhelm, with the letter
beautifully folded in his pocket, longed to meet with Mariana. The
darkness had scarcely come on, when, contrary to custom, he glided forth
to her house. His plan was, to announce himself for the night; then to
quit his mistress for a short time, leaving the letter with her ere he
went away; and, returning at a late hour, to obtain her reply, her
consent, or to force it from her by the power of his caresses. He flew
into her arms, and pressed her in rapture to his bosom. The vehemence of
his emotions prevented him at first from noticing, that, on this
occasion, she did not receive him with her wonted heartiness; yet she
could not long conceal her painful situation, but imputed it to slight
indisposition. She complained of a headache, and would not by any means
consent to his proposal of coming back that night. Suspecting nothing
wrong, he ceased to urge her, but felt that this was not the moment for
delivering his letter. He retained it, therefore; and, as several of her
movements and observations courteously compelled him to take his leave,
in the tumult of unsatiable love he snatched up one of her neckerchiefs,
squeezed it into his pocket, and forced himself away from her lips and
her door. He returned home, but could not rest there: he again dressed
himself, and went out into the open air.

After walking up and down several streets, he was accosted by a stranger
inquiring for a certain inn. Wilhelm offered to conduct him to the
house. In the way, his new acquaintance asked about the names of the
streets, the owners of various extensive edifices, then about some
police regulations of the town; so that, by the time they reached the
door of the inn, they had fallen into quite an interesting conversation.
The stranger politely compelled his guide to enter, and drink a glass of
punch with him. Ere long he had told his name and place of abode, as
well as the business that had brought him hither; and he seemed to
expect a like confidence from Wilhelm. Our friend, without any
hesitation, mentioned his name, and the place where he lived.

"Are you not a grandson of the old Meister, who possessed that beautiful
collection of pictures and statues?" inquired the stranger.

"Yes, I am. I was ten years old when my grandfather died, and it grieved
me very much to see these fine things sold."

"Your father got a fine sum of money for them."

"You know of it, then?"

"Yes, indeed: I saw that treasure ere it left your house. Your
grandfather was not merely a collector, he had a thorough knowledge of
art. In his younger happy years he had been in Italy, and had brought
back with him such treasures as could not now be got for any price. He
possessed some exquisite pictures by the best masters. When you looked
through his drawings, you would scarcely have believed your eyes. Among
his marbles were some invaluable fragments; his series of bronzes was
instructive and well chosen; he had also collected medals, in
considerable quantity, relating to history and art; his few gems
deserved the greatest praise. In addition to all which, the whole was
tastefully arranged; although the rooms and hall of the old house had
not been symmetrically built."

"You may conceive," said Wilhelm, "what we young ones lost, when all
these articles were taken down and sent away. It was the first mournful
period of my life. I cannot tell you how empty the chambers looked when
we saw those objects vanish one by one, which had amused us from our
earliest years, and which we considered as unalterable as the house, or
the town itself."

"If I mistake not, your father put the capital produced by the sale into
some neighbor's stock, with whom he commenced a sort of partnership in

"Quite right; and their joint speculations have prospered in their
hands. Within the last twelve years, they have greatly increased their
fortunes, and are now the more vehemently bent on gaining. Old Werner
also has a son, who suits that sort of occupation much better than I."

"I am sorry the place should have lost such an ornament as your
grandfather's cabinet was to it. I saw it but a short time prior to the
sale; and I may say, I was myself the cause of its being then disposed
of. A rich nobleman, a great amateur, but one who, in such important
transactions, does not trust to his own solitary judgment, had sent me
hither, and requested my advice. For six days I examined the collection:
on the seventh, I advised my friend to pay down the required sum without
delay. You were then a lively boy, often running about me: you explained
to me the subjects of the pictures, and in general, I recollect, could
give a very good account of the whole cabinet."

"I remember such a person, but I should not have recognized him in you."

"It is a good while ago, and we all change more or less. You had, if I
mistake not, a favorite piece among them, to which you were ever calling
my attention."

"Oh, yes! it represented the history of that king's son dying of a
secret love for his father's bride."

"It was not, certainly, the best picture,--badly grouped, of no
superiority in coloring, and executed altogether with great mannerism."

"This I did not understand, and do not yet: it is the subject that
charms me in a picture, not the art."

"Your grandfather seemed to have thought otherwise. The greater part of
his collection consisted of excellent pieces; in which, represent what
they might, one constantly admired the talent of the master. This
picture of yours had accordingly been hung in the outermost room,--a
proof that he valued it slightly."

"It was in that room where we young ones used to play, and where the
piece you mention made on me a deep impression; which not even your
criticism, greatly as I honor it, could obliterate, if we stood before
the picture at this moment. What a melancholy object is a youth that
must shut up within himself the sweet impulse, the fairest inheritance
which nature has given us, and conceal in his own bosom the fire which
should warm and animate himself and others, so that his vitals are
wasted away by unutterable pains! I feel a pity for the ill-fated man
that would consecrate himself to another, when the heart of that other
has already found a worthy object of true and pure affection."

"Such feelings are, however, very foreign to the principles by which a
lover of art examines the works of great painters; and most probably
you, too, had the cabinet continued in your family, would have by and by
acquired a relish for the works themselves, and have learned to see in
the performances of art something more than yourself and your individual

"In truth, the sale of that cabinet grieved me very much at the time;
and often since I have thought of it with regret: but when I consider
that it was a necessary means of awakening a taste in me, of developing
a talent, which will operate far more powerfully on my history than ever
those lifeless pictures could have done, I easily content myself, and
honor destiny, which knows how to bring about what is best for me, and
what is best for every one."

"It gives me pain to hear this word destiny in the mouth of a young
person, just at the age when men are commonly accustomed to ascribe
their own violent inclinations to the will of higher natures."

"You, then, do not believe in destiny? No power that rules over us and
directs all for our ultimate advantage?"

"The question is not now of my belief, nor is this the place to explain
how I may have attempted to form for myself some not impossible
conception of things which are incomprehensible to all of us: the
question here is, What mode of viewing them will profit us the most? The
fabric of our life is formed of necessity and chance: the reason of man
takes its station between them, and may rule them both; it treats the
necessary as the groundwork of its being; the accidental it can direct
and guide, and employ for its own purposes: and only while this
principle of reason stands firm and inexpugnable, does man deserve to be
named the god of this lower world. But woe to him who, from his youth,
has used himself to search in necessity for something of arbitrary will;
to ascribe to chance a sort of reason, which it is a matter of religion
to obey. Is conduct like this aught else than to renounce one's
understanding, and give unrestricted scope to one's inclinations? We
think it is a kind of piety to move along without consideration; to let
accidents that please us determine our conduct; and, finally, to bestow
on the result of such a vacillating life the name of providential

"Was it never your case that some little circumstance induced you to
strike into a certain path, where some accidental occurrence erelong met
you, and a series of unexpected incidents at length brought you to some
point which you yourself had scarcely once contemplated? Should not
lessons of this kind teach us obedience to destiny, confidence in some
such guide?"

"With opinions like these, no woman could maintain her virtue, no man
keep the money in his purse; for occasions enough are occurring to get
rid of both. He alone is worthy of respect, who knows what is of use to
himself and others, and who labors to control his self-will. Each man
has his own fortune in his hands; as the artist has a piece of rude
matter, which he is to fashion to a certain shape. But the art of living
rightly is like all arts: the capacity alone is born with us; it must be
learned, and practised with incessant care."

These discussions our two speculators carried on between them to
considerable length: at last they parted without seeming to have wrought
any special conviction in each other, but engaging to meet at an
appointed place next day.

Wilhelm walked up and down the streets for a time: he heard a sound of
clarinets, hunting-horns, and bassoons; it swelled his bosom with
delightful feelings. It was some travelling showmen that produced this
pleasant music. He spoke with them: for a piece of coin they followed
him to Mariana's house. The space in front of the door was adorned with
lofty trees; under them he placed his artists; and, himself resting on a
bench at some distance, he surrendered his mind without restraint to the
hovering tones which floated round him in the cool mellow night.
Stretched out beneath the kind stars, he felt his existence like a
golden dream. "She, too, hears these flutes," said he within his heart:
"she feels whose remembrance, whose love of her, it is that makes the
night full of music. In distance, even, we are united by these melodies,
as in every separation, by the ethereal accordance of love. Ah! two
hearts that love each other are as two magnetic needles: whatever moves
the one must move the other with it; for it is one power that works in
both, one principle that pervades them. Can I in her arms conceive the
possibility of parting from her? And yet I am soon to be far from her,
to seek out a sanctuary for our love, and then to have her ever with me.

"How often, when absent from her, and lost in thoughts about her,
happening to touch a book, a piece of dress or aught else, have I
thought I felt her hand, so entirely was I invested with her presence!
And to recollect those moments which shunned the light of day and the
eye of the cold spectator; which, to enjoy, the gods might determine to
forsake the painless condition of their pure blessedness! To recollect
them! As if by memory we could renew the tumultuous thrilling of that
cup of joy, which encircles our senses with celestial bonds, and lifts
them beyond all earthly hinderances. And her form"--He lost himself in
thoughts of her; his rest passed away into longing; he leaned against a
tree, and cooled his warm cheek on its bark; and the winds of the night
wafted speedily aside the breath, which proceeded in sighs from his pure
and impassioned bosom. He groped for the neckerchief he had taken from
her; but it was forgotten, it lay in his other clothes. His frame
quivered with emotion.

The music ceased, and he felt as if fallen from the element in which his
thoughts had hitherto been soaring. His restlessness increased, as his
feelings were no longer nourished and assuaged by the melody. He sat
down upon her threshold, and felt more peace. He kissed the brass
knocker of her door: he kissed the threshold over which her feet went
out and in, and warmed it by the fire of his breast. He again sat still
for a moment, and figured her behind her curtains in the white
night-gown, with the red ribbon round her head, in sweet repose: he
almost fancied that he was himself so near her, she must needs be
dreaming of him. His thoughts were beautiful, like the spirits of the
twilight; rest and desire alternated within him; love ran with a
quivering hand, in a thousand moods, over all the chords of his soul; it
was as if the spheres stood mute above him, suspending their eternal
song to watch the low melodies of his heart.

Had he then had about him the master-key with which he used to open
Mariana's door, he could not have restrained himself from penetrating
into the sanctuary of love. Yet he went away slowly; he slanted,
half-dreaming, in beneath the trees, set himself for home, and
constantly turned round again; at last, with an effort, he constrained
himself, and actually departed. At the corner of the street, looking
back yet once, he imagined that he saw Mariana's door open, and a dark
figure issue from it. He was too distant for seeing clearly; and, before
he could exert himself and look sharply, the appearance was already lost
in the night; yet afar off he thought he saw it again gliding past a
white house. He stood, and strained his eyes; but, ere he could arouse
himself and follow the phantom, it had vanished. Whither should he
pursue it? What street had the man taken, if it were a man?

A nightly traveller, when at some turn of his path he has seen the
country for an instant illuminated by a flash of lightning, will, with
dazzled eyes, next moment, seek in vain for the preceding forms and the
connection of his road; so was it in the eyes and the heart of Wilhelm.
And as a spirit of midnight, which awakens unutterable terror, is, in
the succeeding moments of composure, regarded as a child of imagination,
and the fearful vision leaves doubts without end behind it in the soul;
so likewise was Wilhelm in extreme disquietude, as, leaning on the
corner-stone of the street, he heeded not the clear gray of the morning,
and the crowing of the cocks; till the early trades began to stir, and
drove him home.

On his way, he had almost effaced the unexpected delusion from his mind
by the most sufficient reasons; yet the fine harmonious feelings of the
night, on which he now looked back as if they too had been a vision,
were also gone. To soothe his heart, and put the last seal on his
returning belief, he took the neckerchief from the pocket of the dress
he had been last wearing. The rustling of a letter which fell out of it
took the kerchief away from his lips: he lifted and read,--

"As I love thee, little fool, what ailed thee last night? This evening I
will come again. I can easily suppose that thou art sick of staying here
so long: but have patience; at the fair I will return for thee. And
observe, never more put me on that abominable black-green-brown jacket:
thou lookest in it like the witch of Endor. Did I not send the white
night-gown, that I might have a snowy little lambkin in my arms? Send
thy letters always by the ancient sibyl: the Devil himself has selected
her as Iris."



Whoever strives in our sight with vehement force to reach an object, be
it one that we praise or that we blame, may count on exciting an
interest in our minds; but, when once the matter is decided, we turn our
eyes away from him: whatever once lies finished and done, can no longer
at all fix our attention, especially if we at first prophesied an evil
issue to the undertaking.

Therefore we shall not try to entertain our readers with any
circumstantial account of the grief and desperation into which our
ill-fated friend was cast, when he saw his hopes so unexpectedly and
instantaneously ruined. On the contrary, we shall even pass over several
years, and again take up our friend, where we hope to find him in some
sort of activity and comfort. First, however, we must shortly set forth
a few matters necessary for maintaining the connection of our narrative.

The pestilence, or a malignant fever, rages with more fierceness, and
speedier effect, if the frame which it attacks was before healthy and
full of vigor; and in like manner, when a luckless, unlooked-for fate
overtook the wretched Wilhelm, his whole being in a moment was laid
waste. As when by chance, in the preparation of some artificial
firework, any part of the composition kindles before its time; and the
skilfully bored and loaded barrels, which, arranged, and burning after a
settled plan, would have painted in the air a magnificently varying
series of flaming images, now hissing and roaring, promiscuously explode
with a confused and dangerous crash,--so, in our hero's case, did
happiness and hope, pleasure and joys, realities and dreams, clash
together with destructive tumult, all at once in his bosom. In such
desolate moments, the friend that has hastened to deliverance stands
fixed in astonishment; and for him who suffers, it is a benefit that
sense forsakes him.

Days of pain, unmixed, ever-returning, and purposely renewed, succeeded
next: still, even these are to be regarded as a grace from nature. In
such hours Wilhelm had not yet quite lost his mistress: his pains were
indefatigable struggles, still to hold fast the happiness that was
gliding from his soul; again to luxuriate in thought on the possibility
of it; to procure a brief after-life for his joys that had departed
forever. Thus one may look upon a body as not utterly dead while the
putrefaction lasts; while the forces that in vain seek to work by their
old appointment, still labor in dissevering the particles of that frame
which they once animated; and not till all is disunited and inert, till
we see the whole mouldered down into indifferent dust,--not till then
does there rise in us the mournful, vacant sentiment of death,--death,
not to be recalled, save by the breath of Him that lives forever.

In a temper so new, so entire, so full of love, there was much to tear
asunder, to desolate, to kill; and even the healing force of youth gave
nourishment and violence to the power of sorrow. The stroke had extended
to the roots of his whole existence. Werner, by necessity his confidant,
attacked the hated passion itself with fire and sword, resolutely
zealous to search into the monster's inmost life. The opportunity was
lucky, the evidence at hand, and many were the histories and narratives
with which he backed it out. With such unrelenting vehemence did he make
his advances, leaving his friend not even the respite of the smallest
momentary self-deception, but treading down every lurking-place in which
he might have saved himself from desperation, that Nature, not inclined
to let her darling perish utterly, visited him with sickness, to make an
outlet for him on the other side.

A violent fever, with its train of consequences, medicines,
overstraining, and exhaustion, besides the unwearied attentions of his
family, the love of his brothers and sisters, which first becomes truly
sensible in times of distress and want, were so many fresh occupations
to his mind, and thus formed a kind of painful entertainment. It was not
till he grew better, in other words, till his strength was exhausted,
that Wilhelm first looked down with horror into the gloomy abyss of a
barren misery, as one looks down into the hollow crater of an
extinguished volcano.

He now bitterly reproached himself, that, after so great a loss, he
could yet enjoy one painless, restful, indifferent moment. He despised
his own heart, and longed for the balm of tears and lamentation.

To awaken these again within him, he would recall to memory the scenes
of his by-gone happiness. He would paint them to his fancy in the
liveliest colors, transport himself again into the days when they were
real; and when standing on the highest elevation he could reach, when
the sunshine of past times again seemed to animate his limbs and heave
his bosom, he would look back into the fearful chasm, would feast his
eye on its dismembering depth, then plunge down into its horrors, and
thus force from nature the bitterest pains. With such repeated cruelty
did he tear himself in pieces; for youth, which is so rich in
undeveloped force, knows not what it squanders when, to the anguish
which a loss occasions, it adds so many sorrows of its own production,
as if it meant then first to give the right value to what is gone
forever. He likewise felt so convinced that his present loss was the
sole, the first, the last, he ever could experience in life, that he
turned away from every consolation which aimed at showing that his
sorrows might be less than endless.


Accustomed in this way to torment himself, he now also attacked what
still remained to him; what next to love, and along with it, had given
him the highest joys and hopes,--his talent as a poet and actor, with
spiteful criticisms on every side. In his labors he could see nothing
but a shallow imitation of prescribed forms, without intrinsic worth: he
looked on them as stiff school-exercises, destitute of any spark of
nature, truth, or inspiration. His poems now appeared nothing more than
a monotonous arrangement of syllables, in which the most trite emotions
and thoughts were dragged along and kept together by a miserable rhyme.
And thus did he also deprive himself of every expectation, every
pleasure, which on this quarter at least might have aided the recovery
of his peace.

With his theatric talent it fared no better. He blamed himself for not
having sooner detected the vanity on which alone this pretension had
been founded. His figure, his gait, his movements, his mode of
declamation, were severally taxed: he decisively renounced every species
of advantage or merit that might have raised him above the common run of
men, and so doing he increased his mute despair to the highest pitch.
For, if it is hard to give up a woman's love, no less painful is the
task to part from the fellowship of the Muses, to declare ourselves
forever undeserving to be of their community, and to forego the fairest
and most immediate kind of approbation, what is openly bestowed on our
person, our voice, and our demeanor.

Thus, then, our friend had long ago entirely resigned himself, and set
about devoting his powers with the greatest zeal to the business of
trade. To the surprise of friends, and to the great contentment of his
father, no one was now more diligent than Wilhelm, on the exchange or in
the counting-house, in the sale-room or the warehouses: correspondence
and calculations, all that was intrusted to his charge, he attended to
and managed with the greatest diligence and zeal. Not, in truth, with
that warm diligence which to the busy man is its own reward, when he
follows with constancy and order the employment he was born for, but
with the silent diligence of duty, which has the best principle for its
foundation; which is nourished by conviction, and rewarded by
conscience; yet which oft, even when the clearest testimony of our minds
is crowning it with approbation, can scarcely repress a struggling sigh.

In this manner he lived for a time, assiduously busied, and at last
persuaded that his former hard trial had been ordained by fate for the
best. He felt glad at having thus been timefully, though somewhat
harshly, warned about the proper path of life; while many are
constrained to expiate more heavily, and at a later age, the
misconceptions into which their youthful inexperience has betrayed them.
For each man commonly defends himself as long as possible from casting
out the idols which he worships in his soul, from acknowledging a master
error, and admitting any truth which brings him to despair.

Determined as he was to abandon his dearest projects, some time was
still necessary to convince him fully of his misfortune. At last,
however, he had so completely succeeded, by irrefragable reasons, in
annihilating every hope of love, or poetical performance, or stage
representation, that he took courage to obliterate entirely all the
traces of his folly,--all that could in any way remind him of it. For
this purpose he had lit a fire in his chamber, one cool evening, and
brought out a little chest of relics, among which were multitudes of
small articles, that, in memorable moments, he had begged or stolen from
Mariana. Each withered flower brought to his mind the time when it
bloomed fresh among her hair; each little note the happy hour to which
it had invited him; each ribbon-knot the lovely resting-place of his
head,--her beautiful bosom. So occupied, was it not to be expected that
each emotion which he thought long since quite dead, should again begin
to move? Was it not to be expected that the passion over which, when
separated from his mistress, he had gained the victory, should, in the
presence of these memorials, again gather strength? We first observe how
dreary and disagreeable an overclouded day is when a single sunbeam
pierces through, and offers to us the exhilarating splendor of a serene

Accordingly, it was not without disturbance that he saw these relics,
long preserved as sacred, fade away from before him in smoke and flame.
Sometimes he shuddered and hesitated in his task: he had still a pearl
necklace and a flowered neckerchief in his hands, when he resolved to
quicken the decaying fire with the poetical attempts of his youth.

Till now he had carefully laid up whatever had proceeded from his pen,
since the earliest unfolding of his mind. His papers yet lay tied up in
a bundle at the bottom of the chest, where he had packed them; purposing
to take them with him in his elopement. How altogether different were
his feelings now in opening them, and his feelings then in tying them

If we happen, under certain circumstances, to have written and sealed
and despatched a letter to a friend, which, however, does not find him,
but is brought back to us, and we open it at the distance of some
considerable time, a singular emotion is produced in us, on breaking up
our own seal, and conversing with our altered self as with a third
person. A similar and deep feeling seized our friend, as he now opened
this packet, and threw the scattered leaves into the fire; which was
flaming fiercely with its offerings, when Werner entered, expressed his
wonder at the blaze, and asked what was the matter.

"I am now giving proof," said Wilhelm, "that I am serious in abandoning
a trade for which I was not born." And, with these words, he cast the
second packet likewise into the fire. Werner made a motion to prevent
him, but the business was already done.

"I cannot see how thou shouldst bring thyself to such extremities," said
Werner. "Why must these labors, because they are not excellent, be

"Because either a poem is excellent, or it should not be allowed to
exist. Because each man who has no gift for producing first-rate works,
should entirely abstain from the pursuit of art, and seriously guard
himself against every deception on that subject. For it must be owned,
that in all men there is a certain vague desire to imitate whatever is
presented to them; and such desires do not prove at all that we possess
within us the force necessary for succeeding in these enterprises. Look
at boys, how, whenever any rope-dancers have been visiting the town,
they go scrambling up and down, and balancing on all the planks and
beams within their reach, till some other charm calls them off to other
sports, for which perhaps they are as little suited. Hast thou never
marked it in the circle of our friends? No sooner does a _dilettante_
introduce himself to notice, than numbers of them set themselves to
learn playing on his instrument. How many wander back and forward on
this bootless way! Happy they who soon detect the chasm that lies
between their wishes and their powers!"

Werner contradicted this opinion: their discussion became lively, and
Wilhelm could not without emotion employ against his friend the
arguments with which he had already so frequently tormented himself.
Werner maintained that it was not reasonable wholly to relinquish a
pursuit for which a man had some propensity and talent, merely because
he never could succeed in it to full perfection. There were many vacant
hours, he said, which might be filled up by it; and then by and by some
result might be produced which would yield a certain satisfaction to
himself and others.

Wilhelm, who in this matter was of quite a different opinion, here
interrupted him, and said with great vivacity,--

"How immensely, dear friend, do you err in believing that a work, the
first presentation of which is to fill the whole soul, can be produced
in broken hours scraped together from other extraneous employment. No:
the poet must live wholly for himself, wholly in the objects that
delight him. Heaven has furnished him internally with precious gifts; he
carries in his bosom a treasure that is ever of itself increasing; he
must also live with this treasure, undisturbed from without, in that
still blessedness which the rich seek in vain to purchase with their
accumulated stores. Look at men, how they struggle after happiness and
satisfaction! Their wishes, their toil, their gold, are ever hunting
restlessly,--and after what? After that which the poet has received from
nature,--the right enjoyment of the world, the feeling of himself in
others, the harmonious conjunction of many things that will seldom exist

"What is it that keeps men in continual discontent and agitation? It is,
that they cannot make realities correspond with their conceptions, that
enjoyment steals away from among their hands, that the wished-for comes
too late, and nothing reached and acquired produces on the heart the
effect which their longing for it at a distance led them to anticipate.
Now, fate has exalted the poet above all this, as if he were a god. He
views the conflicting tumult of the passions; sees families and kingdoms
raging in aimless commotion; sees those inexplicable enigmas of
misunderstanding, which frequently a single monosyllable would suffice
to explain, occasioning convulsions unutterably baleful. He has a
fellow-feeling of the mournful and the joyful in the fate of all human
beings. When the man of the world is devoting his days to wasting
melancholy, for some deep disappointment, or, in the ebullience of joy,
is going out to meet his happy destiny, the lightly moved and
all-conceiving spirit of the poet steps forth, like the sun from night
to day, and with soft transitions tunes his harp to joy or woe. From his
heart, its native soil, springs up the lovely flower of wisdom; and if
others, while waking, dream, and are pained with fantastic delusions
from their every sense, he passes the dream of life like one awake; and
the strangest of incidents is to him a part both of the past and of the
future. And thus the poet is at once a teacher, a prophet, a friend of
gods and men. What! thou wouldst have him descend from his height to
some paltry occupation! He who is fashioned like the bird to hover round
the world, to nestle on the lofty summits, to feed on buds and fruits,
exchanging gayly one bough for another, _he_ ought also to work at the
plough like an ox; like a dog to train himself to the harness and
draught; or perhaps, tied up in a chain, to guard a farmyard by his

Werner, it may well be supposed, had listened with the greatest
surprise. "All true," he rejoined, "if men were but made like birds,
and, though they neither spun nor weaved, could yet spend peaceful days
in perpetual enjoyment; if, at the approach of winter, they could as
easily betake themselves to distant regions, could retire before
scarcity, and fortify themselves against frost."

"Poets have lived so," exclaimed Wilhelm, "in times when true nobleness
was better reverenced; and so should they ever live! Sufficiently,
provided for within, they had need of little from without: the gift of
communicating lofty emotions and glorious images to men, in melodies and
words that charmed the ear, and fixed themselves inseparably on whatever
objects they referred to, of old enraptured the world, and served the
gifted as a rich inheritance. At the courts of kings, at the tables of
the great, beneath the windows of the fair, the sound of them was heard;
while the ear and the soul were shut for all beside: and men felt as we
do when delight comes over us, and we stop with rapture if, among the
dingles we are crossing, the voice of the nightingale starts out
touching and strong. They found a home in every habitation of the world,
and the lowliness of their condition but exalted them the more. The hero
listened to their songs, and the conqueror of the earth did reverence to
a poet; for he felt, that, without poets, his own wild and vast
existence would pass away like a whirlwind, and be forgotten forever.
The lover wished that he could feel his longings and his joys so
variedly and so harmoniously as the poet's inspired lips had skill to
show them forth; and even the rich man could not of himself discern such
costliness in his idol grandeurs, as when they were presented to him
shining in the splendor of the poet's spirit, sensible to all worth, and
exalting all. Nay, if thou wilt have it, who but the poet was it that
first formed gods for us, that exalted us to them, and brought them down
to us?"

"My friend," said Werner, after some reflection, "it has often grieved
me that thou shouldst strive by force to banish from thy soul what thou
feelest so vividly. I am greatly mistaken, if it were not better for
thee in some degree to yield to these propensities, than to waste
thyself by the contradictions of so hard a piece of self-denial, and
with the enjoyment of this one guiltless pleasure to renounce the
enjoyment of all others."

"Shall I confess it," said the other, "and wilt not thou laugh at me if
I acknowledge, that these ideas pursue me constantly; that, let me flee
from them as I will, when I explore my heart, I find all my early wishes
yet rooted there, firmly,--nay, more firmly than ever? Yet what now
remains for me, wretched as I am? Ah! whoever should have told me that
the arms of my spirit, with which I was grasping at infinity, and hoping
with certainty to clasp something great and glorious, would so soon be
crushed and smote in pieces,--whoever should have told me this, would
have brought me to despair. And yet now, when judgment has been passed
against me; now, when _she_, that was to be as my divinity to guide me
to my wishes, is gone forever,--what remains but that I yield up my soul
to the bitterest woes? O my brother! I will not deceive you: in my
secret purposes, she was as the hook on which the ladder of my hopes was
fixed. See! With daring aim the mountain adventurer hovers in the air:
the iron breaks, and he lies broken and dismembered on the earth. No,
there is no hope, no comfort for me more! I will not," he cried out,
springing to his feet, "leave a single fragment of these wretched papers
from the flames." He then seized one or two packets of them, tore them
up, and threw them into the fire. Werner endeavored to restrain him, but
in vain. "Let me alone!" cried Wilhelm: "what should these miserable
leaves do here? To me they give neither pleasant recollections nor
pleasant hopes. Shall they remain behind to vex me to the end of my
life? Shall they perhaps one day serve the world for a jest, instead of
awakening sympathy and horror? Woe to me! my doom is woe! Now I
comprehend the wailings of the poets, of the wretched whom necessity has
rendered wise. How long did I look upon myself as invulnerable and
invincible; and, alas! I am now made to see that a deep and early sorrow
can never heal, can never pass away: I feel that I shall take it with me
to my grave. No! not a day of my life shall escape this anguish, which
at last must crush me down; and _her_ image too shall stay with me,
shall live and die with me, the image of the worthless,--O my friend! if
I must speak the feeling of my heart,--the perhaps not altogether
worthless! Her situation, the crookedness of her destiny, have a
thousand times excused her in my mind. I have been too cruel; you
steeled me in your own cold unrelenting harshness; you held my wavering
senses captive, and hindered me from doing for myself and her what I
owed to both. Who knows to what a state I may have brought her! my
conscience by degrees presents to me, in all its heaviness, in what
helplessness, in what despair, I may have left her. Was it not possible
that she might clear herself? Was it not possible? How many
misconceptions throw the world into perplexity! how many circumstances
may extort forgiveness for the greatest fault! Often do I figure her as
sitting by herself in silence, leaning on her elbows. 'This,' she says,
'is the faith, the love, he swore to me! With this hard stroke to end
the delicious life which made us one!'" He broke out into a stream of
tears; while he threw himself down with his face upon the table, and
wetted the remaining papers with his weeping.

Werner stood beside him in the deepest perplexity. He had not
anticipated this fierce ebullition of feeling. More than once he had
tried to interrupt his friend, more than once to lead the conversation
elsewhere, but in vain: the current was too strong for him. It remained
that long-suffering friendship should again take up her office. Werner
allowed the first shock of sorrow to pass over, while by his silent
presence he testified a pure and honest sympathy. And thus they both
remained that evening,--Wilhelm sunk in the dull feeling of old sorrows;
and the other terrified at this new outbreaking of a passion which he
thought his prudent councils and keen persuasion had long since mastered
and destroyed.


After such relapses, Wilhelm usually applied himself to business and
activity with augmented ardor; and he found it the best means to escape
the labyrinth into which he had again been tempted to enter. His
attractive way of treating strangers, the ease with which he carried on
a correspondence in any living language, more and more increased the
hopes of his father and his trading-friends, and comforted them in their
sorrow for his sickness,--the origin of which had not been known,--and
for the pause which had thus interrupted their plan. They determined a
second time on Wilhelm's setting out to travel; and we now find him on
horseback, with his saddle-bags behind him, exhilarated by the motion
and the free air, approaching the mountains, where he had some affairs
to settle.

He winded slowly on his path, through dales and over hills, with a
feeling of the greatest satisfaction. Overhanging cliffs, roaring
brooks, moss-grown rocky walls, deep precipices, he here saw for the
first time; yet his earliest dreams of youth had wandered among such
regions. In these scenes he felt his age renewed; all the sorrows he had
undergone were obliterated from his soul; with unbroken cheerfulness he
repeated to himself passages of various poems, particularly of the
"Pastor Fido," which, in these solitary places, flocked in crowds into
his mind. He also recollected many pieces of his own songs, and recited
them with a peculiar contentment. He peopled the world which lay before
him with all the forms of the past, and each step into the future was to
him full of augury of important operations and remarkable events.

Several men, who came behind him in succession, and saluted him as they
passed by to continue their hasty way into the mountains, by steep
footpaths, sometimes interrupted his thoughts without attracting his
attention to themselves. At last a communicative traveller joined him,
and explained the reason of this general pilgrimage.

"At Hochdorf," he said, "there is a play to be acted to-night; and the
whole neighborhood is gathering to see it."

"What!" cried Wilhelm. "In these solitary hills, among these
impenetrable forests, has theatric art sought out a place, and built
herself a temple? And I am journeying to her festivities!"

"You will wonder more," said the other, "when you learn by whom the play
is to be acted. There is in the place a large manufactory, which employs
many people. The proprietor, who lives, so to speak, remote from all
human society, can find no better means of entertaining his workmen
during winter, than allowing them to act plays. He suffers no cards
among them, and wishes also to withdraw them from all coarse rustic
practices. Thus they pass the long evenings; and to-day, being the old
gentleman's birthday, they are giving a particular festival in honor of

Wilhelm came to Hochdorf, where he was to pass the night, and alighted
at the manufactory, the proprietor of which stood as a debtor in his

When he gave his name, the old man cried in a glad surprise, "Aye, sir,
are you the son of that worthy man to whom I owe so many thanks,--so
long have owed money? Your good father has had so much patience with me,
I should be a knave if I did not pay you speedily and cheerfully. You
come at the proper time to see that I am fully in earnest about it."

He then called out his wife, who seemed no less delighted than himself
to see the youth: she declared that he was very like his father, and
lamented, that, having such a multitude of guests already in the house,
she could not lodge him for the night.

The account was clear, and quickly settled: Wilhelm put the roll of gold
into his pocket, and wished that all his other business might go on so
smoothly. At last the play-hour came: they now waited nothing but the
coming of the head forester, who at length also arrived, entered with a
few hunters, and was received with the greatest reverence.

The company was then led into the playhouse, formed out of a barn that
lay close upon the garden. Without any extraordinary taste, both seats
and stage were yet decked out in a cheerful and pretty way. One of the
painters employed in the manufactory had formerly worked as an
understrapper at the prince's theatre: he had now represented woods and
streets and chambers, somewhat rudely, it is true, yet so as to be
recognized for such. The play itself they had borrowed from a strolling
company, and shaped it aright, according to their own ideas. As it was,
it did not fail to yield some entertainment. The plot of two lovers
wishing to carry off a girl from her guardian, and mutually from one
another, produced a great variety of interesting situations. Being the
first play our friend had witnessed for so long a time, it suggested
several reflections to him. It was full of action, but without any true
delineation of character. It pleased and delighted. Such are always the
beginnings of the scenic art. The rude man is contented if he see but
something going on; the man of more refinement must be made to feel; the
man entirely refined, desires to reflect.

The players he would willingly have helped here and there, for a very
little would have made them greatly better.

His silent meditations were somewhat broken in upon by the
tobacco-smoke, which now began to rise in great and greater copiousness.
Soon after the commencement of the play, the head forester had lit his
pipe: by and by others took the same liberty. The large dogs, too, which
followed these gentlemen, introduced themselves in no pleasant style. At
first they had been bolted out; but, soon finding the back-door passage,
they entered on the stage, ran against the actors, and at last, jumping
over the orchestra, joined their masters, who had taken up the front
seats in the pit.

For afterpiece an oblation was represented. A portrait of the old
gentleman in his bridegroom dress stood upon an altar, hung with
garlands. All the players paid their reverence to it in the most
submissive postures. The youngest child came forward dressed in white,
and made a speech in verse; by which the whole family, and even the head
forester himself, whom it brought in mind of his own children, were
melted into tears. Thus ended the play; and Wilhelm could not help
stepping on the stage, to have a closer view of the actresses, to praise
them for their good performance, and give them a little counsel for the

The remaining business, which our friend in the following days had to
transact in various quarters of the hill-country, was not all so
pleasant, or so easy to conclude with satisfaction. Many of his debtors
entreated for delay, many were uncourteous, many lied. In conformity
with his instructions, he had to sue some of them at law; he was thus
obliged to seek out advocates, and give instructions to them, to appear
before judges, and go through many other sorry duties of the same sort.

His case was hardly bettered when people chanced to incline showing some
attention to him. He found very few that could any way instruct him, few
with whom he could hope to establish a useful commercial correspondence.
Unhappily, moreover, the weather now grew rainy; and travelling on
horseback in this district came to be attended with insufferable
difficulties. He therefore thanked his stars on again getting near the
level country; and at the foot of the mountains, looking out into a
fertile and beautiful plain, intersected by a smooth-flowing river, and
seeing a cheerful little town lying on its banks, all glittering in the
sunshine, he resolved, though without any special business in the place,
to pass a day or two there, that he might refresh both himself and his
horse, which the bad roads had considerably injured.


On alighting at an inn, upon the market-place, he found matters going on
very joyously,--at least very stirringly. A large company of
rope-dancers, leapers, and jugglers, having a strong man along with
them, had just arrived with their wives and children, and, while
preparing for a grand exhibition, kept up a perpetual racket. They first
quarrelled with the landlord, then with one another; and, if their
contention was intolerable, the expressions of their satisfaction were
infinitely more so. Undetermined whether he should go or stay, he was
standing in the door looking at some workmen, who had just begun to
erect a stage in the middle of the square.

A girl with roses and other flowers for sale, coming by, held out her
basket to him, and he purchased a beautiful nosegay; which, like one
that had a taste for these things, he tied up in a different fashion,
and was looking at it with a satisfied air, when the window of another
inn on the opposite side of the square flew open, and a handsome woman
looked out from it. Notwithstanding the distance, he observed that her
face was animated by a pleasant cheerfulness; her fair hair fell
carelessly streaming about her neck; she seemed to be looking at the
stranger. In a short time afterwards, a boy with a white jacket, and a
barber's apron on, came out from the door of her house towards Wilhelm,
saluted him, and said, "The lady at the window bids me ask if you will
not favor her with a share of your beautiful flowers."--"They are all at
her service," answered Wilhelm, giving the nosegay to this nimble
messenger, and making a bow to the fair one, who returned it with a
friendly courtesy, and then withdrew from the window.

Amused with this small adventure, he was going up-stairs to his chamber,
when a young creature sprang against him, and attracted his attention. A
short silk waistcoat with slashed Spanish sleeves, tight trousers with
puffs, looked very pretty on the child. Its long black hair was curled,
and wound in locks and plaits about the head. He looked at the figure
with astonishment, and could not determine whether to take it for a boy
or a girl. However, he decided for the latter: and, as the child ran by,
he took her up in his arms, bade her good-day, and asked her to whom she
belonged; though he easily perceived that she must be a member of the
vaulting and dancing company lately arrived. She viewed him with a dark,
sharp side-look, as she pushed herself out of his arms, and ran into the
kitchen without making any answer.

On coming up-stairs, he found in the large parlor two men practising the
small sword, or seeming rather to make trial which was the better
fencer. One of them plainly enough belonged to the vaulting company: the
other had a somewhat less savage aspect. Wilhelm looked at them, and had
reason to admire them both; and as the black-bearded, sturdy contender
soon afterwards forsook the place of action, the other with extreme
complaisance offered Wilhelm the rapier.

"If you want to take a scholar under your inspection," said our friend,
"I am well content to risk a few passes with you."

Accordingly they fought together; and, although the stranger greatly
overmatched his new competitor, he politely kept declaring that it all
depended upon practice; in fact, Wilhelm, inferior as he was, had made
it evident that he had got his first instructions from a good, solid,
thorough-paced German fencing-master.

Their entertainment was disturbed by the uproar with which the
party-colored brotherhood issued from the inn, to make proclamation of
the show, and awaken a desire to see their art, throughout the town.
Preceded by a drum, the manager advanced on horseback: he was followed
by a female dancer mounted on a corresponding hack, and holding a child
before her, all bedizened with ribbons and spangles. Next came the
remainder of the troop on foot, some of them carrying children on their
shoulders in dangerous postures, yet smoothly and lightly: among these
the young, dark, black-haired figure again attracted Wilhelm's notice.

Pickleherring ran gayly up and down the crowded multitude, distributing
his handbills with much practical fun,--here smacking the lips of a
girl, there breeching a boy, and awakening generally among the people an
invincible desire to know more of him.

On the painted flags, the manifold science of the company was visibly
delineated, particularly of the Monsieur Narciss and the Demoiselle
Landrinette: both of whom, being main characters, had prudently kept
back from the procession, thereby to acquire a more dignified
consideration, and excite a greater curiosity.

During the procession, Wilhelm's fair neighbor had again appeared at the
window; and he did not fail to inquire about her of his new companion.
This person, whom for the present we shall call Laertes, offered to take
Wilhelm over and introduce him. "I and the lady," said he laughing, "are
two fragments of an acting company that made shipwreck here a short
while ago. The pleasantness of the place has induced us to stay in it,
and consume our little stock of cash in peace; while one of our friends
is out seeking some situation for himself and us."

Laertes immediately accompanied his new acquaintance to Philina's door;
where he left him for a moment, and ran to a shop hard by for a few
sweetmeats. "I am sure you will thank me," said he, on returning, "for
procuring you so pleasant an acquaintance."

The lady came out from her room, in a pair of tight little slippers with
high heels, to give them welcome. She had thrown a black mantle over
her, above a white _negligée_, not indeed superstitiously clean; which,
however, for that very reason, gave her a more frank and domestic air.
Her short dress did not hide a pair of the prettiest feet and ankles in
the world.

"You are welcome," she cried to Wilhelm, "and I thank you for your
charming flowers." She led him into her chamber with the one hand,
pressing the nosegay to her breast with the other. Being all seated, and
got into a pleasant train of general talk, to which she had the art of
giving a delightful turn, Laertes threw a handful of gingerbread-nuts
into her lap; and she immediately began to eat them.

"Look what a child this young gallant is!" she said: "he wants to
persuade you that I am fond of such confectionery, and it is himself
that cannot live without licking his lips over something of the kind."

"Let us confess," replied Laertes, "that in this point, as in others,
you and I go hand in hand. For example," he continued, "the weather is
delightful to-day: what if we should take a drive into the country, and
eat our dinner at the Mill?"

"With all my heart," said Philina: "we must give our new acquaintance
some diversion."

Laertes sprang out, for he never walked: and Wilhelm motioned to return
for a minute to his lodgings, to have his hair put in order; for at
present it was all dishevelled with riding. "You can do it here," she
said, then called her little servant, and constrained Wilhelm in the
politest manner to lay off his coat, to throw her powder-mantle over
him, and to have his head dressed in her presence. "We must lose no
time," said she: "who knows how short a while we may all be together?"

The boy, out of sulkiness and ill nature more than want of skill, went
on but indifferently with his task: he pulled the hair with his
implements, and seemed as if he would not soon be done. Philina more
than once reproved him for his blunders, and at last sharply packed him
off, and chased him to the door. She then undertook the business
herself, and frizzled Wilhelm's locks with great dexterity and grace;
though she, too, appeared to be in no exceeding haste, but found always
this and that to improve and put to rights; while at the same time she
could not help touching his knees with hers, and holding her nosegay and
bosom so near his lips, that he was strongly tempted more than once to
imprint a kiss on it.

When Wilhelm had cleaned his brow with a little powder-knife, she said
to him, "Put it in your pocket, and think of me when you see it." It was
a pretty knife: the haft, of inlaid steel, had these friendly words
wrought on it, "Think of me." Wilhelm put it up, and thanked her,
begging permission at the same time to make her a little present in

At last they were in readiness. Laertes had brought round the coach, and
they commenced a very gay excursion. To every beggar, Philina threw out
money from the window; giving along with it a merry and friendly word.

Scarcely had they reached the Mill, and ordered dinner, when a strain of
music struck up before the house. It was some miners singing various
pretty songs, and accompanying their clear and shrill voices with a
cithern and triangle. In a short while the gathering crowd had formed a
ring about them, and our company nodded approbation to them from the
windows. Observing this attention, they expanded their circle, and
seemed making preparation for their grandest piece. After some pause, a
miner stepped forward with a mattock in his hand; and, while the others
played a serious tune, he set himself to represent the action of

Ere long a peasant came from among the crowd, and, by pantomimic
threats, let the former know that he must cease and remove. Our company
were greatly surprised at this: they did not discover that the peasant
was a miner in disguise, till he opened his mouth, and, in a sort of
recitative, rebuked the other for daring to meddle with his field. The
latter did not lose his composure of mind, but began to inform the
husbandman about his right to break ground there; giving him withal some
primary conceptions of mineralogy. The peasant, not being master of his
foreign terminology, asked all manner of silly questions; whereat the
spectators, as themselves more knowing, set up many a hearty laugh. The
miner endeavored to instruct him, and showed him the advantage, which,
in the long-run, would reach even him, if the deep-lying treasures of
the land were dug out from their secret beds. The peasant, who at first
had threatened his instructor with blows, was gradually pacified; and
they parted good friends at last, though it was the miner chiefly that
got out of this contention with honor.

"In this little dialogue," said Wilhelm, when seated at the table, "we
have a lively proof how useful the theatre might be to all ranks; what
advantage even the state might procure from it, if the occupations,
trades, and undertakings of men were brought upon the stage, and
presented on their praiseworthy side, in that point of view in which the
state itself should honor and protect them. As matters stand, we exhibit
only the ridiculous side of men: the comic poet is, as it were, but a
spiteful tax-gatherer, who keeps a watchful eye over the errors of his
fellow-subjects, and seems gratified when he can fix any charge upon
them. Might it not be a worthy and pleasing task for a statesman to
survey the natural and reciprocal influence of all classes on each
other, and to guide some poet, gifted with sufficient humor, in such
labors as these? In this way, I am persuaded, many very entertaining,
both agreeable and useful, pieces, might be executed."

"So far," said Laertes, "as I, in wandering about the world, have been
able to observe, statesmen are accustomed merely to forbid, to hinder,
to refuse, but very rarely to invite, to further, to reward. They let
all things go along, till some mischief happens: then they get into a
rage, and lay about them."

"A truce with state and statesmen!" said Philina: "I cannot form a
notion of statesmen except in periwigs; and a periwig, wear it who will,
always gives my fingers a spasmodic motion: I could like to pluck it off
the venerable gentleman, to skip up and down the room with it, and laugh
at the bald head."

So, with a few lively songs, which she could sing very beautifully,
Philina cut short their conversation, and urged them to a quick return
homewards, that they might arrive in time for seeing the performance of
the rope-dancers in the evening. On the road back she continued her
lavish generosity, in a style of gayety reaching to extravagance; for at
last, every coin belonging to herself or her companions being spent,
she threw her straw hat from the window to a girl, and her neckerchief
to an old woman, who asked her for alms.

Philina invited both of her attendants to her own apartments, because,
she said, the spectacle could be seen more conveniently from her windows
than from theirs.

On arriving, they found the stage set up, and the background decked with
suspended carpets. The swing-boards were already fastened, the
slack-rope fixed to posts, the tight-rope bound over trestles. The
square was moderately filled with people, and the windows with
spectators of some quality.

Pickleherring, with a few insipidities, at which the lookers-on are
generally kind enough to laugh, first prepared the meeting to attention
and good-humor. Some children, whose bodies were made to exhibit the
strangest contortions, awakened astonishment or horror; and Wilhelm
could not, without the deepest sympathy, see the child he had at the
first glance felt an interest in, go through her fantastic positions
with considerable difficulty. But the merry tumblers soon changed the
feeling into that of lively satisfaction, when they first singly, then
in rows, and at last all together, vaulted up into the air, making
somersets backwards and forwards. A loud clapping of hands and a strong
huzza echoed from the whole assembly.

The general attention was next directed to quite a different object. The
children in succession had to mount the rope,--the learners first, that
by practising they might prolong the spectacle, and show the
difficulties of the art more clearly. Some men and full-grown women
likewise exhibited their skill to moderate advantage; but still there
was no Monsieur Narciss, no Demoiselle Landrinette.

At last this worthy pair came forth: they issued from a kind of tent
with red spread curtains, and, by their agreeable forms and glittering
decorations, fulfilled the hitherto increasing hopes of the spectators.
He, a hearty knave, of middle stature, with black eyes and a strong head
of hair; she, formed with not inferior symmetry,--exhibited themselves
successively upon the rope, with delicate movements, leaping, and
singular postures. Her airy lightness, his audacity; the exactitude with
which they both performed their feats of art,--raised the universal
satisfaction higher at every step and spring. The stateliness with which
they bore themselves, the seeming attentions of the rest to them, gave
them the appearance of king and queen of the whole troop; and all held
them worthy of the rank.

The animation of the people spread to the spectators at the windows: the
ladies looked incessantly at Narciss, the gentlemen at Landrinette. The
populace hurrahed, the more cultivated public could not keep from
clapping of the hands: Pickleherring now could scarcely raise a laugh. A
few, however, slunk away when some members of the troop began to press
through the crowd with their tin plates to collect money.

"They have made their purpose good, I imagine," said Wilhelm to Philina,
who was leaning over the window beside him. "I admire the ingenuity with
which they have turned to advantage even the meanest parts of their
performance: out of the unskilfulness of their children, and
exquisiteness of their chief actors, they have made up a whole which at
first excited our attention, and then gave us very fine entertainment."

The people by degrees dispersed; and the square was again become empty,
while Philina and Laertes were disputing about the forms and the skill
of Narciss and Landrinette, and rallying each other on the subject at
great length. Wilhelm noticed the wonderful child standing on the street
near some other children at play: he showed her to Philina, who, in her
lively way, immediately called and beckoned to the little one, and, this
not succeeding, tripped singing down stairs, and led her up by the hand.

"Here is the enigma," said she, as she brought her to the door. The
child stood upon the threshold, as if she meant again to run off; laid
her right hand on her breast, the left on her brow, and bowed deeply.
"Fear nothing, my little dear," said Wilhelm, rising, and going towards
her. She viewed him with a doubting look, and came a few steps nearer.

"What is thy name?" he asked. "They call me Mignon."--"How old art
thou?"--"No one has counted."--"Who was thy father?"--"The Great Devil
is dead."

"Well! this is singular enough," said Philina. They asked her a few more
questions: she gave her answers in a kind of broken German, and with a
strangely solemn manner; every time laying her hands on her breast and
brow, and bowing deeply.

Wilhelm could not satisfy himself with looking at her. His eyes and his
heart were irresistibly attracted by the mysterious condition of this
being. He reckoned her about twelve or thirteen years of age: her body
was well formed, only her limbs gave promise of a stronger growth, or
else announced a stunted one. Her countenance was not regular, but
striking; her brow full of mystery; her nose extremely beautiful; her
mouth, although it seemed too closely shut for one of her age, and
though she often threw it to a side, had yet an air of frankness, and
was very lovely. Her brownish complexion could scarcely be discerned
through the paint. This form stamped itself deeply in Wilhelm's soul: he
kept looking at her earnestly, and forgot the present scene in the
multitude of his reflections. Philina waked him from his half-dream, by
holding out the remainder of her sweetmeats to the child, and giving her
a sign to go away. She made her little bow as formerly, and darted like
lightning through the door.

As the time drew on when our new friends had to part for the evening,
they planned a fresh excursion for the morrow. They purposed now to have
their dinner at a neighboring _Jägerhaus_. Before taking leave of
Laertes, Wilhelm said many things in Philina's praise, to which the
other made only brief and careless answers.

Next morning, having once more exercised themselves in fencing for an
hour, they went over to Philina's lodging, towards which they had seen
their expected coach passing by. But how surprised was Wilhelm, when the
coach seemed altogether to have vanished; and how much more so, when
Philina was not to be found at home! She had placed herself in the
carriage, they were told, with a couple of strangers who had come that
morning, and was gone with them. Wilhelm had been promising himself some
pleasant entertainment from her company, and could not hide his
irritation. Laertes, on the other hand, but laughed at it, and cried, "I
love her for this: it looks so like herself! Let us, however, go
directly to the _Jägerhaus_: be Philina where she pleases, we will not
lose our promenade on her account."

As Wilhelm, while they walked, continued censuring the inconsistency of
such conduct, Laertes said, "I cannot reckon it inconsistent so long as
one keeps faithful to his character. If this Philina plans you any
thing, or promises you any thing, she does it under the tacit condition
that it shall be quite convenient for her to fulfil her plan, to keep
her promise. She gives willingly, but you must ever hold yourself in
readiness to return her gifts."

"That seems a singular character," said Wilhelm.

"Any thing but singular: only she is not a hypocrite. I like her on that
account. Yes: I am her friend, because she represents the sex so truly,
which I have so much cause to hate. To me she is another genuine Eve,
the great mother of womankind: so are they all, only they will not all
confess it."

With abundance of such talk, in which Laertes very vehemently exhibited
his spleen against the fair sex, without, however, giving any cause for
it, they arrived at the forest; into which Wilhelm entered in no joyful
mood, the speeches of Laertes having again revived in him the memory of
his relation to Mariana. Not far from a shady well, among some old and
noble trees, they found Philina sitting by herself at a stone table.
Seeing them, she struck up a merry song; and, when Laertes asked for her
companions, she cried out, "I have already cozened them: I have already
had my laugh at them, and sent them a-travelling, as they deserved. By
the way hither I had put to proof their liberality; and, finding that
they were a couple of your close-fisted gentry, I immediately determined
to have amends of them. On arriving at the inn, they asked the waiter
what was to be had. He, with his customary glibness of tongue, reckoned
over all that could be found in the house, and more than could be found.
I noticed their perplexity: they looked at one another, stammered, and
inquired about the cost. "What is the use of all this studying?" said I.
"The table is the lady's business: allow me to manage it." I immediately
began ordering a most unconscionable dinner, for which many necessary
articles would require to be sent for from the neighborhood. The waiter,
of whom, by a wry mouth or two, I had made a confidant, at last helped
me out; and so, by the image of a sumptuous feast, we tortured them to
such a degree that they fairly determined on having a walk in the
forest, from which I imagine we shall look with clear eyes if we see
them come again. I have laughed a quarter of an hour for my own behoof;
I shall laugh forever when I think of the looks they had." At table,
Laertes told of similar adventures: they got into the track of
recounting ludicrous stories, mistakes, and dexterous cheats.

A young man of their acquaintance, from the town, came gliding through
the wood with a book in his hand: he sat down by them, and began
praising the beauty of the place. He directed their attention to the
murmuring of the brook, to the waving of the boughs, to the checkered
lights and shadows, and the music of the birds. Philina commenced a
little song of the cuckoo, which did not seem at all to exhilarate the
man of taste: he very soon made his compliments, and went on.

"Oh that I might never hear more of nature, and scenes of nature!" cried
Philina, so soon as he was gone: "there is nothing in the world more
intolerable than to hear people reckon up the pleasures you enjoy. When
the day is bright you go to walk, as to dance when you hear a tune
played. But who would think a moment on the music or the weather? It is
the dancer that interests us, not the violin; and to look upon a pair of
bright black eyes is the life of a pair of blue ones. But what on earth
have we to do with wells and brooks, and old rotten lindens?" She was
sitting opposite to Wilhelm; and, while speaking so, she looked into his
eyes with a glance which he could not hinder from piercing at least to
the very door of his heart.

"You are right," replied he, not without embarrassment: "man is ever the
most interesting object to man, and perhaps should be the only one that
interests. Whatever else surrounds us is but the element in which we
live, or else the instrument which we employ. The more we devote
ourselves to such things, the more we attend to and feel concern in
them, the weaker will our sense of our own dignity become, the weaker
our feelings for society. Men who put a great value on gardens,
buildings, clothes, ornaments, or any other sort of property, grow less
social and pleasant: they lose sight of their brethren, whom very few
can succeed in collecting about them and entertaining. Have you not
observed it on the stage? A good actor makes us very soon forget the
awkwardness and meanness of paltry decorations, but a splendid theatre
is the very thing which first makes us truly feel the want of proper

After dinner Philina sat down among the long, overshaded grass, and
commanded both her friends to fetch her flowers in great quantities. She
wreathed a complete garland, and put it round her head: it made her look
extremely charming. The flowers were still sufficient for another: this,
too, she plaited, while both the young men sat beside her. When, at
last, amid infinite mirth and sportfulness, it was completed, she
pressed it on Wilhelm's head with the greatest dignity, and shifted the
posture of it more than once, till it seemed to her properly adjusted.
"And I, it appears, must go empty," said Laertes.

"Not by any means: you shall not have reason to complain," replied
Philina, taking off the garland from her own head, and putting it on

"If we were rivals," said Laertes, "we might now dispute very warmly
which of us stood higher in thy favor."

"And the more fools you," said she, while she bent herself towards him,
and offered him her lips to kiss; and then immediately turned round,
threw her arm about Wilhelm, and bestowed a kind salute on him also.
"Which of them tastes best?" said she archly.

"Surprisingly!" exclaimed Laertes: "it seems as if nothing else had ever
such a tang of wormwood in it."

"As little wormwood," she replied, "as any gift that a man may enjoy
without envy and without conceit. But now," cried she, "I should like to
have an hour's dancing; and after that we must look to our vaulters."

Accordingly, they went into the house, and there found music in
readiness. Philina was a beautiful dancer: she animated both her
companions. Nor was Wilhelm without skill; but he wanted careful
practice, a defect which his two friends voluntarily took charge of

In these amusements the time passed on insensibly. It was already late
when they returned. The rope-dancers had commenced their operations. A
multitude of people had again assembled in the square; and our friends,
on alighting, were struck by the appearance of a tumult in the crowd,
occasioned by a throng of men rushing towards the door of the inn, which
Wilhelm had now turned his face to. He sprang forward to see what it
was; and, pressing through the people, he was struck with horror to
observe the master of the rope-dancing company dragging poor Mignon by
the hair out of the house, and unmercifully beating her little body with
the handle of a whip.

Wilhelm darted on the man like lightning, and seized him by the collar.
"Quit the child!" he cried, in a furious tone, "or one of us shall never
leave this spot!" and, so speaking, he grasped the fellow by the throat
with a force which only rage could have lent him. The showman, on the
point of choking, let go the child, and endeavored to defend himself
against his new assailant. But some people, who had felt compassion for
Mignon, yet had not dared to begin a quarrel for her, now laid hold of
the rope-dancer, wrenched his whip away, and threatened him with great
fierceness and abuse. Being now reduced to the weapons of his mouth, he
began bullying, and cursing horribly. The lazy, worthless urchin, he
said, would not do her duty; refused to perform the egg-dance, which he
had promised to the public; he would beat her to death, and no one
should hinder him. He tried to get loose, and seek the child, who had
crept away among the crowd. Wilhelm held him back, and said sternly,
"You shall neither see nor touch her, till you have explained before a
magistrate where you stole her. I will pursue you to every extremity.
You shall not escape me." These words, which Wilhelm uttered in heat,
without thought or purpose, out of some vague feeling, or, if you will,
out of inspiration, soon brought the raging showman to composure. "What
have I to do with the useless brat?" cried he. "Pay me what her clothes
cost, and make of her what you please. We shall settle it to-night."
And, being liberated, he made haste to resume his interrupted
operations, and to calm the irritation of the public by some striking
displays of his craft.

As soon as all was still again, Wilhelm commenced a search for Mignon,
whom, however, he could nowhere find. Some said they had seen her on the
street, others on the roofs of the adjoining houses; but, after seeking
unsuccessfully in all quarters, he was forced to content himself, and
wait to see if she would not again turn up of herself.

In the mean time, Narciss had come into the house; and Wilhelm set to
question him about the birthplace and history of the child. Monsieur
Narciss knew nothing about these things, for he had not long been in the
company; but in return he recited, with much volubility and levity,
various particulars of his own fortune. Upon Wilhelm's wishing him joy
of the great approbation he had gained, Narciss expressed himself as if
exceedingly indifferent on that point. "People laugh at us," he said,
"and admire our feats of skill; but their admiration does nothing for
us. The master has to pay us, and may raise the funds where he pleases."
He then took his leave, and was setting off in great haste.

At the question, whither he was bent so fast, the dog gave a smile, and
admitted that his figure and talents had acquired for him a more solid
species of favor than the huzzaing of the multitude. He had been invited
by some young ladies, who desired much to become acquainted with him;
and he was afraid it would be midnight before he could get all his
visits over. He proceeded with the greatest candor to detail his
adventures. He would have given the names of his patronesses, their
streets and houses, had not Wilhelm waived such indiscretion, and
politely dismissed him.

Laertes had meanwhile been entertaining Landrinette: he declared that
she was fully worthy to be and to remain a woman.

Our friend next proceeded to his bargain with the showman for Mignon.
Thirty crowns was the price set upon her; and for this sum the
black-bearded, hot Italian entirely surrendered all his claims: but of
her history or parentage he would discover nothing, only that she had
fallen into his hands at the death of his brother, who, by reason of his
admirable skill, had usually been named the "Great Devil."

Next morning was chiefly spent in searching for the child. It was in
vain that they rummaged every hole and corner of the house and
neighborhood: the child had vanished; and Wilhelm was afraid she might
have leaped into some pool of water, or destroyed herself in some other

Philina's charms could not divert his inquietude. He passed a dreary,
thoughtful day. Nor at evening could the utmost efforts of the tumblers
and dancers, exerting all their powers to gratify the public, divert the
current of his thoughts, or clear away the clouds from his mind.

By the concourse of people flocking from all places round, the numbers
had greatly increased on this occasion: the general approbation was like
a snowball rolling itself into a monstrous size. The feat of leaping
over swords, and through the cask with paper ends, made a great

The strong man, too, produced a universal feeling of mingled
astonishment and horror, when he laid his head and feet on a couple of
separate stools, and then allowed some sturdy smiths to place a stithy
on the unsupported part of his body, and hammer a horseshoe till it was
completely made by means of it.

The Hercules' Strength, as they called it, was a no less wonderful
affair. A row of men stood up; then another row, upon their shoulders;
then women and young lads, supported in like manner on the second row;
so that finally a living pyramid was formed; the peak being ornamented
by a child, placed on its head, and dressed out in the shape of a ball
and weather-vane. Such a sight, never witnessed in those parts before,
gave a worthy termination to the whole performance. Narciss and
Landrinette were then borne in litters, on the shoulders of the rest,
along the chief streets of the town, amid the triumphant shouts of the
people. Ribbons, nosegays, silks, were thrown upon them: all pressed to
get a sight of them. Each thought himself happy if he could behold them,
and be honored with a look of theirs.

"What actor, what author, nay, what man of any class, would not regard
himself as on the summit of his wishes, could he, by a noble saying or a
worthy action, produce so universal an impression? What a precious
emotion would it give, if one could disseminate generous, exalted, manly
feelings with electric force and speed, and rouse assembled thousands
into such rapture, as these people, by their bodily alertness, have
done! If one could communicate to thronging multitudes a fellow-feeling
in all that belongs to man, by the portraying of happiness and misery,
of wisdom and folly, nay, of absurdity and silliness; could kindle and
thrill their inmost souls, and set their stagnant nature into movement,
free, vehement, and pure!" So said our friend; and, as neither Laertes
nor Philina showed any disposition to take part in such a strain, he
entertained himself with these darling speculations, walking up and down
the streets till late at night, and again pursuing, with all the force
and vivacity of a liberated imagination, his old desire to have all that
was good and noble and great embodied and shown forth by the theatric


Next morning, the rope-dancers, not without much parade and bustle,
having gone away, Mignon immediately appeared, and came into the parlor
as Wilhelm and Laertes were busy fencing. "Where hast thou been hid?"
said Wilhelm, in a friendly tone. "Thou hast given us a great deal of
anxiety." The child looked at him, and answered nothing. "Thou art ours
now," cried Laertes: "we have bought thee."--"For how much?" inquired
the child quite coolly. "For a hundred ducats," said the other: "pay
them again, and thou art free."--"Is that very much?" she asked. "Oh,
yes! thou must now be a good child."--"I will try," she said.

From that moment she observed strictly what services the waiter had to
do for both her friends; and, after next day, she would not any more let
him enter the room. She persisted in doing every thing herself, and
accordingly went through her duties, slowly, indeed, and sometimes
awkwardly, yet completely, and with the greatest care.

She was frequently observed going to a basin of water, and washing her
face with such diligence and violence, that she almost wore the skin
from her cheeks; till Laertes, by dint of questions and reproofs,
learned that she was striving by all means to get the paint from her
skin, and that, in her zealous endeavors towards this object, she had
mistaken the redness produced by rubbing for the most obdurate dye. They
set her right on this point, and she ceased her efforts; after which,
having come again to her natural state, she exhibited a fine brown
complexion, beautiful, though sparingly intermingled with red.

The siren charms of Philina, the mysterious presence of the child,
produced more impression on our friend than he liked to confess:
he passed several days in that strange society, endeavoring to
elude self-reproaches by a diligent practice of fencing and
dancing,--accomplishments which he believed might not again be put
within his reach so conveniently.

It was with great surprise, and not without a certain satisfaction, that
he one day observed Herr Melina and his wife alight at the inn. After
the first glad salutation, they inquired about "the lady-manager and the
other actors," and learned, with astonishment and terror, that the
lady-manager had long since gone away, and her actors, to a very few,
dispersed themselves about the country.

This couple, subsequently to their marriage, in which, as we know, our
friend did his best to serve them, had been travelling about in various
quarters, seeking an engagement, without finding any, and had at last
been directed to this little town by some persons who met them on their
journey, and said there was a good theatre in the place.

Melina by no means pleased the lively Laertes, when introduced to him,
any more than his wife did Philina. Both heartily wished to be rid of
these new-comers; and Wilhelm could inspire them with no favorable
feelings on the subject, though he more than once assured them that the
Melinas were very worthy people.

Indeed, the previous merry life of our three adventurers was interfered
with by this extension of their society, in more ways than one. Melina
had taken up his quarters in the inn where Philina staid, and he very
soon began a system of cheapening and higgling. He would have better
lodging, more sumptuous diet, and readier attendance, for a smaller
charge. In a short while, the landlord and waiter showed very rueful
looks; for whereas the others, to get pleasantly along, had expressed no
discontent with any thing, and paid instantly, that they might avoid
thinking longer of payment, Melina now insisted on regulating every
meal, and investigating its contents beforehand,--a species of service
for which Philina named him, without scruple, a ruminating animal.

Yet more did the merry girl hate Melina's wife. Frau Melina was a young
woman not without culture, but wofully defective in soul and spirit. She
could declaim not badly, and kept declaiming constantly; but it was easy
to observe that her performances were little more than recitations of
words. She labored a few detached passages, but never could express the
feeling of the whole. Withal, however, she was seldom disagreeable to
any one, especially to men. On the contrary, people who enjoyed her
acquaintance commonly ascribed to her a fine understanding; for she was
what might be called a kind of _spiritual chameleon_, or _taker-on_. Any
friend whose favor she had need of she could flatter with peculiar
adroitness, could give in to his ideas so long as she could understand
them, and, when they went beyond her own horizon, could hail with
ecstasy such new and brilliant visions. She understood well when to
speak and when to keep silence; and, though her disposition was not
spiteful, she could spy out with great expertness where another's weak
side lay.


Melina, in the mean time, had been making strict inquiry about the
wrecks of the late theatrical establishment. The wardrobe, as well as
decorations, had been pawned with some traders; and a notary had been
empowered, under certain conditions, to dispose of them by sale, should
purchasers occur. Melina wished to see this ware, and he took Wilhelm
with him. No sooner was the room opened, than our friend felt towards
its contents a kind of inclination, which he would not confess to
himself. Sad as was the state of the blotched and tarnished decorations;
little showy as the Turkish and pagan garments, the old farce-coats for
men and women, the cowls for enchanters, priests, and Jews, might
be,--he was not able to exclude the feeling, that the happiest moments
of his life had been spent in a similar magazine of frippery. Could
Melina have seen into his heart, he would have urged him more pressingly
to lay out a sum of money in liberating these scattered fragments, in
furbishing them up, and again combining them into a beautiful whole.
"What a happy man could I be," cried Melina, "had I but two hundred
crowns, to get into my hands, for a beginning, these fundamental
necessaries of a theatre! How soon should I get up a little playhouse,
that would draw contributions from the town and neighborhood, and
maintain us all!" Wilhelm was silent. They left these treasures of the
stage to be again locked up, and both went away in a reflective mood.

Thenceforth Melina talked of nothing else but projects and plans for
setting up a theatre, and gaining profit by it. He tried to interest
Philina and Laertes in his schemes; and proposals were made to Wilhelm
about advancing money, and taking them as his security. On this
occasion, Wilhelm first clearly perceived that he was lingering too long
here: he excused himself, and set about making preparations for

In the mean time, Mignon's form, and manner of existence, were growing
more attractive to him every day. In her whole system of proceedings
there was something very singular. She never walked up or down the
stairs, but jumped. She would spring along by the railing, and before
you were aware would be sitting quietly above upon the landing. Wilhelm
had observed, also, that she had a different sort of salutation for each
individual. For himself, it had of late been with her arms crossed upon
her breast. Often for the whole day she was mute. At times she answered
various questions more freely, yet always strangely: so that you could
not determine whether it was caused by shrewd sense, or ignorance of the
language; for she spoke in broken German interlaced with French and
Italian. In Wilhelm's service she was indefatigable, and up before the
sun. On the other hand, she vanished early in the evening, went to
sleep in a little room upon the bare floor, and could not by any means
be induced to take a bed or even a _paillasse_. He often found her
washing herself. Her clothes, too, were kept scrupulously clean; though
nearly all about her was quilted two or three plies thick. Wilhelm was
moreover told, that she went every morning early to hear mass. He
followed her on one occasion, and saw her kneeling down with a rosary in
a corner of the church, and praying devoutly. She did not observe him;
and he returned home, forming many a conjecture about this appearance,
yet unable to arrive at any probable conclusion.

A new application from Melina for a sum of money to redeem the
often-mentioned stage apparatus caused Wilhelm to think more seriously
than ever about setting off. He proposed writing to his people, who for
a long time had heard no tidings of him, by the very earliest post. He
accordingly commenced a letter to Werner, and had advanced a
considerable way with the history of his adventures, in recounting which
he had more than once unintentionally swerved a little from the truth,
when, to his vexation and surprise, he observed, upon the back of his
sheet, some verses which he had been copying from his album for Madam
Melina. Out of humor at this mistake, he tore the paper in pieces, and
put off repeating his confession till the next post-day.


Our party was now again collected; and Philina, who always kept a sharp
lookout on every horse or carriage that passed by, exclaimed with great
eagerness, "Our Pedant! Here comes our dearest Pedant! Who the deuce is
it he has with him?" Speaking thus, she beckoned at the window; and the
vehicle drew up.

A woful-looking genius, whom by his shabby coat of grayish brown, and
his ill-conditioned lower garments, you must have taken for some
unprosperous preceptor, of the sort that moulder in our universities,
now descended from the carriage, and, taking off his hat to salute
Philina, discovered an ill-powdered, but yet very stiff, periwig; while
Philina threw a hundred kisses of the hand towards him.

As Philina's chief enjoyment lay in loving one class of men, and being
loved by them; so there was a second and hardly inferior satisfaction,
wherewith she entertained herself as frequently as possible; and this
consisted in hoodwinking and passing jokes upon the other class, whom at
such moments she happened not to love,--all which she could accomplish
in a very sprightly style.

Amid the flourish which she made in receiving this old friend, no
attention was bestowed upon the rest who followed him. Yet among the
party were an oldish man and two young girls, whom Wilhelm thought he
knew. Accordingly it turned out, that he had often seen them all, some
years ago, in a company then playing in his native town. The daughters
had grown since that period: the old man was a little altered. He
commonly enacted those good-hearted, boisterous old gentlemen, whom the
German theatre is never without, and whom, in common life, one also
frequently enough falls in with. For as it is the character of our
countrymen to do good, and cause it, without pomp or circumstance; so
they seldom consider that there is likewise a mode of doing what is
right with grace and dignity: more frequently, indeed, they yield to the
spirit of contradiction, and fall into the error of deforming their
dearest virtue by a surly mode of putting it in practice.

Such parts our actor could play very well; and he played them so often
and exclusively, that he had himself taken up the same turn of
proceeding in his ordinary life.

On recognizing him, Wilhelm was seized with a strong commotion; for he
recollected how often he had seen this man on the stage with his beloved
Mariana: he still heard him scolding, still heard the small, soothing
voice, with which in many characters she had to meet his rugged temper.

The first anxious question put to the strangers,--Whether they had heard
of any situation in their travels?--was answered, alas, with No! and, to
complete the information, it was further added, that all the companies
they had fallen in with were not only supplied with actors, but many of
them were afraid lest, on account of the approaching war, they should be
forced to separate. Old Boisterous, with his daughters, moved by spleen
and love of change, had given up an advantageous engagement: then,
meeting with the Pedant by the way, they had hired a carriage to come
hither; where, as they found, good counsel was still dear, needful to
have, and difficult to get.

The time while the rest were talking very keenly of their circumstances,
Wilhelm spent in thought. He longed to speak in private with the old
man: he wished and feared to hear of Mariana, and felt the greatest

The pretty looks of the stranger damsels could not call him from his
dream; but a war of words, which now arose, awakened his attention. It
was Friedrich, the fair-haired boy who used to attend Philina,
stubbornly refusing, on this occasion, to cover the table and bring up
dinner. "I engaged to serve you," he cried, "but not to wait on
everybody." They fell into a hot contest. Philina insisted that he
should do his duty; and, as he obstinately refused, she told him plainly
he might go about his business.

"You think, perhaps, I cannot leave you!" cried he sturdily, then went
to pack up his bundle, and soon hastily quitted the house.

"Go, Mignon," said Philina, "and get us what we want; tell the waiter,
and help him to attend us."

Mignon came before Wilhelm, and asked in her laconic way, "Shall I? May
I?" To which Wilhelm answered, "Do all the lady bids thee, child."

She accordingly took charge of every thing, and waited on the guests the
whole evening, with the utmost carefulness. After dinner, Wilhelm
proposed to have a walk with the old man alone. Succeeding in this,
after many questions about his late wanderings, the conversation turned
upon the former company; and Wilhelm hazarded a question touching

"Do not speak to me of that despicable creature!" cried the old man: "I
have sworn to think of her no more." Terrified at this speech, Wilhelm
felt still more embarrassed, as the old man proceeded to vituperate her
fickleness and wantonness. Most gladly would our friend have broken off
the conversation, but now it was impossible: he was obliged to undergo
the whole tumultuous effusions of this strange old gentleman.

"I am ashamed," continued he, "that I felt such a friendship for her.
Yet, had you known the girl better, you would excuse me. She was so
pretty, so natural and good, so pleasing, in every sense so tolerable, I
could never have supposed that ingratitude and impudence were to prove
the chief features of her character."

Wilhelm had nerved himself to hear the worst of her; when all at once he
observed, with astonishment, that the old man's tones grew milder, his
voice faltered, and he took out his handkerchief to dry the tears, which
at last began to trickle down his cheeks.

"What is the matter with you?" cried Wilhelm. "What is it that suddenly
so changes the current of your feelings? Conceal it not from me. I take
a deeper interest in the fate of this girl than you suppose. Only tell
me all."

"I have not much to say," replied the old man, again taking up his
earnest, angry tone. "I have suffered more from her than I shall ever
forgive. She had always a kind of trust in me. I loved her as my own
daughter; indeed, while my wife lived, I had formed a resolution to take
the creature to my own house, and save her from the hands of that old
crone, from whose guidance I boded no good. But my wife died, and the
project went to nothing.

"About the end of our stay in your native town,--it is not quite three
years ago,--I noticed a visible sadness about her. I questioned her,
but she evaded me. At last we set out on our journey. She travelled in
the same coach with me; and I soon observed, what she herself did not
long deny, that she was with child, and suffering the greatest terror
lest our manager might turn her off. In fact, in a short while he did
make the discovery; immediately threw up her contract, which at any rate
was only for six weeks; paid off her arrears; and, in spite of all
entreaties, left her behind, in the miserable inn of a little village.

"Devil take all wanton jilts!" cried the old man, with a splenetic tone,
"and especially this one, that has spoiled me so many hours of my life!
Why should I keep talking how I myself took charge of her, what I did
for her, what I spent on her, how in absence I provided for her? I would
rather throw my purse into the ditch, and spend my time in nursing mangy
whelps, than ever more bestow the smallest care on such a thing. Pshaw!
At first I got letters of thanks, notice of places she was staying at;
and, finally, no word at all,--not even an acknowledgment for the money
I had sent to pay the expenses of her lying-in. Oh! the treachery and
the fickleness of women are rightly matched, to get a comfortable living
for themselves, and to give an honest fellow many heavy hours."


Wilhelm's feelings, on returning home after this conversation, may be
easily conceived. All his old wounds had been torn up afresh, and the
sentiment that Mariana was not wholly unworthy of his love had again
been brought to life. The interest the old man had shown about her fate,
the praises he gave her against his will, displayed her again in all her
attractiveness. Nay, even the bitter accusations brought against her
contained nothing that could lower her in Wilhelm's estimation; for he,
as well as she, was guilty in all her aberrations. Nor did even her
final silence seem greatly blamable: it rather inspired him with
mournful thoughts. He saw her as a frail, ill-succored mother, wandering
helplessly about the world,--wandering, perhaps, with his own child.
What he knew, and what he knew not, awoke in him the painfullest

Mignon had been waiting for him: she lighted him up stairs. On setting
down the light, she begged he would allow her, that evening, to
compliment him with a piece of her art. He would rather have declined
this, particularly as he knew not what it was; but he had not the heart
to refuse any thing this kind creature wished. After a little while she
again came in. She carried below her arm a little carpet, which she then
spread out upon the floor. Wilhelm said she might proceed. She thereupon
brought four candles, and placed one upon each corner of the carpet. A
little basket of eggs, which she next carried in, made her purpose
clearer. Carefully measuring her steps, she then walked to and fro on
the carpet, spreading out the eggs in certain figures and positions;
which done, she called in a man that was waiting in the house, and could
play on the violin. He retired with his instrument into a corner: she
tied a band about her eyes, gave a signal; and, like a piece of
wheel-work set a-going, she began moving the same instant as the music,
accompanying her beats and the notes of the tune with the strokes of a
pair of castanets.

Lightly, nimbly, quickly, and with hair's-breadth accuracy, she carried
on the dance. She skipped so sharply and surely along between the eggs,
and trod so closely down beside them, that you would have thought every
instant she must trample one of them in pieces, or kick the rest away in
her rapid turns. By no means! She touched no one of them, though
winding herself through their mazes with all kinds of steps, wide and
narrow, nay, even with leaps, and at last half kneeling.

Constant as the movement of a clock, she ran her course; and the strange
music, at each repetition of the tune, gave a new impulse to the dance,
recommencing and again rushing off as at first. Wilhelm was quite led
away by this singular spectacle; he forgot his cares; he followed every
movement of the dear little creature, and felt surprised to see how
finely her character unfolded itself as she proceeded in the dance.

Rigid, sharp, cold, vehement, and in soft postures, stately rather than
attractive,--such was the light in which it showed her. At this moment
he experienced at once all the emotions he had ever felt for Mignon. He
longed to incorporate this forsaken being with his own heart, to take
her in his arms, and with a father's love to awaken in her the joy of

The dance being ended, she rolled the eggs together softly with her foot
into a little heap, left none behind, harmed none; then placed herself
beside it, taking the bandage from her eyes, and concluding her
performance with a little bow.

Wilhelm thanked her for having executed, so prettily and unexpectedly, a
dance he had long wished to see. He patted her; was sorry she had tired
herself so much. He promised her a new suit of clothes; to which she
vehemently replied, "Thy color!" This, too, he promised her, though not
well knowing what she meant by it. She then lifted up the eggs, took the
carpet under her arm, asked if he wanted any thing further, and skipped
out of the room.

The musician, being questioned, said, that for some time she had taken
much trouble in often singing over the tune of this dance, the
well-known fandango, to him, and training him till he could play it
accurately. For his labor she had likewise offered him some money;
which, however, he would not accept.


After a restless night, which our friend spent, sometimes waking,
sometimes oppressed with unpleasant dreams, seeing Mariana now in all
her beauty, now in woful case, at one time with a child on her arm,
then soon bereaved of it, the morning had scarcely dawned, when Mignon
entered with a tailor. She brought some gray cloth and blue taffeta;
signifying in her own way that she wished to have a new jacket and
sailor's trousers, such as she had seen the boys of the town wear, with
blue cuffs and tiers.

Since the loss of Mariana, Wilhelm had laid aside all gay colors. He had
used himself to gray,--the garment of the shades; and only perhaps a
sky-blue lining, or little collar of that dye, in some degree enlivened
his sober garb. Mignon, eager to wear his colors, hurried on the tailor,
who engaged to have his work soon ready.

The exercise in dancing and fencing, which our friend took this day with
Laertes, did not prosper in their hands. Indeed, it was soon interrupted
by Melina, who came to show them circumstantially how a little company
was now of itself collected, sufficient to exhibit plays in abundance.
He renewed the proposal that Wilhelm should advance a little money for
setting them in motion; which, however, Wilhelm still declined.

Ere long Philina and the girls came in, racketing and laughing as usual.
They had now devised a fresh excursion, for change of place and objects
was a pleasure after which they always longed. To eat daily in a
different spot was their highest wish. On this occasion they proposed a

The boat in which they were to fall down the pleasant windings of the
river had already been engaged by the Pedant. Philina urged them on: the
party did not linger, and were soon on board.

"What shall we take to now?" said Philina, when all had placed
themselves upon the benches.

"The readiest thing," replied Laertes, "were for us to extemporize a
play. Let each take a part that suits his character, and we shall see
how we get along."

"Excellent!" said Wilhelm. "In a society where there is no
dissimulation, but where each without disguise pursues the bent of his
own humor, elegance and satisfaction cannot long continue; and, where
dissimulation always reigns, they do not enter at all. It will not be
amiss, then, that we take up dissimulation to begin with, and then,
behind our masks, be as candid as we please."

"Yes," said Laertes: "it is on this account that one goes on so
pleasantly with women; they never show themselves in their natural

"That is to say," replied Madam Melina, "they are not so vain as men,
who conceive themselves to be always amiable enough, just as nature has
produced them."

In the mean time the river led them between pleasant groves and hills,
between gardens and vineyards; and the young women, especially Madam
Melina, expressed their rapture at the landscape. The latter even began
to recite, in solemn style, a pretty poem of the descriptive sort, upon
a similar scene of nature; but Philina interrupted her with the proposal
of a law, that no one should presume to speak of any inanimate object.
On the other hand, she zealously urged on their project of an extempore
play. Old Boisterous was to be a half-pay officer; Laertes a
fencing-master, taking his vacation; the Pedant, a Jew; she herself
would act a Tyrolese; leaving to the rest to choose characters according
to their several pleasures. They would suppose themselves to be a party
of total strangers to each other, who had just met on board a

She immediately began to play her part with the Jew, and a universal
cheerfulness diffused itself among them.

They had not sailed far, when the skipper stopped in his course, asking
permission of the company to take in a person standing on the shore, who
had made a sign to him.

"That is just what we needed," cried Philina: "a chance passenger was
wanting to complete the travelling-party."

A handsome man came on board; whom, by his dress and his dignified mien,
you might have taken for a clergyman. He saluted the party, who thanked
him in their own way, and soon made known to him the nature of their
game. The stranger immediately engaged to act the part of a country
parson; which, in fact, he accomplished in the adroitest manner, to the
admiration of all,--now admonishing, now telling stories, showing some
weak points, yet never losing their respect.

In the mean time, every one who had made a false step in his part, or
swerved from his character, had been obliged to forfeit a pledge:
Philina had gathered them with the greatest care, and especially
threatened the reverend gentleman with many kisses; though he himself
had never been at fault. Melina, on the other hand, was completely
fleeced: shirt-buttons, buckles, every movable about his person, was in
Philina's hands. He was trying to enact an English traveller, and could
not by any means get into the spirit of his part.

Meanwhile the time had passed away very pleasantly. Each had strained
his fancy and his wit to the utmost, and each had garnished his part
with agreeable and entertaining jests. Thus comfortably occupied, they
reached the place where they meant to pass the day; and Wilhelm, going
out to walk with the clergyman, as both from his appearance and late
character he persisted in naming him, soon fell into an interesting

"I think this practice," said the stranger, "very useful among actors,
and even in the company of friends and acquaintances. It is the best
mode of drawing men out of themselves, and leading them, by a circuitous
path, back into themselves again. It should be a custom with every troop
of players to practice in this manner: and the public would assuredly be
no loser if every month an unwritten piece were brought forward; in
which, of course, the players had prepared themselves by several

"One should not, then," replied our friend, "consider an extempore piece
as, strictly speaking, composed on the spur of the moment, but as a
piece, of which the plan, action, and division of the scenes were given;
the filling up of all this being left to the player."

"Quite right," said the stranger; "and, in regard to this very filling
up, such a piece, were the players once trained to these performances,
would profit greatly. Not in regard to the mere words, it is true; for,
by a careful selection of these, the studious writer may certainly adorn
his work; but in regard to the gestures, looks, exclamations, and every
thing of that nature; in short, to the mute and half-mute play of the
dialogue, which seems by degrees fading away among us altogether. There
are indeed some players in Germany whose bodies figure what they think
and feel; who by their silence, their delays, their looks, their slight,
graceful movements, can prepare the audience for a speech, and, by a
pleasant sort of pantomime, combine the pauses of the dialogue with the
general whole; but such a practice as this, co-operating with a happy
natural turn, and training it to compete with the author, is far from
being so habitual as, for the comfort of play-going people, were to be

"But will not a happy natural turn," said Wilhelm, "as the first and
last requisite, of itself conduct the player, like every other
artist,--nay, perhaps every other man,--to the lofty mark he aims at?"

"The first and the last, the beginning and the end, it may well be; but,
in the middle, many things will still be wanting to an artist, if
instruction, and early instruction too, have not previously made that of
him which he was meant to be: and perhaps for the man of genius it is
worse in this respect than for the man possessed of only common
capabilities; the one may much more easily be misinstructed, and be
driven far more violently into false courses, than the other."

"But," said Wilhelm, "will not genius save itself, not heal the wounds
which itself has inflicted?"

"Only to a very small extent, and with great difficulty," said the
other, "or perhaps not at all. Let no one think that he can conquer the
first impressions of his youth. If he has grown up in enviable freedom,
surrounded with beautiful and noble objects, in constant intercourse
with worthy men; if his masters have taught him what he needed first to
know, for comprehending more easily what followed; if he has never
learned any thing which he requires to unlearn; if his first operations
have been so guided, that, without altering any of his habits, he can
more easily produce what is excellent in future,--then such a one will
lead a purer, more perfect and happier, life, than another man who has
wasted the force of his youth in opposition and error. A great deal is
said and written about education; yet I meet with very few who can
comprehend, and transfer to practice, this simple yet vast idea, which
includes within itself all others connected with the subject."

"That may well be true," said Wilhelm; "for the generality of men are
limited enough in their conceptions to suppose that every other should
be fashioned by education, according to the pattern of themselves.
Happy, then, are those whom Fate takes charge of, and educates according
to their several natures!"

"Fate," said the other, smiling, "is an excellent but most expensive
schoolmaster. In all cases, I would rather trust to the reason of a
human tutor. Fate, for whose wisdom I entertain all imaginable
reverence, often finds in Chance, by which it works, an instrument not
over manageable. At least the latter very seldom seems to execute
precisely and accurately what the former had determined."

"You seem to express a very singular opinion," said Wilhelm.

"Not at all," replied the other. "Most of what happens in the world
confirms my opinion. Do not many incidents at their commencement show
some mighty purport, and generally terminate in something paltry?"

"You mean to jest."

"And as to what concerns the individual man," pursued the other, "is it
not so with this likewise? Suppose Fate had appointed one to be a good
player; and why should it not provide us with good players as well as
other good things? Chance would perhaps conduct the youth into some
puppet-show, where, at such an early age, he could not help taking
interest in what was tasteless and despicable, reckoning insipidities
endurable or even pleasing, and thus corrupting and misdirecting his
primary impressions,--impressions which can never be effaced, and whose
influence, in spite of all our efforts, cling to us in some degree to
the very last."

"What makes you think of puppet-shows?" said Wilhelm, not without some

"It was an accidental instance: if it does not please you, we shall take
another. Suppose Fate had appointed any one to be a great painter, and
it pleased Chance that he should pass his youth in sooty huts, in barns
and stables: do you think that such a man would ever be enabled to exalt
himself to purity, to nobleness, to freedom of soul? The more keenly he
may in his youth have seized on the impure, and tried in his own manner
to ennoble it, the more powerfully in the remainder of his life will it
be revenged on him; because, while he was endeavoring to conquer it, his
whole being has become inseparably combined with it. Whoever spends his
early years in mean and pitiful society, though at an after period he
may have the choice of better, will yet constantly look back with
longing towards that which he enjoyed of old, and which has left its
impression blended with the memory of all his young and unreturning

From conversation of this sort, it is easy to imagine, the rest of the
company had gradually withdrawn. Philina, in particular, had stepped
aside at the very outset. Wilhelm and his comrade now rejoined them by a
cross-path. Philina brought out her forfeits, and they had to be
redeemed in many different ways. During which business, the stranger, by
the most ingenious devices, and by his frank participation in their
sports, recommended himself much to all the party, and particularly to
the ladies; and thus, amid joking, singing, kissing, and railleries of
all sorts, the hours passed away in the most pleasant manner.


When our friends began to think of going home, they looked about them
for their clergyman; but he had vanished, and was nowhere to be found.

"It is not polite in the man, who otherwise displayed good breeding,"
said Madam Melina, "to desert a company that welcomed him so kindly,
without taking leave."

"I have all the time been thinking," said Laertes, "where I can have
seen this singular man before. I fully intended to ask him about it at

"I, too, had the same feeling," said Wilhelm; "and certainly I should
not have let him go, till he had told us something more about his
circumstances. I am much mistaken if I have not ere now spoken with him

"And you may in truth," said Philina, "be mistaken there. This person
seems to have the air of an acquaintance, because he looks like a _man_,
and not like Jack or Kit."

"What is this?" said Laertes. "Do not we, too, look like men?"

"I know what I am saying," cried Philina; "and, if you cannot understand
me, never mind. In the end my words will be found to require no

Two coaches now drove up. All praised the attention of Laertes, who had
ordered them. Philina, with Madam Melina, took her place opposite to
Wilhelm: the rest bestowed themselves as they best could. Laertes rode
back on Wilhelm's horse, which had likewise been brought out.

Philina was scarcely seated in the coach, when she began to sing some
pretty songs, and gradually led the conversation to some stories, which
she said might be successfully treated in the form of dramas. By this
cunning turn, she very soon put her young friend into his finest humor:
from the wealth of his living imaginative store, he forthwith
constructed a complete play, with all its acts, scenes, characters, and
plots. It was thought proper to insert a few catches and songs; they
composed them; and Philina, who entered into every part of it,
immediately fitted them with well-known tunes, and sang them on the

It was one of her beautiful, most beautiful, days: she had skill to
enliven our friend with all manner of diverting wiles; he felt in
spirits such as he had not for many a month enjoyed.

Since that shocking discovery had torn him from the side of Mariana, he
had continued true to his vow to be on his guard against the encircling
arms of woman; to avoid the faithless sex; to lock up his inclinations,
his sweet wishes, in his own bosom. The conscientiousness with which he
had observed this vow gave his whole nature a secret nourishment; and,
as his heart could not remain without affection, some loving sympathy
had now become a want with him. He went along once more, as if environed
by the first cloudy glories of youth; his eye fixed joyfully on every
charming object, and never had his judgment of a lovely form been more
favorable. How dangerous, in such a situation, this wild girl must have
been to him, is but too easy to conceive.

Arrived at home, they found Wilhelm's chamber all ready to receive them;
the chairs set right for a public reading; in midst of them the table,
on which the punch-bowl was in due time to take its place.

The German chivalry-plays were new at this period, and had just excited
the attention and the inclination of the public. Old Boisterous had
brought one of this sort with him: the reading of it had already been
determined on. They all sat down; Wilhelm took possession of the
pamphlet, and began to read.

The harnessed knights, the ancient keeps, the true-heartedness, honesty,
and downrightness, but especially the independence of the acting
characters, were received with the greatest approbation. The reader did
his utmost, and the audience gradually mounted into rapture. Between the
third and fourth acts, the punch arrived in an ample bowl; and, there
being much fighting and drinking in the piece itself, nothing was more
natural than that, on every such occurrence, the company should
transport themselves into the situation of the heroes, should flourish
and strike along with them, and drink long life to their favorites among
the _dramatis personæ_.

Each individual of the party was inflamed with the noblest fire of
national spirit. How it gratified this German company to be poetically
entertained, according to their own character, on stuff of their own
manufacture! In particular, the vaults and caverns, the ruined castles,
the moss and hollow trees, but above all the nocturnal gypsy scenes, and
the Secret Tribunal, produced a quite incredible effect. Every actor now
figured to himself how, erelong, in helm and harness, he; every actress
how, with a monstrous spreading ruff, she,--would present their
Germanship before the public. Each would appropriate to himself without
delay some name taken from the piece or from German history; and Madam
Melina declared that the son or daughter she was then expecting should
not be christened otherwise than by the name of Adelbert or of Mathilde.

Towards the fifth act, the approbation became more impetuous and louder;
and at last, when the hero actually trampled down his oppressor, and the
tyrant met his doom, the ecstasy increased to such a height, that all
averred they had never passed such happy moments. Melina, whom the
liquor had inspired, was the noisiest: and when the second bowl was
emptied, and midnight near, Laertes swore through thick and thin, that
no living mortal was worthy ever more to put these glasses to his lips;
and, so swearing, he pitched his own right over his head, through a
window-pane, out into the street. The rest followed his example; and
notwithstanding the protestations of the landlord, who came running in
at the noise, the punch-bowl itself, never after this festivity to be
polluted by unholy drink, was dashed into a thousand shreds. Philina,
whose exhilaration was the least noticed,--the other two girls by that
time having laid themselves upon the sofa in no very elegant
positions,--maliciously encouraged her companions in their tumult. Madam
Melina recited some spirit-stirring poems; and her husband, not too
amiable in the uproar, began to cavil at the insufficient preparation of
the punch, declaring that he could arrange an entertainment altogether
in a different style, and at last becoming sulkier and louder as Laertes
commanded silence, till the latter, without much consideration, threw
the fragments of the punch-bowl about his head, and thereby not a little
deepened the confusion.

Meanwhile the town-guard had arrived, and were demanding admission to
the house. Wilhelm, much heated by his reading, though he had drunk but
little, had enough to do, with the landlord's help, to content these
people by money and good words, and afterwards to get the various
members of his party sent home in that unseemly case. On coming back,
overpowered with sleep and full of chagrin, he threw himself upon his
bed without undressing; and nothing could exceed his disgust, when,
opening his eyes next morning, he looked out with dull sight upon the
devastations of the by-gone day, and saw the uncleanness, and the many
bad effects, of which that ingenious, lively, and well-intentioned
poetical performance had been the cause.


After a short consideration, he called the landlord, and bade him mark
to his account both the damage and the regular charge. At the same time
he learned, not without vexation, that his horse had been so hard ridden
by Laertes last night, that, in all probability, it was foundered, as
they term it; the farrier having little hope of its recovering.

A salute from Philina, which she threw him from her window, restored him
in some degree to a more cheerful humor: he went forthwith into the
nearest shop to buy her a little present, which, in return for the
powder-knife, he still owed her; and it must be owned, that, in
selecting his gift, he did not keep himself within the limits of
proportional value. He not only purchased her a pair of earrings, but
added likewise a hat and neckerchief, and some other little articles,
which he had seen her lavishly throw from her on the first day of their

Madam Melina, happening to observe him as he was delivering his
presents, took an opportunity before breakfast to rate him very
earnestly about his inclination for this girl; at which he felt the more
astonished, the less he thought it merited. He swore solemnly, that he
had never once entertained the slightest notion of attaching himself to
such a person, whose whole manner of proceeding was well known to him.
He excused himself as well as possible for his friendly and polite
conduct towards her, yet did not by any means content Madam Melina,
whose spite grew ever more determined, as she could not but observe that
the flatteries, by which she had acquired for herself a sort of partial
regard from our friend, were not sufficient to defend this conquest from
the attacks of a livery, younger, and more gifted rival.

As they sat down to table, her husband joined them, likewise in a very
fretful humor; which he was beginning to display on many little things,
when the landlord entered to announce a player on the harp. "You will
certainly," he said, "find pleasure in the music and the songs of this
man: no one who hears him can forbear to admire him, and bestow
something on him."

"Let him go about his business," said Melina: "I am any thing but in a
trim for hearing fiddlers, and we have singers constantly among
ourselves disposed to gain a little by their talent." He accompanied
these words with a sarcastic side-look at Philina: she understood his
meaning, and immediately prepared to punish him, by taking up the cause
of the harper. Turning towards Wilhelm, "Shall we not hear the man?"
said she: "shall we do nothing to save ourselves from this miserable

Melina was going to reply, and the strife would have grown keener, had
not the person it related to at that moment entered. Wilhelm saluted
him, and beckoned him to come near.

The figure of this singular guest set the whole party in astonishment:
he had found a chair before any one took heart to ask him a question, or
make any observation. His bald crown was encircled by a few gray hairs,
and a pair of large blue eyes looked out softly from beneath his long
white eyebrows. To a nose of beautiful proportions was subjoined a
flowing, hoary beard, which did not hide the fine shape and position of
his lips; and a long dark-brown garment wrapped his thin body from the
neck to the feet. He began to prelude on the harp, which he had placed
before him.

The sweet tones which he drew from his instrument very soon inspirited
the company.

"You can sing, too, my good old man," said Philina.

"Give us something that shall entertain the spirit and the heart as well
as the senses," said Wilhelm. "The instrument should but accompany the
voice; for tunes and melodies without words and meaning seem to me like
butterflies or finely variegated birds, which hover round us in the air,
which we could wish to catch and make our own: whereas song is like a
blessed genius that exalts us towards heaven, and allures the better
self in us to attend him."

The old man looked at Wilhelm, then aloft, then gave some trills
upon his harp, and began his song. It contained a eulogy on
minstrelsy,--described the happiness of minstrels, and reminded men to
honor them. He produced his song with so much life and truth, that it
seemed as if he had composed it at the moment, for this special
occasion. Wilhelm could scarcely refrain from clasping him in his arms:
but the fear of awakening a peal of laughter detained him in his chair;
for the rest were already in half-whispers making sundry very shallow
observations, and debating if the harper was a Papist or a Jew.

When asked about the author of the song, the man gave no distinct reply;
declaring only that he was rich in songs, and anxious that they should
please. Most of the party were now merry and joyful; even Melina was
grown frank in his way; and, whilst they talked and joked together, the
old man began to sing the praise of social life in the most sprightly
style. He described the loveliness of unity and courtesy, in soft,
soothing tones. Suddenly his music became cold, harsh, and jarring, as
he turned to deplore repulsive selfishness, short-sighted enmity, and
baleful division; and every heart willingly threw off those galling
fetters, while, borne on the wings of a piercing melody, he launched
forth in praise of peacemakers, and sang the happiness of souls, that,
having parted, meet again in love.

Scarcely had he ended, when Wilhelm cried to him, "Whoever thou art,
that as a helping spirit comest to us with a voice which blesses and
revives, accept my reverence and my thanks! Feel that we all admire
thee, and confide in us if thou wantest any thing."

The old man spoke not: he threw his fingers softly across the strings,
then struck more sharply, and sang,--

    "'What notes are those without the wall,
      Across the portal sounding?
    Let's have the music in our hall,
      Back from its roof rebounding.'
    So spoke the king, the henchman flies:
    His answer heard, the monarch cries,
      'Bring in that ancient minstrel.'

    'Hail, gracious king! each noble knight,
      Each lovely dame, I greet you!
    What glittering stars salute my sight!
      What heart unmoved may meet you!
    Such lordly pomp is not for me,
    Far other scenes my eyes must see:
      Yet deign to list my harping.'

    The singer turns him to his art,
      A thrilling strain he raises:
    Each warrior hears with glowing heart,
      And on his loved one gazes.
    The king, who liked his playing well,
    Commands, for such a kindly spell,
      A golden chain be given him.

    'The golden chain give not to me;
      Thy boldest knight may wear it,
    Who, 'cross the battle's purple sea,
      On lion breast may bear it:
    Or let it be thy chancellor's prize,
    Amid his heaps to feast his eyes;
      Its yellow glance will please him.'

    'I sing but as the linnet sings,
      That on the green bough dwelleth;
    A rich reward his music brings,
      As from his throat it swelleth:
    Yet might I ask, I'd ask of thine
    One sparkling draught of purest wine,
      To drink it here before you.'

    He viewed the wine: he quaffed it up.
      'O draught of sweetest savor!
    O happy house, where such a cup
      Is thought a little favor!
    If well you fare, remember me,
    And thank kind Heaven, from envy free,
      As now for this I thank you.'"

When the harper, on finishing his song, took up a glass of wine that
stood poured out for him, and, turning with a friendly mien to his
entertainers, drank it off, a buzz of joyful approbation rose from all
the party. They clapped hands, and wished him health from that glass,
and strength to his aged limbs. He sang a few other ballads, exciting
more and more hilarity among the company.

"Old man," said Philina, "dost thou know the tune, 'The shepherd decked
him for the dance'?"[2]

"Oh, yes!" said he: "if you will sing the words, I shall not fail for my
part of it."

Philina then stood up, and held herself in readiness. The old man
commenced the tune; and she sang a song, which we cannot impart to our
readers, lest they might think it insipid, or perhaps undignified.

Meanwhile the company were growing merrier and merrier: they had already
emptied several flasks of wine, and were now beginning to get very loud.
But our friend, having fresh in his remembrance the bad consequences of
their late exhilaration, determined to break up the sitting; he slipped
into the old man's hand a liberal remuneration for his trouble, the rest
did something likewise; they gave him leave to go and take repose,
promising themselves another entertainment from his skill in the

When he had retired, our friend said to Philina, "In this favorite song
of yours I certainly find no merit, either moral or poetical; yet if you
were to bring forward any proper composition on the stage, with the same
arch simplicity, the same propriety and gracefulness, I should engage
that strong and universal approbation would be the result."

"Yes," said Philina: "it would be a charming thing indeed to warm one's
self at ice."

"After all," said Wilhelm, "this old man might put many a player to the
blush. Did you notice how correctly the dramatic part of his ballads was
expressed? I maintain there was more living true representation in his
singing than in many of our starched characters upon the stage. You
would take the acting of many plays for a narrative, and you might
ascribe to these musical narratives a sensible presence."

"You are hardly just," replied Laertes. "I pretend to no great skill,
either as a player or as a singer; yet I know well enough, that when
music guides the movements of the body, at once affording to them
animation and a scale to measure it; when declamation and expression are
furnished me by the composer,--I feel quite a different man from what I
do when, in prose dramas, I have all this to create for myself,--have
both gesture and declamation to invent, and am, perhaps, disturbed in
it, too, by the awkwardness of some partner in the dialogue."

"Thus much I know," said Melina: "the man certainly puts us to the blush
in one point, and that a main point. The strength of his talent is shown
by the profit he derives from it. Even us, who perhaps erelong shall be
embarrassed where to get a meal, he persuades to share our pittance with
him. He has skill enough to wile the money from our pockets with an old
song,--the money that we should have used to find ourselves employment.
So pleasant an affair is it to squander the means which might procure
subsistence to one's self and others."

This remark gave the conversation not the most delightful turn. Wilhelm,
for whom the reproach was peculiarly intended, replied with some heat;
and Melina, at no time over studious of delicacy and politeness,
explained his grievances at last in words more plain than courteous. "It
is now a fortnight," said he, "since we looked at the theatrical
machinery and wardrobe which is lying pawned here: the whole might be
redeemed for a very tolerable sum. You then gave me hopes that you would
lend me so much; and hitherto I do not see that you have thought more of
the matter, or come any nearer a determination. Had you then consented,
we should ere now have been under way. Nor has your intention to leave
the place been executed, nor has your money in the mean time been
spared: at least there are people who have always skill to create
opportunities for scattering it faster and faster away."

Such upbraidings, not altogether undeserved, touched Wilhelm to the
quick. He replied with keenness, nay, with anger; and, as the company
rose to part, he took hold of the door, and gave them not obscurely to
understand that he would no longer continue with such unfriendly and
ungrateful people. He hastened down, in no kindly humor, and seated
himself upon the stone bench without the door of his inn; not observing,
that, first out of mirth, then out of spleen, he had drunk more wine
than usual.

[Footnote 2: Der Schafer putzte sich zum Tanz,--a song of


After a short time, which he passed sitting looking out before him,
disquieted by many thoughts, Philina came singing and skipping along
through the front door. She sat down by him, nay, we might almost say,
on him, so close did she press herself towards him: she leaned upon his
shoulders, began playing with his hair, patted him, and gave him the
best words in the world. She begged of him to stay with them, and not
leave her alone in that company, or she must die of tedium: she could
not live any longer in the same house with Melina, and had come over to
lodge in the other inn for that reason.

He tried in vain to satisfy her with denials,--to make her understand
that he neither could nor would remain any longer. She did not cease
with her entreaties; nay, suddenly she threw her arm round his neck, and
kissed him with the liveliest expression of fondness.

"Are you mad, Philina?" cried Wilhelm, endeavoring to disengage himself;
"to make the open street the scene of such caresses, which I nowise
merit! Let me go! I can not and I will not stay."

"And I will hold thee fast," said she, "and kiss thee here on the open
street, and kiss thee till thou promise what I want. I shall die of
laughing," she continued: "by this familiarity the good people here must
take me for thy wife of four weeks' standing; and husbands, who witness
this touching scene, will commend me to their wives as a pattern of
childlike, simple tenderness."

Some persons were just then going by: she caressed him in the most
graceful way; and he, to avoid giving scandal, was constrained to play
the part of the patient husband. Then she made faces at the people, when
their backs were turned, and, in the wildest humor, continued to commit
all sorts of improprieties, till at last he was obliged to promise that
he would not go that day, or the morrow, or the next day.

"You are a true clod!" said she, quitting him; "and I am but a fool to
spend so much kindness on you." She arose with some vexation, and walked
a few steps, then turned round laughing, and cried, "I believe it is
just that, after all, that makes me so crazy about thee. I will but go
and seek my knitting-needles and my stocking, that I may have something
to do. Stay there, and let me find the stone man still upon the stone
bench when I come back."

She cast a sparkling glance on him, and went into the house. He had no
call to follow her; on the contrary, her conduct had excited fresh
aversion in him; yet he rose from the bench to go after her, not well
knowing why.

He was just entering the door, when Melina passed by, and spoke to him
in a respectful tone, asking his pardon for the somewhat too harsh
expressions he had used in their late discussion. "You will not take it
ill of me," continued he, "if I appear perhaps too fretful in my present
circumstances. The charge of providing for a wife, perhaps soon for a
child, forbids me from day to day to live at peace, or spend my time as
you may do, in the enjoyment of pleasant feelings. Consider, I pray you,
and, if possible, do put me in possession of that stage machinery that
is lying here. I shall not be your debtor long, and I shall be obliged
to you while I live."

Our friend, unwilling to be kept upon the threshold, over which an
irresistible impulse was drawing him at that moment to Philina,
answered, with an absent mind, eager to be gone, and surprised into a
transient feeling of good will, "If I can make you happy and contented
by doing this, I will hesitate no longer. Go you and put every thing to
rights. I shall be prepared this evening, or to-morrow morning, to pay
the money." He then gave his hand to Melina in confirmation of his
promise, and was very glad to see him hastily proceed along the street;
but, alas! his entrance, which he now thought sure, was a second time
prohibited, and more disagreeably than at first.

A young man, with a bundle on his back, came walking fast along the
street, and advanced to Wilhelm, who at once recognized him for

"Here am I again!" cried he, looking with his large blue eyes joyfully
up and down, over all the windows of the house. "Where is Mamsell? Devil
take me, if I can stroll about the world any longer without seeing her!"

The landlord, joining them at this instant, replied that she was above;
Friedrich, with a few bounds, was up stairs; and Wilhelm continued
standing, as if rooted to the threshold. At the first instant he was
tempted to pluck the younker back, and drag him down by the hair; then
all at once the spasm of a sharp jealousy stopped the current of his
spirits and ideas; and, as he gradually recovered from this
stupefaction, there came over him a splenetic fit of restlessness, a
general discomfort, such as he had never felt in his life before.

He went up to his room, and found Mignon busy writing. For some time the
creature had been laboring with great diligence in writing every thing
she knew by heart, giving always to her master and friend the papers to
correct. She was indefatigable, and of good comprehension; but still,
her letters were irregular, and her lines crooked. Here, too, the body
seemed to contradict the mind. In his usual moods, Wilhelm took no small
pleasure in the child's attention; but, at the present moment, he
regarded little what she showed him,--a piece of neglect which she felt
the more acutely, as on this occasion she conceived her work had been
accomplished with peculiar success.

Wilhelm's unrest drove him up and down the passages of the house, and
finally again to the street-door. A rider was just prancing towards
it,--a man of good appearance, of middle age, and a brisk, contented
look. The landlord ran to meet him, holding out his hand as to an old
acquaintance. "Ay, Herr Stallmeister," cried he, "have we the pleasure
to see you again?"

"I am only just going to bait with you," replied the stranger, "and then
along to the estate, to get matters put in order as soon as possible.
The count is coming over to-morrow with his lady; they mean to stay a
while to entertain the Prince von----in their best style: he intends
to fix his headquarters in this neighborhood for some time."

"It is pity," said the landlord, "that you cannot stop with us: we have
good company in the house." The hostler came running out, and took the
horse from the _Stallmeister_, who continued talking in the door with
the landlord, and now and then giving a look at Wilhelm.

Our friend, observing that he formed the topic of their conversation,
went away, and walked up and down the streets.


In the restless vexation of his present humor, it came into his head to
go and see the old harper; hoping by his music to scare away the evil
spirits that tormented him. On asking for the man, he was directed to a
mean public house, in a remote corner of the little town; and, having
mounted up-stairs there to the very garret, his ear caught the fine
twanging of the harp coming from a little room before him. They were
heart-moving, mournful tones, accompanied by a sad and dreary singing.
Wilhelm glided to the door: and as the good old man was performing a
sort of voluntary, the few stanzas of which, sometimes chanted,
sometimes in recitative, were repeated more than once, our friend
succeeded, after listening for a while, in gathering nearly this:--

    "Who never ate his bread with tears,
      Through nights of grief who, weeping, never
    Sat on his bed, midst pangs and fears,
      Can, heavenly powers, not know you ever.

    Ye lead us forth into this life,
      Where comfort soon by guilt is banished,
    Abandon us to tortures, strife;
      For on this earth all guilt is punished."
                                     --_Editor's Version._

The heart-sick, plaintive sound of this lament pierced deep into the
soul of the hearer. It seemed to him as if the old man were often
stopped from proceeding by his tears: his harp would alone be heard for
a time, till his voice again joined it in low, broken tones. Wilhelm
stood by the door; he was much moved; the mourning of this stranger had
again opened the avenues of his heart; he could not resist the claim of
sympathy, or restrain the tears which this woe-begone complaint at last
called forth. All the pains that pressed upon his soul seemed now at
once to loosen from their hold: he abandoned himself without reserve to
the feelings of the moment. Pushing up the door, he stood before the
harper. The old man was sitting on a mean bed, the only seat, or article
of furniture, which his miserable room afforded.

"What feelings thou hast awakened in me, good old man!" exclaimed he.
"All that was lying frozen at my heart thou hast melted, and put in
motion. Let me not disturb thee, but continue, in solacing thy own
sorrows, to confer happiness upon a friend." The harper was about to
rise, and say something; but Wilhelm hindered him, for he had noticed in
the morning that the old man did not like to speak. He sat down by him
on the straw bed.

The old man wiped his eyes, and asked, with a friendly smile, "How came
you hither? I meant to wait upon you in the evening again."

"We are more quiet here," said Wilhelm. "Sing to me what thou pleasest,
what accords with thy own mood of mind, only proceed as if I were not
by. It seems to me, that to-day thou canst not fail to suit me. I think
thee very happy, that, in solitude, thou canst employ and entertain
thyself so pleasantly; that, being everywhere a stranger, thou findest
in thy own heart the most agreeable society."

The old man looked upon his strings; and after touching them softly, by
way of prelude, he commenced and sang,--

    "Who longs in solitude to live,
      Ah! soon his wish will gain:
    Men hope and love, men get and give,
      And leave him to his pain.
    Yes, leave me to my moan!
      When from my bed
      You all are fled,
    I still am not alone.

    The lover glides with footstep light:
      His love, is she not waiting there?
    So glides to meet me, day and night,
      In solitude my care,
      In solitude my woe:
    True solitude I then shall know
      When lying in my grave,
      When lying in my grave,
    And grief has let me go."

We might describe with great prolixity, and yet fail to express the
charms of, the singular conversation which Wilhelm carried on with this
wayfaring stranger. To every observation our friend addressed to him,
the old man, with the nicest accordance, answered in some melody, which
awakened all the cognate emotions, and opened a wide field to the

Whoever has happened to be present at a meeting of certain devout
people, who conceive, that, in a state of separation from the Church,
they can edify each other in a purer, more affecting, and more spiritual
manner, may form to himself some conception of the present scene. He
will recollect how the leader of the meeting would append to his words
some verse of a song, that raised the soul till, as he wished, she took
wing; how another of the flock would erelong subjoin, in a different
tune, some verse of a different song; and to this again a third would
link some verse of a third song,--by which means the kindred ideas of
the songs to which the verses belonged were indeed suggested, yet each
passage by its new combination became new and individualized, as if it
had been first composed that moment; and thus from a well-known circle
of ideas, from well-known songs and sayings, there was formed for that
particular society, in that particular time, an original whole, by means
of which their minds were animated, strengthened, and refreshed. So,
likewise, did the old man edify his guest: by known and unknown songs
and passages, he brought feelings near and distant, emotions sleeping
and awake, pleasant and painful, into a circulation, from which, in
Wilhelm's actual state, the best effects might be anticipated.


Accordingly, in walking back, he began to think with greater earnestness
than ever on his present situation: he had reached home with the firm
purpose of altering it, when the landlord disclosed to him, by way of
secret, that Mademoiselle Philina had made a conquest of the count's
_Stallmeister_, who, after executing his commission at his master's
estate, had returned in the greatest haste, and was even now partaking
of a good supper with her up in her chamber.

At this very moment Melina came in with a notary: they went into
Wilhelm's chamber together, where the latter, though with some
hesitation, made his promise good; gave a draft of three hundred crowns
to Melina, who, handing it to the lawyer, received in return a note
acknowledging the sale of the whole theatrical apparatus, and engaging
to deliver it next morning.

Scarcely had they parted, when Wilhelm heard a cry of horror rising from
some quarter of the house. He caught the sound of a young voice,
uttering menacing and furious tones, which were ever and anon choked by
immoderate weeping and howling. He observed this frantic noise move
hastily from above, go past his door, and down to the lower part of the

Curiosity enticing our friend to follow it, he found Friedrich in a
species of delirium. The boy was weeping, grinding his teeth, stamping
with his feet, threatening with clenched fists: he appeared beside
himself from fury and vexation. Mignon was standing opposite him,
looking on with astonishment. The landlord, in some degree, explained
this phenomenon.

The boy, he said, being well received at his return by Philina, seemed
quite merry and contented: he had kept singing and jumping about, till
the time when Philina grew acquainted with the _Stallmeister_. Then,
however, this half-grown younker had begun to show his indignation, to
slam the doors, and run up and down in the highest dudgeon. Philina had
ordered him to wait at table that evening, upon which he had grown still
sulkier and more indignant; till at last, carrying up a plate with a
ragout, instead of setting it upon the table, he had thrown the whole
between Mademoiselle and her guest, who were sitting moderately close
together at the time: and the _Stallmeister_, after two or three hearty
cuffs, had then kicked him out of the room. He, the landlord, had
himself helped to clean both of them; and certainly their clothes had
suffered much.

On hearing of the good effect of his revenge, the boy began to laugh
aloud, whilst the tears were still running down his cheeks. He heartily
rejoiced for a time, till the disgrace which he had suffered from the
stronger party once more came into his head, and he began afresh to howl
and threaten.

Wilhelm stood meditating, and ashamed at this spectacle. It reflected
back to him his own feelings, in coarser and exaggerated features: he,
too, was inflamed with a fierce jealousy; and, had not decency
restrained him, he would willingly have satisfied his wild humor; with
malicious spleen would have abused the object of his passion, and
called out his rival; he could have crushed in pieces all the people
round him; they seemed as if standing there but to vex him.

Laertes also had come in, and heard the story: he roguishly spurred on
the irritated boy, who was now asserting with oaths that he would make
the _Stallmeister_ give him satisfaction; that he had never yet let any
injury abide with him; that, should the man refuse, there were other
ways of taking vengeance.

This was the very business for Laertes. He went up stairs, with a solemn
countenance, to call out the _Stallmeister_ in the boy's name.

"This is a pleasant thing," said the _Stallmeister_: "such a joke as
this I had scarcely promised myself to-night." They went down, and
Philina followed them. "My son," said the _Stallmeister_ to Friedrich,
"thou art a brave lad, and I do not hesitate to fight thee. Only, as our
years and strength are unequal, and the attempt a little dangerous on
that account, I propose a pair of foils in preference to other weapons.
We can rub the buttons of them with a piece of chalk; and whoever marks
upon the other's coat the first or the most thrusts, shall be held the
victor, and be treated by the other with the best wine that can be had
in town."

Laertes decided that the proposition might be listened to: Friedrich
obeyed him, as his tutor. The foils were produced: Philina took a seat,
went on with her knitting, and looked at the contending parties with the
greatest peace of mind.

The _Stallmeister_, who could fence very prettily, was complaisant
enough to spare his adversary, and to let a few chalk scores be marked
upon his coat; after which the two embraced, and wine was ordered. The
_Stallmeister_ took the liberty of asking Friedrich's parentage and
history; and Friedrich told him a long story, which had often been
repeated already, and which, at some other opportunity, we purpose
communicating to our readers.

To Wilhelm, in the mean time, this contest completed the representation
of his own state of mind. He could not but perceive that he would
willingly have taken up a foil against the _Stallmeister_,--a sword
still more willingly, though evidently much his inferior in the science
of defence. Yet he deigned not to cast one look on Philina; he was on
his guard against any word or movement that could possibly betray his
feelings: and, after having once or twice done justice to the health of
the duellists, he hastened to his own room, where a thousand painful
thoughts came pressing round him.

He called to memory the time when his spirit, rich in hope, and full of
boundless aims, was raised aloft, and encircled with the liveliest
enjoyments of every kind as with its proper element. He now clearly saw,
that of late he had fallen into a broken, wandering path, where, if he
tasted, it was but in drops what he once quaffed in unrestricted
measure. But he could not clearly see what insatiable want it was that
nature had made the law of his being, and how this want had been only
set on edge, half satisfied, and misdirected by the circumstances of his

It will not surprise us, therefore, that, in considering his situation,
and laboring to extricate himself, he fell into the greatest perplexity.
It was not enough, that by his friendship for Laertes, his attachment to
Philina, his concern for Mignon, he had been detained longer than was
proper in a place and a society where he could cherish his darling
inclination, content his wishes as it were by stealth, and, without
proposing any object, again pursue his early dreams. These ties he
believed himself possessed of force enough to break asunder: had there
been nothing more to hold him, he could have gone at once. But, only a
few moments ago, he had entered into money transactions with Melina: he
had seen that mysterious old man, the enigma of whose history he longed
with unspeakable desire to clear. Yet of this too, after much balancing
of reasons, he at length determined, or thought he had determined, that
it should not keep him back. "I must go." He threw himself into a chair:
he felt greatly moved. Mignon came in, and asked whether she might help
to undress him. Her manner was still and shy: it had grieved her to the
quick to be so abruptly dismissed by him before.

Nothing is more touching than the first disclosure of a love which has
been nursed in silence, of a faith grown strong in secret, and which at
last comes forth in the hour of need, and reveals itself to him who
formerly has reckoned it of small account. The bud, which had been
closed so long and firmly, was now ripe to burst its swathings; and
Wilhelm's heart could never have been readier to welcome the impressions
of affection.

She stood before him, and noticed his disquietude. "Master!" she cried,
"if thou art unhappy, what will become of Mignon?"--"Dear little
creature," said he, taking her hands, "thou, too, art part of my
anxieties. I must go hence." She looked at his eyes, glistening with
restrained tears, and knelt down with vehemence before him. He kept her
hands: she laid her head upon his knees, and remained quite still. He
played with her hair, patted her, and spoke kindly to her. She continued
motionless for a considerable time. At last he felt a sort of
palpitating movement in her, which began very softly, and then by
degrees, with increasing violence, diffused itself over all her frame.
"What ails thee, Mignon?" cried he: "What ails thee?" She raised her
little head, looked at him, and all at once laid her hand upon her
heart, with the countenance of one repressing the utterance of pain. He
raised her up, and she fell upon his breast: he pressed her towards him,
and kissed her. She replied not by any pressure of the hand, by any
motion whatever. She held firmly against her heart, and all at once gave
a cry, which was accompanied by spasmodic movements of the body. She
started up, and immediately fell down before him, as if broken in every
joint. It was an excruciating moment. "My child!" cried he, raising her
up, and clasping her fast, "my child, what ails thee?" The palpitations
continued, spreading from the heart over all the lax and powerless
limbs: she was merely hanging in his arms. All at once she again became
quite stiff, like one enduring the sharpest corporeal agony; and soon
with a new vehemence all her frame once more became alive; and she threw
herself about his neck, like a bent spring that is closing; while in her
soul, as it were, a strong rent took place, and at the same moment a
stream of tears flowed from her shut eyes into his bosom. He held her
fast. She wept, and no tongue can express the force of these tears. Her
long hair had loosened, and was hanging down before her: it seemed as if
her whole being was melting incessantly into a brook of tears. Her rigid
limbs were again become relaxed; her inmost soul was pouring itself
forth; in the wild confusion of the moment Wilhelm was afraid she would
dissolve in his arms, and leave nothing there for him to grasp. He held
her faster and faster. "My child!" cried he, "my child! thou art indeed
mine, if that word can comfort thee. Thou art mine! I will keep thee, I
will never forsake thee!" Her tears continued flowing. At last she
raised herself: a faint gladness shone upon her face. "My father!" cried
she, "thou wilt not forsake me? Wilt be my father? I am thy child!"

Softly, at this moment, the harp began to sound before the door: the old
man brought his most affecting songs as an evening offering to our
friend, who, holding his child ever faster in his arms, enjoyed the most
pure and undescribable felicity.



    "Dost know the land where citrons, lemons, grow,
    Gold oranges 'neath dusky foliage glow,
    From azure sky are blowing breezes soft,
    The myrtles still, the laurel stands aloft?
                                           'Tis there! 'tis there!
    I would with thee, O my beloved one, go!

    Dost know the house, its roofs do columns bear,
    The hall with splendor bright, the chambers glare?
    Therein stand marble forms, and look at me:
    What is't, poor child, that they have done to thee?
    Dost know that house?
                                           'Tis there! 'tis there!
    I would with thee, O my protector, go!

    Dost know the mount, whose path with clouds is fraught,
    Where by the mule through mist the way is sought,
    Where dwell in caves the dragon's ancient brood,
    Where falls the rock, and over it the flood,--
    Dost know that mount?
                                           'Tis there! 'tis there!
    Does lead our road: O father, let us go!"
                                           --_Editor's Version._

Next morning, on looking for Mignon about the house, Wilhelm did not
find her, but was informed that she had gone out early with Melina, who
had risen betimes to receive the wardrobe and other apparatus of his

After the space of some hours, Wilhelm heard the sound of music before
his door. At first he thought it was the harper come again to visit him;
but he soon distinguished the tones of a cithern, and the voice which
began to sing was Mignon's. Wilhelm opened the door: the child came in,
and sang him the song we have just given above.

The music and general expression of it pleased our friend extremely,
though he could not understand all the words. He made her once more
repeat the stanzas, and explain them: he wrote them down, and translated
them into his native language. But the originality of its turns he
could imitate only from afar: its childlike innocence of expression
vanished from it in the process of reducing its broken phraseology to
uniformity, and combining its disjointed parts. The charm of the tune,
moreover, was entirely incomparable.

She began every verse in a stately and solemn manner, as if she wished
to draw attention towards something wonderful, as if she had something
weighty to communicate. In the third line, her tones became deeper and
gloomier; the words, "_Dost know?_" were uttered with a show of mystery
and eager circumspectness; in "'_Tis there! 'tis there!_" lay an
irresistible longing; and her "_Let us go!_" she modified at each
repetition, so that now it appeared to entreat and implore, now to impel
and persuade.

On finishing her song for the second time, she stood silent for a
moment, looked keenly at Wilhelm, and asked him, "_Know'st_ thou the
land?"--"It must mean Italy," said Wilhelm: "where didst thou get the
little song?"--"Italy!" said Mignon, with an earnest air. "If thou go to
Italy, take me along with thee; for I am too cold here."--"Hast thou
been there already, little dear?" said Wilhelm. But the child was
silent, and nothing more could be got out of her.

Melina entered now: he looked at the cithern,--was glad that she had
rigged it up again so prettily. The instrument had been among Melina's
stage-gear: Mignon had begged it of him in the morning, and then gone to
the old harper. On this occasion she had shown a talent she was not
before suspected of possessing.

Melina had already got possession of his wardrobe, with all that
pertained to it: some members of the town magistracy had promised him
permission to act, for a time, in the place. He was now returning with a
merry heart and a cheerful look. His nature seemed altogether changed:
he was soft, courteous to every one,--nay, fond of obliging, and almost
attractive. He was happy, he said, at now being able to afford
employment to his friends, who had hitherto lain idle and embarrassed;
sorry, however, that at first he could not have it in his power to
remunerate the excellent actors whom fortune had offered him, in a style
corresponding to their talents and capacities; being under the
necessity, before all other things, of discharging his debt to so
generous a friend as Wilhelm had proved himself to be.

"I cannot describe," said he to Wilhelm, "the friendliness which you
have shown, in helping me forward to the management of a theatre. When I
found you here, I was in a very curious predicament. You recollect how
strongly I displayed to you, on our first acquaintance, my aversion to
the stage; and yet, on being married, I was forced to look about for a
place in some theatre, out of love to my wife, who promised to herself
much joy and great applause if so engaged. I could find none, at least
no constant one; but in return I luckily fell in with some commercial
men, who, in extraordinary cases, were enabled to employ a person that
could handle his pen, that understood French, and was not without a
little skill in ciphering. I managed pretty well in this way for a time;
I was tolerably paid; got about me many things which I had need of, and
did not feel ashamed of my work. But these commissions of my patrons
came to an end; they could afford me no permanent establishment: and,
ever since, my wife has continued urging me still more to go upon the
stage again; though, at present, alas! her own situation is none of the
favorablest for exhibiting herself with honor in the eyes of the public.
But now, I hope, the establishment which by your kind help I have the
means of setting up, will prove a good beginning for me and mine: you I
shall thank for all my future happiness, let matters turn out as they

Wilhelm listened to him with contentment: the whole fraternity of
players were likewise moderately satisfied with the declarations of the
new manager; they secretly rejoiced that an offer of employment had
occurred so soon, and were disposed to put up at first with a smaller
salary, the rather, that most of them regarded the present one, so
unexpectedly placed within their reach, as a kind of supplement, on
which a short while ago they could not count. Melina made haste to
profit by this favorable temper: he endeavored in a sly way to get a
little talk with each in private, and erelong had, by various methods,
so cockered them all, that they did not hesitate to strike a bargain
with him without loss of time; scarcely thinking of this new engagement,
or reckoning themselves secure at worst of getting free again after
six-weeks' warning.

The terms were now to be reduced to proper form; and Melina was
considering with what pieces he would first entice the public, when a
courier riding up informed the _Stallmeister_ that his lord and lady
were at hand; on which the latter ordered out his horses.

In a short time after this, the coach with its masses of luggage rolled
in; two servants sprang down from the coach-box before the inn; and
Philina, according to her custom, foremost in the way of novelties,
placed herself within the door.

"Who are you?" said the countess, entering the house.

"An actress, at your Excellency's service," was the answer; while the
cheat, with a most innocent air, and looks of great humility,
courtesied, and kissed the lady's gown.

The count, on seeing some other persons standing round, who also
signified that they were players, inquired about the strength of their
company, their last place of residence, their manager. "Had they but
been Frenchmen," said he to his lady, "we might have treated the prince
with an unexpected enjoyment, and entertained him with his favorite
pastime at our house."

"And could we not," said the countess, "get these people, though
unluckily they are but Germans, to exhibit with us at the castle while
the prince stays there? Without doubt they have some degree of skill. A
large party can never be so well amused with any thing as with a
theatre: besides, the baron would assist them."

So speaking, they went up-stairs; and Melina presented himself above, as
manager. "Call your folk together," said the count, "and place them
before me, that I may see what is in them. I must also have the list of
pieces you profess to act."

Melina, with a low bow, hastened from the room, and soon returned with
his actors. They advanced in promiscuous succession: some, out of too
great anxiety to please, introduced themselves in a rather sorry style;
the others, not much better, by assuming an air of unconcern. Philina
showed the deepest reverence to the countess, who behaved with extreme
graciousness and condescension: the count, in the mean time, was
mustering the rest. He questioned each about his special province of
acting, and signified to Melina that he must rigorously keep them to
their several provinces,--a precept which the manager received with the
greatest devotion.

The count then stated to each in particular what he ought especially to
study, what about his figure or his postures ought to be amended; showed
them luminously in what points the Germans always fail; and displayed
such extraordinary knowledge, that all stood in the deepest humility,
scarcely daring to draw their breath before so enlightened a critic and
so right honorable a patron.

"What fellow is that in the corner?" said the count, looking at a
subject who had not yet been presented to him, and who now
approached,--a lean, shambling figure, with a rusty coat, patched at the
elbows, and a woful periwig covering his submissive head.

This person, whom, from the last Book, we know already as Philina's
darling, had been want to enact pedants, tutors, and poets,--generally
undertaking parts in which any cudgelling or ducking was to be endured.
He had trained himself to certain crouching, ludicrous, timid bows; and
his faltering, stammering speech befitted the characters he played, and
created laughter in the audience; so that he was always looked on as a
useful member of the company, being moreover very serviceable and
obliging. He approached the count in his own peculiar way, bent himself
before him, and answered every question with the grimaces and gestures
he was used to on the stage. The count looked at him for some time with
an air of attentive satisfaction and studious observation; then, turning
to the countess, "Child," said he, "consider this man well: I will
engage for it he is a great actor, or may become so." The creature here,
in the fulness of his heart, made an idiotic bow: the count burst into
laughing, and exclaimed, "He does it excellently well! I bet this fellow
can act any thing he likes: it is pity that he has not been already used
to something better."

So singular a prepossession was extremely galling to the rest: Melina
alone felt no vexation, but completely coincided with the count, and
answered, with a prostrate look, "Alas! it is too true: both he and
others of us have long stood in need of such encouragement, and such a
judge, as we now find in your Excellency."

"Is this the whole company?" inquired the count.

"Some of them are absent," said the crafty Melina; "and at any rate, if
we should meet with support, we could soon collect abundant numbers from
the neighborhood."

Philina in the mean while was saying to the countess, "There is a very
pretty young man above, who without doubt would shortly become a
first-rate amateur."

"Why does he not appear?" said the countess.

"I will bring him," cried Philina, hastening to the door.

She found our friend still occupied with Mignon: she persuaded him to
come down. He followed her with some reluctance: yet curiosity impelled
him; for, hearing that the family were people of rank, he longed much to
know more of them. On entering the room, his eyes met those of the
countess, which were directed towards him. Philina led him to the lady,
while the count was busied with the rest. Wilhelm made his bow, and
replied to several questions from the fair dame, not without confusion
of mind. Her beauty and youth, her graceful dignity and refined manner,
made the most delightful impression on him; and the more so, as her
words and looks were accompanied with a certain bashfulness, one might
almost say embarrassment. He was likewise introduced to the count, who,
however, took no special notice of him, but went to the window with his
lady, and seemed to ask her about something. It was easy to observe that
her opinion accorded strongly with his own; that she even tried to
persuade him, and strengthen him in his intentions.

In a short while he turned round to the company, and said, "I must not
stay at present, but I will send a friend to you; and if you make
reasonable proposals, and will take very great pains, I am not
disinclined to let you play at the castle."

All testified their joy at this: Philina in particular kissed the hands
of the countess with the greatest vivacity.

"Look you, little thing," said the lady, patting the cheeks of the
light-minded girl, "look you, child, you shall come to me again: I will
keep my promise; only you must dress better." Philina stated in excuse
that she had little to lay out upon her wardrobe; and the countess
immediately ordered her waiting-maids to bring from the carriage a silk
neckerchief and an English hat, the articles easiest to come at, and
give them to her new favorite. The countess herself then decked Philina,
who continued very neatly to support, by her looks and conduct, that
saintlike, guiltless character she had assumed at first.

The count took his lady's hand, and led her down. She bowed to the whole
company with a friendly air, in passing by them: she turned round again
towards Wilhelm, and said to him, with the most gracious mien, "We shall
soon meet again."

These happy prospects enlivened the whole party: every one of them gave
free course to his hopes, his wishes, his imaginations; spoke of the
parts he would play, and the applause he would acquire. Melina was
considering how he might still, by a few speedy exhibitions, gain a
little money from the people of the town before he left it; while others
went into the kitchen, to order a better dinner than of late they had
been used to.


After a few days the baron came, and it was not without fear that Melina
received him. The count had spoken of him as a critic: and it might be
dreaded, he would speedily detect the weakness of the little party, and
see that it formed no efficient troop; there being scarcely a play which
they could act in a suitable manner. But the manager, as well as all the
members, were soon delivered from their cares, on finding that the baron
was a man who viewed the German stage with a most patriotic enthusiasm,
to whom every player, and every company of players, was welcome and
agreeable. He saluted them all with great solemnity; was happy to come
upon a German theatre so unexpectedly, to get connected with it, and to
introduce their native Muses to the mansion of his relative. He then
pulled out from his pocket a bundle of stitched papers, in which Melina
hoped to find the terms of their contract specified; but it proved
something very different. It was a drama, which the baron himself had
composed, and wished to have played by them: he requested their
attention while he read it. Willingly they formed a circle round him,
charmed at being able with so little trouble to secure the favor of a
man so important; though, judging by the thickness of the manuscript, it
was clear that a very long rehearsal might be dreaded. Their
apprehensions were not groundless: the piece was written in five acts,
and that sort of acts which never have an end.

The hero was an excellent, virtuous, magnanimous, and at the same time
misunderstood and persecuted, man: this worthy person, after many
trials, gained the victory at last over all his enemies; on whom, in
consequence, the most rigorous poetic justice would have been exercised,
had he not pardoned them on the spot.

While this piece was rehearsing, each of the auditors had leisure
enough to think of himself, and to mount up quite softly from the humble
prostration of mind, to which, a little while ago, he had felt disposed,
into a comfortable state of contentment with his own gifts and
advantages, and, from this elevation, to discover the most pleasing
prospects in the future. Such of them as found in the play no parts
adapted for their own acting, internally pronounced it bad, and viewed
the baron as a miserable author; while the others, every time they
noticed any passage which they hoped might procure them a little
clapping of the hands, exalted it with the greatest praise, to the
immeasurable satisfaction of the author.

The commercial part of their affair was soon completed. Melina made an
advantageous bargain with the baron, and contrived to keep it secret
from the rest.

Of our friend, Melina took occasion to declare in passing, that he
seemed to be successfully qualifying himself for becoming a dramatic
poet, and even to have some capacities for being an actor. The baron
introduced himself to Wilhelm as a colleague; and the latter by and by
produced some short pieces, which, with a few other relics, had escaped
by chance, on the day when he threw the greater part of his works into
the flames. The baron lauded both his pieces and delivery: he spoke of
it as a settled thing, that Wilhelm should come over to the castle with
the rest. For all, at his departure, he engaged to find the best
reception, comfortable quarters, a good table, applauses, and presents;
and Melina further gave the promise of a certain modicum of pocket-money
to each.

It is easy to conceive how this visit raised the spirits of the party:
instead of a low and harassing situation, they now at once saw honors
and enjoyment before them. On the score of these great hopes they
already made merry, and each thought it needless and stingy to retain a
single _groschen_ of money in his purse.

Meanwhile our friend was taking counsel with himself about accompanying
the troop to the castle; and he found it, in more than one sense,
advisable to do so. Melina was in hopes of paying off his debt, at least
in part, by this engagement; and Wilhelm, who had come from home to
study men, was unwilling to let slip this opportunity of examining the
great world, where he expected to obtain much insight into life, into
himself, and the dramatic art. With all this, he durst not confess how
greatly he wished again to be near the beautiful countess. He rather
sought to persuade himself in general of the mighty advantages which a
more intimate acquaintance with the world of rank and wealth would
procure for him. He pursued his reflections on the count, the countess,
the baron; on the security, the grace, and propriety of their demeanor:
he exclaimed with rapture when alone,--

"Thrice happy are they to be esteemed, whom their birth of itself exalts
above the lower stages of mankind; who do not need to traverse those
perplexities, not even to skirt them, in which many worthy men so
painfully consume the whole period of life. Far-extending and unerring
must their vision be, on that higher station; easy each step of their
progress in the world. From their very birth, they are placed, as it
were, in a ship, which, in this voyage we have all to make, enables them
to profit by the favorable winds, and to ride out the cross ones; while
others, bare of help, must wear their strength away in swimming, can
derive little profit from the favorable breeze, and in the storm must
soon become exhausted, and sink to the bottom. What convenience, what
ease of movement, does a fortune we are born to confer upon us! How
securely does a traffic flourish, which is founded on a solid capital,
where the failure of one or of many enterprises does not of necessity
reduce us to inaction! Who can better know the worth and worthlessness
of earthly things, than he that has had within his choice the enjoyment
of them from youth upwards? and who can earlier guide his mind to the
useful, the necessary, the true, than he that may convince himself of so
many errors in an age when his strength is yet fresh to begin a new

Thus did our friend cry joy to all inhabitants of the upper regions,
and, not to them only, but to all that were permitted to approach their
circle, and draw water from their wells. So he thanked his own happy
stars, that seemed preparing to grant this mighty blessing to himself.

Melina, in the mean time, was torturing his brains to get the company
arranged according to their several provinces, and each of them
appointed to produce his own peculiar effect. In compliance with the
count's injunctions and his own persuasions, he made many efforts; but
at last, when it came to the point of execution, he was forced to be
content, if, in so small a troop, he found his people willing to adjust
themselves to this or that part as they best were able. When matters
would admit of it, Laertes played the lover; Philina the lady's maid;
the two young girls took up between them the characters of the artless
and tender loved ones; the boisterous old gentleman of the piece was
sure to be the best acted. Melina himself thought he might come forth as
chevalier; Madam Melina, to her no small sorrow, was obliged to satisfy
herself with personating young wives, or even affectionate mothers; and
as in the newer plays, a poet or pedant is rarely introduced, and still
more rarely for the purpose of being laughed at, the well-known favorite
of the count was now usually transformed into president or
minister,--these being commonly set forth as knaves, and severely
handled in the fifth act. Melina, too, in the part of chamberlain or the
like, introduced, with great satisfaction, the ineptitudes put into his
hands by various honest Germans, according to use and wont, in many
well-accepted plays: he delighted in these characters, because he had an
opportunity of decking himself out in a fashionable style, and was
called upon to assume the airs of a courtier, which he conceived himself
to possess in great perfection.

It was not long till they were joined by several actors from different
quarters; who, being received without very strict examination, were also
retained without very burdensome conditions.

Wilhelm had been more than once assailed with persuasions from Melina to
undertake an amateur part. This he declined; yet he interested and
occupied himself about the general cause with great alacrity, without
our new manager's acknowledging his labors in the smallest. On the
contrary, it seemed to be Melina's opinion, that with his office he had
at the same time picked up all the necessary skill for carrying it on.
In particular, the task of curtailment formed one of his most pleasing
occupations: he would succeed in reducing any given piece down to the
regular measure of time, without the slightest respect to proprieties or
proportions, or any thing whatever, but his watch. He met with great
encouragement; the public was very much delighted; the most knowing
inhabitants of the burgh maintained, that the prince's theatre itself
was not so well conducted as theirs.


At last the time arrived when the company had to prepare for travelling,
and to expect the coaches and other vehicles that were to carry them to
the count's mansion. Much altercation now took place about the mode of
travelling, and who should sit with whom. The ordering and distribution
of the whole was at length settled and concluded, with great labor, and,
alas! without effect. At the appointed hour, fewer coaches came than
were expected: they had to accommodate themselves as the case would
admit. The baron, who followed shortly afterwards on horseback,
assigned, as the reason, that all was in motion at the castle, not only
because the prince was to arrive a few days earlier than had been looked
for, but also because an unexpected party of visitors were already come:
the place, he said, was in great confusion; on this account perhaps they
would not lodge so comfortably as had been intended,--a change which
grieved him very much.

Our travellers packed themselves into the carriages the best way they
could; and the weather being tolerable, and the castle but a few leagues
distant, the heartiest of the troop preferred setting out on foot to
waiting the return of the coaches. The caravan got under way with great
jubilee, for the first time without caring how the landlord's bill was
to be paid. The count's mansion rose on their souls like a palace of the
fairies: they were the happiest and merriest mortals in the world. Each
throughout the journey, in his own peculiar mode, kept fastening a
continued chain of fortune, honor, and prosperity to that auspicious

A heavy rain, which fell unexpectedly, did not banish these delightful
contemplations; though, as it incessantly continued with more and more
violence, many of the party began to show traces of uneasiness. The
night came on; and no sight could be more welcome than the palace of the
count, which shone upon them from a hill at some distance, glancing with
light in all its stories, so that they could reckon every window.

On approaching nearer, they found all the windows in the wings
illuminated also. Each of the party thought within himself what chamber
would be his; and most of them prudently determined to be satisfied with
a room in the attic, or some of the side buildings.

They were now proceeding through the village, past the inn. Wilhelm
stopped the coach, in the mind to alight there; but the landlord
protested that it was not in his power to afford the least
accommodation: his lordship the count, he said, being visited by some
unexpected guests, had immediately engaged the whole inn; every chamber
in the house had been marked with chalk last night, specifying who was
to lodge there. Our friend was accordingly obliged, against his will, to
travel forward to the castle with the rest of the company.

In one of the side buildings, round the kitchen fire, they noticed
several cooks running busily about,--a sight which refreshed them not a
little. Servants came jumping hastily with lights to the staircase of
the main door, and the hearts of the worthy pilgrims overflowed at the
aspect of such honors. But how great was their surprise, when this
cordial reception changed into a storm of curses. The servants scouted
the coachman for driving in hither; they must wheel out again, it was
bawled, and take their loading round to the old castle; there was no
room here for such guests! To this unfriendly and unexpected dismissal,
they joined all manner of jeering, and laughed aloud at each other for
leaping out in the rain on so false an errand. It was still pouring; no
star was visible in the sky; while our company were dragged along a
rough, jolting road, between two walls, into the old mansion, which
stood behind, inhabited by none since the present count's father had
built the new residence in front of it. The carriages drew up, partly in
the court-yard, partly in a long, arched gateway; and the postilions,
people hired from the village, unyoked their horses, and rode off.

As nobody came forward to receive the travellers, they alighted from
their places, they shouted, and searched. In vain! All continued dark
and still. The wind swept through the lofty gate: the court and the old
towers were lying gray and dreary, and so dim that their forms could
scarcely be distinguished in the gloom. The people were all shuddering
and freezing; the women were becoming frightened; the children began to
cry; the general impatience was increasing every minute; so quick a
revolution of fortune, for which no one of them had been at all
prepared, entirely destroyed their equanimity.

Expecting every minute that some person would appear and unbolt the
doors, mistaking at one time the pattering of rain, at another the
rocking of the wind, for the much-desired footstep of the castle
bailiff, they continued downcast and inactive: it occurred to none of
them to go into the new mansion, and there solicit help from charitable
souls. They could not understand where their friend the baron was
lingering: they were in the most disconsolate condition.

At last some people actually arrived: by their voices, they were
recognized as the pedestrians who had fallen behind the others on the
journey. They intimated that the baron had tumbled with his horse, and
hurt his leg severely: and that, on calling at the castle, they, too,
had been roughly directed hither.

The whole company were in extreme perplexity: they guessed and
speculated as to what should now be done, but they could fix on nothing.
At length they noticed from afar a lantern advancing, and took fresh
breath at sight of it; but their hopes of quick deliverance again
evaporated, when the object approached, and came to be distinctly seen.
A groom was lighting the well-known _Stallmeister_ of the castle towards
them: this gentleman, on coming nearer, very anxiously inquired for
Mademoiselle Philina. No sooner had she stepped forth from the crowd,
than he very pressingly offered to conduct her to the new mansion, where
a little place had been provided for her with the countess's maids. She
did not hesitate long about accepting his proposal; she caught his arm,
and, recommending her trunk to the care of the rest, was going to hasten
off with him directly: but the others intercepted them, asking,
entreating, conjuring the _Stallmeister_; till at last, to get away with
his fair one, he promised every thing, assuring them, that, in a little
while, the castle should be opened, and they lodged in the most
comfortable manner. In a few moments they saw the glimmer of his lantern
vanish: they long looked in vain for another gleam of light. At last,
after much watching, scolding, and reviling, it actually appeared, and
revived them with a touch of hope and consolation.

An ancient footman opened the door of the old edifice, into which they
rushed with violence. Each of them now strove to have his trunk
unfastened, and brought in beside him. Most of this luggage, like the
persons of its owners, was thoroughly wetted. Having but a single light,
the process of unpacking went on very slowly. In the dark passages they
pushed against each other, they stumbled, they fell. They begged to have
more lights, they begged to have some fuel. The monosyllabic footman,
with much ado, consented to put down his own lantern; then went his
way, and came not again.

They now began to investigate the edifice. The doors of all the rooms
were open: large stoves, tapestry hangings, inlaid floors, yet bore
witness to its former pomp; but of other house-gear there was none to be
seen,--no table, chair, or mirror, nothing but a few monstrous, empty
bedsteads, stripped of every ornament and every necessary. The wet
trunks and knapsacks were adopted as seats: a part of the tired
wanderers placed themselves upon the floor. Wilhelm had sat down upon
some steps: Mignon lay upon his knees. The child was restless; and, when
he asked what ailed her, she answered, "I am hungry." He himself had
nothing that could still the craving of the child: the rest of the party
had consumed their whole provision, so he was obliged to leave the
little traveller without refreshment. Through the whole adventure he had
been inactive, silently immersed in thought. He was very sullen, and
full of indignant regret that he had not kept by his first
determination, and remained at the inn, though he should have slept in
the garret.

The rest demeaned themselves in various ways. Some of them had got a
heap of old wood collected within a vast, gaping chimney in the hall:
they set fire to the pile with great huzzaing. Unhappily, however, their
hopes of warming and drying themselves by means of it were mocked in the
most frightful manner. The chimney, it appeared, was there for ornament
alone, and was walled up above; so the smoke rushed quickly back, and at
once filled the whole chamber. The dry wood rose crackling into flames;
the flame was also driven back; the draught sweeping through the broken
windows gave it a wavering direction. Terrified lest the castle should
catch fire, the unhappy guests had to tear the burning sticks asunder,
to smother and trample them under their feet; the smoke increased; their
case was rendered more intolerable than before; they were driven to the
brink of desperation.

Wilhelm had retreated from the smoke into a distant chamber, to which
Mignon soon followed him, leading in a well-dressed servant, with a
high, clear, double-lighted lantern in his hand. He turned to Wilhelm,
and, holding out to him some fruits and confectionery on a beautiful
porcelain plate, "The young lady up-stairs," said he, "sends you this,
with the request that you would join her party: she bids me tell you,"
added the lackey, with a sort of grin, "that she is very well off
yonder, and wishes to divide her enjoyments with her friends."

Wilhelm had not at all expected such a message; for, ever since the
adventure on the stone bench, he had treated Philina with the most
decided contempt. He was still so resolute to have no more concern with
her that he thought of sending back her dainty gifts untasted, when a
supplicating look of Mignon's induced him to accept them. He returned
his thanks in the name of the child. The invitation he entirely
rejected. He desired the servant to exert himself a little for the
stranger company, and made inquiry for the baron. The latter, he was
told, had gone to bed, but had already, as the lackey understood, given
orders to some other person to take charge of these unfortunate and
ill-lodged gentlemen.

The servant went away, leaving one of his lights, which Wilhelm, in the
absence of a candlestick, contrived to fix upon the window-casement; and
now, at least in his meditations, he could see the four walls of his
chamber. Nor was it long till preparations were commenced for conducting
our travellers to rest. Candles arrived by degrees, though without
snuffers; then a few chairs; an hour afterwards came bed-clothes; then
pillows, all well steeped in rain. It was far past midnight when straw
beds and mattresses were produced, which, if sent at first, would have
been extremely welcome.

In the interim, also, somewhat to eat and drink had been brought in: it
was enjoyed without much criticism; though it looked like a most
disorderly collection of remains, and offered no very singular proof of
the esteem in which our guests were held.


The disorders and mischievous tricks of some frolicsome companions still
further augmented the disquietudes and distresses of the night: these
gay people woke each other; each played a thousand giddy pranks to
plague his fellow. The next morning dawned amid loud complaints against
their friend the baron, for having so deceived them, for having given so
very false a notion of the order and comfort that awaited their
arrival. However, to their great surprise and consolation, at an early
hour the count himself, attended by a few servants, made his entrance,
and inquired about their circumstances. He appeared much vexed on
discovering how badly they had fared; and the baron, who came limping
along, supported on the arm of a servant, bitterly accused the steward
for neglecting his commands on this occasion,--showing great anxiety to
have that person punished for his disobedience.

The count gave immediate orders that every thing should be arranged, in
his presence, to the utmost possible convenience of the guests. While
this was going on, some officers arrived, who forthwith scraped
acquaintance with the actresses. The count assembled all the company
before him, spoke to each by name, introduced a few jokes among his
observations; so that every one was charmed at the gracious
condescension of his lordship. At last it came to Wilhelm's turn. He
appeared with Mignon holding by his hand. Our friend excused himself, in
the best terms he could, for the freedom he had taken. The count, on the
other hand, spoke as if the visit had been looked for.

A gentleman, who stood beside the count, and who, although he wore no
uniform, appeared to be an officer, conversed with Wilhelm: he was
evidently not a common man. His large, keen blue eyes, looking out from
beneath a high brow; his light-colored hair, thrown carelessly back; his
middle stature; every thing about him,--showed an active, firm, and
decisive mode of being. His questions were lively. He seemed to be at
home in all that he inquired about.

Wilhelm asked the baron what this person was, but found that he had
little good to say of him. "He held the rank of major, was the special
favorite of the prince; managed his most secret affairs; was, in short,
regarded as his right arm,--nay, there was reason to believe him the
prince's natural son. He had been on embassies in France, England,
Italy. In all those places he had greatly distinguished himself, by
which means he was grown conceited; imagining, among other pretensions,
that he thoroughly understood the literature of Germany, and allowing
himself to vent all kinds of sorry jests upon it. He, the baron, was in
the habit of avoiding all intercourse with him; and Wilhelm would do
well to imitate that conduct, for it somehow happened that no one could
be near him without being punished for it. He was called Jarno, though
nobody knew rightly what to make of such a name."

Wilhelm had nothing to urge against all this: he had felt a sort of
inclination for the stranger, though he noticed in him something cold
and repulsive.

The company being arranged and distributed throughout the castle, Melina
issued the strictest orders that they should behave themselves with
decency, the women live in a separate quarter, and each direct his whole
attention to the study of dramatic art, and of the characters he had to
play. He posted up written ordinances, consisting of many articles, upon
all the doors. He settled the amount of fine which should be levied upon
each transgressor, and put into a common box.

This edict was but little heeded. Young officers went out and in; they
jested, not in the most modest fashion, with the actresses; made game of
the actors, and annihilated the whole system of police before it had the
smallest time to take root in the community. The people ran chasing one
another through the rooms; they changed clothes; they disguised
themselves. Melina, attempting to be rigorous with a few at first, was
exasperated by every sort of insolence; and, when the count soon after
sent for him to come and view the place where his theatre was to be
erected, matters grew worse and worse. The young gentry devised a
thousand broad jokes: by the help of some actors, they became yet
coarser. It seemed as if the old castle had been altogether given up to
an infuriate host, and the racket did not end till dinner.

Meanwhile, the count had led Melina over to a large hall, which, though
belonging to the old castle, communicated by a gallery with the new one:
it seemed very well adapted for being changed into a little theatre.
Here the sagacious lord of the mansion pointed out in person how he
wanted every thing to be.

The labor now commenced in the greatest haste; the stage apparatus was
erected and furbished up; what decorations they had brought along with
them and could employ were set in order, and what was wanting was
prepared by some skilful workmen of the count's. Wilhelm likewise put
his hand to the business; he assisted in settling the perspective, in
laying off the outlines of the scenery: he was very anxious that nothing
should be executed clumsily. The count, who frequently came in to
inspect their progress, was highly satisfied: he showed particularly how
they should proceed in every case, displaying an uncommon knowledge of
all the arts they were concerned with.

Next began the business of rehearsing, in good earnest; and there would
have been enough of space and leisure for this undertaking, had the
actors not continually been interrupted by the presence of visitors.
Some new guests were daily arriving, and each insisted on viewing the
operations of the company.


The baron had, for several days, been cheering Wilhelm with the hope of
being formally presented to the countess. "I have told this excellent
lady," said he, "so much about the talent and fine sentiment displayed
in your compositions, that she feels quite impatient to see you, and
hear one or two of them read. Be prepared, therefore, to come over at a
moment's notice; for, the first morning she is at leisure, you will
certainly be called on." He then pointed out to him the afterpiece it
would be proper to produce on that occasion; adding, that doubtless it
would recommend him to no usual degree of favor. The lady, he declared,
was extremely sorry that a guest like him had happened to arrive at a
time of such confusion, when they could not entertain him in a style
more suitable to his merits and their own wishes.

In consequence of this information, Wilhelm, with the most sedulous
attention, set about preparing the piece, which was to usher him into
the great world. "Hitherto," said he, "thou hast labored in silence for
thyself, applauded only by a small circle of friends. Thou hast for a
time despaired of thy abilities, and are yet full of anxious doubts
whether even thy present path is the right one, and whether thy talent
for the stage at all corresponds with thy inclination for it. In the
hearing of such practised judges, in the closet where no illusion can
take place, the attempt is far more hazardous than elsewhere; and yet I
would not willingly recoil from the experiment: I could wish to add this
pleasure to my former enjoyments, and, if it might be, to give extension
and stability to my hopes from the future."

He accordingly went through some pieces; read them with the keenest
critical eye; made corrections here and there; recited them aloud, that
he might be perfect in his tones and expression: and finally selected
the work which he was best acquainted with, and hoped to gain most honor
by. He put it in his pocket, one morning, on being summoned to attend
the countess.

The baron had assured him that there would be no one present but the
lady herself and a worthy female friend of hers. On entering the
chamber, the Baroness von C---- advanced with great friendliness to meet
him, expressed her happiness at gaining his acquaintance, and introduced
him to the countess, who was then under the hands of her hair-dresser.
The countess received him with kind words and looks. But it vexed him to
see Philina kneeling at her chair, and playing a thousand fooleries.
"The poor child," said the baroness, "has just been singing to us.
Finish the song you were in the midst of: we should not like to lose

Wilhelm listened to her quavering with great patience, being anxious for
the _friseur's_ departure before he should begin to read. They offered
him a cup of chocolate, the baroness herself handing him the biscuit.
Yet, in spite of these civilities, he relished not his breakfast: he was
longing too eagerly to lay before the lovely countess some performance
that might interest and gratify her. Philina, too, stood somewhat in his
way: on former occasions, while listening to him, she had more than once
been troublesome. He looked at the _friseur_ with a painful feeling,
hoping every moment that the tower of curls would be complete.

Meanwhile the count came in, and began to talk of the fresh visitors he
was expecting, of the day's occupations or amusements, and of various
domestic matters that were started. On his retiring, some officers sent
to ask permission of the countess to pay their respects to her, as they
had to leave the castle before dinner. The footman having come to his
post at the door, she permitted him to usher in the gentlemen.

The baroness, amid these interruptions, took pains to entertain our
friend, and showed him much consideration; all which he accepted with
becoming reverence, though not without a little absence of mind. He
often felt for the manuscript in his pocket, and hoped for his
deliverance every instant. He was almost losing patience, when a
man-milliner was introduced, and immediately began without mercy to open
his papers, bags, and bandboxes; pressing all his various wares upon
the ladies, with an importunity peculiar to that species of creature.

The company increased. The baroness cast a look at Wilhelm, and then
whispered with the countess: he noticed this, but did not understand the
purpose of it. The whole, however, became clear enough, when, after an
hour of painful and fruitless endurance, he went away. He then found a
beautiful pocket-book, of English manufacture, in his pocket. The
baroness had dexterously put it there without his notice; and soon
afterwards the countess's little black came out, and handed him an
elegantly flowered waistcoat, without very clearly saying whence it


This mingled feeling of vexation and gratitude spoiled the remainder of
his day; till, towards evening, he once more found employment. Melina
informed him that the count had been speaking of a little prelude, which
he wished to have produced in honor of the prince, on the day of his
Highness's arrival. He meant to have the great qualities of this noble
hero and philanthropist personified in the piece. These Virtues were to
advance together, to recite his praises, and finally to encircle his
bust with garlands of flowers and laurels; behind which a transparency
might be inserted, representing the princely Hat, and his name
illuminated on it. The count, Melina said, had ordered him to take
charge of getting ready the verses and other arrangements; and Wilhelm,
he hoped, to whom it must be an easy matter, would stand by him on this

"What!" exclaimed our friend, in a splenetic tone, "have we nothing but
portraits, illuminated names, and allegorical figures, to show in honor
of a prince, who, in my opinion, merits quite a different eulogy? How
can it flatter any reasonable man to see himself set up in effigy, and
his name glimmering on oiled paper? I am very much afraid that your
allegories, particularly in the present state of the wardrobe, will
furnish occasion for many ambiguities and jestings. If you mean,
however, to compose the play, or have it composed, I can have nothing to
object; only I desire to have no part or lot in the matter."

Melina excused himself; alleging this to be only a casual hint of his
lordship the count, who for the rest had left the arrangement of the
piece entirely in their own hands. "With all my heart," replied our
friend, "will I contribute something to the pleasure of this noble
family: my Muse has never had so pleasant an employment as to sing,
though in broken numbers, the praises of a prince who merits so much
veneration. I will think of the matter: perhaps I may be able to
contrive some way of bringing out our little troop, so as at least to
produce some effect."

From this moment Wilhelm eagerly reflected on his undertaking. Before
going to sleep he had got it all reduced to some degree of order; early
next morning his plan was ready, the scenes laid out; a few of the most
striking passages and songs were even versified and written down.

As soon as he was dressed, our friend made haste to wait upon the baron,
to submit the plan to his inspection, and take his advice upon certain
points connected with it. The baron testified his approbation of it, but
not without considerable surprise. For, on the previous evening, he had
heard his lordship talk of having ordered some quite different piece to
be prepared and versified.

"To me it seems improbable," replied our friend, "that it could be his
lordship's wish to have the piece got ready, exactly as he gave it to
Melina. If I am not mistaken, he intended merely to point out to us from
a distance the path we were to follow. The amateur and critic shows the
artist what is wanted, and then leaves to him the care of producing it
by his own means."

"Not at all," replied the baron: "his lordship understands that the
piece shall be composed according to that and no other plan which he has
himself prescribed. Yours has, indeed, a remote similarity with his
idea; but if we mean to accomplish our purpose, and get the count
diverted from his first thought, we shall need to employ the ladies in
the matter. The baroness especially contrives to execute such operations
in the most masterly manner: the question is now, whether your plan
shall so please her, that she will undertake the business; in that case
it will certainly succeed."

"We need the assistance of the ladies," said our friend, "at any rate;
for neither our company nor our wardrobe would suffice without them. I
have counted on some pretty children, that are running up and down the
house, and belong to certain of the servants."

He then desired the baron to communicate his plan to the ladies. The
baron soon returned with intelligence that they wished to speak with
Wilhelm personally. That same evening, when the gentlemen sat down to
play, which, owing to the arrival of a certain general, was expected to
be deeper and keener than usual, the countess and her friend, under
pretext of some indisposition, would retire to their chamber, where
Wilhelm, being introduced by a secret staircase, might submit his
project without interruption. This sort of mystery, the baron said,
would give the adventure a peculiar charm; in particular the baroness
was rejoicing like a child in the prospect of their rendezvous, and the
more so, because it was to be accomplished secretly, and against the
inclination of the count.

Towards evening, at the appointed time, Wilhelm was sent for, and led in
with caution. As the baroness advanced to meet him in a small cabinet,
the manner of their interview brought former happy scenes for a moment
to his mind. She conducted him along to the countess's chamber, and they
now proceeded earnestly to question and investigate. He exhibited his
plan with the utmost warmth and vivacity, so that his fair audience were
quite decided in its favor. Our readers also will permit us to present a
brief sketch of it here.

The play was to open with a dance of children in some rural
scene,--their dance representing that particular game wherein each has
to wheel round, and gain the other's place. This was to be followed by
several variations of their play; till at last, in performing a dance of
the repeating kind, they were all to sing a merry song.

Here the old harper with Mignon was to enter, and, by the curiosity
which they excited, gather several country-people round them; the harper
would sing various songs in praise of peace, repose, and joy; and Mignon
would then dance the egg-dance.

In these innocent delights, they are disturbed by the sound of martial
music; and the party are surprised by a troop of soldiers. The men stand
on the defensive, and are overcome: the girls flee, and are overtaken.
In the tumult all seems going to destruction, when a person (about whose
form and qualities the poet was not yet determined) enters, and, by
signifying that the general is near, restores composure. Whereupon the
hero's character is painted in the finest colors; security is promised
in the midst of arms; violence and lawless disorder are now to be
restrained. A universal festival is held in honor of the noble-minded

The countess and her friend expressed great satisfaction with the plan;
only they maintained that there must of necessity be something of
allegory introduced, to make it palatable to his lordship. The baron
proposed that the leader of the soldiers should be represented as the
Genius of Dissension and Violence; that Minerva should then advance to
bind fetters on him, to give notice of the hero's approach, and
celebrate his praise. The baroness undertook the task of persuading the
count that this plan was the one proposed by himself, with a few
alterations; at the same time expressly stipulating, that without fail,
at the conclusion of the piece, the bust, the illuminated name, and the
princely Hat should be exhibited in due order; since otherwise, her
attempt was vain.

Wilhelm had already figured in his mind how delicately and how nobly he
would have the praises of his hero celebrated in the mouth of Minerva,
and it was not without a long struggle that he yielded in this point.
Yet he felt himself delightfully constrained to yield. The beautiful
eyes of the countess, and her lovely demeanor, would easily have moved
him to sin against his conscience as a poet; to abandon the finest and
most interesting invention, the keenly wished-for unity of his
composition, and all its most suitable details. His conscience as a
burgher had a trial no less hard to undergo, when the ladies, in
distributing the characters, pointedly insisted that he must undertake
one himself.

Laertes had received for his allotment the part of that violent war-god;
Wilhelm was to represent the leader of the peasants, who had some very
pretty and tender verses to recite. After long resistance he was forced
to comply: he could find no excuse, when the baroness protested that
their stage was in all respects to be regarded as a private one, and
that she herself would very gladly play on it, if they could find her a
fit occasion. On receiving his consent, they parted with our friend on
the kindest terms. The baroness assured him that he was an incomparable
man: she accompanied him to the little stairs, and wished him good-night
with a squeeze of the hand.


The interest in his undertakings, which the countess and her friend
expressed and felt so warmly, quickened Wilhelm's faculties and zeal:
the plan of his piece, which the process of describing it had rendered
more distinct, was now present in the most brilliant vividness before
his mind. He spent the greater part of that night, and the whole of next
morning, in the sedulous versification of the dialogue and songs.

He had proceeded a considerable way, when a message came, requiring his
attendance in the castle: the noble company, who were then at breakfast,
wished to speak with him. As he entered the parlor, the baroness
advanced to meet him, and, under pretext of wishing him good-morning,
whispered cunningly, "Say nothing of your piece but what you shall be

"I hear," cried the count to him, "that you are very busy working at my
prelude, which I mean to present in honor of the prince. I consent that
you introduce a Minerva into it; and we are just thinking beforehand how
the goddess shall be dressed, that we may not blunder in costume. For
this purpose I am causing them to fetch from the library all the books
that contain any figures of her."

At the same instant, one or two servants entered the parlor, with a huge
basket full of books of every shape and appearance.

Montfaucon, the collections of antique statues, gems, and coins, all
sorts of mythological writings, were turned up, and their plates
compared. But this was not enough. The count's faithful memory recalled
to him all the Minervas to be found in frontispieces, vignettes, or
anywhere else; and book after book was, in consequence, carried from the
library, till finally the count was sitting in a chaos of volumes.
Unable at last to recollect any other figure of Minerva, he observed
with a smile, "I durst bet, that now there is not a single Minerva in
all the library; and perhaps it is the first time that a collection of
books has been so totally deprived of the presence of its patron

The whole company were merry at this thought: Jarno particularly, who
had all along been spurring on the count to call for more and more
books, laughed quite immoderately.

"Now," said the count, turning to Wilhelm, "one chief point is,--which
goddess do you mean? Minerva, or Pallas? The goddess of war, or of the

"Would it not be best, your Excellency," said Wilhelm, "if we were not
clearly to express ourselves on this head; if, since the goddess plays a
double part in the ancient mythology, we also exhibited her here in a
double quality? She announces a warrior, but only to calm the tumults of
the people; she celebrates a hero by exalting his humanity; she conquers
violence, and restores peace and security."

The baroness, afraid lest Wilhelm might betray himself, hastily pushed
forward the countess's tailor, to give his opinion how such an antique
robe could best be got ready. This man, being frequently employed in
making masquerade dresses, very easily contrived the business: and as
Madam Melina, notwithstanding her advanced state of pregnancy, had
undertaken to enact the celestial virgin, the tailor was directed to
take her measure; and the countess, though with some reluctance,
selected from the wardrobe the clothes he was to cut up for that

The baroness, in her dexterous way, again contrived to lead Wilhelm
aside, and let him know that she had been providing all the other
necessaries. Shortly afterwards she sent him the musician, who had
charge of the count's private band; and this professor set about
composing what airs were wanted, or choosing from his actual stock such
tunes as appeared suitable. From this time all went on according to the
wishes of our friend: the count made no more inquiries about the piece;
being altogether occupied with the transparent decoration, destined to
surprise the spectators at the conclusion of the play. His inventive
genius, aided by the skill of his confectioner, produced, in fact, a
very pretty article. In the course of his travels, the count had
witnessed the most splendid exhibitions of this sort: he had also
brought home with him a number of copper-plates and drawings, and could
sketch such things with considerable taste.

Meanwhile Wilhelm finished the play, gave every one his part, and began
the study of his own. The musician also, having great skill in dancing,
prepared the ballet; so that every thing proceeded as it ought.

Yet one unexpected obstacle occurred, which threatened to occasion an
unpleasant gap in the performance. He had promised to himself a striking
effect from Mignon's egg-dance, and was much surprised when the child,
with her customary dryness of manner, refused to dance; saying she was
now his, and would no more go upon the stage. He sought to move her by
every sort of persuasion, and did not discontinue his attempt till she
began weeping bitterly, fell at his feet, and cried out, "Dearest
father! stay thou from the boards thyself!" Little heeding this caution,
he studied how to give the scene some other turn that might be equally

Philina, whose appointment was to act one of the peasant girls, and in
the concluding dance to give the single-voice part of the song, and lead
the chorus, felt exceedingly delighted that it had been so ordered. In
other respects, too, her present life was altogether to her mind: she
had her separate chamber; was constantly beside the countess,
entertaining her with fooleries, and daily received some present for her
pains. Among other things, a dress had been expressly made for her
wearing in this prelude. And being of a light, imitative nature, she
quickly marked in the procedure of the ladies whatever would befit
herself: she had of late grown all politeness and decorum. The
attentions of the _Stallmeister_ augmented rather than diminished; and
as the officers also paid zealous court to her, living in so genial an
element, it came into her head for once in her life to play the prude,
and, in a quiet, gradual way, to take upon herself a certain dignity of
manner to which she had not before aspired. Cool and sharp-sighted as
she was, eight days had not elapsed till she knew the weak side of every
person in the house; so that, had she possessed the power of acting from
any constant motive, she might very easily have made her fortune. But on
this occasion, as on all others, she employed her advantages merely to
divert herself,--to procure a bright to-day, and be impertinent,
wherever she observed that impertinence was not attended with danger.

The parts were now committed to memory: a rehearsal of the piece was
ordered; the count purposed to be present at it, and his lady began to
feel anxious how he might receive it. The baroness called Wilhelm to her
privately. The nearer the hour approached, they all displayed the more
perplexity; for the truth was, that, of the count's original idea,
nothing whatever had been introduced. Jarno, who joined them while
consulting together, was admitted to the secret. He felt amused at the
contrivance, and was heartily disposed to offer the ladies his good
services in carrying it through. "It will go hard," said he, "if you
cannot extricate yourselves without help from this affair; but, at all
events, I will wait, as a body of reserve." The baroness then told them
how she had on various occasions recited the whole piece to the count,
but only in fragments and without order; that consequently he was
prepared for each individual passage, yet certainly possessed with the
idea that the whole would coincide with his original conception. "I will
sit by him," said she, "to-night at the rehearsal, and study to divert
his attention. The confectioner I have engaged already to make the
decoration as beautiful as possible, but as yet he has not quite
completed it."

"I know of a court," said Jarno, "where I wish we had a few such active
and prudent friends as you. If your skill to-night will not suffice,
give me a signal: I will take out the count, and not let him in again
till Minerva enter; and you have speedy aid to expect from the
illumination. For a day or two I have had something to report to him
about his cousin, which for various reasons I have hitherto postponed.
It will give his thoughts another turn, and that none of the

Business hindered the count from being present when the play began; the
baroness amused him after his arrival: Jarno's help was not required.
For as the count had abundance of employment in pointing out
improvements, rectifying and arranging the detached parts, he entirely
forgot the purport of the whole; and, as at last Madam Melina advanced,
and spoke according to his heart, and the transparency did well, he
seemed completely satisfied. It was not till the whole was finished, and
his guests were sitting down to cards, that the difference appeared to
strike him; and he began to think whether after all this piece was
actually of his invention. At a signal from the baroness, Jarno then
came forward into action; the evening passed away; the intelligence of
the prince's approach was confirmed; the people rode out more than once
to see his vanguard encamping in the neighborhood; the house was full of
noise and tumult; and our actors, not always served in the handsomest
manner by unwilling servants, had to pass their time in practisings and
expectations at their quarters in the old mansion, without any one
particularly taking thought about them.


At length the prince arrived, with all his generals, staff-officers, and
suite accompanying him. These, and the multitude of people coming to
visit or do business with him, made the castle like a beehive on the
point of swarming. All pressed forward to behold a man no less
distinguished by his rank than by his great qualities, and all admired
his urbanity and condescension: all were astonished at finding the hero
and the leader of armies also the most accomplished and attractive

By the count's orders, the inmates of the castle were required to be all
at their posts when the prince arrived: not a player was allowed to show
himself, that his Highness might have no anticipation of the spectacle
prepared to welcome him. Accordingly, when at evening he was led into
the lofty hall, glowing with light, and adorned with tapestries of the
previous century, he seemed not at all prepared to expect a play, and
still less a prelude in honor of himself. Every thing went off as it
should have done: at the conclusion of the show, the whole troop were
called and presented individually to the prince, who contrived, with the
most pleasing and friendly air, to put some question, or make some
remark, to every one of them. Wilhelm, as author of the piece, was
particularly noticed, and had his tribute of applause liberally paid

The prelude being fairly over, no one asked another word about it: in a
few days, it was as if it never had existed; except that occasionally
Jarno spoke of it to Wilhelm, judiciously praised it, adding, however,
"It is pity you should play with hollow nuts, for a stake of hollow
nuts." This expression stuck in Wilhelm's mind for several days: he knew
not how to explain it, or what to infer from it.

Meanwhile the company kept acting every night, as well as their
capacities permitted; each doing his utmost to attract the attention of
spectators. Undeserved applauses cheered them on: in their old castle
they fully believed, that the great assemblage was crowding thither
solely on their account; that the multitude of strangers was allured by
their exhibitions; that _they_ were the centre round which, and by means
of which, the whole was moving and revolving.

Wilhelm alone discovered, to his sorrow, that directly the reverse was
true. For although the prince had waited out the first exhibitions,
sitting on his chair, with the greatest conscientiousness, yet by
degrees he grew remiss in his attendance, and seized every plausible
occasion of withdrawing. And those very people whom Wilhelm, in
conversation, had found to be the best informed and most sensible, with
Jarno at their head, were wont to spend but a few transitory moments in
the hall of the theatre; sitting for the rest of their time in the
ante-chamber, gaming, or seeming to employ themselves in business.

Amid all his persevering efforts, to want the wished and hoped for
approbation grieved Wilhelm very deeply. In the choice of plays, in
transcribing the parts, in numerous rehearsals, and whatever further
could be done, he zealously co-operated with Melina, who, being in
secret conscious of his own insufficiency, at length acknowledged and
pursued these counsels. His own parts, Wilhelm diligently studied, and
executed with vivacity and feeling, and with all the propriety the
little training he had yet received would allow.

At the same time, the unwearied interest the baron took in their
performances obliterated every doubt from the minds of the rest of the
company: he assured them that their exhibitions were producing the
deepest effect, especially while one of his own pieces had been
representing; only he was grieved to say, the prince showed an exclusive
inclination for the French theatre; while a part of his people, among
whom Jarno was especially distinguished, gave a passionate preference to
the monstrous productions of the English stage.

If in this way the art of our players was not adequately noticed and
admired, their persons on the other hand grew not entirely indifferent
to all the gentlemen and all the ladies of the audience. We observed
above, that, from the very first, our actresses had drawn upon them the
attention of the young officers: in the sequel they were luckier, and
made more important conquests. But, omitting these, we shall merely
observe, that Wilhelm every day appeared more interesting to the
countess; while in him, too, a silent inclination towards her was
beginning to take root. Whenever he was on the stage, she could not turn
her eyes from him; and, erelong, he seemed to play and to recite with
his face towards her alone. To look upon each other, was to them the
sweetest satisfaction; to which their harmless souls yielded without
reserve, without cherishing a bolder wish, or thinking about any

As two hostile outposts will sometimes peacefully and pleasantly
converse together across the river which divides them, not thinking of
the war in which both their countries are engaged: so did the countess
exchange looks full of meaning with our friend, across the vast chasm of
birth and rank; both believing for themselves that they might safely
cherish their several emotions.

The baroness, in the mean time, had selected Laertes, who, being a
spirited and lively young man, pleased her very much; and who,
woman-hater as he was, felt unwilling to refuse a passing adventure. He
would actually on this occasion have been fettered, against his will, by
the courteous and attractive nature of the baroness, had not the baron
done him accidentally a piece of good, or, if you will, of bad, service,
by instructing him a little in the habits and temper of this lady.

Laertes, happening once to celebrate her praises, and give her the
preference to every other of her sex, the baron, with a grin, replied,
"I see how matters stand: our fair friend has got a fresh inmate for her
stalls." This luckless comparison, which pointed too clearly to the
dangerous caresses of the Circe, grieved poor Laertes to the heart: he
could not listen to the baron without spite and anger, as the latter
continued without mercy,--

"Every stranger thinks he is the first whom this delightful manner of
proceeding has concerned, but he is grievously mistaken; for we have
all, at one time or another, been trotted round this course. Man, youth,
or boy, be who he like, each must devote himself to her service for a
season, must hang about her, and toil and long to gain her favor."

To the happy man just entering the garden of an enchantress, and
welcomed by all the pleasures of an artificial spring, nothing can form
a more unpleasant surprise, than if, while his ear is watching and
drinking in the music of the nightingales, some transformed predecessor
on a sudden grunts at his feet.

After this discovery, Laertes felt heartily ashamed that vanity should
have again misled him to think well, even in the smallest degree, of any
woman whatsoever. He now entirely forsook the baroness; kept by the
_Stallmeister_, with whom he diligently fenced and hunted; conducting
himself at rehearsals and representations as if these were but secondary

The count and his lady would often in the mornings send for some of the
company to attend them, and all had continual cause to envy the
undeserved good fortune of Philina. The count kept his favorite, the
Pedant, frequently for hours together, at his toilet. This genius had
been dressed out by degrees: he was now equipped and furnished, even to
watch and snuff-box.

Many times, too, particularly after dinner, the whole company were
called out before the noble guests,--an honor which the artists regarded
as the most flattering in the world; not observing, that on these very
occasions the servants and huntsmen were ordered to bring in a multitude
of hounds, and to lead strings of horses about the court of the castle.

Wilhelm had been counselled to praise Racine, the prince's favorite, and
thereby to attract some portion of his Highness's favor to himself. On
one of these afternoons, being summoned with the rest, he found an
opportunity to introduce this topic. The prince asked him if he
diligently read the great French dramatic writers, to which Wilhelm
answered with a very eager "Yes." He did not observe that his Highness,
without waiting for the answer, was already on the point of turning
round to some one else: he fixed upon him, on the contrary, almost
stepping in his way, and proceeded to declare that he valued the French
theatre very highly, and read the works of their great masters with
delight; particularly he had learned with true joy that his Highness did
complete justice to the great talents of Racine. "I can easily
conceive," continued he, "how people of high breeding and exalted rank
must value a poet who has painted so excellently and so truly the
circumstances of their lofty station. Corneille, if I may say so, has
delineated great men; Racine, men of eminent rank. In reading his plays,
I can always figure to myself the poet as living at a splendid court,
with a great king before his eyes, in constant intercourse with the most
distinguished persons, and penetrating into the secrets of human nature,
as it works concealed behind the gorgeous tapestry of palaces. When I
study his "Britannicus," his "Bérénice," it seems as if I were
transported in person to the court, were initiated into the great and
the little, in the habitations of these earthly gods: through the fine
and delicate organs of my author, I see kings whom a nation adores,
courtiers whom thousands envy, in their natural forms, with their
failings and their pains. The anecdote of Racine's dying of a broken
heart, because Louis Fourteenth would no longer attend to him, and had
shown him his dissatisfaction, is to me the key to all his works. It was
impossible that a poet of his talents, whose life and death depended on
the looks of a king, should not write such works as a king and a prince
might applaud."

Jarno had stepped near, and was listening with astonishment. The prince,
who had made no answer, and had only shown his approbation by an
assenting look, now turned aside; though Wilhelm, who did not know that
it was contrary to etiquette to continue a discussion under such
circumstances, and exhaust a subject, would gladly have spoken more, and
convinced the prince that he had not read his favorite poet without
sensibility and profit.

"Have you never," said Jarno, taking him aside, "read one of
Shakspeare's plays?"

"No," replied Wilhelm: "since the time when they became more known in
Germany, I have myself grown unacquainted with the theatre; and I know
not whether I should now rejoice that an old taste, and occupation of my
youth, has been by chance renewed. In the mean time, all I have heard of
these plays has excited no wish to become acquainted with such
extraordinary monsters, which appear to set probability and dignity
alike at defiance."

"I would advise you," said the other, "to make a trial, notwithstanding:
it can do one no harm to look at what is extraordinary with one's own
eyes. I will lend you a volume or two; and you cannot better spend your
time, than by casting every thing aside, and retiring to the solitude of
your old habitation, to look into the magic-lantern of that unknown
world. It is sinful of you to waste your hours in dressing out these
apes to look more human, and teaching dogs to dance. One thing only I
require,--you must not cavil at the form: the rest I can leave to your
own good sense and feeling."

The horses were standing at the door; and Jarno mounted with some other
cavaliers, to go and hunt. Wilhelm looked after him with sadness. He
would fain have spoken much with this man, who, though in a harsh,
unfriendly way, gave him new ideas,--ideas he had need of.

Oftentimes a man, when approaching some development of his powers,
capacities, and conceptions, gets into a perplexity, from which a
prudent friend might easily deliver him. He resembles a traveller who,
at but a short distance from the inn he is to rest at, falls into the
water: were any one to catch him then, and pull him to the bank, with
one good wetting it were over; whereas, though he struggles out himself,
it is often at the side where he tumbled in; and he has to make a wide
and dreary circuit before reaching his appointed object.

Wilhelm now began to have an inkling that things went forward in the
world differently from what he had supposed. He now viewed close at hand
the solemn and imposing life of the great and distinguished, and
wondered at the easy dignity which they contrived to give it. An army on
its march, a princely hero at the head of it, such a multitude of
co-operating warriors, such a multitude of crowding worshippers, exalted
his imagination. In this mood he received the promised books; and
erelong, as may be easily supposed, the stream of that mighty genius
laid hold of him, and led him down to a shoreless ocean, where he soon
completely forgot and lost himself.


The connection between the baron and the actors had suffered various
changes since the arrival of the latter. At the commencement it had been
productive of great satisfaction to both parties. As the baron for the
first time in his life now saw one of those plays, with which he had
already graced a private theatre, put into the hands of real actors, and
in the fair way for a decent exhibition, he showed the benignest humor
in the world. He was liberal in gifts: he bought little presents for the
actresses from every millinery hawker, and contrived to send over many
an odd bottle of champagne to the actors. In return for all this, our
company took every sort of trouble with his play; and Wilhelm spared no
diligence in learning, with extreme correctness, the sublime speeches of
that very eminent hero, whose part had fallen to his share.

But, in spite of all these kind reciprocities, some clouds by degrees
arose between the players and their patron. The baron's preference for
certain actors became daily more observable: this of necessity chagrined
the rest. He exalted his favorites quite exclusively, and thus, of
course, introduced disunion and jealousy among the company. Melina,
without skill to help himself in dubious junctures, felt his situation
very vexing. The persons eulogized accepted of their praise, without
being singularly thankful for it; while the neglected gentlemen showed
traces of their spleen by a thousand methods, and constantly found means
to make it very disagreeable for their once much-honored patron to
appear among them. Their spite received no little nourishment from a
certain poem, by an unknown author, which made a great sensation in the
castle. Previously to this the baron's intercourse with the company had
given rise to many little strokes of merriment; several stories had been
raised about him; certain little incidents, adorned with suitable
additions, and presented in the proper light, had been talked of, and
made the subject of much bantering and laughter. At last it began to be
said that a certain rivalry of trade was arising between him and some of
the actors, who also looked upon themselves as writers. The poem we
spoke of was founded upon this report: it ran as follows:--

    "Lord Baron, I, poor devil, own
      With envy, you your rank and state;
    Your station, too, so near the throne;
      Of heirs your possessions great;
    Your father's seat, with walls and mounds,
    His game-preserves, and hunting-grounds.

    While me, poor devil, it appears,
      Lord Baron, you with envy view,
    Since Nature, from my early years,
      Has held me like a mother true,
    With heart and head both light, I poor,
    But no poor wight _grew_, to be sure.

    My dear Lord Baron, now to me
      It seems, we well alone should let,
    That you your father's son still be,
      And I remain my mother's pet:
    Let's free from envy live, and hate;
      Nor let's desire each other's title:
    No place you on Parnassus great,
      No noble rank I in requital."
                                  --_Editor's Version._

Upon this poem, which various persons were possessed of, in copies
scarcely legible, opinions were exceedingly divided. But who the author
was, no one could guess; and, as some began to draw a spiteful mirth
from it, our friend expressed himself against it very keenly.

"We Germans," he exclaimed, "deserve to have our Muses still continue in
the low contempt wherein they have languished so long; since we cannot
value men of rank who take a share in our literature, no matter how!
Birth, rank, and fortune are no wise incompatible with genius and taste;
as foreign nations, reckoning among their best minds a great number of
noblemen, can fully testify. Hitherto, indeed, it has been rare in
Germany for men of high station to devote themselves to science;
hitherto few famous names have become more famous by their love of art
and learning; while many, on the other hand, have mounted out of
darkness to distinction, and risen like unknown stars on the horizon.
Yet such will not always be the case; and I greatly err, if the first
classes of the nation are not even now in the way of also employing
their advantages to earn the fairest laurels of the Muses, at no distant
date. Nothing, therefore, grieves me more than to see the burgher
jeering at the noble who can value literature; nay, even men of rank
themselves, with inconsiderate caprice, maliciously scaring off their
equal from a path where honor and contentment wait on all."

Apparently this latter observation pointed at the count, of whom Wilhelm
had heard that he liked the poem very much. In truth, this nobleman,
accustomed to rally the baron in his own peculiar way, was extremely
glad of such an opportunity to plague his kinsman more effectually. As
to who the writer of the squib might be, each formed his own hypothesis;
and the count, never willing that another should surpass him in
acuteness, fell upon a thought, which, in a short time, he would have
sworn to the truth of. The verses could be written, he believed, by no
one but his Pedant, who was a very shrewd knave, and in whom, for a long
while, he had noticed some touches of poetic genius. By way of proper
treat, he therefore caused the Pedant one morning to be sent for, and
made him read the poem, in his own manner, in presence of the countess,
the baroness, and Jarno,--a service he was paid for by applauses,
praises, and a present; and, on the count's inquiring if he had not
still some other poems of an earlier time, he cunningly contrived to
evade the question. Thus did the Pedant get invested with the reputation
of a poet and a wit, and, in the eyes of the baron's friends, of a
pasquinader and a bad-hearted man. From that period, play as he might,
the count applauded him with greater zeal than ever; so that the poor
wight grew at last inflated till he nearly lost his senses, and began to
meditate having a chamber in the castle, like Philina.

Had this project been fulfilled at once, a great mishap might have been
spared him. As he was returning late one evening from the castle,
groping about in the dark, narrow way, he was suddenly laid hold of, and
kept on the spot by some persons, while some others rained a shower of
blows upon him, and battered him so stoutly, that in a few seconds he
was lying almost dead upon the place, and could not without difficulty
crawl in to his companions. These, indignant as they seemed to be at
such an outrage, felt their secret joy in the adventure: they could
hardly keep from laughing, at seeing him so thoroughly curried, and his
new brown coat bedusted through and through, and bedaubed with white, as
if he had had to do with millers.

The count, who soon got notice of the business, broke into a boundless
rage. He treated this act as the most heinous crime, called it an
infringement of the _Burgfried_, or peace of the castle, and caused his
judge to make the strictest inquisition touching it. The whited coat, it
was imagined, would afford a leading proof. Every creature that possibly
could have the smallest trade with flour or powder in the castle was
submitted to investigation, but in vain.

The baron solemnly protested on his honor, that although this sort of
jesting had considerably displeased him, and the conduct of his lordship
the count had not been the friendliest, yet he had got over the affair;
and with respect to the misfortune which had come upon the poet, or
pasquinader, or whatsoever his title might be, he knew absolutely
nothing, and had not the most remote concern in it.

The operations of the strangers, and the general commotion of the house,
soon effaced all recollection of the matter; and so, without redress,
the unlucky favorite had to pay dear for the satisfaction of pluming
himself, a short while, in feathers not his own.

Our troop, regularly acting every night, and on the whole very decently
treated, now began to make more clamorous demands, the better they were
dealt with. Erelong their victuals, drink, attendance, lodging, grew
inadequate; and they called upon the baron, their protector, to provide
more liberally for them, and at last make good those promises of
comfortable entertainment, which he had been giving them so long. Their
complaints grew louder, and the efforts of our friend to still them more
and more abortive.

Meanwhile, excepting in rehearsals and hours of acting, Wilhelm scarcely
ever came abroad. Shut up in one of the remotest chambers, to which
Mignon and the harper alone had free access, he lived and moved in the
Shakspearian world, feeling or knowing nothing but the movements of his
own mind.

We have heard of some enchanter summoning, by magic formulas, a vast
multitude of spiritual shapes into his cell. The conjurations are so
powerful that the whole space of the apartment is quickly full; and the
spirits, crowding on to the verge of the little circle which they must
not pass, around this, and above the master's head, keep increasing in
number, and ever whirling in perpetual transformation. Every corner is
crammed, every crevice is possessed. Embryos expand themselves, and
giant-forms contract into the size of nuts. Unhappily the black-artist
has forgot the counterword, with which he might command this flood of
sprites again to ebb.

So sat Wilhelm in his privacy: with unknown movements, a thousand
feelings and capacities awoke in him, of which he formerly had neither
notion nor anticipation. Nothing could allure him from this state: he
was vexed and restless if any one presumed to come to him, and talk of
news or what was passing in the world.

Accordingly, he scarce took notice of the circumstance, when told that a
judicial sentence was about being executed in the castle-yard,--the
flogging of a boy, who had incurred suspicions of nocturnal
housebreaking, and who, as he wore a peruke-maker's coat, had most
probably been one of the assaulters of the Pedant. The boy indeed, it
seemed, denied most obstinately; so that they could not inflict a formal
punishment, but meant to give him a slight memorial as a vagabond, and
send him about his business; he having prowled about the neighborhood
for several days, lain at night in the mills, and at last clapped a
ladder to the garden-wall, and mounted over by it.

Our friend saw nothing very strange in the transaction, and was
dismissing it altogether, when Mignon came running in, and assured him
that the criminal was Friedrich, who, since the rencounter with the
_Stallmeister_, had vanished from the company, and not again been heard

Feeling an interest in the boy, Wilhelm hastily arose: he found, in the
court-yard of the castle, the preparations almost finished. The count
loved solemnity on these occasions. The boy being now led out, our
friend stepped forward, and entreated for delay, as he knew the boy, and
had various things to say which might, perhaps, throw light on the
affair. He had difficulty in succeeding, notwithstanding all his
statements: at length, however, he did get permission to speak with the
culprit in private. Friedrich averred, that, concerning the assault in
which the Pedant had been used so harshly, he knew nothing whatever. He
had merely been lurking about, and had come in at night to see Philina,
whose room he had discovered, and would certainly have reached, had he
not been taken by the way.

For the credit of the company, Wilhelm felt desirous not to have the
truth of his adventure published. He hastened to the _Stallmeister_: he
begged him to show favor, and, with his intimate knowledge of men and
things about the castle, to find some means of quashing the affair, and
dismissing the boy.

This whimsical gentleman, by Wilhelm's help, invented a little
story,--how the boy had belonged to the troop, had run away from it, but
soon wished to get back, and be received again into his place; how he
had accordingly been trying in the night to come at certain of his
well-wishers, and solicit their assistance. It was testified by others
that his former behavior had been good: the ladies put their hands to
the work, and Friedrich was let go.

Wilhelm took him in,--a third person in that strange family, which for
some time he had looked on as his own. The old man and little Mignon
received the returning wanderer kindly; and all the three combined to
serve their friend and guardian with attention, and procure him all the
pleasure in their power.


Philina now succeeded in insinuating farther every day into the favor of
the ladies. Whenever they were by themselves, she was wont to lead the
conversation on the men whom they saw about the castle; and our friend
was not the last or least important that engaged them. The cunning girl
was well aware that he had made a deep impression on the countess: she
therefore talked about him often, telling much that she knew or did not
know, only taking care to speak of nothing that might be interpreted
against him; eulogizing, on the contrary, his nobleness of mind, his
generosity, and, more than all, his modest and respectful conduct to
the fair sex. To all inquiries made about him she replied with equal
prudence; and the baroness, when she observed the growing inclination of
her amiable friend, was likewise very glad at the discovery. Her own
intrigues with several men, especially of late with Jarno, had not
remained hidden from the countess, whose pure soul could not look upon
such levities without disapprobation, and meek, though earnest,

In this way both Philina and the baroness were personally interested in
establishing a closer intercourse between the countess and our friend.
Philina hoped, moreover, that there would occur some opportunity when
she might once more labor for herself, and, if possible, get back the
favor of the young man she had lost.

One day his lordship, with his guests, had ridden out to hunt; and their
return was not expected till the morrow. On this the baroness devised a
frolic, which was altogether in her way, for she loved disguises, and,
in order to surprise her friends, would suddenly appear among them as a
peasant-girl at one time, at another as a page, at another as a hunter's
boy. By which means she almost gave herself the air of a little fairy,
that is present everywhere, and exactly in the place where it is least
expected. Nothing could exceed this lady's joy, if, without being
recognized, she could contrive to wait upon the company for some time as
a servant, or mix among them anyhow, and then at last in some sportful
way disclose herself.

Towards night she sent for Wilhelm to her chamber, and, happening to
have something else to do just then, left Philina to receive and prepare

He arrived, and found to his surprise, not the honorable lady, but the
giddy girl, in the room. She received him with a certain dignified
openness of manner, which she had of late been practising, and so
constrained him likewise to be courteous.

At first she rallied him in general on the good fortune which pursued
him everywhere, and which, as she could not but see, had led him hither
in the present case. Then she delicately set before him the treatment
with which of late he had afflicted her; she blamed and upbraided
herself; confessed that she had but too well deserved such punishment;
described with the greatest candor what she called her _former_
situation; adding, that she would despise herself, if she were not
capable of altering, and making herself worthy of his friendship.

Wilhelm was struck with this oration. He had too little knowledge of the
world to understand that persons quite unstable, and incapable of all
improvement, frequently accuse themselves in the bitterest manner,
confessing and deploring their faults with extreme ingenuousness, though
they possess not the smallest power within them to retire from that
course, along which the irresistible tendency of their nature is
dragging them forward. Accordingly, he could not find in his heart to
behave inexorably to the graceful sinner: he entered into conversation,
and learned from her the project of a singular disguisement, wherewith
it was intended to surprise the countess.

He found some room for hesitation here, nor did he hide his scruples
from Philina: but the baroness, entering at this moment, left him not an
instant for reflection; she hurried him away with her, declaring it was
just the proper hour.

It was now grown dark. She took him to the count's wardrobe, made him
change his own coat with his lordship's silk night-gown, and put the cap
with red trimmings on his head. She then led him forward to the cabinet;
and bidding him sit down upon the large chair, and take a book, she lit
the Argand lamp which stood before him, and showed him what he was to
do, and what kind of part he had to play.

They would inform the countess, she said, of her husband's unexpected
arrival, and that he was in very bad humor. The countess would come in,
walk up and down the room once or twice, then place herself beside the
back of his chair, lay her arm upon his shoulder, and speak a few words.
He was to play the cross husband as long and as well as possible; and,
when obliged to disclose himself, he must behave politely, handsomely,
and gallantly.

Wilhelm was left sitting, restlessly enough, in this singular mask. The
proposal had come upon him by surprise: the execution of it got the
start of the deliberation. The baroness had vanished from the room,
before he saw how dangerous the post was which he had engaged to fill.
He could not deny that the beauty, the youth, the gracefulness, of the
countess had made some impression on him: but his nature was entirely
averse to all empty gallantry, and his principles forbade any thought of
more serious enterprises; so that his perplexity at this moment was in
truth extreme. The fear of displeasing the countess, and that of
pleasing her too well, were equally busy in his mind.

Every female charm that had ever acted on him, now showed itself again
to his imagination. Mariana rose before him in her white morning-gown,
and entreated his remembrance. Philina's loveliness, her beautiful hair,
her insinuating blandishments, had again become attractive by her late
presence. Yet all this retired as if behind the veil of distance, when
he figured to himself the noble, blooming countess, whose arm in a few
minutes he would feel upon his neck, whose innocent caresses he was
there to answer.

The strange mode in which he was to be delivered out of this perplexity
he certainly did not anticipate. We may judge of his astonishment, nay,
his terror, when the door opened behind him; and, at the first stolen
look in the mirror, he quite clearly discerned the count coming in with
a light in his hand. His doubt what he should do, whether he should sit
still or rise, should flee, confess, deny, or beg forgiveness, lasted
but a few instants. The count, who had remained motionless standing in
the door, retired, and shut it softly. At the same moment, the baroness
sprang forward by the side-door, extinguished the lamp, tore Wilhelm
from his chair, and hurried him with her into the closet. Instantly he
threw off the night-gown, and put it in its former place. The baroness
took his coat under her arm, and hastened with him through several
rooms, passages, and partitions into her chamber, where Wilhelm, so soon
as she recovered breath, was informed, that on her going to the
countess, and delivering the fictitious intelligence about her husband's
arrival, the countess had answered, "I know it already: what can have
happened? I saw him riding in, at the postern, even now." On which the
baroness, in an excessive panic, had run to the count's chamber to give

"Unhappily you came too late!" said Wilhelm. "The count was in the room
before you, and saw me sitting."

"And recognized you?"

"That I know not. He was looking at me in the glass, as I at him; and,
before I could well determine whether it was he or a spirit, he drew
back, and closed the door behind him."

The anxiety of the baroness increased, when a servant came to call her,
signifying that the count was with his lady. She went with no light
heart, and found the count silent and thoughtful, indeed, but milder and
kinder in his words than usual. She knew not what to think of it. They
spoke about the incidents of the chase, and the causes of his quick
return. The conversation soon ran out. The count became taciturn; and it
struck the baroness particularly, when he asked for Wilhelm, and
expressed a wish that he were sent for, to come and read something.

Wilhelm, who had now dressed himself in the baroness's chamber, and in
some degree recovered his composure, obeyed the order, not without
anxiety. The count gave him a book, out of which he read an adventurous
tale, very little at his ease. His voice had a certain inconstancy and
quivering in it, which fortunately corresponded with the import of the
story. The count more than once gave kindly tokens of approval, and at
last dismissed our friend, with praises of his exquisite manner of


Wilhelm had scarcely read one or two of Shakspeare's plays, till their
effect on him became so strong that he could go no farther. His whole
soul was in commotion. He sought an opportunity to speak with Jarno; to
whom, on meeting with him, he expressed his boundless gratitude for such
delicious entertainment.

"I clearly enough foresaw," said Jarno, "that you would not remain
insensible to the charms of the most extraordinary and most admirable of
all writers."

"Yes!" exclaimed our friend: "I cannot recollect that any book, any man,
any incident of my life, has produced such important effects on me, as
the precious works to which by your kindness I have been directed. They
seem as if they were performances of some celestial genius, descending
among men, to make them, by the mildest instructions, acquainted with
themselves. They are no fictions! You would think, while reading them,
you stood before the unclosed awful Books of Fate, while the whirlwind
of most impassioned life was howling through the leaves, and tossing
them fiercely to and fro. The strength and tenderness, the power and
peacefulness, of this man, have so astonished and transported me, that I
long vehemently for the time when I shall have it in my power to read

"Bravo!" said Jarno, holding out his hand, and squeezing our friend's.
"This is as it should be! And the consequences, which I hope for, will
likewise surely follow."

"I wish," said Wilhelm, "I could but disclose to you all that is going
on within me even now. All the anticipations I have ever had regarding
man and his destiny, which have accompanied me from youth upwards, often
unobserved by myself, I find developed and fulfilled in Shakspeare's
writings. It seems as if he cleared up every one of our enigmas to us,
though we cannot say, here or there is the word of solution. His men
appear like natural men, and yet they are not. These, the most
mysterious and complex productions of creation, here act before us as if
they were watches, whose dial-plates and cases were of crystal, which
pointed out, according to their use, the course of the hours and
minutes; while, at the same time, you could discern the combination of
wheels and springs that turned them. The few glances I have cast over
Shakspeare's world incite me, more than any thing beside, to quicken my
footsteps forward into the actual world, to mingle in the flood of
destinies that is suspended over it, and at length, if I shall prosper,
to draw a few cups from the great ocean of true nature, and to
distribute them from off the stage among the thirsting people of my
native land."

"I feel delighted with the temper of mind in which I now behold you,"
answered Jarno, laying his hand upon the shoulder of the excited youth:
"renounce not the purpose of embarking in active life. Make haste to
employ with alacrity the years that are granted you. If I can serve you,
I will with all my heart. As yet I have not asked you how you came into
this troop, for which you certainly were neither born nor bred. So much
I hope and see,--you long to be out of it. I know nothing of your
parentage, of your domestic circumstances: consider what you shall
confide to me. Thus much only I can say: the times of war we live in may
produce quick turns of fortune; did you incline devoting your strength
and talents to our service, not fearing labor, and, if need were,
danger, I might even now have an opportunity to put you in a situation,
which you would not afterwards be sorry to have filled for a time."
Wilhelm could not sufficiently express his gratitude: he was ready to
impart to his friend and patron the whole history of his life.

In the course of this conversation, they had wandered far into the
park, and at last came upon the highway that crossed it. Jarno stood
silent for a moment, and then said, "Deliberate on my proposal,
determine, give me your answer in a few days, and then let me have the
narrative you mean to trust me with. I assure you, it has all along to
me seemed quite incomprehensible how you ever could have any thing to do
with such a class of people. I have often thought with spleen and
disgust, how, in order to gain a paltry living, you must fix your heart
on a wandering ballad-monger, and a silly mongrel, neither male nor

He had not yet concluded, when an officer on horseback came hastily
along; a groom following him with a led horse. Jarno shouted a warm
salutation to him. The officer sprang from his horse; Jarno and he
embraced and talked together; while Wilhelm, confounded at the last
expressions of his warlike friend, stood thoughtfully at a side. Jarno
turned over some papers which the stranger had delivered to him; while
the latter came to Wilhelm, held out his hand, and said with emphasis,
"I find you in worthy company: follow the counsel of your friend, and,
by doing so, accomplish likewise the desire of an unknown man, who takes
a genuine interest in you." So saying, he embraced Wilhelm, and pressed
him cordially to his breast. At the same instant Jarno advanced, and
said to the stranger, "It is best that I ride on with you: by this means
you may get the necessary orders, and set out again before night." Both
then leaped into their saddles, and left our astonished friend to his
own reflections.

Jarno's last words were still ringing in his ears. It galled him to see
the two human beings that had most innocently won his affections so
grievously disparaged by a man whom he honored so much. The strange
embracing of the officer, whom he knew not, made but a slight impression
on him; it occupied his curiosity and his imagination for a moment: but
Jarno's speech had cut him to the heart; he was deeply hurt by it: and
now, in his way homewards, he broke out into reproaches against himself,
that he should for a single instant have mistaken or forgotten the
unfeeling coldness of Jarno, which looked out from his very eyes, and
spoke in all his gestures. "No!" exclaimed he, "thou conceivest,
dead-hearted worldling, that thou canst be a friend! All that thou hast
power to offer me is not worth the sentiment which binds me to these
forlorn beings. How fortunate that I have discovered in time what I had
to expect from thee!"

Mignon came to meet him as he entered: he clasped her in his arms,
exclaiming, "Nothing, nothing, shall part us, thou good little creature!
The seeming prudence of the world shall never cause me to forsake thee,
or forget what I owe thee!"

The child, whose warm caresses he had been accustomed to avoid, rejoiced
with all her heart at this unlooked-for show of tenderness, and clung so
fast to him that he had some difficulty to get loose from her.

From this period he kept a stricter eye on Jarno's conduct: many parts
of it he did not think quite praiseworthy; nay, several things came out
which totally displeased him. He had strong suspicions, for example,
that the verses on the baron, which the poor Pedant had so dearly paid
for, were composed by Jarno. And as the latter, in Wilhelm's presence,
had made sport of the adventure, our friend thought here was certainly a
symptom of a most corrupted heart; for what could be more depraved than
to treat a guiltless person, whose griefs one's self had occasioned,
with jeering and mockery, instead of trying to satisfy or to indemnify
him? In this matter Wilhelm would himself willingly have brought about
reparation; and erelong a very curious accident led him to obtain some
traces of the persons concerned in that nocturnal outrage.

Hitherto his friends had contrived to keep him unacquainted with the
fact, that some of the young officers were in the habit of passing whole
nights in merriment and jollity, with certain actors and actresses, in
the lower hall of the old castle. One morning, having risen early,
according to his custom, he happened to visit this chamber, and found
the gallant gentlemen just in the act of performing rather a singular
operation. They had mixed a bowl of water with a quantity of chalk, and
were plastering this gruel with a brush upon their waistcoats and
pantaloons, without stripping; thus very expeditiously restoring the
spotlessness of their apparel. On witnessing this piece of ingenuity,
our friend was at once struck with the recollection of the poor Pedant's
whited and bedusted coat: his suspicions gathered strength when he
learned that some relations of the baron were among the party.

To throw some light on his doubts, he engaged the youths to breakfast
with him. They were very lively, and told a multitude of pleasant
stories. One of them especially, who for a time had been on the
recruiting-service, was loud in praising the craft and activity of his
captain; who, it appeared, understood the art of alluring men of all
kinds towards him, and overreaching every one by the deception proper
for him. He circumstantially described how several young people of good
families and careful education had been cozened, by playing off to them
a thousand promises of honor and preferment; and he heartily laughed at
the simpletons, who felt so gratified, when first enlisted, at the
thought of being esteemed and introduced to notice by so reputable,
prudent, bold, and munificent an officer.

Wilhelm blessed his better genius for having drawn him back in time from
the abyss to whose brink he had approached so near. Jarno he now looked
upon as nothing better than a crimp: the embrace of the stranger officer
was easily explained. He viewed the feelings and opinions of these men
with contempt and disgust; from that moment he carefully avoided coming
into contact with any one that wore a uniform; and, when he heard that
the army was about to move its quarters, the news would have been
extremely welcome to him, if he had not feared, that, immediately on its
departure, he himself must be banished from the neighborhood of his
lovely friend, perhaps forever.


Meanwhile the baroness had spent several days disquieted by anxious
fears and unsatisfied curiosity. Since the late adventure, the count's
demeanor had been altogether an enigma to her. His manner was changed:
none of his customary jokes were to be heard. His demands on the company
and the servants had very much abated. Little pedantry or imperiousness
was now to be discerned in him; he was silent and thoughtful, yet withal
he seemed composed and placid; in short, he was quite another man. In
choosing the books, which now and then he caused to be read to him,
those of a serious, often a religious, cast, were pitched upon; and the
baroness lived in perpetual fright lest, beneath this apparent serenity,
a secret rancor might be lurking,--a silent purpose to revenge the
offence he had so accidentally discovered. She determined, therefore, to
make Jarno her confidant; and this the more freely, as that gentleman
and she already stood in a relation to each other where it is not usual
to be very cautious in keeping secrets. For some time Jarno had been her
dearest friend, yet they had been dexterous enough to conceal their
attachment and joys from the noisy world in which they moved. To the
countess alone this new romance had not remained unknown; and very
possibly the baroness might wish to get her fair friend occupied with
some similar engagement, and thus to escape the silent reproaches she
had often to endure from that noble-minded woman.

Scarcely had the baroness related the occurrence to her lover, when he
cried out laughing, "To a certainty the old fool believes that he has
seen his ghost! He dreads that the vision may betoken some misfortune,
perhaps death, to him; and so he is become quite tame, as all half-men
do, in thinking of that consummation which no one has escaped or will
escape. Softly a little! As I hope he will live long enough, we may now
train him at least, so that he shall not again give disturbance to his
wife and household."

They accordingly, as soon as any opportunity occurred, began talking, in
the presence of the count, about warnings, visions, apparitions, and the
like. Jarno played the sceptic, the baroness likewise; and they carried
it so far, that his lordship at last took Jarno aside, reproved him for
his free-thinking, and produced his own experience to prove the
possibility, nay, actual occurrence, of such preternatural events. Jarno
affected to be struck, to be in doubt, and finally to be convinced; but,
in private with his friend, he made himself so much the merrier at the
credulous weakling, who had thus been cured of his evil habits by a
bugbear, but who, they admitted, still deserved some praise for
expecting dire calamity, or death itself, with such composure.

"The natural result which the present apparition might have had, would
possibly have ruffled him!" exclaimed the baroness, with her wonted
vivacity; to which, when anxiety was taken from her heart, she had
instantly returned. Jarno was richly rewarded; and the two contrived
fresh projects for frightening the count still further, and still
further exciting and confirming the affection of the countess for

With this intention, the whole story was related to the countess. She,
indeed, expressed her displeasure at such conduct; but from that time
she became more thoughtful, and in peaceful moments seemed to be
considering, pursuing, and painting out that scene which had been
prepared for her.

The preparations now going forward on every side left no room for doubt
that the armies were soon to move in advance, and the prince at the same
time to change his headquarters. It was even said that the count
intended leaving his castle, and returning to the city. Our players
could therefore, without difficulty, calculate the aspect of their
stars; yet none of them, except Melina, took any measures in
consequence: the rest strove only to catch as much enjoyment as they
could from the moment that was passing over them.

Wilhelm, in the mean time, was engaged with a peculiar task. The
countess had required from him a copy of his writings, and he looked on
this request as the noblest recompense for his labors.

A young author, who has not yet seen himself in print, will, in such a
case, apply no ordinary care to provide a clear and beautiful transcript
of his works. It is like the golden age of authorship: he feels
transported into those centuries when the press had not inundated the
world with so many useless writings, when none but excellent
performances were copied, and kept by the noblest men; and he easily
admits the illusion, that his own accurately ruled and measured
manuscript may itself prove an excellent performance, worthy to be kept
and valued by some future critic.

The prince being shortly to depart, a great entertainment had been
appointed in honor of him. Many ladies of the neighborhood were invited,
and the countess had dressed betimes. On this occasion she had taken a
costlier suit than usual. Her head-dress, and the decorations of her
hair, were more exquisite and studied: she wore all her jewels. The
baroness, too, had done her utmost to appear with becoming taste and

Philina, observing that both ladies, in expectation of their guests,
felt the time rather tedious, proposed to send for Wilhelm, who was
wishing to present his manuscript, now completed, and to read them some
other little pieces. He came, and on his entrance was astonished at the
form and the graces of the countess, which her decorations had but made
more visible and striking. Being ordered by the ladies, he began to
read; but with so much absence of mind, and so badly, that, had not his
audience been excessively indulgent, they would very soon have dismissed

Every time he looked at the countess, it seemed to him as if a spark of
electric fire were glancing before his eyes. In the end he knew not
where to find the breath he wanted for his reading. The countess had
always pleased him, but now it appeared as if he never had beheld a
being so perfect and so lovely. A thousand thoughts flitted up and down
his soul: what follows might be nearly their substance.

"How foolish is it in so many poets, and men of sentiment as they are
called, to make war on pomp and decoration; requiring that women of all
ranks should wear no dress but what is simple, and conformable to
nature! They rail at decoration, without once considering, that, when we
see a plain or positively ugly person clothed in a costly and gorgeous
fashion, it is not the poor decoration that displeases us. I would
assemble all the judges in the world, and ask them here if they wished
to see one of these folds, of these ribbons and laces, these braids,
ringlets, and glancing stones, removed? Would they not dread disturbing
the delightful impression that so naturally and spontaneously meets us
here? Yes, naturally I will say! As Minerva sprang in complete armor
from the head of Jove; so does this goddess seem to have stepped forth
with a light foot, in all her ornaments, from the bosom of some flower."

While reading, he turned his eyes upon her frequently, as if he wished
to stamp this image on his soul forever: he more than once read wrong,
yet without falling into confusion of mind; though, at other times, he
used to feel the mistaking of a word or a letter as a painful deformity,
which spoiled a whole recitation.

A false alarm of the arrival of the guests put an end to the reading;
the baroness went out; and the countess, while about to shut her
writing-desk, which was standing open, took up her casket, and put some
other rings upon her finger. "We are soon to part," said she, keeping
her eyes upon the casket: "accept a memorial of a true friend, who
wishes nothing more earnestly than that you may always prosper." She
then took out a ring, which, underneath a crystal, bore a little plait
of woven hair beautifully set with diamonds. She held it out to Wilhelm,
who, on taking it, knew neither what to say nor do, but stood as if
rooted to the ground. The countess shut her desk, and sat down upon the

"And I must go empty?" said Philina, kneeling down at the countess's
right hand. "Do but look at the man: he carries such a store of words in
his mouth, when no one wants to hear them; and now he cannot stammer
out the poorest syllable of thanks. Quick, sir! Express your services by
way of pantomime at least; and if to-day you can invent nothing, then,
for Heaven's sake, be my imitator."

Philina seized the right hand of the countess, and kissed it warmly.
Wilhelm sank upon his knee, laid hold of the left, and pressed it to his
lips. The countess seemed embarrassed, yet without displeasure.

"Ah!" cried Philina, "so much splendor of attire, I may have seen
before, but never one so fit to wear it. What bracelets, but also what a
hand! What a neckdress, but also what a bosom."

"Peace, little cozener!" said the countess.

"Is this his lordship, then?" said Philina, pointing to a rich
medallion, which the countess wore on her left side, by a particular

"He is painted in his bridegroom-dress," replied the countess.

"Was he, then, so young?" inquired Philina: "I know it is but a year or
two since you were married."

"His youth must be placed to the artist's account," replied the lady.

"He is a handsome man," observed Philina. "But was there never," she
continued, placing her hand on the countess's heart, "never any other
image that found its way in secret hither?"

"Thou art very bold, Philina," cried she: "I have spoiled thee. Let me
never hear the like again."

"If you are angry, then am I unhappy," said Philina, springing up, and
hastening from the room.

Wilhelm still held that lovely hand in both of his. His eyes were fixed
on the bracelet-clasp: he noticed, with extreme surprise, that his
initials were traced on it, in lines of brilliants.

"Have I, then," he modestly inquired, "your own hair in this precious

"Yes," replied she in a faint voice; then, suddenly collecting herself,
she said, and pressed his hand, "Arise, and fare you well!"

"Here is my name," cried he, "by the most curious chance!" He pointed to
the bracelet-clasp.

"How?" cried the countess: "it is the cipher of a female friend!"

"They are the initials of my name. Forget me not. Your image is
engraven on my heart, and will never be effaced. Farewell! I must be

He kissed her hand, and meant to rise; but, as in dreams, some strange
thing fades and changes into something stranger, and the succeeding
wonder takes us by surprise; so, without knowing how it happened, he
found the countess in his arms: her lips were resting upon his, and
their warm mutual kisses were yielding them that blessedness which
mortals sip from the topmost sparkling foam on the freshly poured cup of

Her head lay on his shoulder: the disordered ringlets and ruffles were
forgotten. She had thrown her arm round him: he clasped her with
vivacity, and pressed her again and again to his breast. Oh that such a
moment could but last forever! And woe to envious Fate that shortened
even this brief moment to our friends!

How terrified was Wilhelm, how astounded did he start from his happy
dream, when the countess, with a shriek, on a sudden tore herself away,
and hastily pressed her hand against her heart.

He stood confounded before her: she held the other hand upon her eyes,
and, after a moment's pause, exclaimed, "Away! leave me! delay not!"

He continued standing.

"Leave me!" she cried; and, taking off her hand from her eyes, she
looked at him with an indescribable expression of countenance, and
added, in the most tender and affecting voice, "Flee, if you love me."

Wilhelm was out of the chamber, and again in his room, before he knew
what he was doing.

Unhappy creatures! What singular warning of chance or of destiny tore
them asunder?



Laertes was standing at the window in a thoughtful mood, resting on his
arm, and looking out into the fields. Philina came gliding towards him,
across the large hall: she leaned upon him, and began to mock him for
his serious looks.

"Do not laugh," replied he: "it is frightful to think how time goes on,
how all things change and have an end. See here! A little while ago
there was a stately camp: how pleasantly the tents looked! what restless
life and motion was within them! how carefully they watched the whole
enclosure! And, behold, it is all vanished in a day! For a short while,
that trampled straw, those holes which the cooks have dug, will show a
trace of what was here; and soon the whole will be ploughed and reaped
as formerly, and the presence of so many thousand gallant fellows in
this quarter will but glimmer in the memories of one or two old men."

Philina began to sing, and dragged forth her friend to dance with her in
the hall. "Since Time is not a person we can overtake when he is past,"
cried she, "let us honor him with mirth and cheerfulness of heart while
he is passing."

They had scarcely made a step or two, when Frau Melina came walking
through the hall. Philina was wicked enough to invite her to join them
in the dance, and thus to bring her in mind of the shape to which her
pregnancy had reduced her.

"That I might never more see a woman _in an interesting situation_!"
said Philina, when her back was turned.

"Yet she feels an _interest_ in it," said Laertes.

"But she manages so shockingly. Didst thou notice that wabbling fold of
her shortened petticoat, which always travels out before her when she
moves? She has not the smallest knack or skill to trim herself a little,
and conceal her state."

"Let her be," said Laertes. "Time will soon come to her aid."

"It were prettier, however," cried Philina, "if we could shake children
from the trees."

The baron entered, and spoke some kind words to them, adding a few
presents, in the name of the count and the countess, who had left the
place very early in the morning. He then went to Wilhelm, who was busy
in the side-chamber with Mignon. She had been extremely affectionate and
taking; had asked minutely about Wilhelm's parents, brothers, sisters,
and relations; and so brought to his mind the duty he owed his people,
to send them some tidings of himself.

With the farewell compliments of the family, the baron delivered him an
assurance from the count, that his lordship had been exceedingly obliged
by his acting, his poetical labors, and theatrical exertions. For proof
of this statement, the baron then drew forth a purse, through whose
beautiful texture the bright glance of new gold coin was sparkling out.
Wilhelm drew back, refusing to accept of it.

"Look upon this gift," said the baron, "as a compensation for your time,
as an acknowledgment of your trouble, not as the reward of your talents.
If genius procures us a good name and good will from men, it is fair
likewise, that, by our diligence and efforts, we should earn the means
to satisfy our wants; since, after all, we are not wholly spirit. Had we
been in town, where every thing is to be got, we should have changed
this little sum into a watch, a ring, or something of that sort; but, as
it is, I must place the magic rod in your own hands; procure a trinket
with it, such as may please you best and be of greatest use, and keep it
for our sakes. At the same time, you must not forget to hold the purse
in honor. It was knit by the fingers of our ladies: they meant that the
cover should give to its contents the most pleasing form."

"Forgive my embarrassment," said Wilhelm, "and my doubts about accepting
this present. It, as it were, annihilates the little I have done, and
hinders the free play of happy recollection. Money is a fine thing, when
any matter is to be completely settled and abolished: I feel unwilling
to be so entirely abolished from the recollection of your house."

"That is not the case," replied the baron; "but, feeling so tenderly
yourself, you could not wish that the count should be obliged to
consider himself wholly your debtor, especially when I assure you that
his lordship's highest ambition has always consisted in being punctual
and just. He is not uninformed of the labor you have undergone, or of
the zeal with which you have devoted all your time to execute his views;
nay, he is aware, that, to quicken certain operations, you have even
expended money of your own. With what face shall I appear before him,
then, if I cannot say that his acknowledgment has given you

"If I thought only of myself," said Wilhelm, "if I might follow merely
the dictates of my own feelings, I should certainly, in spite of all
these reasons, steadfastly refuse this gift, generous and honorable as
it is; but I will not deny, that, at the very moment when it brings me
into one perplexity, it frees me from another, into which I have lately
fallen with regard to my relations, and which has in secret caused me
much uneasiness. My management, not only of the time, but also of the
money, for which I have to give account, has not been the best; and now,
by the kindness of his lordship, I shall be enabled, with confidence, to
give my people news of the good fortune to which this curious by-path
has led me. I therefore sacrifice those feelings of delicacy, which,
like a tender conscience, admonish us on such occasions, to a higher
duty; and, that I may appear courageously before my father, I must
consent to stand ashamed before you."

"It is singular," replied the baron, "to see what a world of hesitation
people feel about accepting money from their friends and patrons, though
ready to receive any other gift with joy and thankfulness. Human nature
manifests some other such peculiarities, by which many scruples of a
similar kind are produced and carefully cherished."

"Is it not the same with all points of honor?" said our friend.

"It is so," replied the baron, "and with several other prejudices. We
must not root them out, lest in doing so we tear up noble plants along
with them. Yet I am always glad when I meet with men that feel superior
to such objections, when the case requires it; and I recall with
pleasure the story of that ingenious poet who had written several plays
for the court-theatre, which met with the monarch's warmest approbation.
'I must give him a distinguished recompense,' said the generous prince:
'ask him whether he would choose to have some jewel given him, or if he
would disdain to accept a sum of money.' In his humorous way, the poet
answered the inquiring courtier, 'I am thankful, with all my heart, for
these gracious purposes; and, as the emperor is daily taking money from
us, I see not wherefore I should feel ashamed of taking some from him.'"

Scarcely had the baron left the room, when Wilhelm eagerly began to
count the cash, which had come to him so unexpectedly, and, as he
thought, so undeservedly. It seemed as if the worth and dignity of gold,
not usually felt till later years, had now, by anticipation, twinkled in
his eyes for the first time, as the fine, glancing coins rolled out from
the beautiful purse. He reckoned up, and found, that, particularly as
Melina had engaged immediately to pay the loan, he had now as much or
more on the right side of his account as on that day when Philina first
asked him for the nosegay. With a little secret satisfaction, he looked
upon his talents; with a little pride, upon the fortune which had led
and attended him. He now seized the pen, with an assured mind, to write
a letter which might free his family from their anxieties, and set his
late proceedings in the most favorable light. He abstained from any
special narrative, and only by significant and mysterious hints left
them room for guessing at what had befallen him. The good condition of
his cash-book, the advantage he had earned by his talents, the favor of
the great and of the fair, acquaintance with a wider circle, the
improvement of his bodily and mental gifts, his hopes from the future,
altogether formed such a fair cloud-picture, that Fata Morgana itself
could scarcely have thrown together a stranger or a better.

In this happy exaltation, the letter being folded up, he went on to
maintain a conversation with himself, recapitulating what he had been
writing, and pointing out for himself an active and glorious future. The
example of so many gallant warriors had fired him; the poetry of
Shakspeare had opened a new world to him; from the lips of the beautiful
countess he had inhaled an inexpressible inspiration. All this could not
and would not be without effect.

The _Stallmeister_ came to inquire whether they were ready with their
packing. Alas! with the single exception of Melina, no one of them had
thought of it. Now, however, they were speedily to be in motion. The
count had engaged to have the whole party conveyed forward a few days'
journey on their way: the horses were now in readiness, and could not
long be wanted. Wilhelm asked for his trunk: Frau Melina had taken it to
put her own things in. He asked for money: Herr Melina had stowed it
all far down at the bottom of his box. Philina said she had still some
room in hers: she took Wilhelm's clothes, and bade Mignon bring the
rest. Wilhelm, not without reluctance, was obliged to let it be so.

While they were loading, and getting all things ready, Melina said, "I
am sorry we should travel like mountebanks and rope-dancers. I could
wish that Mignon would put on girl's clothes, and that the harper would
let his beard be shorn." Mignon clung firmly to Wilhelm, and cried, with
great vivacity, "I am a boy--I will be no girl!" The old man held his
peace; and Philina, on this suggestion, made some merry observations on
the singularity of their protector, the count. "If the harper should cut
off his beard," said she, "let him sew it carefully upon a ribbon, and
keep it by him, that he may put it on again whenever his lordship the
count falls in with him in any quarter of the world. It was this beard
alone that procured him the favor of his lordship."

On being pressed to give an explanation of this singular speech, Philina
said to them, "The count thinks it contributes very much to the
completeness of theatrical illusion if the actor continues to play his
part, and to sustain his character, even in common life. It was for this
reason that he showed such favor to the Pedant: and he judged it, in
like manner, very fitting that the harper not only wore his false beard
at nights on the stage, but also constantly by day; and he used to be
delighted at the natural appearance of the mask."

While the rest were laughing at this error, and the other strange
opinions of the count, the harper led our friend aside, took leave of
him, and begged, with tears, that he would even now let him go. Wilhelm
spoke to him, declaring that he would protect him against all the world;
that no one should touch a hair of his head, much less send him off
against his will.

The old man seemed affected deeply: an unwonted fire was glowing in his
eyes. "It is not that," cried he, "which drives me away. I have long
been reproaching myself in secret for staying with you. I ought to
linger nowhere; for misfortune flies to overtake me, and injures all
that are connected with me. Dread every thing, unless you dismiss me;
but ask me no questions. I belong not to myself. I cannot stay."

"To whom dost thou belong? Who can exert such a power on thee?"

"Leave me my horrid secret, and let me go! The vengeance which pursues
me is not of the earthly judge. I belong to an inexorable destiny. I
cannot stay, and I dare not."

"In the situation I see thee in, I shall certainly not let thee go."

"It were high treason against you, my benefactor, if I should delay. I
am secure while with you, but you are in peril. You know not whom you
keep beside you. I am guilty, but more wretched than guilty. My presence
scares happiness away, and good deeds grow powerless when I become
concerned in them. Fugitive, unresting I should be, that my evil genius
might not seize me, which pursues but at a distance, and only appears
when I have found a place, and am laying down my head to seek repose.
More grateful I cannot show myself than by forsaking you."

"Strange man! Thou canst neither take away the confidence I place in
thee, nor the hope I feel to see thee happy. I wish not to penetrate the
secrets of thy superstition; but if thou livest in belief of wonderful
forebodings, and entanglements of fate, then, to cheer and hearten thee,
I say, unite thyself to my good fortune, and let us see which genius is
the stronger, thy dark or my bright one."

Wilhelm seized this opportunity of suggesting to him many other
comfortable things; for of late our friend had begun to imagine that
this singular attendant of his must be a man, who, by chance or destiny,
had been led into some weighty crime, the remembrance of which he was
ever bearing on his conscience.

A few days ago Wilhelm, listening to his singing, had observed
attentively the following lines:--

    "For him the light of ruddy morn
      But paints the horizon red with flame;
    And voices, from the depths of nature borne,
      Woe! woe! upon his guilty head proclaim."

But, let the old man urge what arguments he pleased, our friend had
constantly a stronger argument at hand. He turned every thing on its
fairest side; spoke so bravely, heartily, and cheerily, that even the
old man seemed again to gather spirits, and to throw aside his whims.


Melina was in hopes to get established, with his company, in a small but
thriving town at some distance. They had already reached the place where
the count's horses were to turn, and now they looked about for other
carriages and cattle to transport them onward. Melina had engaged to
provide them a conveyance: he showed himself but niggardly, according to
his custom. Wilhelm, on the contrary, had the shining ducats of the
countess in his pocket, and thought he had the fullest right to spend
them merrily; forgetting very soon how ostentatiously he had produced
them in the stately balance transmitted to his father.

His friend Shakspeare, whom with the greatest joy he acknowledged as his
godfather, and rejoiced the more that his name was Wilhelm, had
introduced him to a prince, who frolicked for a time among mean, nay,
vicious companions, and who, notwithstanding his nobleness of nature,
found pleasure in the rudeness, indecency, and coarse intemperance of
these altogether sensual knaves. This ideal likeness, which he figured
as the type and the excuse of his own actual condition, was most welcome
to our friend; and the process of self-deception, to which already he
displayed an almost invincible tendency, was thereby very much

He now began to think about his dress. It struck him that a waistcoat,
over which, in case of need, one could throw a little short mantle, was
a very fit thing for a traveller. Long knit pantaloons, and a pair of
lacing-boots, seemed the true garb of a pedestrian. He next procured a
fine silk sash, which he tied about him, under the pretence at first of
securing warmth for his person. On the other hand, he freed his neck
from the tyranny of stocks, and got a few stripes of muslin sewed upon
his shirt; making the pieces of considerable breadth, so that they
presented the complete appearance of an ancient ruff. The beautiful silk
neckerchief, the memorial of Mariana, which had once been saved from
burning, now lay slackly tied beneath this muslin collar. A round hat,
with a party-colored band, and a large feather, perfected the mask.

The women all asserted that this garb became him very well. Philina in
particular appeared enchanted with it. She solicited his hair for
herself,--beautiful locks, which, the closer to approach the natural
ideal, he had unmercifully clipped. By so doing she recommended herself
not amiss to his favor; and our friend, who by his open-handedness had
acquired the right of treating his companions somewhat in Prince Harry's
manner, erelong fell into the humor of himself contriving a few wild
tricks, and presiding in the execution of them. The people fenced, they
danced, they devised all kinds of sports, and, in their gayety of heart,
partook of what tolerable wine they could fall in with in copious
proportions; while, amid the disorder of this tumultuous life, Philina
lay in wait for the coy hero,--over whom let his better genius keep

One chief diversion, which yielded the company a frequent and very
pleasing entertainment, consisted in producing an extempore play, in
which their late benefactors and patrons were mimicked, and turned into
ridicule. Some of our actors had seized very neatly whatever was
peculiar in the outward manner of several distinguished people in the
count's establishment; their imitation of these was received by the rest
of the party with the greatest approbation: and when Philina produced,
from the secret archives of her experience, certain peculiar
declarations of love that had been made to her, the audience were like
to die with laughing and malicious joy.

Wilhelm censured their ingratitude; but they told him in reply that
these gentry well deserved what they were getting, their general conduct
toward such deserving people, a sour friends believed themselves, not
having been by any means the best imaginable. The little consideration,
the neglect they had experienced, were now described with many
aggravations. The jesting, bantering, and mimicry proceeded as before:
our party were growing bitterer and more unjust every minute.

"I wish," observed Wilhelm, "there were no envy or selfishness lurking
under what you say, but that you would regard those persons and their
station in the proper point of view. It is a peculiar thing to be
placed, by one's very birth, in an elevated situation in society. The
man for whom inherited wealth has secured a perfect freedom of
existence; who finds himself from his youth upwards abundantly
encompassed with all the secondary essentials, so to speak, of human
life,--will generally become accustomed to consider these qualifications
as the first and greatest of all; while the worth of that mode of human
life, which nature from her own stores equips and furnishes, will strike
him much more faintly. The behavior of noblemen to their inferiors, and
likewise to each other, is regulated by external preferences. They give
each credit for his title, his rank, his clothes, and equipage; but his
individual merits come not into play."

This speech was honored with the company's unbounded applause. They
declared it to be shameful, that men of merit should constantly be
pushed into the background; and that, in the great world, there should
not be a trace of natural and hearty intercourse. On this latter point
particularly they overshot all bounds.

"Blame them not for it," said Wilhelm, "rather pity them! They have
seldom an exalted feeling of that happiness which we admit to be the
highest that can flow from the inward abundance of nature. Only to us
poor creatures is it granted to enjoy the happiness of friendship in its
richest fulness. Those dear to us we cannot elevate by our countenance,
or advance by our favor, or make happy by our presents. We have nothing
but ourselves. This whole self we must give away; and, if it is to be of
any value, we must make our friend secure of it forever. What an
enjoyment, what a happiness, for giver and receiver! With what
blessedness does truth of affection invest our situation! It gives to
the transitory life of man a heavenly certainty: it forms the crown and
capital of all that we possess."

While he spoke thus, Mignon had come near him: she threw her little arms
round him, and stood with her cheek resting on his breast. He laid his
hand on the child's head, and proceeded, "It is easy for a great man to
win our minds to him, easy to make our hearts his own. A mild and
pleasant manner, a manner only not inhuman, will of itself do
wonders,--and how many means does he possess of holding fast the
affections he has once conquered? To us, all this occurs less
frequently; to us it is all more difficult; and we naturally, therefore,
put a greater value on whatever, in the way of mutual kindness, we
acquire and accomplish. What touching examples of faithful servants
giving themselves up to danger and death for their masters? How finely
has Shakspeare painted out such things to us! Fidelity, in this case, is
the effort of a noble soul, struggling to become equal with one exalted
above it. By steadfast attachment and love, the servant is made equal to
his lord, who, but for this, is justified in looking on him as a hired
slave. Yes, these virtues belong to the lower class of men alone: that
class cannot do without them, and with them it has a beauty of its own.
Whoever is enabled to requite all favors easily will likewise easily be
tempted to raise himself above the habit of acknowledgment. Nay, in this
sense, I am of opinion it might almost be maintained, that a great man
may possess friends, but cannot be one."

Mignon clung more and more closely to him.

"It may be so," replied one of the party: "we do not need their
friendship, and do not ask it. But it were well if they understood a
little more about the arts, which they affect to patronize. When we
played in the best style, there was none to mind us: it was all sheer
partiality. Any one they chose to favor, pleased; and they did not
choose to favor those that merited to please. It was intolerable to
observe how often silliness and mere stupidity attracted notice and

"When I abate from this," said Wilhelm, "what seemed to spring from
irony and malice, I think we may nearly say, that one fares in art as he
does in love. And, after all, how shall a fashionable man of the world,
with his dissipated habits, attain that intimate presence with a special
object, which an artist must long continue in, if he would produce any
thing approaching to perfection,--a state of feeling without which it is
impossible for any one to take such an interest, as the artist hopes and
wishes, in his work?

"Believe me, my friends, it is with talents as with virtue; one must
love them for their own sake, or entirely renounce them. And neither of
them is acknowledged and rewarded, except when their possessor can
practise them unseen, like a dangerous secret."

"Meanwhile, until some proper judge discovers us, we may all die of
hunger," cried a fellow in the corner.

"Not quite inevitably," answered Wilhelm. "I have observed, that, so
long as one stirs and lives, one always finds food and raiment, though
they be not of the richest sort. And why should we repine? Were we not,
altogether unexpectedly, and when our prospects were the very worst,
taken kindly by the hand, and substantially entertained? And now, when
we are in want of nothing, does it once occur to us to attempt any thing
for our improvement, or to strive, though never so faintly, towards
advancement in our art? We are busied about indifferent matters; and,
like school-boys, we are casting all aside that might bring our lesson
to our thoughts."

"In sad truth," said Philina, "it is even so! Let us choose a play: we
will go through it on the spot. Each of us must do his best, as if he
stood before the largest audience."

They did not long deliberate: a play was fixed on. It was one of those
which at that time were meeting great applause in Germany, and have now
passed away. Some of the party whistled a symphony; each speedily
bethought him of his part; they commenced, and acted the entire play
with the greatest attention, and really well beyond expectation. Mutual
applauses circulated: our friends had seldom been so pleasantly

On finishing, they all felt exceedingly contented, partly on account of
their time being spent so well, partly because each of them experienced
some degree of satisfaction with his own performance. Wilhelm expressed
himself copiously in their praise: the conversation grew cheerful and

"You would see," cried our friend, "what advances we should make, if we
continued this sort of training, and ceased to confine our attention to
mere learning by heart, rehearsing and playing mechanically, as if it
were a barren duty, or some handicraft employment. How different a
character do our musical professors merit! What interest they take in
their art! how correct are they in the practisings they undertake in
common! What pains they are at in tuning their instruments; how exactly
they observe time; how delicately they express the strength and the
weakness of their tones! No one there thinks of gaining credit to
himself by a loud accompaniment of the solo of another. Each tries to
play in the spirit of the composer, each to express well whatever is
committed to him, be it much or little.

"Should not we, too, go as strictly and as ingeniously to work, seeing
we practise an art far more delicate than that of music,--seeing we are
called on to express the commonest and the strangest emotions of human
nature, with elegance, and so as to delight? Can any thing be more
shocking than to slur over our rehearsal, and in our acting to depend on
good luck, or the capricious choice of the moment? We ought to place our
highest happiness and satisfaction in mutually desiring to gain each
other's approbation: we should even value the applauses of the public
only in so far as we have previously sanctioned them among ourselves.
Why is the master of the band more secure about his music than the
manager about his play? Because, in the orchestra, each individual would
feel ashamed of his mistakes, which offend the outward ear; but how
seldom have I found an actor disposed to acknowledge or feel ashamed of
mistakes, pardonable or the contrary, by which the inward ear is so
outrageously offended! I could wish, for my part, that our theatre were
as narrow as the wire of a rope-dancer, that so no inept fellow might
dare to venture on it, instead of being, as it is, a place where every
one discovers in himself capacity enough to flourish and parade."

The company gave this apostrophe a kind reception; each being convinced
that the censure conveyed in it could not apply to him, after acting a
little while ago so excellently with the rest. On the other hand, it was
agreed, that during this journey, and for the future if they remained
together, they would regularly proceed with their training in the manner
just adopted. Only it was thought, that, as this was a thing of good
humor and free will, no formal manager must be allowed to have a hand in
it. Taking it for an established fact, that, among good men, the
republican form of government is the best, they declared that the post
of manager should go round among them: he must be chosen by universal
suffrage, and every time have a sort of little senate joined in
authority along with him. So delighted did they feel with this idea,
that they longed to put it instantly in practice.

"I have no objection," said Melina, "if you incline making such an
experiment while we are travelling: I shall willingly suspend my own
directorship until we reach some settled place." He was in hopes of
saving cash by this arrangement, and of casting many small expenses on
the shoulders of the little senate or of the interim manager. This
fixed, they went very earnestly to counsel how the form of the new
commonwealth might best be adjusted.

"'Tis an itinerating kingdom," said Laertes: "we shall at least have no
quarrels about frontiers."

They directly proceeded to the business, and elected Wilhelm as their
first manager. The senate also was appointed, the women having seat and
vote in it: laws were propounded, were rejected, were agreed to. In such
playing, the time passed on unnoticed; and, as our friends had spent it
pleasantly, they also conceived that they had really been effecting
something useful, and, by their new constitution, had been opening a new
prospect for the stage of their native country.


Seeing the company so favorably disposed, Wilhelm now hoped he might
further have it in his power to converse with them on the poetic merit
of the plays which might come before them. "It is not enough," said he
next day, when they were all again assembled, "for the actor merely to
glance over a dramatic work, to judge of it by his first impression, and
thus, without investigation, to declare his satisfaction or
dissatisfaction with it. Such things may be allowed in a spectator,
whose purpose it is rather to be entertained and moved than formally to
criticise. But the actor, on the other hand, should be prepared to give
a reason for his praise or censure; and how shall he do this, if he have
not taught himself to penetrate the sense, the views, and feelings of
his author? A common error is, to form a judgment of a drama from a
single part in it, and to look upon this part itself in an isolated
point of view, not in its connection with the whole. I have noticed this
within a few days, so clearly in my own conduct, that I will give you
the account as an example, if you please to hear me patiently.

"You all know Shakspeare's incomparable 'Hamlet:' our public reading of
it at the castle yielded every one of us the greatest satisfaction. On
that occasion we proposed to act the play; and I, not knowing what I
undertook, engaged to play the prince's part. This I conceived that I
was studying, while I began to get by heart the strongest passages, the
soliloquies, and those scenes in which force of soul, vehemence and
elevation of feeling, have the freest scope; where the agitated heart is
allowed to display itself with touching expressiveness.

"I further conceived that I was penetrating quite into the spirit of the
character, while I endeavored, as it were, to take upon myself the load
of deep melancholy under which my prototype was laboring, and in this
humor to pursue him through the strange labyrinths of his caprices and
his singularities. Thus learning, thus practising, I doubted not but I
should by and by become one person with my hero.

"But, the farther I advanced, the more difficult did it become for me to
form any image of the whole, in its general bearings; till at last it
seemed as if impossible. I next went through the entire piece, without
interruption; but here, too, I found much that I could not away with. At
one time the characters, at another time the manner of displaying them,
seemed inconsistent; and I almost despaired of finding any general tint,
in which I might present my whole part with all its shadings and
variations. In such devious paths I toiled, and wandered long in vain;
till at length a hope arose that I might reach my aim in quite a new

"I set about investigating every trace of Hamlet's character, as it had
shown itself before his father's death: I endeavored to distinguish what
in it was independent of this mournful event, independent of the
terrible events that followed; and what most probably the young man
would have been, had no such thing occurred.

"Soft, and from a noble stem, this royal flower had sprung up under the
immediate influences of majesty: the idea of moral rectitude with that
of princely elevation, the feeling of the good and dignified with the
consciousness of high birth, had in him been unfolded simultaneously. He
was a prince, by birth a prince; and he wished to reign, only that good
men might be good without obstruction. Pleasing in form, polished by
nature, courteous from the heart, he was meant to be the pattern of
youth and the joy of the world.

"Without any prominent passion, his love for Ophelia was a still
presentiment of sweet wants. His zeal in knightly accomplishments was
not entirely his own: it needed to be quickened and inflamed by praise
bestowed on others for excelling in them. Pure in sentiment, he knew the
honorable-minded, and could prize the rest which an upright spirit
tastes on the bosom of a friend. To a certain degree, he had learned to
discern and value the good and the beautiful in arts and sciences; the
mean, the vulgar, was offensive to him; and, if hatred could take root
in his tender soul, it was only so far as to make him properly despise
the false and changeful insects of a court, and play with them in easy
scorn. He was calm in his temper, artless in his conduct, neither
pleased with idleness, nor too violently eager for employment. The
routine of a university he seemed to continue when at court. He
possessed more mirth of humor than of heart: he was a good companion,
pliant, courteous, discreet, and able to forget and forgive an injury,
yet never able to unite himself with those who overstepped the limits of
the right, the good, and the becoming.

"When we read the piece again, you shall judge whether I am yet on the
proper track. I hope at least to bring forward passages that shall
support my opinion in its main points."

This delineation was received with warm approval; the company imagined
they foresaw that Hamlet's manner of proceeding might now be very
satisfactorily explained; they applauded this method of penetrating into
the spirit of a writer. Each of them proposed to himself to take up some
piece, and study it on these principles, and so unfold the author's


Our friends had to continue in the place for a day or two, and it was
not long ere sundry of them got engaged in adventures of a rather
pleasant kind. Laertes in particular was challenged by a lady of the
neighborhood, a person of some property; but he received her
blandishments with extreme, nay, unhandsome, coldness, and had in
consequence to undergo a multitude of jibes from Philina. She took this
opportunity of detailing to our friend the hapless love-story which had
made the youth so bitter a foe to womankind. "Who can take it ill of
him," she cried, "that he hates a sex which has played him so foul, and
given him to swallow, in one stoutly concentrated potion, all the
miseries that man can fear from woman? Do but conceive it: within four
and twenty hours, he was lover, bridegroom, husband, cuckold, patient,
and widower! I wot not how you could use a man worse."

Laertes hastened from the room half vexed, half laughing; and Philina in
her sprightliest style began to relate the story: how Laertes, a young
man of eighteen, on joining a company of actors, found in it a girl of
fourteen on the point of departing with her father, who had quarrelled
with the manager. How, on the instant, he had fallen mortally in love;
had conjured the father by all possible considerations to remain,
promising at length to marry the young woman. How, after a few pleasing
hours of groomship, he had accordingly been wedded, and been happy as he
ought; whereupon, next day, while he was occupied at the rehearsal, his
wife, according to professional rule, had honored him with a pair of
horns; and how as he, out of excessive tenderness, hastening home far
too soon, had, alas! found a former lover in his place, he had struck
into the affair with thoughtless indignation, had called out both father
and lover, and sustained a grievous wound in the duel. How father and
daughter had thereupon set off by night, leaving him behind to labor
with a double hurt. How the leech he applied to was unhappily the worst
in nature, and the poor fellow had got out of the adventure with
blackened teeth and watering eyes. That he was greatly to be pitied,
being otherwise the bravest young man on the surface of the earth.
"Especially," said she, "it grieves me that the poor soul now hates
women; for, hating women, how can one keep living?"

Melina interrupted them with news, that, all things being now ready for
the journey, they would set out to-morrow morning. He handed them a
plan, arranging how they were to travel.

"If any good friend take me on his lap," said Philina, "I shall be
content, though we sit crammed together never so close and sorrily: 'tis
all one to me."

"It does not signify," observed Laertes, who now entered.

"It is pitiful," said Wilhelm, hastening away. By the aid of money, he
secured another very comfortable coach; though Melina had pretended that
there were no more. A new distribution then took place; and our friends
were rejoicing in the thought that they should now travel pleasantly,
when intelligence arrived that a party of military volunteers had been
seen upon the road, from whom little good could be expected.

In the town these tidings were received with great attention, though
they were but variable and ambiguous. As the contending armies were at
that time placed, it seemed impossible that any hostile corps could have
advanced, or any friendly one hung a-rear, so far. Yet every man was
eager to exhibit to our travellers the danger that awaited them as truly
dangerous: every man was eager to suggest that some other route might be

By these means, most of our friends had been seized with anxiety and
fear; and when, according to the new republican constitution, the whole
members of the state had been called together to take counsel on this
extraordinary case, they were almost unanimously of opinion that it
would be proper either to keep back the mischief by abiding where they
were, or to evade it by choosing another road.

Wilhelm alone, not participating in the panic, regarded it as mean to
abandon, for the sake of mere rumors, a plan they had not entered on
without much thought. He endeavored to put heart into them: his reasons
were manly and convincing.

"It is but a rumor," he observed; "and how many such arise in time of
war! Well-informed people say that the occurrence is exceedingly
improbable, nay, almost impossible. Shall we, in so important a matter,
allow a vague report to determine our proceedings? The route pointed out
to us by the count, and to which our passport was adapted, is the
shortest and in the best condition. It leads us to the town, where you
see acquaintances, friends, before you, and may hope for a good
reception. The other way will also bring us thither; but by what a
circuit, and along what miserable roads! Have we any right to hope,
that, in this late season of the year, we shall get on at all? and what
time and money shall we squander in the mean while!" He added many more
considerations, presenting the matter on so many advantageous sides,
that their fear began to dissipate, and their courage to increase. He
talked to them so much about the discipline of regular troops, he
painted the marauders and wandering rabble so contemptuously, and
represented the danger itself as so pleasant and inspiring, that the
spirits of the party were altogether cheered.

Laertes from the first had been of his opinion: he now declared that he
would not flinch or fail. Old Boisterous found a consenting phrase or
two to utter, in his own vein; Philina laughed at them all; and Madam
Melina, who, notwithstanding her advanced state of pregnancy, had lost
nothing of her natural stout-heartedness, regarded the proposal as
heroic. Herr Melina, moved by this harmonious feeling, hoping also to
save somewhat by travelling the short road which had been first
contemplated, did not withstand the general consent; and the project was
agreed to with universal alacrity.

They next began to make some preparations for defence at all hazards.
They bought large hangers, and slung them in well-quilted straps over
their shoulders. Wilhelm further stuck a pair of pistols in his girdle.
Laertes, independently of this occurrence, had a good gun. They all took
the road in the highest glee.

On the second day of their journey, the drivers, who knew the country
well, proposed to take their noon's rest in a certain woody spot of the
hills; since the town was far off, and in good weather the hill-road was
generally preferred.

The day being beautiful, all easily agreed to the proposal. Wilhelm, on
foot, went on before them through the hills; making every one that met
him stare with astonishment at his singular figure. He hastened with
quick and contented steps across the forest; Laertes walked whistling
after him; none but the women continued to be dragged along in the
carriages. Mignon, too, ran forward by his side, proud of the hanger,
which, when the party were all arming, she would not go without. Around
her hat she had bound the pearl necklace, one of Mariana's relics, which
Wilhelm still possessed. Friedrich, the fair-haired boy, carried
Laertes's gun. The harper had the most pacific look; his long cloak was
tucked up within his girdle, to let him walk more freely; he leaned upon
a knotty staff; his harp had been left behind him in the carriage.

Immediately on reaching the summit of the height, a task not without its
difficulties, our party recognized the appointed spot, by the fine
beech-trees which encircled and screened it. A spacious green, sloping
softly in the middle of the forest, invited one to tarry; a trimly
bordered well offered the most grateful refreshment; and on the farther
side, through chasms in the mountains, and over the tops of the woods,
appeared a landscape distant, lovely, full of hope. Hamlets and mills
were lying in the bottoms, villages upon the plain: and a new chain of
mountains, visible in the distance, made the prospect still more
significant of hope; for they entered only like a soft limitation.

The first comers took possession of the place, rested a while in the
shade, lighted a fire, and so awaited, singing as they worked, the
remainder of the party, who by degrees arrived, and with one accord
saluted the place, the lovely weather, and still lovelier scene.


If our friends had frequently enjoyed a good and merry hour together
while within four walls, they were naturally much gayer here, where the
freedom of the sky and the beauty of the place seemed, as it were, to
purify the feelings of every one. All felt nearer to each other: all
wished that they might pass their whole lives in so pleasant an abode.
They envied hunters, charcoal-men, and wood-cutters,--people whom their
calling constantly retains in such happy places,--but prized, above all,
the delicious economy of a band of gypsies. They envied these wonderful
companions, entitled to enjoy in blissful idleness all the adventurous
charms of nature: they rejoiced at being in some degree like them.

Meanwhile the women had begun to boil potatoes, and to unwrap and get
ready the victuals brought along with them. Some pots were standing by
the fire. The party had placed themselves in groups, under the trees and
bushes. Their singular apparel, their various weapons, gave them a
foreign aspect. The horses were eating their provender at a side. Could
one have concealed the coaches, the look of this little horde would have
been romantic, even to complete illusion.

Wilhelm enjoyed a pleasure he had never felt before. He could now
imagine his present company to be a wandering colony, and himself the
leader of it. In this character he talked with those around him, and
figured out the fantasy of the moment as poetically as he could. The
feelings of the party rose in cheerfulness: they ate and drank and made
merry, and repeatedly declared that they had never passed more pleasant

Their contentment had not long gone on increasing, till activity awoke
among the younger part of them. Wilhelm and Laertes seized their
rapiers, and began to practise on this occasion with theatrical
intentions. They undertook to represent the duel in which Hamlet and his
adversary find so tragical an end. Both were persuaded, that, in this
powerful scene, it was not enough merely to keep pushing awkwardly
hither and thither, as it is generally exhibited in theatres: they were
in hopes to show by example how, in presenting it, a worthy spectacle
might also be afforded to the critic in the art of fencing. The rest
made a circle round them. Both fought with skill and ardor. The interest
of the spectators rose higher every pass.

But all at once, in the nearest bush, a shot went off, and immediately
another; and the party flew asunder in terror. Next moment armed men
were to be seen pressing forward to the spot where the horses were
eating their fodder, not far from the coaches that were packed with

A universal scream proceeded from the women: our heroes threw away their
rapiers, seized their pistols, and ran towards the robbers; demanding,
with violent threats, the meaning of such conduct.

This question being answered laconically, with a couple of musket-shots,
Wilhelm fired his pistol at a crisp-headed knave, who had got upon the
top of the coach, and was cutting the cords of the package. Rightly hit,
this artist instantly came tumbling down; nor had Laertes missed. Both,
encouraged by success, drew their side-arms; when a number of the
plundering party rushed out upon them, with curses and loud bellowing,
fired a few shots at them, and fronted their impetuosity with glittering
sabres. Our young heroes made a bold resistance. They called upon their
other comrades, and endeavored to excite them to a general resistance.
But, erelong, Wilhelm lost the sight of day, and the consciousness of
what was passing. Stupefied by a shot that wounded him between the
breast and the left arm, by a stroke that split his hat in two, and
almost penetrated to his brain, he sank down, and only by the narratives
of others came afterwards to understand the luckless end of this

On again opening his eyes, he found himself in the strangest posture.
The first thing that pierced the dimness, which yet swam before his
vision, was Philina's face bent down over his. He felt weak, and, making
a movement to rise, discovered that he was in Philina's lap; into which,
indeed, he again sank down. She was sitting on the sward. She had softly
pressed towards her the head of the fallen young man, and made for him
an easy couch, as far as in her power. Mignon was kneeling with
dishevelled and bloody hair at his feet, which she embraced with many

On noticing his bloody clothes, Wilhelm asked, in a broken voice, where
he was, and what had happened to him and the rest. Philina begged him to
be quiet: the others, she said, were all in safety, and none but he and
Laertes wounded. Further she would tell him nothing, but earnestly
entreated him to keep still, as his wounds had been but slightly and
hastily bound. He stretched out his hand to Mignon, and inquired about
the bloody locks of the child, who he supposed was also wounded.

For the sake of quietness, Philina let him know that this true-hearted
creature, seeing her friend wounded, and in the hurry of the instant
being able to think of nothing which would stanch the blood, had taken
her own hair, that was flowing round her head, and tried to stop the
wounds with it, but had soon been obliged to give up the vain attempt;
that afterwards they had bound him with moss and dry mushrooms, Philina
giving up her neckerchief for that purpose.

Wilhelm noticed that Philina was sitting with her back against her own
trunk, which still looked firmly locked and quite uninjured. He inquired
if the rest also had been so lucky as to save their goods. She answered
with a shrug of the shoulders, and a look over the green, where broken
chests, and coffers beaten into fragments, and knapsacks ripped up, and
a multitude of little wares, lay scattered all round. No person was to
be seen in the place, this strange group thus being alone in the

Inquiring further, our friend learned more and more particulars. The
rest of the men, it appeared, who, at all events, might still have made
resistance, were struck with terror, and soon overpowered. Some fled,
some looked with horror at the accident. The drivers, for the sake of
their cattle, had held out more obstinately; but they, too, were at last
thrown down and tied; after which, in a few minutes, every thing was
thoroughly ransacked, and the booty carried off. The hapless travellers,
their fear of death being over, had begun to mourn their loss; had
hastened with the greatest speed to the neighboring village, taking with
them Laertes, whose wounds were slight, and carrying off but a very few
fragments of their property. The harper, having placed his damaged
instrument against a tree, had proceeded in their company to the place,
to seek a surgeon, and return with his utmost rapidity to help his
benefactor, whom he had left apparently upon the brink of death.


Meanwhile our three adventurers continued yet a space in their strange
position, no one returning to their aid. Evening was advancing: the
darkness threatened to come on. Philina's indifference was changing to
anxiety; Mignon ran to and fro, her impatience increasing every moment;
and at last, when their prayer was granted, and human creatures did
approach, a new alarm fell upon them. They distinctly heard a troop of
horses coming up the road they had lately travelled: they dreaded lest a
second time some company of unbidden guests might be purposing to visit
this scene of battle, and gather up the gleanings.

The more agreeable was their surprise, when, after a few moments, a lady
issued from the thickets, riding on a gray courser, and accompanied by
an elderly gentleman and some cavaliers, followed by grooms, servants,
and a troop of hussars.

Philina started at this phenomenon, and was about to call, and entreat
the fair Amazon for help, when the latter turned her astonished eyes on
the group, instantly checked her horse, rode up to them, and halted. She
inquired eagerly about the wounded man, whose posture in the lap of this
light-minded Samaritan seemed to strike her as peculiarly strange.

"Is he your husband?" she inquired of Philina. "Only a friend," replied
the other, with a tone Wilhelm liked not at all. He had fixed his eyes
upon the soft, elevated, calm, sympathizing features of the stranger: he
thought he had never seen aught nobler or more lovely. Her shape he
could not see: it was hid by a man's white great-coat, which she seemed
to have borrowed from some of her attendants, to screen her from the
chill evening air.

By this the horsemen also had come near. Some of them dismounted: the
lady did so likewise. She asked, with humane sympathy, concerning every
circumstance of the mishap which had befallen the travellers, but
especially concerning the wounds of the poor youth who lay before her.
Thereupon she turned quickly round, and went aside with the old
gentleman to some carriages, which were slowly coming up the hill, and
which at length stopped upon the scene of action.

The young lady having stood with her conductor a short time at the door
of one of the coaches, and talked with the people in it, a man of a
squat figure stepped out, and came along with them to our wounded hero.
By the little box which he held in his hand, and the leathern pouch with
instruments in it, you soon recognized him for a surgeon. His manners
were rude rather than attractive; but his hand was light, and his help

Having examined strictly, he declared that none of the wounds were
dangerous. He would dress them, he said, on the spot; after which the
patient might be carried to the nearest village.

The young lady's anxiety seemed to augment. "Do but look," she said,
after going to and fro once or twice, and again bringing the old
gentleman to the place: "look how they have treated him! And is it not
on our account that he is suffering?" Wilhelm heard these words, but did
not understand them. She went restlessly up and down: it seemed as if
she could not tear herself away from the presence of the wounded man;
while at the same time she feared to violate decorum by remaining, when
they had begun, though not without difficulty, to remove some part of
his apparel. The surgeon was just cutting off the left sleeve of his
patient's coat, when the old gentleman came near, and represented to the
lady, in a serious tone, the necessity of proceeding on their journey.
Wilhelm kept his eyes bent on her, and was so enchanted with her looks,
that he scarcely felt what he was suffering or doing.

Philina, in the mean time, had risen to kiss the lady's hand. While they
stood beside each other, Wilhelm thought he had never seen such a
contrast. Philina had never till now appeared in so unfavorable a light.
She had no right, as it seemed to him, to come near that noble creature,
still less to touch her.

The lady asked Philina various things, but in an under-tone. At length
she turned to the old gentleman, and said, "Dear uncle, may I be
generous at your expense?" She took off the great-coat, with the visible
intention to give it to the stripped and wounded youth.

Wilhelm, whom the healing look of her eyes had hitherto held fixed, was
now, as the surtout fell away, astonished at her lovely figure. She came
near, and softly laid the coat above him. At this moment, as he tried to
open his mouth and stammer out some words of gratitude, the lively
impression of her presence worked so strongly on his senses, already
caught and bewildered, that all at once it appeared to him as if her
head were encircled with rays; and a glancing light seemed by degrees to
spread itself over all her form. At this moment the surgeon, making
preparations to extract the ball from his wound, gave him a sharper
twinge; the angel faded away from the eyes of the fainting patient; he
lost all consciousness; and, on returning to himself, the horsemen and
coaches, the fair one with her attendants, had vanished like a dream.


Wilhelm's wounds once dressed, and his clothes put on, the surgeon
hastened off, just as the harper with a number of peasants arrived. Out
of some cut boughs, which they speedily wattled with twigs, a kind of
litter was constructed, upon which they placed the wounded youth, and
under the conduct of a mounted huntsman, whom the noble company had left
behind them, carried him softly down the mountain. The harper, silent,
and shrouded in his own thoughts, bore with him his broken instrument.
Some men brought on Philina's box, herself following with a bundle.
Mignon skipped along through copse and thicket, now before the party,
now beside them, and looked up with longing eyes at her hurt protector.

He, meanwhile, wrapped in his warm surtout, was lying peacefully upon
the litter. An electric warmth seemed to flow from the fine wool into
his body: in short, he felt in the most delightful frame of mind. The
lovely being, whom this garment lately covered, had affected him to the
very heart. He still saw the coat falling down from her shoulders; saw
that noble form, begirt with radiance, stand beside him; and his soul
hied over rocks and forests on the footsteps of his vanished

It was nightfall when the party reached the village, and halted at the
door of the inn where the rest of the company, in the gloom of
despondency, were bewailing their irreparable loss. The one little
chamber of the house was crammed with people. Some of them were lying
upon straw, some were occupying benches, some had squeezed themselves
behind the stove. Frau Melina, in a neighboring room, was painfully
expecting her delivery. Fright had accelerated this event. With the sole
assistance of the landlady, a young, inexperienced woman, nothing good
could be expected.

As the party just arrived required admission, there arose a universal
murmur. All now maintained, that by Wilhelm's advice alone, and under
his especial guidance, they had entered on this dangerous road, and
exposed themselves to such misfortunes. They threw the blame of the
disaster wholly on him: they stuck themselves in the door, to oppose his
entrance; declaring that he must go elsewhere and seek quarters. Philina
they received with still greater indignation, nor did Mignon and the
harper escape their share.

The huntsman, to whom the care of the forsaken party had been earnestly
and strictly recommended by his beautiful mistress, soon grew tired of
this discussion: he rushed upon the company with oaths and menaces;
commanding them to fall to the right and left, and make way for this new
arrival. They now began to pacify themselves. He made a place for
Wilhelm on a table, which he shoved into a corner: Philina had her box
put there, and then sat down upon it. All packed themselves as they best
could, and the huntsman went away to see if he could not find for "the
young couple" a more convenient lodging.

Scarcely was he gone, when spite again grew noisy, and one reproach
began to follow close upon another. Each described and magnified his
loss, censuring the foolhardiness they had so keenly smarted for. They
did not even hide the malicious satisfaction they felt at Wilhelm's
wounds: they jeered Philina, and imputed to her as a crime the means by
which she had saved her trunk. From a multitude of jibes and bitter
innuendoes, you were required to conclude, that, during the plundering
and discomfiture, she had endeavored to work herself into favor with the
captain of the band, and had persuaded him, Heaven knew by what arts and
complaisance, to give her back the chest unhurt. To all this she
answered nothing, only clanked with the large padlocks of her box, to
impress her censurers completely with its presence, and by her own good
fortune to augment their desperation.


Though our friend was weak from loss of blood, and though, ever since
the appearance of that helpful angel, his feelings had been soft and
mild, yet at last he could not help getting vexed at the harsh and
unjust speeches which, as he continued silent, the discontented company
went on uttering against him. Feeling himself strong enough to sit up,
and expostulate on the annoyance they were causing to their friend and
leader, he raised his bandaged head, and propping himself with some
difficulty, and leaning against the wall, he began to speak as

"Considering the pain your losses occasion, I forgive you for assailing
me with injuries at a moment when you should condole with me; for
opposing and casting me from you the first time I have needed to look to
you for help. The services I did you, the complaisance I showed you, I
regarded as sufficiently repaid by your thanks, by your friendly
conduct: do not warp my thoughts, do not force my heart to go back and
calculate what I have done for you; the calculation would be painful to
me. Chance brought me near you, circumstances and a secret inclination
kept me with you. I participated in your labors and your pleasures: my
slender abilities were ever at your service. If you now blame me with
bitterness for the mishap that has befallen us, you do not recollect
that the first project of taking this road came to us from stranger
people, was weighed by all of you, and sanctioned by every one as well
as by me.

"Had our journey ended happily, each would have taken credit to himself
for the happy thought of suggesting this plan, and preferring it to
others; each would joyfully have put us in mind of our deliberations,
and of the vote he gave: but now you make me alone responsible; you
force a piece of blame upon me, which I would willingly submit to, if my
conscience, with a clear voice, did not pronounce me innocent, nay, if I
might not appeal with safety even to yourselves. If you have aught to
say against me, bring it forward in order, and I shall defend myself; if
you have nothing reasonable to allege, then be silent, and do not
torment me now, when I have such pressing need of rest."

By way of answer, the girls once more began whimpering and whining, and
describing their losses circumstantially. Melina was quite beside
himself; for he had suffered more in purse than any of them,--more,
indeed, than we can rightly estimate. He stamped like a madman up and
down the little room, he knocked his head against the wall, he swore and
scolded in the most unseemly manner; and the landlady entering at this
very time with news that his wife had been delivered of a dead child, he
yielded to the most furious ebullitions; while, in accordance with him,
all howled and shrieked, and bellowed and uproared, with double vigor.

Wilhelm, touched to the heart at the same time with sympathy for their
sorrows and with vexation at their mean way of thinking, felt all the
vigor of his soul awakened, notwithstanding the weakness of his body.
"Deplorable as your case may be," exclaimed he, "I shall almost be
compelled to despise you! No misfortune gives us right to load an
innocent man with reproaches. If I had share in this false step, am not
I suffering my share? I lie wounded here; and, if the company has come
to loss, I myself have come to most. The wardrobe of which we have been
robbed, the decorations that are gone, were mine; for you, Herr Melina,
have not yet paid me; and I here fully acquit you of all obligation in
that matter."

"It is well to give what none of us will ever see again," replied
Melina. "Your money was lying in my wife's coffer, and it is your own
blame that you have lost it. But, ah! if that were all!" And thereupon
he began anew to stamp and scold and squeal. Every one recalled to
memory the superb clothes from the count's wardrobe; the buckles,
watches, snuff-boxes, hats, for which Melina had so happily transacted
with the head valet. Each, then, thought also of his own, though far
inferior, treasures. They looked with spleen at Philina's box, and gave
Wilhelm to understand that he had indeed done wisely to connect himself
with that fair personage, and to save his own goods also, under the
shadow of her fortune.

"Do you think," he exclaimed at last, "that I shall keep any thing apart
while you are starving? And is this the first time I have honestly
shared with you in a season of need? Open the trunk: all that is mine
shall go to supply the common wants."

"It is _my_ trunk," observed Philina, "and I will not open it till I
please. Your rag or two of clothes, which I have saved for you, could
amount to little, though they were sold to the most conscientious of
Jews. Think of yourself,--what your cure will cost, what may befall you
in a strange country."

"You, Philina," answered Wilhelm, "will keep back from me nothing that
is mine; and that little will help us out of the first perplexity. But a
man possesses many things besides coined money to assist his friends
with. All that is in me shall be devoted to these hapless persons, who,
doubtless, on returning to their senses, will repent their present
conduct. Yes," continued he, "I feel that you have need of help; and,
what is mine to do, I will perform. Give me your confidence again;
compose yourselves for a moment, and accept of what I promise. Who will
receive the engagement of me in the name of all?"

Here he stretched out his hand, and cried, "I promise not to flinch from
you, never to forsake you till each shall see his losses doubly and
trebly repaired; till the situation you are fallen into, by whose blame
soever, shall be totally forgotten by all of you, and changed with a

He kept his hand still stretched out, but no one would take hold of it.
"I promise it again," cried he, sinking back upon his pillow. All
continued silent: they felt ashamed, but nothing comforted: and Philina,
sitting on her chest, kept cracking nuts, a stock of which she had
discovered in her pocket.


The huntsman now came back with several people, and made preparations
for carrying away the wounded youth. He had persuaded the parson of the
place to receive the "young couple" into his house; Philina's trunk was
taken out; she followed with a natural air of dignity. Mignon ran
before; and, when the patient reached the parsonage, a wide couch, which
had long been standing ready as guest's bed and bed of honor, was
assigned him. Here it was first discovered that his wound had opened,
and bled profusely. A new bandage was required for it. He fell into a
feverish state: Philina waited on him faithfully; and, when fatigue
overpowered her, she was relieved by the harper. Mignon, with the
firmest purpose to watch, had fallen asleep in a corner.

Next morning Wilhelm, who felt himself in some degree refreshed,
learned, by inquiring of the huntsman, that the honorable persons who
last night assisted him so nobly, had shortly before left their estates,
in order to avoid the movements of the contending armies, and remain,
till the time of peace, in some more quiet district. He named the
elderly nobleman, as well as his niece, mentioned the place they were
first going to, and told how the young lady had charged him to take care
of Wilhelm.

The entrance of the surgeon interrupted the warm expressions of
gratitude our friend was giving vent to. He made a circumstantial
description of the wounds, and certified that they would soon heal, if
the patient took care of them, and kept himself at peace.

When the huntsman was gone, Philina signified that he had left with her
a purse of twenty _louis-d'or_; that he had given the parson a
remuneration for their lodging, and left with him money to defray the
surgeon's bill when the cure should be completed. She added, that she
herself passed everywhere for Wilhelm's wife; that she now begged leave
to introduce herself once for all to him in this capacity, and would not
allow him to look out for any other sick-nurse.

"Philina," said Wilhelm, "in this disaster that has overtaken us, I am
already deeply in your debt, for kindness shown me; and I should not
wish to see my obligations increased. I am uneasy so long as you are
about me, for I know of nothing by which I can repay your labor. Give me
what things of mine you have saved in your trunk; join the rest of the
company; seek another lodging; take my thanks, and the gold watch as a
small acknowledgment: only leave me; your presence disturbs me more than
you can fancy."

She laughed in his face when he had ended. "Thou art a fool," she said:
"thou wilt not gather wisdom. I know better what is good for thee: I
will stay, I will not budge from the spot. I have never counted on the
gratitude of men, and therefore not on thine; and, if I have a touch of
kindness for thee, what hast thou to do with it?"

She staid accordingly, and soon wormed herself into favor with the
parson and his household; being always cheerful, having the knack of
giving little presents, and of talking to each in his own vein; at the
same time always contriving to do exactly what she pleased. Wilhelm's
state was not uncomfortable: the surgeon, an ignorant but not unskilful
man, let nature have sway; and the patient was soon on the road to
recovery. For such a consummation he vehemently longed, being eager to
pursue his plans and wishes.

Incessantly he kept recalling that event, which had made an ineffaceable
impression on his heart. He saw the beautiful Amazon again come riding
out of the thickets: she approached him, dismounted, went to and fro,
and strove to serve him. He saw the garment she was wrapped in fall
down from her shoulders: he saw her countenance, her figure, vanish in
their radiance. All the dreams of his youth now fastened on this image.
Here he conceived he had at length beheld the noble, the heroic,
Clorinda with his own eyes; and again he bethought him of that royal
youth, to whose sick-bed the lovely, sympathizing princess came in her
modest meekness.

"May it not be," said he often to himself in secret, "that, in youth as
in sleep, the images of coming things hover round us, and mysteriously
become visible to our unobstructed eyes? May not the seeds of what is to
betide us be already scattered by the hand of Fate? may not a foretaste
of the fruits we yet hope to gather possibly be given us?"

His sick-bed gave him leisure to repeat those scenes in every mood. A
thousand times he called back the tone of that sweet voice: a thousand
times he envied Philina, who had kissed that helpful hand. Often the
whole incident appeared before him as a dream; and he would have
reckoned it a fiction, if the white surtout had not been left behind to
convince him that the vision had a real existence.

With the greatest care for this piece of apparel, he combined the most
ardent wish to wear it. The first time he arose, he put it on, and was
kept in fear all day lest it might be hurt by some stain or other


Laertes visited his friend. He had not been present during that lively
scene at the inn, being then confined to bed in an upper chamber. For
his loss he was already in a great degree consoled: he helped himself
with his customary, "What does it signify?" He detailed various
laughable particulars about the company; particularly charging Frau
Melina with lamenting the loss of her stillborn daughter, solely because
she herself could not on that account enjoy the Old-German satisfaction
of having a Mechthilde christened. As for her husband, it now appeared
that he had been possessed of abundant cash, and even at first had by no
means needed the advances which he had cajoled from Wilhelm. Melina's
present plan was, to set off by the next post-wagon, and he meant to
require of Wilhelm an introductory letter to his friend, Manager Serlo,
in whose company, the present undertaking having gone to wreck, he now
wished to establish himself.

For some days Mignon had been singularly quiet: when pressed with
questions, she at length admitted that her right arm was out of joint.
"Thou hast thy own folly to thank for that," observed Philina, and then
told how the child had drawn her sword in the battle, and, seeing her
friend in peril, had struck fiercely at the freebooters, one of whom had
at length seized her by the arm, and pitched her to a side. They chid
her for not sooner speaking of her ailment; but they easily saw that she
was apprehensive of the surgeon, who had hitherto looked on her as a
boy. With a view to remove the mischief, she was made to keep her arm in
a sling, which arrangement, too, displeased her; for now she was obliged
to surrender most part of her share in the management and nursing of our
friend to Philina. That pleasing sinner but showed herself the more
active and attentive on this account.

One morning, on awakening, Wilhelm found himself strangely near to her.
In the movements of sleep, he had hitched himself quite to the back of
the spacious bed. Philina was lying across from the front part of it:
she seemed to have fallen asleep on the bed while sitting there and
reading. A book had dropped from her hand: she had sunk back; and her
head was lying near his breast, over which her fair and now loosened
hair was spread in streams. The disorder of sleep enlivened her charms
more than art or purpose could have done: a childlike smiling rest
hovered on her countenance. He looked at her for a time, and seemed to
blame himself for the pleasure this gave him. He had viewed her
attentively for some moments, when she began to awake. He softly closed
his eyes, but could not help glimmering at her through his eyelashes, as
she trimmed herself again, and went away to see about breakfast.

All the actors had at length successively announced themselves to
Wilhelm; asking introductory letters, requiring money for their journey
with more or less impatience and ill-breeding, and constantly receiving
it, against Philina's will. It was in vain for her to tell our friend
that the huntsman had already left a handsome sum with these people, and
that accordingly they did but cozen him. To these remonstrances he gave
no heed: on the contrary, the two had a sharp quarrel about it; which
ended by Wilhelm signifying, once for all, that Philina must now join
the rest of the company, and seek her fortune with Serlo.

For an instant or two she lost temper; but, speedily recovering her
composure, she cried, "If I had but my fair-haired boy again, I should
not care a fig for any of you." She meant Friedrich, who had vanished
from the scene of battle, and never since appeared.

Next morning Mignon brought news to the bedside, that Philina had gone
off by night; leaving all that belonged to Wilhelm very neatly laid out
in the next room. He felt her absence; he had lost in her a faithful
nurse, a cheerful companion; he was no longer used to be alone. But
Mignon soon filled up the blank.

Ever since that light-minded beauty had been near the patient with her
friendly cares, the little creature had by degrees drawn back, and
remained silent and secluded in herself; but, the field being clear once
more, she again came forth with her attentions and her love, again was
eager in serving, and lively in entertaining, him.


Wilhelm was rapidly approaching complete recovery: he now hoped to be
upon his journey in a few days. He proposed no more to lead an aimless
routine of existence: the steps of his career were henceforth to be
calculated for an end. In the first place, he purposed to seek out that
beneficent lady, and express the gratitude he felt to her; then to
proceed without delay to his friend the manager, that he might do his
utmost to assist the luckless company; intending, at the same time, to
visit the commercial friends whom he had letters for, and to transact
the business which had been intrusted to him. He was not without hope
that fortune, as formerly, would favor him, and give him opportunity, by
some lucky speculation, to repair his losses, and fill up the vacuity of
his coffer.

The desire of again beholding his beautiful deliverer augmented every
day. To settle his route, he took counsel with the clergyman,--a person
well skilled in statistics and geography, and possessing a fine
collection of charts and books. They two searched for the place which
this noble family had chosen as their residence while the war continued:
they searched for information respecting the family itself. But their
place was to be found in no geography or map, and the heraldic manuals
made no mention of their name.

Wilhelm grew uneasy; and, having mentioned the cause of his anxiety, the
harper told him he had reason to believe that the huntsman, from
whatever motive, had concealed the real designations.

Conceiving himself now to be in the immediate neighborhood of his lovely
benefactress, Wilhelm hoped he might obtain some tidings of her if he
sent out the harper; but in this, too, he was deceived. Diligently as
the old man kept inquiring, he could find no trace of her. Of late days
a number of quick movements and unforeseen marches had taken place in
that quarter; no one had particularly noticed the travelling party; and
the ancient messenger, to avoid being taken for a Jewish spy, was
obliged to return, and appear without any olive-leaf before his master
and friend. He gave a strict account of his conduct in this commission,
striving to keep far from him all suspicions of remissness. He
endeavored by every means to mitigate the trouble of our friend;
bethought him of every thing that he had learned from the huntsman, and
advanced a number of conjectures; out of all which, one circumstance at
length came to light, whereby Wilhelm could explain some enigmatic words
of his vanished benefactress.

The freebooters, it appeared, had lain in wait, not for the wandering
troop, but for that noble company, whom they rightly guessed to be
provided with store of gold and valuables, and of whose movements they
must have had precise intelligence. Whether the attack should be imputed
to some free corps, to marauders, or to robbers, was uncertain. It was
clear, however, that, by good fortune for the high and rich company, the
poor and low had first arrived upon the place, and undergone the fate
which was provided for the others. It was to this that the lady's words
referred, which Wilhelm yet well recollected. If he might now be happy
and contented, that a prescient Genius had selected him for the
sacrifice, which saved a perfect mortal, he was, on the other hand, nigh
desperate, when he thought that all hope of finding her and seeing her
again was, at least for the present, completely gone.

What increased this singular emotion still further, was the likeness
which he thought he had observed between the countess and the beautiful
unknown. They resembled one another as two sisters may, of whom neither
can be called the younger or the elder, for they seem to be twins.

The recollection of the amiable countess was to Wilhelm infinitely
sweet. He recalled her image but too willingly into his memory. But anon
the figure of the noble Amazon would step between: one vision melted and
changed into the other, and the form of neither would abide with him.

A new resemblance--the similarity of their handwritings--naturally
struck him with still greater wonder. He had a charming song in the
countess's hand laid up in his portfolio; and in the surtout he had
found a little note, inquiring with much tender care about the health of
an uncle.

Wilhelm was convinced that his benefactress must have penned this
billet; that it must have been sent from one chamber to another, at some
inn during their journey, and put into the coat-pocket by the uncle. He
held both papers together; and, if the regular and graceful letters of
the countess had already pleased him much, he found in the similar but
freer lines of the stranger a flowing harmony which could not be
described. The note contained nothing; yet the strokes of it seemed to
affect him, as the presence of their fancied writer once had done.

He fell into a dreamy longing; and well accordant with his feelings was
the song which at that instant Mignon and the harper began to sing, with
a touching expression, in the form of an irregular duet.

    "'Tis but who longing knows,
    My grief can measure.
    Alone, reft of repose,
    All joy, all pleasure,
    I thither look to those
    Soft lines of azure.
    Ah! far is he who knows
    Me, and doth treasure.
    I faint, my bosom glows
    'Neath pain's sore pressure.
    'Tis but who longing knows,
    My grief can measure."
                         --_Editor's Version._


The soft allurements of his dear presiding angel, far from leading our
friend to any one determined path, did but nourish and increase the
unrest he had previously experienced. A secret fire was gliding through
his veins: objects distinct and indistinct alternated within his soul,
and awoke unspeakable desire. At one time he wished for a horse, at
another for wings; and not till it seemed impossible that he could stay,
did he look round him to discover whither he was wanting to go.

The threads of his destiny had become so strangely entangled, he wished
to see its curious knots unravelled, or cut in two. Often when he heard
the tramp of a horse, or the rolling of a carriage, he would run to the
window, and look out, in hopes it might be some one seeking him,--some
one, even though it were by chance, bringing him intelligence and
certainty and joy. He told stories to himself, how his friend Werner
might visit these parts, and come upon him; how, perhaps, Mariana might
appear. The sound of every post's horn threw him into agitation. It
would be Melina sending news to him of his adventures: above all, it
would be the huntsman coming back to carry him to the beauty he

Of all these possibilities, unhappily no one occurred: he was forced at
last to return to the company of himself; and, in again looking through
the past, there was one circumstance which, the more he viewed and
weighed it, grew the more offensive and intolerable to him. It was his
unprosperous generalship, of which he never thought without vexation.
For although, on the evening of that luckless day, he had produced a
pretty fair defence of his conduct when accused by the company, yet he
could not hide from himself that he was guilty. On the contrary, in
hypochondriac moments, he took the blame of the whole misfortune.

Self-love exaggerates our faults as well as our virtues. Wilhelm though
the had awakened confidence in himself, had guided the will of the rest;
that, led by inexperience and rashness, they had ventured on, till a
danger seized them, for which they were no match. Loud as well as silent
reproaches had then assailed him; and if, in their sorrowful condition,
he had promised the company, misguided by him, never to forsake them
till their loss had been repaid with usury, this was but another folly
for which he had to blame himself,--the folly of presuming to take upon
his single shoulders a misfortune that was spread over many. One instant
he accused himself of uttering this promise, under the excitement and
the pressure of the moment; the next, he again felt that this generous
presentation of his hand, which no one deigned to accept, was but a
light formality compared with the vow his heart had taken. He meditated
means of being kind and useful to them: he found every cause conspire to
quicken his visit to Serlo. Accordingly he packed his things together;
and without waiting his complete recovery, without listening to the
counsel of the parson or of the surgeon, he hastened, in the strange
society of Mignon and the harper, to escape the inactivity in which his
fate had once more too long detained him.


Serlo received him with open arms, crying as he met him, "Is it you? Do
I see you again? You have scarcely changed at all. Is your love for that
noblest of arts still as lively and strong? So glad am I at your
arrival, that I even feel no longer the mistrust your last letters had
excited in me."

Wilhelm asked with surprise for a clearer explanation.

"You have treated me," said Serlo, "not like an old friend, but as if I
were a great lord, to whom with a safe conscience you might recommend
useless people. Our destiny depends on the opinion of the public; and I
fear Herr Melina and his suite can hardly be received among us."

Wilhelm tried to say something in their favor; but Serlo began to draw
so merciless a picture of them, that our friend was happy when a lady
came into the room, and put a stop to the discussion. She was introduced
to him as Aurelia, the sister of his friend; she received him with
extreme kindness; and her conversation was so pleasing, that he did not
even remark a shade of sorrow visible on her expressive countenance, to
which it lent peculiar interest.

For the first time during many months, Wilhelm felt once more in his
proper element. Of late in talking, he had merely found submissive
listeners, and even these not always; but now he had the happiness to
speak with critics and artists, who not only fully understood him, but
repaid his observations by others equally instructive. With wonderful
vivacity they travelled through the latest plays, with wonderful
correctness judged them. The decisions of the public they could try and
estimate: they speedily threw light on each other's thoughts.

Loving Shakspeare as our friend did, he failed not to lead round the
conversation to the merits of that dramatist. Expressing, as he
entertained, the liveliest hopes of the new epoch which these exquisite
productions must form in Germany, he erelong introduced his "Hamlet,"
which play had busied him so much of late.

Serlo declared that he would long ago have represented the play, had it
at all been possible, and that he himself would willingly engage to act
Polonius. He added, with a smile, "An Ophelia, too, will certainly turn
up, if we had but a Prince."

Wilhelm did not notice that Aurelia seemed a little hurt at her
brother's sarcasm. Our friend was in his proper vein, becoming copious
and didactic, expounding how he would have "Hamlet" played. He
circumstantially delivered to his hearers the opinions we before saw him
busied with; taking all the trouble possible to make his notion of the
matter acceptable, sceptical as Serlo showed himself regarding it.
"Well, then," said the latter finally, "suppose we grant you all this,
what will you explain by it?"

"Much, every thing," said Wilhelm. "Conceive a prince such as I have
painted him, and that his father suddenly dies. Ambition and the love of
rule are not the passions that inspire him. As a king's son, he would
have been contented; but now he is first constrained to consider the
difference which separates a sovereign from a subject. The crown was not
hereditary; yet his father's longer possession of it would have
strengthened the pretensions of an only son, and secured his hopes of
succession. In place of this, he now beholds himself excluded by his
uncle, in spite of specious promises, most probably forever. He is now
poor in goods and favor, and a stranger in the scene which from youth he
had looked upon as his inheritance. His temper here assumes its first
mournful tinge. He feels that now he is not more, that he is less, than
a private nobleman; he offers himself as the servant of every one; he is
not courteous and condescending, he is needy and degraded.

"His past condition he remembers as a vanished dream. It is in vain that
his uncle strives to cheer him, to present his situation in another
point of view. The feeling of his nothingness will not leave him.

"The second stroke that came upon him wounded deeper, bowed still more.
It was the marriage of his mother. The faithful, tender son had yet a
mother, when his father passed away. He hoped, in the company of his
surviving noble-minded parent, to reverence the heroic form of the
departed: but his mother, too, he loses; and it is something worse than
death that robs him of her. The trustful image, which a good child loves
to form of its parents, is gone. With the dead there is no help, on the
living no hold. Moreover, she is a woman; and her name is Frailty, like
that of all her sex.

"Now only does he feel completely bowed down, now only orphaned; and no
happiness of life can repay what he has lost. Not reflective or
sorrowful by nature, reflection and sorrow have become for him a heavy
obligation. It is thus that we see him first enter on the scene. I do
not think that I have mixed aught foreign with the play, or overcharged
a single feature of it."

Serlo looked at his sister, and said, "Did I give thee a false picture
of our friend? He begins well: he has still many things to tell us, many
to persuade us of." Wilhelm asseverated loudly, that he meant not to
persuade, but to convince: he begged for another moment's patience.

"Figure to yourselves this youth," cried he, "this son of princes;
conceive him vividly, bring his state before your eyes, and then observe
him when he learns that his father's spirit walks; stand by him in the
terrors of the night, when even the venerable ghost appears before him.
He is seized with boundless horror; he speaks to the mysterious form; he
sees it beckon him; he follows and hears. The fearful accusation of his
uncle rings in his ears, the summons to revenge, and the piercing,
oft-repeated prayer, Remember me!

"And, when the ghost has vanished, who is it that stands before us? A
young hero panting for vengeance? A prince by birth, rejoicing to be
called to punish the usurper of his crown? No! trouble and astonishment
take hold of the solitary young man: he grows bitter against smiling
villains, swears that he will not forget the spirit, and concludes with
the significant ejaculation,--

    "'The time is out of joint: O cursed spite,
    That ever I was born to set it right!'

"In these words, I imagine, will be found the key to Hamlet's whole
procedure. To me it is clear that Shakspeare meant, in the present case,
to represent the effects of a great action laid upon a soul unfit for
the performance of it. In this view the whole play seems to me to be
composed. There is an oak-tree planted in a costly jar, which should
have borne only pleasant flowers in its bosom: the roots expand, the jar
is shivered.

"A lovely, pure, noble, and most moral nature, without the strength of
nerve which forms a hero, sinks beneath a burden it cannot bear and must
not cast away. All duties are holy for him: the present is too hard.
Impossibilities have been required of him,--not in themselves
impossibilities, but such for him. He winds and turns, and torments
himself; he advances and recoils; is ever put in mind, ever puts himself
in mind; at last does all but lose his purpose from his thoughts, yet
still without recovering his peace of mind."


Several people entering interrupted the discussion. They were musical
_dilettanti_, who commonly assembled at Serlo's once a week, and formed
a little concert. Serlo himself loved music much: he used to maintain,
that a player without taste for it never could attain a distinct
conception and feeling of the scenic art. "As a man performs," he would
observe, "with far more ease and dignity when his gestures are
accompanied and guided by a tune; so the player ought, in idea as it
were, to set to music even his prose parts, that he may not monotonously
slight them over in his individual style, but treat them in suitable
alternation by time and measure."

Aurelia seemed to give but little heed to what was passing: at last she
conducted Wilhelm to another room; and going to the window, and looking
out at the starry sky, she said to him, "You have more to tell us about
Hamlet: I will not hurry you,--my brother must hear it as well as I; but
let me beg to know your thoughts about Ophelia."

"Of her there cannot much be said," he answered; "for a few
master-strokes complete her character. The whole being of Ophelia floats
in sweet and ripe sensation. Kindness for the prince, to whose hand she
may aspire, flows so spontaneously, her tender heart obeys its impulses
so unresistingly, that both father and brother are afraid: both give her
warning harshly and directly. Decorum, like the thin lawn upon her
bosom, cannot hide the soft, still movements of her heart: it, on the
contrary, betrays them. Her fancy is smit; her silent modesty breathes
amiable desire; and, if the friendly goddess Opportunity should shake
the tree, its fruit would fall."

"And then," said Aurelia, "when she beholds herself forsaken, cast away,
despised; when all is inverted in the soul of her crazed lover, and the
highest changes to the lowest, and, instead of the sweet cup of love, he
offers her the bitter cup of woe"--

"Her heart breaks," cried Wilhelm; "the whole structure of her being is
loosened from its joinings; her father's death strikes fiercely against
it, and the fair edifice altogether crumbles into fragments."

Our friend had not observed with what expressiveness Aurelia pronounced
those words. Looking only at this work of art, at its connection and
completeness, he dreamed not that his auditress was feeling quite a
different influence; that a deep sorrow of her own was vividly awakened
in her breast by these dramatic shadows.

Aurelia's head was still resting on her arms; and her eyes, now full of
tears, were turned to the sky. At last, no longer able to conceal her
secret grief, she seized both hands of her friend, and exclaimed, while
he stood surprised before her, "Forgive, forgive a heavy heart! I am
girt and pressed together by these people; from my hard-hearted brother
I must seek to hide myself; your presence has untied these bonds. My
friend!" continued she, "it is but a few minutes since we saw each other
first, and already you are going to become my confidant." She could
scarcely end the words, and sank upon his shoulder. "Think not worse of
me," she said, with sobs, "that I disclose myself to you so hastily,
that I am so weak before you. Be my friend, remain my friend: I shall
deserve it." He spoke to her in his kindest manner, but in vain: her
tears still flowed, and choked her words.

At this moment Serlo entered, most unwelcomely, and, most unexpectedly,
Philina, with her hand in his. "Here is your friend," said he to her:
"he will be glad to welcome you."

"What!" cried Wilhelm in astonishment: "are you here?" With a modest,
settled mien, she went up to him; bade him welcome; praised Serlo's
goodness, who, she said, without merit on her part, but purely in the
hope of her improvement, had agreed to admit her into his accomplished
troop. She behaved, all the while, in a friendly manner towards Wilhelm,
yet with a dignified distance.

But this dissimulation lasted only till the other two were gone. Aurelia
having left them, that she might conceal her trouble, and Serlo being
called away, Philina first looked very sharply at the doors, to see that
both were really out; then began skipping to and fro about the room, as
if she had been mad; at last dropped down upon the floor, like to die of
giggling and laughing. She then sprang up, patted and flattered our
friend; rejoicing above measure that she had been clever enough to go
before, and spy the land, and get herself nestled in.

"Pretty things are going on here," she said; "just of the sort I like.
Aurelia has had a hapless love-affair with some nobleman, who seems to
be a very stately person, one whom I myself could like to see some day.
He has left her a memorial, or I much mistake. There is a boy running
about the house, of three years old or so: the papa must be a very
pretty fellow. Commonly I cannot suffer children, but this brat quite
delights me. I have calculated Aurelia's business. The death of her
husband, the new acquaintance, the child's age,--all things agree.

"But now her spark has gone his ways: for a year she has not seen a
glimpse of him. She is beside herself and inconsolable on this account.
The more fool she! Her brother has a dancing-girl in his troop, with
whom he stands on pretty terms; an actress with whom he is intimate; in
the town, some other women whom he courts; I, too, am on his list. The
more fool he! Of the rest thou shalt hear to-morrow. And now one word
about Philina, whom thou knowest: the arch-fool is fallen in love with
thee." She swore it was true and prime sport. She earnestly requested
Wilhelm to fall in love with Aurelia, for then the chase would be worth
beholding. "She pursues her faithless swain, thou her, I thee, her
brother me. If that will not divert us for a quarter of a year, I engage
to die at the first episode which occurs in this four times complicated
tale." She begged of him not to spoil her trade, and to show her such
respect as her external conduct should deserve.


Next morning Wilhelm went to visit Frau Melina, but found her not at
home. On inquiring here for the other members of the wandering
community, he learned that Philina had invited them to breakfast. Out of
curiosity, he hastened thither, and found them all in very good spirits
and of good comfort. The cunning creature had collected them, was
treating them with chocolate, and giving them to understand that some
prospects still remained for them; that, by her influence, she hoped to
convince the manager how advantageous it would be for him to introduce
so many clever hands among his company. They listened to her with
attention; swallowed cup after cup of her chocolate; thought the girl
was not so bad, after all, and went away proposing to themselves to
speak whatever good of her they could.

"Do you think, then," said our friend, who staid behind, "that Serlo
will determine to retain our comrades?"--"Not at all," replied Philina;
"nor do I care a fig for it. The sooner they are gone, the better!
Laertes alone I could wish to keep: the rest we shall by and by pack

Next she signified to Wilhelm her firm persuasion that he should no
longer hide his talent, but, under the direction of a Serlo, go upon the
boards. She was lavish in her praises of the order, the taste, the
spirit, which prevailed in this establishment: she spoke so flatteringly
to Wilhelm, with such admiration of his gifts, that his heart and his
imagination were advancing towards this proposal as fast as his
understanding and his reason were retreating from it. He concealed his
inclination from himself and from Philina, and passed a restless day,
unable to resolve on visiting his trading correspondents, to receive the
letters which might there be lying for him. The anxieties of his people
during all this time he easily conceived; yet he shrank from the precise
account of them, particularly at the present time, as he promised to
himself a great and pure enjoyment from the exhibition of a new play
that evening.

Serlo had refused to let him witness the rehearsal. "You must see us on
the best side," he observed, "before we can allow you to look into our

The performance, however, where our friend did not fail to be present,
yielded him a high satisfaction. It was the first time he had ever seen
a theatre in such perfection. The actors were evidently all possessed of
excellent gifts, superior capacities, and a high, clear notion of their
art; they were not equal, but they mutually restrained and supported one
another; each breathed ardor into those around him; throughout all their
acting, they showed themselves decided and correct. You soon felt that
Serlo was the soul of the whole: as an individual, he appeared to much
advantage. A merry humor, a measured vivacity, a settled feeling of
propriety, combined with a great gift of imitation, were to be observed
in him the moment he appeared upon the stage. The inward contentment of
his being seemed to spread itself over all that looked on him; and the
intellectual style in which he could so easily and gracefully express
the finest shadings of his part, excited more delight, as he could
conceal the art which, by long-continued practice, he had made his own.

Aurelia, his sister, was not inferior: she obtained still greater
approbation; for she touched the souls of the audience, which he had it
in his power to exhilarate and amuse.

After a few days had passed pleasantly enough, Aurelia sent to inquire
for our friend. He hastened to her: she was lying on a sofa; she seemed
to be suffering from headache; her whole frame had visibly a feverish
movement. Her eye lighted up as she noticed Wilhelm. "Pardon me!" she
cried, as he entered: "the trust you have inspired me with has made me
weak. Till now I have contrived to bear up against my woes in secret;
nay, they gave me strength and consolation: but now, I know not how it
is, you have loosened the bands of silence. You will now, even against
your will, take part in the battle I am fighting with myself!"

Wilhelm answered her in kind and obliging terms. He declared that her
image and her sorrows had not ceased to hover in his thoughts; that he
longed for her confidence, and devoted himself to be her friend.

While he spoke, his eyes were attracted to the boy, who sat before her
on the floor, and was busy rattling a multitude of playthings. This
child, as Philina had observed, might be about three years of age; and
Wilhelm now conceived how that giddy creature, seldom elevated in her
phraseology, had likened it to the sun. For its cheerful eyes and full
countenance were shaded by the finest golden locks, which flowed round
in copious curls; dark, slender, softly bending eyebrows showed
themselves upon a brow of dazzling whiteness; and the living tinge of
health was glancing on its cheeks. "Sit by me," said Aurelia: "you are
looking at the happy child with admiration; in truth, I took it into my
arms with joy; I keep it carefully; yet, by it, too, I can measure the
extent of my sufferings; for they seldom let me feel the worth of such a

"Allow me," she continued, "to speak to you about myself and my destiny;
for I have it much at heart that you should not misunderstand me. I
thought I should have a few calm instants; and, accordingly, I sent for
you. You are now here, and the thread of my narrative is lost.

"'One more forsaken woman in the world!' you will say. You are a man.
You are thinking, 'What a noise she makes, the fool, about a necessary
evil; which, certainly as death, awaits a woman, when such is the
fidelity of men!' O my friend! if my fate were common, I would gladly
undergo a common evil; but it is so singular! why cannot I present it to
you in a mirror,--why not command some one to tell it you? Oh! had I,
had I been seduced, surprised, and afterwards forsaken, there would then
still be comfort in despair; but I am far more miserable. I have been my
own deceiver; I have wittingly betrayed myself; and this, this, is what
shall never be forgiven me."

"With noble feelings, such as yours," said Wilhelm, "you cannot be
entirely unhappy."

"And do you know to what I am indebted for my feelings?" asked Aurelia.
"To the worst education that ever threatened to contaminate a girl; to
the vilest examples for misleading the senses and inclinations.

"My mother dying early, the fairest years of my youth were spent with an
aunt, whose principle it was to despise the laws of decency. She
resigned herself headlong to every impulse, careless whether the object
of it proved her tyrant or her slave, so she might forget herself in
wild enjoyment.

"By children, with the pure, clear vision of innocence, what ideas of
men were necessarily formed in such a scene! How stolid, brutally bold,
importunate, unmannerly, was every one she allured! How sated, empty,
insolent, and insipid, as soon as he had had his wishes gratified! I
have seen this woman live, for years, humbled under the control of the
meanest creatures. What incidents she had to undergo! With what a front
she contrived to accommodate herself to her destiny; nay, with how much
skill, to wear these shameful fetters!

"It was thus, my friend, that I became acquainted with your sex; and
deeply did I hate it, when, as I imagined, I observed that even
tolerable men, in their conduct to ours, appeared to renounce every
honest feeling, of which nature might otherwise have made them capable.

"Unhappily, moreover, on such occasions, a multitude of painful
discoveries about my own sex were forced upon me; and, in truth, I was
then wiser, as a girl of sixteen, than I now am, now that I scarcely
understand myself. Why are we so wise when young,--so wise, and ever
growing less so?"

The boy began to make a noise: Aurelia became impatient, and rang. An
old woman came to take him out. "Hast thou toothache still?" said
Aurelia to the crone, whose face was wrapped in cloth. "Unsufferable,"
said the other, with a muffled voice, then lifted the boy, who seemed to
like going with her, and carried him away.

Scarcely was he gone, when Aurelia began bitterly to weep. "I am good
for nothing," cried she, "but lamenting and complaining; and I feel
ashamed to lie before you like a miserable worm. My recollection is
already fled: I can relate no more." She faltered, and was silent. Her
friend, unwilling to reply with a commonplace, and unable to reply with
any thing particularly applicable, pressed her hand, and looked at her
for some time without speaking. Thus embarrassed, he at length took up a
book, which he noticed lying on the table before him: it was
Shakspeare's works, and open at "Hamlet."

Serlo, at this moment entering, inquired about his sister, and, looking
in the book which our friend had hold of, cried, "So you are again at
'Hamlet'? Very good! Many doubts have arisen in me, which seem not a
little to impair the canonical aspect of the play as you would have it
viewed. The English themselves have admitted that its chief interest
concludes with the third act; the last two lagging sorrily on, and
scarcely uniting with the rest: and certainly about the end it seems to
stand stock-still."

"It is very possible," said Wilhelm, "that some individuals of a
nation, which has so many masterpieces to feel proud of, may be led by
prejudice and narrowness of mind to form false judgments; but this
cannot hinder us from looking with our own eyes, and doing justice where
we see it due. I am very far from censuring the plan of 'Hamlet': on the
other hand, I believe there never was a grander one invented; nay, it is
not invented, it is real."

"How do you demonstrate that?" inquired Serlo.

"I will not demonstrate any thing," said Wilhelm: "I will merely show
you what my own conceptions of it are."

Aurelia raised herself from her cushion, leaned upon her hand, and
looked at Wilhelm, who, with the firmest assurance that he was in the
right, went on as follows: "It pleases us, it flatters us, to see a hero
acting on his own strength, loving and hating at the bidding of his
heart, undertaking and completing, casting every obstacle aside, and
attaining some great end. Poets and historians would willingly persuade
us that so proud a lot may fall to man. In 'Hamlet' we are taught
another lesson: the hero is without a plan, but the play is full of
plan. Here we have no villain punished on some self-conceived and
rigidly accomplished scheme of vengeance: a horrid deed is done; it
rolls along with all its consequences, dragging with it even the
guiltless: the guilty perpetrator would, as it seems, evade the abyss
made ready for him; yet he plunges in, at the very point by which he
thinks he shall escape, and happily complete his course.

"For it is the property of crime to extend its mischief over innocence,
as it is of virtue to extend its blessings over many that deserve them
not; while frequently the author of the one or of the other is not
punished or rewarded at all. Here in this play of ours, how strange! The
Pit of darkness sends its spirit and demands revenge: in vain! All
circumstances tend one way, and hurry to revenge: in vain! Neither
earthly nor infernal thing may bring about what is reserved for Fate
alone. The hour of judgment comes; the wicked falls with the good; one
race is mowed away, that another may spring up."

After a pause, in which they looked at one another, Serlo said, "You pay
no great compliment to Providence, in thus exalting Shakspeare; and
besides, it appears to me, that for the honor of your poet, as others
for the honor of Providence, you ascribe to him an object and a plan
such as he himself had never thought of."


"Let me also put a question," said Aurelia. "I have looked at Ophelia's
part again: I am contented with it, and confident, that, under certain
circumstances, I could play it. But tell me, should not the poet have
furnished the insane maiden with another sort of songs? Could not some
fragments out of melancholy ballads be selected for this purpose? Why
put double meanings and lascivious insipidities in the mouth of this
noble-minded girl?"

"Dear friend," said Wilhelm, "even here I cannot yield you one iota. In
these singularities, in this apparent impropriety, a deep sense is hid.
Do we not understand from the very first what the mind of the good,
soft-hearted girl was busied with? Silently she lived within herself,
yet she scarce concealed her wishes, her longing: the tones of desire
were in secret ringing through her soul; and how often may she have
attempted, like an unskilful nurse, to lull her senses to repose with
songs which only kept them more awake? But at last, when her
self-command is altogether gone, when the secrets of her heart are
hovering on her tongue, that tongue betrays her; and in the innocence of
insanity she solaces herself, unmindful of king or queen, with the echo
of her loose and well-beloved songs,--'To-morrow is Saint Valentine's
Day,' and 'By Gis and by Saint Charity.'"

He had not finished speaking, when all at once an extraordinary scene
took place before him, which he could not in any way explain.

Serlo had walked once or twice up and down the room, without evincing
any special object. On a sudden, he stepped forward to Aurelia's
dressing-table, caught hastily at something that was lying there, and
hastened to the door with his booty. No sooner did Aurelia notice this,
than, springing up, she threw herself in his way, laid hold of him with
boundless vehemence, and had dexterity enough to clutch an end of the
article he was carrying off. They struggled and wrestled with great
obstinacy, twisted and threw each other sharply round; he laughed; she
exerted all her strength; and as Wilhelm hastened towards them, to
separate and soothe them, Aurelia sprang aside with a naked dagger in
her hand; while Serlo cast the scabbard, which had staid with him,
angrily upon the floor. Wilhelm started back astonished; and his dumb
wonder seemed to ask the cause why so violent a strife, about so
strange an implement, had taken place between them.

"You shall judge betwixt us," said the brother. "What business she with
sharp steel? Do but look at it. That dagger is unfit for any
actress,--point like a needle's, edge like a razor's! What good's the
farce? Passionate as she is, she will one day chance to do herself a
mischief. I have a heart's hatred at such singularities: a serious
thought of that sort is insane, and so dangerous a plaything is not in

"I have it back!" exclaimed Aurelia, and held the polished blade aloft:
"I will now keep my faithful friend more carefully. Pardon me," she
cried, and kissed the steel, "that I have so neglected thee."

Serlo was like to grow seriously angry. "Take it as thou wilt, brother,"
she continued: "how knowest thou but, under this form, a precious
talisman may have been given me, so that, in extreme need, I may find
help and counsel in it? Must all be hurtful that looks dangerous?"

"Such talk without a meaning might drive one mad," said Serlo, and left
the room with suppressed indignation. Aurelia put the dagger carefully
into its sheath, and placed it in her bosom. "Let us now resume the
conversation which our foolish brother has disturbed," said she, as
Wilhelm was beginning to put questions on the subject of this quarrel.

"I must admit your picture of Ophelia to be just," continued she; "I
cannot now misunderstand the object of the poet: I must pity; though, as
you paint her, I shall rather pity her than sympathize with her. But
allow me here to offer a remark, which in these few days you have
frequently suggested to me. I observe with admiration the correct, keen,
penetrating glance with which you judge of poetry, especially dramatic
poetry: the deepest abysses of invention are not hidden from you, the
finest touches of representation cannot escape you. Without ever having
viewed the objects in nature, you recognize the truth of their images:
there seems, as it were, a presentiment of all the universe to lie in
you, which by the harmonious touch of poetry is awakened and unfolded.
For in truth," continued she, "from without, you receive not much: I
have scarcely seen a person that so little knew, so totally misknew, the
people he lived with, as you do. Allow me to say it: in hearing you
expound the mysteries of Shakspeare, one would think you had just
descended from a synod of the gods, and had listened there while they
were taking counsel how to form men; in seeing you transact with your
fellows, I could imagine you to be the first large-born child of the
Creation, standing agape, and gazing with strange wonderment and
edifying good nature at lions and apes and sheep and elephants, and
true-heartedly addressing them as your equals, simply because they were
there, and in motion like yourself."

"The feeling of my ignorance in this respect," said Wilhelm, "often
gives me pain; and I should thank you, worthy friend, if you would help
me to get a little better insight into life. From youth, I have been
accustomed to direct the eyes of my spirit inwards rather than outwards;
and hence it is very natural, that, to a certain extent, I should be
acquainted with man, while of men I have not the smallest knowledge."

"In truth," said Aurelia, "I at first suspected, that, in giving such
accounts of the people whom you sent to my brother, you meant to make
sport of us: when I compared your letters with the merits of these
persons, it seemed very strange."

Aurelia's remarks, well founded as they might be, and willing as our
friend was to confess himself deficient in this matter, carried with
them something painful, nay, offensive, to him; so that he grew silent,
and retired within himself, partly to avoid showing any irritated
feeling, partly to search his mind for the truth or error of the charge.

"Let not this alarm you," said Aurelia: "the light of the understanding
it is always in our power to reach, but this fulness of the heart no one
can give us. If you are destined for an artist, you cannot long enough
retain the dim-sightedness and innocence of which I speak; it is the
beautiful hull upon the young bud; woe to us if we are forced too soon
to burst it! Surely it were well, if we never knew what the people are
for whom we work and study.

"Oh! I, too, was in that happy case, when I first betrod the stage, with
the loftiest opinion of myself and of my nation. What a people, in my
fancy, were the Germans! what a people might they yet become! I
addressed this people, raised above them by a little joinery, separated
from them by a row of lamps, whose glancing and vapor threw an
indistinctness over every thing before me. How welcome was the tumult of
applause which sounded to me from the crowd! how gratefully did I accept
the present offered me unanimously by so many hands! For a time I rocked
myself in these ideas: I affected the multitude, and was again affected
by them. With my public I was on the fairest footing: I imagined that I
felt a perfect harmony betwixt us, and that on each occasion I beheld
before me the best and noblest of the land.

"Unhappily it was not the actress alone that inspired these friends of
the stage with interest: they likewise made pretensions to the young and
lively girl. They gave me to understand, in terms distinct enough, that
my duty was, not only to excite emotion in them, but to share it with
them personally. This, unluckily, was not my business: I wished to
elevate their minds; but, to what they called their hearts, I had not
the slightest claim. Yet now men of all ranks, ages, and characters, by
turns afflicted me with their addresses; and it did seem hard that I
could not, like an honest young woman, shut my door, and spare myself
such a quantity of labor.

"The men appeared, for most part, much the same as I had been accustomed
to about my aunt; and here again I should have felt disgusted with them,
had not their peculiarities and insipidities amused me. As I was
compelled to see them, in the theatre, in open places, in my house, I
formed the project of spying out their follies; and my brother helped me
with alacrity to execute it. And if you reflect, that up from the
whisking shopman and the conceited merchant's son, to the polished,
calculating man of the world, the bold soldier, and the impetuous
prince, all in succession passed in review before me, each in his way
endeavoring to found his small romance, you will pardon me if I
conceived that I had gained some acquaintance with my nation.

"The fantastically dizened student; the awkward, humbly proud man of
letters; the sleek-fed, gouty canon; the solemn, heedful man of office;
the heavy country-baron; the smirking, vapid courtier; the young, erring
parson; the cool as well as the quick and sharply speculating
merchant,--all these I have seen in motion; and I swear to you, that
there were few among them fitted to inspire me even with a sentiment of
toleration: on the contrary, I felt it altogether irksome to collect,
with tedium and annoyance, the suffrages of fools; to pocket those
applauses in detail, which in their accumulated state had so delighted
me, which in the gross I had appropriated with such pleasure.

"If I expected a rational compliment upon my acting, if I hoped that
they would praise an author whom I valued, they were sure to make one
empty observation on the back of another, and to name some vapid play in
which they wished to see me act. If I listened in their company, to hear
if some noble, brilliant, witty thought had met with a response among
them, and would re-appear from some of them in proper season, it was
rare that I could catch an echo of it. An error that had happened, a
mispronunciation, a provincialism of some actor, such were the weighty
points by which they held fast, beyond which they could not pass. I knew
not, in the end, to what hand I should turn: themselves they thought too
clever to be entertained; and me they imagined they were well
entertaining, if they romped and made noise enough about me. I began
very cordially to despise them all: I felt as if the whole nation had,
on purpose, deputed these people to debase it in my eyes. They appeared
to me so clownish, so ill-bred, so wretchedly instructed, so void of
pleasing qualities, so tasteless, I frequently exclaimed, "No German can
buckle his shoes, till he has learned to do it of some foreign nation!"

"You perceive how blind, how unjust and splenetic, I was; and, the
longer it lasted, my spleen increased. I might have killed myself with
these things, but I fell into the contrary extreme: I married, or,
rather, let myself be married. My brother, who had undertaken to conduct
the theatre, wished much to have a helper. His choice lighted on a young
man, who was not offensive to me, who wanted all that my brother
had,--genius, vivacity, spirit, and impetuosity of mind; but who also in
return had all that my brother wanted,--love of order, diligence, and
precious gifts in housekeeping, and the management of money.

"He became my husband, I know not how: we lived together, I do not well
know why. Suffice it to say, our affairs went prosperously forward. We
drew a large income: of this my brother's activity was the cause. We
lived with a moderate expenditure, and that was the merit of my husband.
I thought no more about world or nation. With the world I had nothing to
participate: my idea of the nation had faded away. When I entered on the
scene, I did so that I might subsist: I opened my lips because I durst
not continue silent, because I had come out to speak.

"Yet let me do the matter justice. I had altogether given myself up to
the disposal of my brother. His objects were, applause and money; for,
between ourselves, he has no dislike to hear his own praises; and his
outlay is always great. I no longer played according to my own feeling,
to my own conviction, but as he directed me; and, if I did it to his
satisfaction, I was content. He steered entirely by the caprices of the
public. Money flowed upon us: he could live according to his humor, and
so we had good times with him.

"Thus had I fallen into a dull, handicraft routine. I spun out my days
without joy or sympathy. My marriage was childless, and not of long
continuance. My husband grew sick; his strength was visibly decaying;
anxiety for him interrupted my general indifference. It was at this time
that I formed an acquaintance which opened a new life for me,--a new and
quicker one, for it will soon be done."

She kept silence for a time, and then continued, "All at once my
prattling humor falters: I have not the courage to go on. Let me rest a
little. You shall not go, till you have learned the whole extent of my
misfortune. Meanwhile, call in Mignon, and ask her what she wants."

The child had more than once been in the room, while Aurelia and our
friend were talking. As they spoke lower on her entrance, she had glided
out again, and was now sitting quietly in the hall, and waiting. Being
bid return, she brought a book with her, which its form and binding
showed to be a small geographical atlas. She had seen some maps, for the
first time, at the parson's house, with great astonishment; had asked
him many questions, and informed herself so far as possible about them.
Her desire to learn seemed much excited by this new branch of knowledge.
She now earnestly requested Wilhelm to purchase her the book; saying she
had pawned her large silver buckle with the print-seller for it, and
wished to have back the pledge to-morrow morning, as this evening it was
late. Her request was granted; and she then began repeating several
things she had already learned; at the same time, in her own way, making
many very strange inquiries. Here again one might observe, that, with a
mighty effort, she could comprehend but little and laboriously. So
likewise was it with her writing, at which she still kept busied. She
yet spoke very broken German: it was only when she opened her mouth to
sing, when she touched her cithern, that she seemed to be employing an
organ by which, in some degree, the workings of her mind could be
disclosed and communicated.

Since we are at present on the subject, we may also mention the
perplexity which Wilhelm had of late experienced from certain parts of
her procedure, When she came or went, wished him good-morning or
good-night, she clasped him so firmly in her arms, and kissed him with
such ardor, that often the violence of this expanding nature gave him
serious fears. The spasmodic vivacity of her demeanor seemed daily to
increase: her whole being moved in a restless stillness. She would never
be without some piece of packthread to twist in her hands, some napkin
to tie in knots, some paper or wood to chew. All her sports seemed but
the channels which drained off some inward violent commotion. The only
thing that seemed to cause her any cheerfulness was being near the boy
Felix, with whom she could go on in a very dainty manner.

Aurelia, after a little rest, being now ready to explain to her friend a
matter which lay very near her heart, grew impatient at the little
girl's delay, and signified that she must go,--a hint, however, which
the latter did not take; and at last, when nothing else would do, they
sent her off expressly and against her will.

"Now or never," said Aurelia, "must I tell you the remainder of my
story. Were my tenderly beloved and unjust friend but a few miles
distant, I would say to you, 'Mount on horseback, seek by some means to
get acquainted with him: on returning, you will certainly forgive me,
and pity me with all your heart.' As it is, I can only tell you with
words how amiable he was, and how much I loved him.

"It was at the critical season, when care for the illness of my husband
had depressed my spirits, that I first became acquainted with this
stranger. He had just returned from America, where, in company with some
Frenchmen, he had served with much distinction under the colors of the
United States.

"He addressed me with an easy dignity, a frank kindliness: he spoke
about myself, my state, my acting, like an old acquaintance, so
affectionately and distinctly, that now for the first time I enjoyed the
pleasure of perceiving my existence reflected in the being of another.
His judgments were just, though not severe; penetrating, yet not void of
love. He showed no harshness: his pleasantry was courteous, with all his
humor. He seemed accustomed to success with women; this excited my
attention: he was never in the least importunate or flattering; this put
me off my guard.

"In the town, he had intercourse with few: he was often on horseback,
visiting his many friends in the neighborhood, and managing the business
of his house. On returning, he would frequently alight at my
apartments; he treated my ever-ailing husband with warm attention; he
procured him mitigation of his sickness by a good physician. And, taking
part in all that interested me, he allowed me to take part in all that
interested him. He told me the history of his campaigns: he spoke of his
invincible attachment to military life, of his family relations, of his
present business. He kept no secret from me; he displayed to me his
inmost thoughts, allowed me to behold the most secret corners of his
soul: I became acquainted with his passions and his capabilities. It was
the first time in my life that I enjoyed a cordial, intellectual
intercourse with any living creature. I was attracted by him, borne
along by him, before I thought about inquiring how it stood with me.

"Meanwhile I lost my husband, nearly just as I had taken him. The burden
of theatrical affairs now fell entirely on me. My brother, not to be
surpassed upon the stage, was never good for any thing in economical
concerns: I took the charge of all, at the same time studying my parts
with greater diligence than ever. I again played as of old,--nay, with
new life, with quite another force. It was by reason of my friend, it
was on his account, that I did so; yet my success was not always best
when I knew him to be present. Once or twice he listened to me
unobserved, and how pleasantly his unexpected applauses surprised me you
may conceive.

"Certainly I am a strange creature. In every part I played, it seemed as
if I had been speaking it in praise of him; for that was the temper of
my heart, the words might be any thing they pleased. Did I understand
him to be present in the audience, I durst not venture to speak out with
all my force; just as I would not press my love or praise on him to his
face: was he absent, I had then free scope; I did my best, with a
certain peacefulness, with a contentment not to be described. Applause
once more delighted me; and, when I charmed the people, I longed to call
down among them, 'This you owe to him!'

"Yes: my relation to the public, to the nation, had been altered by a
wonder. On a sudden they again appeared to me in the most favorable
light: I felt astonished at my former blindness.

"'How foolish,' said I often to myself, 'was it to revile a
nation,--foolish, simply because it was a nation. Is it necessary, is it
possible, that individual men should generally interest us much? Not at
all! The only question is, whether in the great mass there exists a
sufficient quantity of talent, force, and capability, which lucky
circumstances may develop, which men of lofty minds may direct upon a
common object.' I now rejoiced in discovering so little prominent
originality among my countrymen; I rejoiced that they disdained not to
accept of guidance from without; I rejoiced that they had found a

"Lothario,--allow me to designate my friend by this, his first name,
which I loved,--Lothario had always presented the Germans to my mind on
the side of valor, and shown me, that, when well commanded, there was no
braver nation on the face of the earth; and I felt ashamed that I had
never thought of this, the first quality of a people. History was known
to him: he was in connection and correspondence with the most
distinguished persons of the age. Young as he was, his eye was open to
the budding youthhood of his native country, to the silent labors of
active and busy men in so many provinces of art. He afforded me a
glimpse of Germany,--what it was and what it might be; and I blushed at
having formed my judgment of a nation from the motley crowd that squeeze
into the wardrobe of a theatre. He made me look upon it as a duty that I
too, in my own department, should be true, spirited, enlivening. I now
felt as if inspired every time I stepped upon the boards. Mediocre
passages grew golden in my mouth: had any poet been at hand to support
me adequately, I might have produced the most astonishing effects.

"So lived the young widow for a series of months. He could not do
without me, and I felt exceedingly unhappy when he staid away. He showed
me the letters he received from his relations, from his amiable sister.
He took an interest in the smallest circumstance that concerned me: more
complete, more intimate, no union ever was than ours. The name of love
was not mentioned. He went and came, came and went. And now, my friend,
it is high time that you, too, should go."


Wilhelm could put off no longer the visiting of his commercial friends.
He proceeded to their place with some anxiety, knowing he should there
find letters from his people. He dreaded the reproofs which these would
of course contain: it seemed likely also that notice had been given to
his trading correspondents, concerning the perplexities and fears which
his late silence had occasioned. After such a series of knightly
adventures, he recoiled from the school-boy aspect in which he must
appear: he proposed within his mind to act with an air of sternness and
defiance, and thus hide his embarrassment.

To his great wonder and contentment, however, all went off very easily
and well. In the vast, stirring, busy counting-room, the men had
scarcely time to seek him out his packet: his delay was but alluded to
in passing. And on opening the letters of his father, and his friend
Werner, he found them all of very innocent contents. His father, in
hopes of an extensive journal, the keeping of which he had strongly
recommended to his son at parting, giving him also a tabulary scheme for
that purpose, seemed pretty well pacified about the silence of the first
period; complaining only of a certain enigmatical obscurity in the last
and only letter despatched, as we have seen, from the castle of the
count. Werner joked in his way; told merry anecdotes, facetious
burgh-news; and requested intelligence of friends and acquaintances,
whom Wilhelm, in the large trading-city, would now meet with in great
numbers. Our friend, extremely pleased at getting off so well, answered
without loss of a moment, in some very cheerful letters; promising his
father a copious journal of his travels, with all the required
geographical, statistical, and mercantile remarks. He had seen much on
his journey, he said, and hoped to make a tolerably large manuscript out
of these materials. He did not observe that he was almost in the same
case as he had once experienced before, when he assembled an audience
and lit his lamps to represent a play which was not written, still less
got by heart. Accordingly, so soon as he commenced the actual work of
composition, he became aware that he had much to say about emotions and
thoughts, and many experiences of the heart and spirit, but not a word
concerning outward objects, on which, as he now discovered, he had not
bestowed the least attention.

In this embarrassment, the acquisitions of his friend Laertes came very
seasonably to his aid. Custom had united these young people, unlike one
another as they were; and Laertes, with all his failings and
singularities, was actually an interesting man. Endowed with warm and
pleasurable senses, he might have reached old age without reflecting for
a moment on his situation. But his ill-fortune and his sickness had
robbed him of the pure feelings of youth, and opened for him instead of
it a view into the transitoriness, the discontinuity, of man's
existence. Hence had arisen a humorous, flighty, rhapsodical way of
thinking about all things, or, rather, of uttering the immediate
impressions they produced on him. He did not like to be alone; he
strolled about all the coffee-houses and _tables-d'hôte_; and, when he
did stay at home, books of travels were his favorite, nay, his only,
kind of reading. Having lately found a large circulating library, he had
been enabled to content his taste in this respect to the full; and
erelong half the world was figuring in his faithful memory.

It was easy for him, therefore, to speak comfort to his friend, when the
latter had disclosed his utter lack of matter for the narrative so
solemnly promised by him. "Now is the time for a stroke of art," said
Laertes, "that shall have no fellow!

"Has not Germany been travelled over, cruised over, walked, crept, and
flown over, repeatedly from end to end? And has not every German
traveller the royal privilege of drawing from the public a repayment of
the great or small expenses he may have incurred while travelling? Give
me your route previous to our meeting: the rest I know already. I will
find you helps and sources of information: of miles that were never
measured, populations that were never counted, we shall give them
plenty. The revenues of provinces we will take from almanacs and tables,
which, as all men know, are the most authentic documents. On these we
will ground our political discussions: we shall not fail in side-glances
at the ruling powers. One or two princes we will paint as true fathers
of their country, that we may gain more ready credence in our
allegations against others. If we do not travel through the residence of
any noted man, we shall take care to meet such persons at the inn, and
make them utter the most foolish stuff to us. Particularly, let us not
forget to insert, with all its graces and sentiments, some love-story
with a pastoral bar-maid. I tell you, it shall be a composition which
will not only fill father and mother with delight, but which booksellers
themselves shall gladly pay you current money for."

They went accordingly to work, and both of them found pleasure in their
labor. Wilhelm, in the mean time, frequenting the play at night, and
conversing with Serlo and Aurelia by day, experienced the greatest
satisfaction, and was daily more and more expanding his ideas, which had
been too long revolving in the same narrow circle.


It was not without deep interest that he became acquainted with the
history of Serlo's career. Piecemeal he learned it; for it was not the
fashion of that extraordinary man to be confidential, or to speak of any
thing connectively. He had been, one may say, born and suckled in the
theatre. While yet literally an infant, he had been produced upon the
stage to move spectators, merely by his presence; for authors even then
were acquainted with this natural and very guiltless mode of doing so.
Thus his first "Father!" or "Mother!" in favorite pieces, procured him
approbation, before he understood what was meant by that clapping of the
hands. In the character of Cupid, he more than once descended, with
terror, in his flying-gear; as harlequin, he used to issue from the egg;
and, as a little chimney-sweep, to play the sharpest tricks.

Unhappily, the plaudits of these glancing nights were too bitterly
repaid by sufferings in the intervening seasons. His father was
persuaded that the minds of children could be kept awake and steadfast
by no other means than blows: hence, in the studying of any part, he
used to thrash him at stated periods, not because the boy was awkward,
but that he might become more certainly and constantly expert. It was
thus that in former times, while putting down a landmark, people were
accustomed to bestow a hearty drubbing on the children who had followed
them: and these, it was supposed, would recollect the place exactly to
the latest day of their lives. Serlo waxed in stature, and showed the
finest capabilities of spirit and of body,--in particular, an admirable
pliancy at once in his thoughts, looks, movements, and gestures. His
gift of imitation was beyond belief. When still a boy, he could mimic
persons, so that you would think you saw them; though in form, age, and
disposition, they might be entirely unlike him, and unlike each other.
Nor with all this, did he want the knack of suiting himself to his
circumstances, and picking out his way in life. Accordingly, so soon as
he had grown in some degree acquainted with his strength, he very
naturally eloped from his father, who, as the boy's understanding and
dexterity increased, still thought it needful to forward their
perfection by the harshest treatment.

Happy was the wild boy, now roaming free about the world, where his
feats of waggery never failed to secure him a good reception. His lucky
star first led him in the Christmas season to a cloister, where the
friar, whose business it had been to arrange processions, and to
entertain the Christian community by spiritual masquerades, having just
died, Serlo was welcomed as a helping angel. On the instant he took up
the part of Gabriel in the Annunciation, and did not by any means
displease the pretty girl, who, acting the Virgin, very gracefully
received his most obliging kiss, with external humility and inward
pride. In their Mysteries, he continued to perform the most important
parts, and thought himself no slender personage, when at last, in the
character of Martyr, he was mocked of the world, and beaten, and fixed
upon the cross.

Some pagan soldiers had, on this occasion, played their parts a little
_too_ naturally. To be avenged on these heathen in the proper style, he
took care at the Day of Judgment to have them decked out in gaudy
clothes as emperors and kings; and at that moment when they, exceedingly
contented with their situation, were about to take precedence of the
rest in heaven, as they had done on earth, he, on a sudden, rushed upon
them in the shape of the Devil; and to the cordial edification of all
the beggars and spectators, having thoroughly curried them with his
oven-fork, he pushed them without mercy back into the chasm, where, in
the midst of waving flame, they met with the sorriest welcome.

He was acute enough, however, to perceive that these crowned heads might
feel offended at such bold procedure, and perhaps forget the reverence
due to his privileged office of Accuser and Turnkey. So in all silence,
before the Millennium commenced, he withdrew, and betook him to a
neighboring town. Here a society of persons, denominated Children of
Joy, received him with open arms. They were a set of clever,
strong-headed, lively geniuses, who saw well enough that the sum of our
existence, divided by reason, never gives an integer number, but that a
surprising fraction is always left behind. At stated times, to get rid
of this fraction, which impedes, and, if it is diffused over all the
mass of our conduct, endangers us, was the object of the Children of
Joy. For one day a week each of them in succession was a fool on
purpose; and, during this, he in his turn exhibited to ridicule, in
allegorical representations, whatever folly he had noticed in himself,
or the rest, throughout the other six. This practice might be somewhat
ruder than that constant training, in the course of which a man of
ordinary morals is accustomed to observe, to warn, to punish, himself
daily; but it was also merrier and surer. For as no Child of Joy
concealed his bosom-folly, so he and those about him held it for simply
what it was; whereas, on the other plan, by the help of self-deception,
this same bosom-folly often gains the head authority within, and binds
down reason to a secret servitude, at the very time when reason fondly
hopes that she has long since chased it out of doors. The mask of folly
circulated round in this society; and each member was allowed, in his
particular day, to decorate and characterize it with his own attributes
or those of others. At the time of Carnival, they assumed the greatest
freedom, vying with the clergy in attempts to instruct and entertain the
multitude. Their solemn figurative processions of Virtues and Vices,
Arts and Sciences, Quarters of the World, and Seasons of the Year,
bodied forth a number of conceptions, and gave images of many distant
objects to the people, and hence were not without their use; while, on
the other hand, the mummeries of the priesthood tended but to strengthen
a tasteless superstition, already strong enough.

Here again young Serlo was altogether in his element. Invention in its
strictest sense, it is true, he had not; but, on the other hand, he had
the most consummate skill in employing what he found before him, in
ordering it, and shadowing it forth. His roguish turns, his gift of
mimicry; his biting wit, which at least one day weekly he might use with
entire freedom, even against his benefactors,--made him precious, or
rather indispensable, to the whole society.

Yet his restless mind soon drove him from this favorable scene to other
quarters of his country, where other means of instruction awaited him.
He came into the polished, but also barren, part of Germany, where, in
worshipping the good and the beautiful, there is indeed no want of
truth, but frequently a grievous want of spirit. His masks would here do
nothing for him: he had now to aim at working on the heart and mind. For
short periods, he attached himself to small or to extensive companies of
actors, and marked, on these occasions, what were the distinctive
properties, both of the pieces and the players. The monotony which then
reigned on the German theatre, the mawkish sound and cadence of their
Alexandrines, the flat and yet distorted dialogue, the shallowness and
commonness of these undisguised preachers of morality, he was not long
in comprehending, or in seizing, at the same time, what little there was
that moved and pleased.

Not only single parts in the current pieces, but the pieces themselves,
remained easily and wholly in his memory, and, along with them, the
special tone of any player who had represented them with approbation. At
length, in the course of his rambles, his money being altogether done,
the project struck him of acting entire pieces by himself, especially in
villages and noblemen's houses, and thus in all places making sure at
least of entertainment and lodging. In any tavern, any room, or any
garden, he would accordingly at once set up his theatre: with a roguish
seriousness and a show of enthusiasm, he would contrive to gain the
imaginations of his audience, to deceive their senses, and before their
eyes to make an old press into a tower, or a fan into a dagger. His
youthful warmth supplied the place of deep feeling: his vehemence seemed
strength, and his flattery tenderness. Such of the spectators as already
knew a theatre, he put in mind of all that they had seen and heard: in
the rest he awakened a presentiment of something wonderful, and a wish
to be more acquainted with it. What produced an effect in one place he
did not fail to repeat in others; and his mind overflowed with a wicked
pleasure when, by the same means, on the spur of the moment, he could
make gulls of all the world.

His spirit was lively, brisk, and unimpeded: by frequently repeating
parts and pieces, he improved very fast. Erelong he could recite and
play with more conformity to the sense than the models whom he had at
first imitated. Proceeding thus, he arrived by degrees at playing
naturally; though he did not cease to feign. He seemed transported, yet
he lay in wait for the effect; and his greatest pride was in moving, by
successive touches, the passions of men. The mad trade he drove did
itself soon force him to proceed with a certain moderation; and thus,
partly by constraint, partly by instinct, he learned the art of which so
few players seemed to have a notion,--the art of being frugal in the use
of voice and gestures.

Thus did he contrive to tame, and to inspire with interest for him, even
rude and unfriendly men. Being always contented with food and shelter;
thankfully accepting presents of any kind as readily as money, which
latter, when he reckoned that he had enough of it, he frequently
declined,--he became a general favorite, was sent about from one to
another with recommendatory letters; and thus he wandered many a day
from castle to castle, exciting much festivity, enjoying much, and
meeting in his travels with the most agreeable and curious adventures.

With such inward coldness of temper, he could not properly be said to
love any one; with such clearness of vision, he could respect no one; in
fact, he never looked beyond the external peculiarities of men; and he
merely carried their characters in his mimical collection. Yet withal,
his selfishness was keenly wounded if he did not please every one and
call forth universal applause. How this might be attained, he had
studied in the course of time so accurately, and so sharpened his sense
of the matter, that not only on the stage, but also in common life, he
no longer could do otherwise than flatter and deceive. And thus did his
disposition, his talent, and his way of life, work reciprocally on each
other, till by this means he had imperceptibly been formed into a
perfect actor. Nay, by a mode of action and re-action, which is quite
natural, though it seems paradoxical, his recitation, declamation, and
gesture improved, by critical discernment and practice, to a high degree
of truth, ease, and frankness; while, in his life and intercourse with
men, he seemed to grow continually more secret, artful, or even
hypocritical and constrained.

Of his fortunes and adventures we perhaps shall speak in another place:
it is enough to remark at present, that in later times, when he had
become a man of circumstance, in possession of a distinct reputation,
and of a very good, though not entirely secure, employment and rank, he
was wont, in conversation, partly in the way of irony, partly of
mockery, in a delicate style, to act the sophist, and thus to destroy
almost all serious discussion. This kind of speech he seemed peculiarly
fond of using towards Wilhelm, particularly when the latter took a
fancy, as often happened, for introducing any of his general and
theoretical disquisitions. Yet still they liked well to be together:
with such different modes of thinking, the conversation could not fail
to be lively. Wilhelm always wished to deduce every thing from abstract
ideas which he had arrived at: he wanted to have art viewed in all its
connections as a whole. He wanted to promulgate and fix down universal
laws; to settle what was right, beautiful, and good: in short, he
treated all things in a serious manner. Serlo, on the other hand, took
up the matter very lightly: never answering directly to any question, he
would contrive, by some anecdote or laughable turn, to give the finest
and most satisfactory illustrations, and thus to instruct his audience
while he made them merry.


While our friend was in this way living very happily, Melina and the
rest were in quite a different case. Wilhelm they haunted like evil
spirits; and not only by their presence, but frequently by rueful faces
and bitter words, they caused him many a sorry moment. Serlo had not
admitted them to the most trifling part, far less held out to them any
hope of a permanent engagement; and yet he had contrived, by degrees, to
get acquainted with the capabilities of every one of them. Whenever any
actors were assembled in leisure hours about him, he was wont to make
them read, and frequently to read along with them. On such occasions he
took plays which were by and by to be acted, which for a long time had
remained unacted; and generally by portions. In like manner, after any
first representation, he caused such passages to be repeated as he had
any thing to say upon: by which means he sharpened the discernment of
his actors, and strengthened their certainty of hitting the proper
point. And as a person of slender but correct understanding may produce
more agreeable effect on others than a perplexed and unpurified genius,
he would frequently exalt men of mediocre talents, by the clear views
which he imperceptibly afforded them, to a wonderful extent of power.
Nor was it an unimportant item in his scheme, that he likewise had poems
read before him in their meetings; for by these he nourished in his
people the feeling of that charm which a well-pronounced rhythm is
calculated to awaken in the soul: whereas, in other companies, those
prose compositions were already getting introduced for which any tyro
was adequate.

On occasions such as these, he had contrived to make himself acquainted
with the new-come players: he had decided what they were, and what they
might be, and silently made up his mind to take advantage of their
talents, in a revolution which was now threatening his own company. For
a while he let the matter rest; declined every one of Wilhelm's
intercessions for his comrades, with a shrug of the shoulders; till at
last he saw his time, and altogether unexpectedly made the proposal to
our friend, "that he himself should come upon the stage; that, on this
condition, the others, too, might be admitted."

"These people must not be so useless as you formerly described them,"
answered Wilhelm, "if they can now be all received at once; and I
suppose their talents would remain the same without me as with me."

Under seal of secrecy, Serlo hereupon explained his situation,--how his
first actor was giving hints about a rise of salary at the renewal of
their contract; how he himself did not incline conceding this, the
rather as the individual in question was no longer in such favor with
the public; how, if he dismissed him, a whole train would follow;
whereby, it was true, his company would lose some good, but likewise
some indifferent, actors. He then showed Wilhelm what he hoped to gain
in him, in Laertes, Old Boisterous, and even Frau Melina. Nay, he
promised to procure for the silly Pedant himself, in the character of
Jew, minister, but chiefly of villain, a decided approbation.

Wilhelm faltered; the proposal fluttered him; he knew not what to say.
That he might say something, he rejoined, with a deep-drawn breath, "You
speak very graciously about the good you find and hope to find in us;
but how is it with our weak points, which certainly have not escaped
your penetration?"

"These," said Serlo, "by diligence, practice, and reflection, we shall
soon make strong points. Though you are yet but freshmen and bunglers,
there is not one among you that does not warrant expectation more or
less: for, so far as I can judge, no stick, properly so called, is to
be met with in the company; and your stick is the only person that can
never be improved, never bent or guided, whether it be self-conceit,
stupidity, or hypochondria, that renders him unpliant."

The manager next stated, in a few words, the terms he meant to offer;
requested Wilhelm to determine soon, and left him in no small

In the marvellous composition of those travels, which he had at first
engaged with, as it were, in jest, and was now carrying on in
conjunction with Laertes, his mind had by degrees grown more attentive
to the circumstances and the every-day life of the actual world than it
was wont. He now first understood the object of his father in so
earnestly recommending him to keep a journal. He now, for the first
time, felt how pleasant and how useful it might be to become
participator in so many trades and requisitions, and to take a hand in
diffusing activity and life into the deepest nooks of the mountains and
forests of Europe. The busy trading-town in which he was; the unrest of
Laertes, who dragged him about to examine every thing,--afforded him the
most impressive image of a mighty centre, from which every thing was
flowing out, to which every thing was coming back; and it was the first
time that his spirit, in contemplating this species of activity, had
really felt delight. At such a juncture Serlo's offer had been made him;
had again awakened his desires, his tendencies, his faith in a natural
talent, and again brought into mind his solemn obligation to his
helpless comrades.

"Here standest thou once more," said he within himself, "at the Parting
of the Ways, between the two women who appeared before thee in thy
youth. The one no longer looks so pitiful as then, nor does the other
look so glorious. To obey the one, or to obey the other, thou art not
without a kind of inward calling: outward reasons are on both sides
strong enough, and to decide appears to thee impossible. Thou wishest
some preponderancy from without would fix thy choice; and yet, if thou
consider well, it is external circumstances only that inspire thee with
a wish to trade, to gather, to possess; whilst it is thy inmost want
that has created, that has nourished, the desire still further to unfold
and perfect what endowments soever for the beautiful and good, be they
mental or bodily, may lie within thee. And ought I not to honor Fate,
which, without furtherance of mine, has led me hither to the goal of
all my wishes? Has not all that I, in old times, meditated and forecast,
now happened accidentally, and without my co-operation? Singular enough!
We seem to be so intimate with nothing as we are with our own wishes and
hopes, which have long been kept and cherished in our hearts; yet when
they meet us, when they, as it were, press forward to us, then we know
them not, then we recoil from them. All that, since the hapless night
which severed me from Mariana, I have but allowed myself to dream, now
stands before me, entreating my acceptance. Hither I intended to escape
by flight; hither I am softly guided: with Serlo I meant to seek a
place; he now seeks me, and offers me conditions, which, as a beginner,
I could not have looked for. Was it, then, mere love to Mariana that
bound me to the stage? Or love to art that bound me to her? Was that
prospect, that outlet, which the theatre presented me, nothing but the
project of a restless, disorderly, and disobedient boy, wishing to lead
a life which the customs of the civic world would not admit of? Or was
all this different, worthier, purer? If so, what moved thee to alter the
persuasions of that period? Hast thou not hitherto, even without knowing
it, pursued thy plan? Is not the concluding step still further to be
justified, now that no side-purposes combine with it; now that in making
it thou mayest fulfil a solemn promise, and nobly free thyself from a
heavy debt?"

All that could affect his heart and his imagination was now moving, and
conflicting in the liveliest strife within him. The thought that he
might retain Mignon, that he should not need to put away the harper, was
not an inconsiderable item in the balance, which, however, had not
ceased to waver to the one and to the other side, when he went, as he
was wont, to see his friend Aurelia.


She was lying on the sofa: she seemed quiet. "Do you think you will be
fit to act to-morrow?" he inquired. "Oh, yes!" cried she with vivacity:
"you know there is nothing to prevent me. If I but knew a way,"
continued she, "to rid myself of those applauses! The people mean it
well, but they will kill me. Last night I thought my very heart would
break! Once, when I used to please myself, I could endure this gladly:
when I had studied long, and well prepared myself, it gave me joy to
hear the sound, 'It has succeeded!' pealing back to me from every
corner. But now I speak not what I like, nor as I like; I am swept
along, I get confused, I scarce know what I do; and the impression I
make is far deeper. The applause grows louder; and I think, Did you but
know what charms you! These dark, vague, vehement tones of passion move
you, force you to admire; and you feel not that they are the cries of
agony, wrung from the miserable being whom you praise.

"I learned my part this morning: just now I have been repeating it and
trying it. I am tired, broken down; and to-morrow I must do the same.
To-morrow evening is the play. Thus do I drag myself to and fro: it is
wearisome to rise, it is wearisome to go to bed. All moves within me in
an everlasting circle. Then come their dreary consolations, and present
themselves before me; and I cast them out, and execrate them. I will not
surrender, not surrender to necessity: why should that be necessary
which crushes me to the dust? Might it not be otherwise? I am paying the
penalty of being born a German: it is the nature of the Germans, that
they bear heavily on every thing, that every thing bears heavily on

"O my friend!" cried Wilhelm, "could you cease to whet the dagger
wherewith you are ever wounding me! Does nothing, then, remain for you?
Are your youth, your form, your health, your talents, nothing? Having
lost one blessing, without blame of yours, must you throw all the others
after it? Is that also necessary?"

She was silent for a few moments, and then burst forth, "I know well, it
is a waste of time, nothing but a waste of time, this love! What might
not, should not, I have done! And now it is all vanished into air. I am
a poor, wretched, lovelorn creature,--lovelorn, that is all! Oh, have
compassion on me! God knows I am poor and wretched!"

She sank in thought: then, after a brief pause, she exclaimed with
violence, "You are accustomed to have all things fly into your arms. No:
you cannot feel, no man is qualified to feel, the worth of a woman that
can reverence herself. By all the holy angels, by all the images of
blessedness, which a pure and kindly heart creates, there is not any
thing more heavenly than the soul of a woman giving herself to the man
she loves!

"We are cold, proud, high, clear-sighted, wise, while we deserve the
name of women; and all these qualities we lay down at your feet, the
instant that we love, that we hope to excite a return of love. Oh, how
have I cast away my whole existence wittingly and willingly! But now
will I despair, purposely despair. There is no drop of blood within me
but shall suffer, no fibre that I will not punish. Smile, I pray you;
laugh at this theatrical display of passion."

Wilhelm was far enough from any tendency to laugh. This horrible,
half-natural, half-factitious condition of his friend afflicted him but
too deeply. He sympathized in the tortures of that racking misery: his
thoughts were wandering in painful perplexities, his blood was in a
feverish tumult.

She had risen, and was walking up and down the room. "I see before me,"
she exclaimed, "all manner of reasons why I should not love him. I know
he is not worthy of it; I turn my mind aside, this way and that; I seize
upon whatever business I can find. At one time I take up a part, though
I have not to play it; at another, I begin to practise old ones, though
I know them through and through; I practise them more diligently, more
minutely,--I toil and toil at them. My friend, my confidant, what a
horrid task is it to tear away one's thoughts from one's self! My reason
suffers, my brain is racked and strained: to save myself from madness, I
again admit the feeling that I love him. Yes, I love him, I love him!"
cried she, with a shower of tears: "I love him, I shall die loving him!"

He took her by the hand, and entreated her in the most earnest manner
not to waste herself in such self-torments. "Oh! it seems hard," said
he, "that not only so much that is impossible should be denied us, but
so much also that is possible! It was not your lot to meet with a
faithful heart that would have formed your perfect happiness. It was
mine to fix the welfare of my life upon a hapless creature, whom, by the
weight of my fidelity, I drew to the bottom like a reed, perhaps even
broke in pieces!"

He had told Aurelia of his intercourse with Mariana, and could therefore
now refer to it. She looked him intently in the face, and asked, "Can
you say that you never yet betrayed a woman, that you never tried with
thoughtless gallantry, with false asseverations, with cajoling oaths, to
wheedle favor from her?"

"I can," said Wilhelm, "and indeed without much vanity: my life has
been so simple and sequestered, I have had but few enticements to
attempt such things. And what a warning, my beautiful, my noble, friend,
is this melancholy state in which I see you! Accept of me a vow, which
is suited to my heart; which, under the emotion you have caused me, has
settled into words and shape, and will be hallowed by the hour in which
I utter it. Each transitory inclination I will study to withstand, and
even the most earnest I will keep within my bosom: no woman shall
receive an acknowledgment of love from my lips to whom I cannot
consecrate my life!"

She looked at him with a wild indifference, and drew back some steps as
he offered her his hand. "'Tis of no moment!" cried she: "so many
women's tears, more or fewer; the ocean will not swell by reason of
them. And yet," continued she, "among thousands, one woman saved; that
still is something: among thousands, one honest man discovered; this is
not to be refused. Do you know, then, what you promise?"

"I know it," answered Wilhelm, with a smile, and holding out his hand.

"I accept it, then," said she, and made a movement with her right hand,
as if meaning to take hold of his; but instantly she darted it into her
pocket, pulled out her dagger quick as lightning, and scored with the
edge and point of it across his hand. He hastily drew it back, but the
blood was already running down.

"One must mark you men rather sharply, if one would have you take heed,"
cried she, with a wild mirth, which soon passed into a quick assiduity.
She took her handkerchief, and bound his hand with it to stanch the
fast-flowing blood. "Forgive a half-crazed being," cried she, "and
regret not these few drops of blood. I am appeased. I am again myself.
On my knees will I crave your pardon: leave me the comfort of healing

She ran to her drawer, brought lint, with other apparatus, stanched the
blood, and viewed the wound attentively. It went across the palm, close
under the thumb, dividing the life-line, and running towards the little
finger. She bound it up in silence, with a significant, reflective look.
He asked, once or twice, "Aurelia, how could you hurt your friend?"

"Hush!" replied she, laying her finger on her mouth: "Hush!"



Thus Wilhelm, to his pair of former wounds, which were yet scarcely
healed, had now got the accession of a third, which was fresh and not a
little disagreeable. Aurelia would not suffer him to call a surgeon: she
dressed the hand with all manner of strange speeches, saws, and
ceremonies, and so placed him in a very painful situation. Yet not he
alone, but all persons who came near her, suffered by her restlessness
and singularity, and no one more than little Felix. This stirring child
was exceedingly impatient under such oppression, and showed himself
still naughtier the more she censured and instructed him.

He delighted in some practices which commonly are thought bad habits,
and in which she would not by any means indulge him. He would drink, for
example, rather from the bottle than the glass; and his food seemed
visibly to have a better relish when eaten from the bowl than from the
plate. Such ill-breeding was not overlooked: if he left the door
standing open, or slammed it to; if, when bid do any thing, he stood
stock-still, or ran off violently,--he was sure to have a long lecture
inflicted on him for the fault. Yet he showed no symptoms of improvement
from this training: on the other hand, his affection for Aurelia seemed
daily to diminish; there was nothing tender in his tone when he called
her mother; whereas he passionately clung to the old nurse, who let him
have his will in every thing.

But she likewise had of late become so sick, that they had at last been
obliged to take her from the house into a quiet lodging; and Felix would
have been entirely alone if Mignon had not, like a kindly guardian
spirit, come to help him. The two children talked together, and amused
each other in the prettiest style. She taught him little songs; and he,
having an excellent memory, frequently recited them, to the surprise of
those about him. She attempted also to explain her maps to him. With
these she was still very busy, though she did not seem to take the
fittest method. For, in studying countries, she appeared to care little
about any other point than whether they were cold or warm. Of the north
and south poles, of the horrid ice which reigns there, and of the
increasing heat the farther one retires from them, she could give a very
clear account. When any one was travelling, she merely asked whether he
was going northward or southward, and strove to find his route in her
little charts. Especially when Wilhelm spoke of travelling, she was all
attention, and seemed vexed when any thing occurred to change the
subject. Though she could not be prevailed upon to undertake a part, or
even to enter the theatre when any play was acting, yet she willingly
and zealously committed many odes and songs to memory; and by
unexpectedly, and, as it were, on the spur of the moment, reciting some
such poem, generally of the earnest and solemn kind, she would often
cause astonishment in every one.

Serlo, accustomed to regard with favor every trace of opening talent,
encouraged her in such performances; but what pleased him most in Mignon
was her sprightly, various, and often even mirthful, singing. By means
of a similar gift, the harper likewise had acquired his favor.

Without himself possessing genius for music, or playing on any
instrument, Serlo could rightly prize the value of the art: he failed
not, as often as he could, to enjoy this pleasure, which cannot be
compared with any other. He held a concert once a week; and now, with
Mignon, the harper, and Laertes, who was not unskilful on the violin, he
had formed a very curious domestic band.

He was wont to say, "Men are so inclined to content themselves with what
is commonest; the spirit and the senses so easily grow dead to the
impressions of the beautiful and perfect,--that every one should study,
by all methods, to nourish in his mind the faculty of feeling these
things. For no man can bear to be entirely deprived of such enjoyments:
it is only because they are not used to taste of what is excellent that
the generality of people take delight in silly and insipid things,
provided they be new. For this reason," he would add, "one ought, every
day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine
picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."
With such a turn of thought in Serlo, which in some degree was natural
to him, the persons who frequented his society could scarcely be in
want of pleasant conversation.

It was in the midst of these instructive entertainments, that Wilhelm
one day received a letter sealed in black. Werner's hand betokened
mournful news; and our friend was not a little shocked when, opening the
sheet, he found it to contain the tidings of his father's death,
conveyed in a very few words. After a short and sudden illness, he had
parted from the world, leaving his domestic affairs in the best possible

This unlooked-for intelligence struck Wilhelm to the heart. He deeply
felt how careless and negligent we often are of friends and relations
while they inhabit with us this terrestrial sojourn; and how we first
repent of our insensibility when the fair union, at least for this side
of time, is finally cut asunder. His grief for the early death of this
honest parent was mitigated only by the feeling that he had loved but
little in the world, and the conviction that he had enjoyed but little.

Wilhelm's thoughts soon turned to his own predicament, and he felt
himself extremely discomposed. A person can scarcely be put into a more
dangerous position, than when external circumstances have produced some
striking change in his condition, without his manner of feeling and of
thinking having undergone any preparation for it. There is, then, an
epoch without epoch; and the contradiction which arises is the greater
the less the person feels that he is not trained for this new manner of

Wilhelm saw himself in freedom, at a moment when he could not yet be at
one with himself. His thoughts were noble, his motives pure, his
purposes were not to be despised. All this he could, with some degree of
confidence, acknowledge to himself: but he had of late been frequently
enough compelled to notice, that experience was sadly wanting to him;
and hence, on the experience of others, and on the results which they
deduced from it, he put a value far beyond its real one, and thus led
himself still deeper into error. What he wanted, he conceived he might
most readily acquire if he undertook to collect and retain whatever
memorable thought he should meet with in reading or in conversation. He
accordingly recorded his own or other men's opinions, nay, wrote whole
dialogues, when they chanced to interest him. But unhappily by this
means he held fast the false no less firmly than the true; he dwelt far
too long on one idea, particularly when it was of an aphoristic shape;
and thus he left his natural mode of thought and action, and frequently
took foreign lights for his loadstars. Aurelia's bitterness, and
Laertes's cold contempt for men, warped his judgment oftener than they
should have done: but no one, in his present case, would have been so
dangerous as Jarno, a man whose clear intellect could form a just and
rigorous decision about present things, but who erred, withal, in
enunciating these particular decisions with a kind of universal
application; whereas, in truth, the judgments of the understanding are
properly of force but once, and that in the strictest cases, and become
inaccurate in some degree when applied to any other.

Thus Wilhelm, striving to become consistent with himself, was deviating
farther and farther from wholesome consistency; and this confusion made
it easier for his passions to employ their whole artillery against him,
and thus still farther to perplex his views of duty.

Serlo did not fail to take advantage of the late tidings; and in truth
he daily had more reason to be anxious about some fresh arrangement of
his people. Either he must soon renew his old contracts,--a measure he
was not specially fond of; for several of his actors, who reckoned
themselves indispensable, were growing more and more arrogant,--or else
he must entirely new-model and re-form his company; which plan he looked
upon as preferable.

Though he did not personally importune our friend, he set Aurelia and
Philina on him; and the other wanderers, longing for some kind of
settlement, on their side, gave Wilhelm not a moment's rest; so that he
stood hesitating in his choice, in no slight embarrassment till he
should decide. Who would have thought that a letter of Werner's, written
with quite different views, should have forced him on resolving? We
shall omit the introduction, and give the rest of it with little


"It was, therefore, and it always must be, right for every one, on any
opportunity, to follow his vocation and exhibit his activity. Scarcely
had the good old man been gone a quarter of an hour, when every thing in
the house began moving by a different plan than his. Friends,
acquaintances, relations, crowded forward, especially all sorts of
people who on such occasions use to gain any thing. They fetched and
carried, they counted, wrote, and reckoned; some brought wine and meat,
others ate and drank; and none seemed busier than the women getting out
the mournings.

"Such being the case, thou wilt not blame me, that, in this emergency, I
likewise thought of _my_ advantage. I made myself as active, and as
helpful to thy sister, as I could, and, so soon as it was any way
decorous, signified to her that it had now become our business to
accelerate a union which our parents, in their too great circumspection,
had hitherto postponed.

"Do not suppose, however, that it came into our heads to take possession
of that monstrous empty house. We are more modest and more rational.
Thou shalt hear our plan: thy sister, so soon as we are married, comes
to our house; and thy mother comes along with her. 'How can that be?'
thou wilt say: 'you have scarcely room for yourselves in that hampered
nest.' There lies the art of it, my friend. Good packing renders all
things possible: thou wouldst not believe what space one finds when one
desires to occupy but little. The large house we shall sell,--an
opportunity occurs for this; and the money we shall draw for it will
produce a hundred-fold.

"I hope this meets thy views: I hope also thou hast not inherited the
smallest particle of those unprofitable tastes for which thy father and
thy grandfather were noted. The latter placed his greatest happiness in
having about him a multitude of dull-looking works of art, which no one,
I may well say no one, could enjoy with him: the former lived in a
stately pomp, which he suffered no one to enjoy with him. We mean to
manage otherwise, and we expect thy approbation.

"It is true, I myself in all the house have no place whatever but the
stool before my writing-desk; and I see not clearly where they will be
able to put a cradle down: but, in return, the room we shall have out of
doors will be the more abundant. Coffee-houses and clubs for the
husband, walks and drives for the wife, and pleasant country jaunts for
both. But the chief advantage in our plan is, that, the round table
being now completely filled, our father cannot ask his friends to
dinner, who, the more he strove to entertain them, used to laugh at him
the more.

"Now no superfluity for us! Not too much furniture and apparatus; no
coach, no horses! Nothing but money, and the liberty, day after day, to
do what you like in reason. No wardrobe; still the best and newest on
your back: the man may wear his coat till it is done; the wife may truck
her gown, the moment it is going out of fashion. There is nothing so
unsufferable to me as an old huckster's shop of property. If you would
offer me a jewel, on condition of my wearing it daily on my finger, I
would not accept it; for how can one conceive any pleasure in a dead
capital? This, then, is my confession of faith: To transact your
business, to make money, to be merry with your household; and about the
rest of the earth to trouble yourself no farther than where you can be
of service to it.

"But ere now thou art saying, 'And, pray, what is to be done with me in
this sage plan of yours? Where shall I find shelter when you have sold
my own house, and not the smallest room remains in yours?'

"This is, in truth, the main point, brother; and in this, too, I shall
have it in my power to serve thee. But first I must present the just
tribute of my praise for time so spent as thine has been.

"Tell me, how hast thou within a few weeks become so skilled in every
useful, interesting object? Highly as I thought of thy powers, I did not
reckon such attention and such diligence among the number. Thy journal
shows us with what profit thou art travelling. The description of the
iron and the copper forges is exquisite: it evinces a complete knowledge
of the subject. I myself was once there; but my relation, compared with
this, has but a very bungled look. The whole letter on the linen-trade
is full of information: the remarks on commercial competition are at
once just and striking. In one or two places, there are errors in
addition, which indeed are very pardonable.

"But what most delights my father and myself, is thy thorough knowledge
of husbandry, and the improvement of landed property. We have thoughts
of purchasing a large estate, at present under sequestration, in a very
fruitful district. For paying it, we mean to use the money realized by
the sale of the house; another portion we shall borrow; a portion may
remain unpaid. And we count on thee for going thither, and
superintending the improvement of it; by which means, before many years
are passed, the land, to speak in moderation, will have risen above a
third in value. We shall then bring it to the market again, seek out a
larger piece, improve and trade as formerly. For all this thou art the
man. Our pens, meanwhile, will not lie idle here; and so by and by we
shall rise to be enviable people.

"For the present, fare thee well! Enjoy life on thy journey, and turn
thy face wherever thou canst find contentment and advantage. For the
next half-year we shall not need thee; thou canst look about thee in the
world as thou pleasest: a judicious person finds his best instruction in
his travels. Farewell! I rejoice at being connected with thee so closely
by relation, and now united with thee in the spirit of activity."

       *       *       *       *       *

Well as this letter might be penned, and full of economical truths as it
was, Wilhelm felt displeased with it for more than one reason. The
praise bestowed on him for his pretended statistical, technological, and
rural knowledge was a silent reprimand. The ideal of the happiness of
civic life, which his worthy brother sketched, by no means charmed him:
on the contrary, a secret spirit of contradiction dragged him forcibly
the other way. He convinced himself, that, except on the stage, he could
nowhere find that mental culture which he longed to give himself: he
seemed to grow the more decided in his resolution, the more strongly
Werner, without knowing it, opposed him. Thus assailed, he collected all
his arguments together, and buttressed his opinions in his mind the more
carefully, the more desirable he reckoned it to show them in a favorable
light to Werner; and in this manner he produced an answer, which also we


"Thy letter is so well written, and so prudently and wisely conceived,
that no objection can be made to it. Only thou must pardon me, when I
declare that one may think, maintain, and do directly the reverse, and
yet be in the right as well as thou. Thy mode of being and imagining
appears to turn on boundless acquisition, and a light, mirthful manner
of enjoyment: I need scarcely tell thee, that in all this I find little
that can charm me.

"First, however, I am sorry to admit, that my journal is none of mine.
Under the pressure of necessity, and to satisfy my father, it was
patched together by a friend's help, out of many books: and though in
words I know the objects it relates to, and more of the like sort, I by
no means understand them, or can occupy myself about them. What good
were it for me to manufacture perfect iron while my own breast is full
of dross? What would it stead me to put properties of land in order,
while I am at variance with myself?

"To speak it in a word, the cultivation of my individual self, here as I
am, has from my youth upwards been constantly though dimly my wish and
my purpose. The same intention I still cherish, but the means of
realizing it are now grown somewhat clearer. I have seen more of life
than thou believest, and profited more by it also. Give some attention,
then, to what I say, though it should not altogether tally with thy own

"Had I been a nobleman, our dispute would soon have been decided; but,
being a simple burgher, I must take a path of my own: and I fear it may
be difficult to make thee understand me. I know not how it is in foreign
countries, but in Germany, a universal, and, if I may say so, personal,
cultivation is beyond the reach of any one except a nobleman. A burgher
may acquire merit; by excessive efforts he may even educate his mind;
but his personal qualities are lost, or worse than lost, let him
struggle as he will. Since the nobleman, frequenting the society of the
most polished, is compelled to give himself a polished manner; since
this manner, neither door nor gate being shut against him, grows at last
an unconstrained one; since, in court or camp, his figure, his person,
are a part of his possessions, and, it may be, the most necessary
part,--he has reason enough to put some value on them, and to show that
he puts some. A certain stately grace in common things, a sort of gay
elegance in earnest and important ones, becomes him well; for it shows
him to be everywhere in equilibrium. He is a public person; and the more
cultivated his movements, the more sonorous his voice, the more staid
and measured his whole being is, the more perfect is he. If to high and
low, to friends and relations, he continues still the same, then nothing
can be said against him, none may wish him otherwise. His coldness must
be reckoned clearness of head, his dissimulation prudence. If he can
rule himself externally at every moment of his life, no man has aught
more to demand of him; and, whatever else there may be in him or about
him, capacities, talents, wealth, all seem gifts of supererogation.

"Now, imagine any burgher offering ever to pretend to these advantages,
he will utterly fail, and the more completely, the greater inclination
and the more endowments nature may have given him for that mode of

"Since, in common life, the nobleman is hampered by no limits; since
kings, or kinglike figures, do not differ from him,--he can everywhere
advance with a silent consciousness, as if before his equals: everywhere
he is entitled to press forward, whereas nothing more beseems the
burgher than the quiet feeling of the limits that are drawn round him.
The burgher may not ask himself, 'What art thou?' He can only ask, 'What
hast thou? What discernment, knowledge, talent, wealth?' If the
nobleman, merely by his personal carriage, offers all that can be asked
of him, the burgher by his personal carriage offers nothing, and can
offer nothing. The former has a right to _seem_: the latter is compelled
to _be_, and what he aims at seeming becomes ludicrous and tasteless.
The former does and makes, the latter but effects and procures; he must
cultivate some single gifts in order to be useful; and it is beforehand
settled, that, in his manner of existence, there is no harmony, and can
be none, since he is bound to make himself of use in one department, and
so has to relinquish all the others.

"Perhaps the reason of this difference is not the usurpation of the
nobles, and the submission of the burghers, but the constitution of
society itself. Whether it will ever alter, and how, is to me of small
importance: my present business is to meet my own case, as matters
actually stand; to consider by what means I may save myself, and reach
the object which I cannot live in peace without.

"Now, this harmonious cultivation of my nature, which has been denied me
by birth, is exactly what I most long for. Since leaving thee, I have
gained much by voluntary practice: I have laid aside much of my wonted
embarrassment, and can bear myself in very tolerable style. My speech
and voice I have likewise been attending to; and I may say, without much
vanity, that in society I do not cause displeasure. But I will not
conceal from thee, that my inclination to become a public person, and to
please and influence in a larger circle, is daily growing more
insuperable. With this, there is combined my love for poetry and all
that is related to it; and the necessity I feel to cultivate my mental
faculties and tastes, that so, in this enjoyment henceforth
indispensable, I may esteem as good the good alone, as beautiful the
beautiful alone. Thou seest well, that for me all this is nowhere to be
met with except upon the stage; that in this element alone can I effect
and cultivate myself according to my wishes. On the boards a polished
man appears in his splendor with personal accomplishments, just as he
does so in the upper classes of society; body and spirit must advance
with equal steps in all his studies; and there I shall have it in my
power at once to be and seem as well as anywhere. If I further long for
solid occupations, we have there mechanical vexations in abundance: I
may give my patience daily exercise.

"Dispute not with me on this subject; for, ere thou writest, the step is
taken. In compliance with the ruling prejudices, I will change my name;
as, indeed, that of Meister, or Master, does not suit me. Farewell! Our
fortune is in good hands: on that subject I shall not disturb myself.
What I need I will, as occasion calls, require from thee: it will not be
much, for I hope my art will be sufficient to maintain me."

       *       *       *       *       *

Scarcely was the letter sent away, when our friend made good his words.
To the great surprise of Serlo and the rest, he at once declared that he
was ready to become an actor, and bind himself by a contract on
reasonable terms. With regard to these they were soon agreed; for Serlo
had before made offers, with which Wilhelm and his comrades had good
reason to be satisfied. The whole of that unlucky company, wherewith we
have had so long to occupy ourselves, was now at once received; and,
except perhaps Laertes, not a member of it showed the smallest
thankfulness to Wilhelm. As they had entreated without confidence, so
they accepted without gratitude. Most of them preferred ascribing their
appointment to the influence of Philina, and directed their thanks to
her. Meanwhile the contracts had been written out, and were now
a-signing. At the moment when our friend was subscribing his assumed
designation, by some inexplicable concatenation of ideas, there arose
before his mind's eye the image of that green in the forest where he lay
wounded in Philina's lap. The lovely Amazon came riding on her gray
palfrey from the bushes of the wood: she approached him and dismounted.
Her humane anxiety made her come and go: at length she stood before him.
The white surtout fell down from her shoulders: her countenance, her
form, began to glance in radiance: and she vanished from his sight. He
wrote his name mechanically only, not knowing what he did, and felt not,
till after he had signed, that Mignon was standing at his side, was
holding by his arm, and had softly tried to stop him, and pull back his


One of the conditions under which our friend had gone upon the stage was
not acceded to by Serlo without some limitations. Wilhelm had required
that "Hamlet" should be played entire and unmutilated: the other had
agreed to this strange stipulation, in so far as it was _possible_. On
this point they had many a contest; for as to what was possible or not
possible, and what parts of the piece could be omitted without
mutilating it, the two were of very different opinions.

Wilhelm was still in that happy season when one cannot understand how,
in the woman one loves, in the writer one honors, there should be any
thing defective. The feeling they excite in us is so entire, so
accordant with itself, that we cannot help attributing the same perfect
harmony to the objects themselves. Serlo again was willing to
discriminate, perhaps too willing: his acute understanding could usually
discern in any work of art nothing but a more or less imperfect whole.
He thought, that as pieces usually stood, there was little reason to be
chary about meddling with them; that of course Shakspeare, and
particularly "Hamlet," would need to suffer much curtailment.

But, when Serlo talked of separating the wheat from the chaff, Wilhelm
would not hear of it. "It is not chaff and wheat together," said he: "it
is a trunk with boughs, twigs, leaves, buds, blossoms, and fruit. Is not
the one there with the others, and by means of them?" To which Serlo
would reply, that people did not bring a whole tree upon the table; that
the artist was required to present his guests with silver apples in
platters of silver. They exhausted their invention in similitudes, and
their opinions seemed still farther to diverge.

Our friend was on the borders of despair, when on one occasion, after
much debating, Serlo counselled him to take the simple plan,--to make a
brief resolution, to grasp his pen, to peruse the tragedy; dashing out
whatever would not answer, compressing several personages into one: and
if he was not skilled in such proceedings, or had not heart enough for
going through with them, he might leave the task to him, the manager,
who would engage to make short work with it.

"That is not our bargain," answered Wilhelm. "How can you, with all your
taste, show so much levity?"

"My friend," cried Serlo, "you yourself will erelong feel it and show
it. I know too well how shocking such a mode of treating works is:
perhaps it never was allowed on any theatre till now. But where, indeed,
was ever one so slighted as ours? Authors force us on this wretched
clipping system, and the public tolerates it. How many pieces have we,
pray, which do not overstep the measure of our numbers, of our
decorations and theatrical machinery, of the proper time, of the fit
alternation of dialogue, and the physical strength of the actor? And yet
we are to play, and play, and constantly give novelties. Ought we not to
profit by our privilege, then, since we accomplish just as much by
mutilated works as by entire ones? It is the public itself that grants
the privilege. Few Germans, perhaps few men of any modern nation, have a
proper sense of an æsthetic whole:--they praise and blame by passages;
they are charmed by passages; and who has greater reason to rejoice at
this than actors, since the stage is ever but a patched and piece-work

"Is!" cried Wilhelm; "but _must_ it ever be so? Must every thing that is
continue? Convince me not that you are right, for no power on earth
should force me to abide by any contract which I had concluded with the
grossest misconceptions."

Serlo gave a merry turn to the business, and persuaded Wilhelm to review
once more the many conversations they had had together about "Hamlet,"
and himself to invent some means of properly re-forming the piece.

After a few days, which he had spent alone, our friend returned with a
cheerful look. "I am much mistaken," cried he, "if I have not now
discovered how the whole is to be managed: nay, I am convinced that
Shakspeare himself would have arranged it so, had not his mind been too
exclusively directed to the ruling interest, and perhaps misled by the
novels which furnished him with his materials."

"Let us hear," said Serlo, placing himself with an air of solemnity upon
the sofa: "I will listen calmly, but judge with rigor."

"I am not afraid of you," said Wilhelm: "only hear me. In the
composition of this play, after the most accurate investigation and the
most mature reflection, I distinguish two classes of objects. The first
are the grand internal relations of the persons and events, the powerful
effects which arise from the characters and proceedings of the main
figures: these, I hold, are individually excellent; and the order in
which they are presented cannot be improved. No kind of interference
must be suffered to destroy them, or even essentially to change their
form. These are the things which stamp themselves deep into the soul,
which all men long to see, which no one dares to meddle with.
Accordingly, I understand, they have almost wholly been retained in all
our German theatres. But our countrymen have erred, in my opinion, with
regard to the second class of objects, which may be observed in this
tragedy: I allude to the external relations of the persons, whereby they
are brought from place to place, or combined in various ways, by certain
accidental incidents. These they have looked upon as very unimportant;
have spoken of them only in passing, or left them out altogether. Now,
indeed, it must be owned, these threads are slack and slender; yet they
run through the entire piece, and bind together much that would
otherwise fall asunder, and does actually fall asunder, when you cut
them off, and imagine you have done enough and more, if you have left
the ends hanging.

"Among these external relations I include the disturbances in Norway,
the war with young Fortinbras, the embassy to his uncle, the settling of
that feud, the march of young Fortinbras to Poland, and his coming back
at the end; of the same sort are Horatio's return from Wittenberg,
Hamlet's wish to go thither, the journey of Laertes to France, his
return, the despatch of Hamlet into England, his capture by pirates, the
death of the two courtiers by the letter which they carried. All these
circumstances and events would be very fit for expanding and lengthening
a novel; but here they injure exceedingly the unity of the piece,
particularly as the hero has no plan, and are, in consequence, entirely
out of place."

"For once in the right!" cried Serlo.

"Do not interrupt me," answered Wilhelm: "perhaps you will not always
think me right. These errors are like temporary props of an edifice:
they must not be removed till we have built a firm wall in their stead.
My project, therefore, is, not at all to change those first-mentioned
grand situations, or at least as much as possible to spare them, both
collectively and individually; but with respect to these external,
single, dissipated, and dissipating motives, to cast them all at once
away, and substitute a solitary one instead of them."

"And this?" inquired Serlo, springing up from his recumbent posture.

"It lies in the piece itself," answered Wilhelm, "only I employ it
rightly. There are disturbances in Norway. You shall hear my plan, and
try it."

"After the death of Hamlet the father, the Norwegians, lately conquered,
grow unruly. The viceroy of that country sends his son, Horatio, an old
school-friend of Hamlet's, and distinguished above every other for his
bravery and prudence, to Denmark, to press forward the equipment of the
fleet, which, under the new luxurious king, proceeds but slowly. Horatio
has known the former king, having fought in his battles, having even
stood in favor with him,--a circumstance by which the first ghost-scene
will be nothing injured. The new sovereign gives Horatio audience, and
sends Laertes into Norway with intelligence that the fleet will soon
arrive; whilst Horatio is commissioned to accelerate the preparation of
it: and the Queen, on the other hand, will not consent that Hamlet, as
he wishes, should go to sea along with him."

"Heaven be praised!" cried Serlo: "we shall now get rid of Wittenberg
and the university, which was always a sorry piece of business. I think
your idea extremely good; for, except these two distant objects, Norway
and the fleet, the spectator will not be required to _fancy_ any thing:
the rest he will _see_; the rest takes place before him; whereas, his
imagination, on the other plan, was hunted over all the world."

"You easily perceive," said Wilhelm, "how I shall contrive to keep the
other parts together. When Hamlet tells Horatio of his uncle's crime,
Horatio counsels him to go to Norway in his company, to secure the
affections of the army, and return in warlike force. Hamlet also is
becoming dangerous to the King and Queen; they find no readier method of
deliverance, than to send him in the fleet, with Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern to be spies upon him; and, as Laertes in the mean time
comes from France, they determine that this youth, exasperated even to
murder, shall go after him. Unfavorable winds detain the fleet: Hamlet
returns; for his wandering through the churchyard, perhaps some lucky
motive may be thought of; his meeting with Laertes in Ophelia's grave is
a grand moment, which we must not part with. After this, the King
resolves that it is better to get quit of Hamlet on the spot: the
festival of his departure, the pretended reconcilement with Laertes, are
now solemnized; on which occasion knightly sports are held, and Laertes
fights with Hamlet. Without the four corpses, I cannot end the play: no
one must survive. The right of popular election now again comes in
force; and Hamlet, while dying, gives his vote to Horatio."

"Quick! quick!" said Serlo, "sit down and work the play: your plan has
my entire approbation; only let not your zeal evaporate."


Wilhelm had already been for some time busied with translating "Hamlet;"
making use, as he labored, of Wieland's spirited performance, through
which he had first become acquainted with Shakspeare. What had been
omitted in Wieland's work he replaced, and had secured a complete
version, at the very time when Serlo and he were pretty well agreed
about the way of treating it. He now began, according to his plan, to
cut out and insert, to separate and unite, to alter, and often to
restore; for, satisfied as he was with his own conception, it still
appeared to him as if, in executing it, he were but spoiling the

When all was finished, he read his work to Serlo and the rest. They
declared themselves exceedingly contented with it: Serlo, in particular,
made many flattering observations.

"You have felt very justly," said he, among other things, "that some
external circumstances must accompany this play, but that they must be
simpler than those which the great poet has employed. What takes place
without the theatre, what the spectator does not see, but must imagine,
is like a background, in front of which the acting figures move. Your
large and simple prospect of the fleet and Norway will do much to
improve the play; if this were altogether taken from it, we should have
but a family scene remaining; and the great idea, that here a kingly
house, by internal crimes and incongruities, goes down to ruin, would
not be presented with its proper dignity. But if the former background
were left standing, so manifold, so fluctuating and confused, it would
hurt the impression of the figures."

Wilhelm again took Shakspeare's part; alleging that he wrote for
islanders, for Englishmen, who generally, in the distance, were
accustomed to see little else than ships and voyages, the coast of
France and privateers; and thus what perplexed and distracted others was
to them quite natural.

Serlo assented; and both were of opinion, that, as the play was now to
be produced upon the German stage, this more serious and simple
background was the best adapted for the German mind.

The parts had been distributed before: Serlo undertook Polonius;
Aurelia, Ophelia; Laertes was already designated by his name; a young,
thick-set, jolly new-comer was to be Horatio; the King and Ghost alone
occasioned some perplexity, for both of these no one but Old Boisterous
remaining. Serlo proposed to make the Pedant, King; but against this our
friend protested in the strongest terms. They could resolve on nothing.

Wilhelm had also allowed both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to continue
in his play. "Why not compress them into one?" said Serlo. "This
abbreviation will not cost you much."

"Heaven keep me from all such curtailments!" answered Wilhelm: "they
destroy at once the sense and the effect. What these two persons are and
do it is impossible to represent by one. In such small matters we
discover Shakspeare's greatness. These soft approaches, this smirking
and bowing, this assenting, wheedling, flattering, this whisking
agility, this wagging of the tail, this allness and emptiness, this
legal knavery, this ineptitude and insipidity,--how can they be
expressed by a single man? There ought to be at least a dozen of these
people, if they could be had; for it is only in society that they are
any thing; they are society itself; and Shakspeare showed no little
wisdom and discernment in bringing in a pair of them. Besides, I need
them as a couple that may be contrasted with the single, noble,
excellent Horatio."

"I understand you," answered Serlo, "and we can arrange it. One of them
we shall hand over to Elmira, Old Boisterous's eldest daughter: it will
all be right, if they look well enough; and I will deck and trim the
puppets so that it shall be first-rate fun to behold them."

Philina was rejoicing not a little, that she had to act the Duchess in
the small subordinate play. "I will show it so natural," cried she, "how
you wed a second husband, without loss of time, when you have loved the
first immensely. I mean to win the loudest plaudits, and every man shall
wish to be the third."

Aurelia gave a frown: her spleen against Philina was increasing every

"'Tis a pity, I declare," said Serlo, "that we have no ballet; else you
should dance me a _pas de deux_ with your first, and then another with
your second husband,--and the first might dance himself to sleep by the
measure; and your bits of feet and ankles would look so pretty, tripping
to and fro upon the side stage."

"Of my ankles you do not know much," replied she pertly; "and as to my
bits of feet," cried she, hastily reaching below the table, pulling off
her slippers, and holding them together out to Serlo, "here are the
cases of them; and I challenge you to find me more dainty ones."

"I was in earnest," said he, looking at the elegant half-shoes. "In
truth, one does not often meet with any thing so dainty."

They were of Parisian workmanship: Philina had received them as a
present from the countess, a lady whose foot was celebrated for its

"A charming thing!" cried Serlo: "my heart leaps at the sight of them."

"What gallant throbs!" replied Philina.

"There is nothing in the world beyond a pair of slippers," said he, "of
such pretty manufacture, in their proper time and place, when"--

Philina took her slippers from his hands, crying, "You have squeezed
them all! They are far too wide for me!" She played with them, and
rubbed the soles of them together. "How hot it is!" cried she, clapping
the sole upon her cheek, then again rubbing, and holding it to Serlo. He
was innocent enough to stretch out his hand to feel the warmth. "Clip!
clap!" cried she, giving him a smart rap over the knuckles with the
heel; so that he screamed, and drew back his hand. "That's for indulging
in thoughts of your own at the sight of my slippers."

"And that's for using old folk like children," cried the other; then
sprang up, seized her, and plundered many a kiss, every one of which she
artfully contested with a show of serious reluctance. In this romping,
her long hair got loose, and floated round the group; the chair overset;
and Aurelia, inwardly indignant at such rioting, arose in great


Though in this remoulding of "Hamlet" many characters had been cut off,
a sufficient number of them still remained,--a number which the company
was scarcely adequate to meet.

"If this is the way of it," said Serlo, "our prompter himself must issue
from his den, and mount the stage, and become a personage like one of

"In his own station," answered Wilhelm, "I have frequently admired him."

"I do not think," said Serlo, "that there is in the world a more perfect
artist of his kind. No spectator ever hears him: we upon the stage catch
every syllable. He has formed in himself, as it were, a peculiar set of
vocal organs for this purpose: he is like a Genius that whispers
intelligibly to us in the hour of need. He feels, as if by instinct,
what portion of his task an actor is completely master of, and
anticipates from afar where his memory will fail him. I have known cases
in which I myself had scarcely read my part: he said it over to me word
for word, and I played happily. Yet he has some peculiarities which
would make another in his place quite useless. For example, he takes
such an interest in the plays, that, in giving any moving passage, he
does not indeed declaim it, but he reads it with all pomp and pathos.
By this ill habit he has nonplussed me on more than one occasion."

"As with another of his singularities," observed Aurelia, "he once left
me sticking fast in a very dangerous passage."

"How could this happen, with the man's attentiveness?" said Wilhelm.

"He is so affected," said Aurelia, "by certain passages, that he weeps
warm tears, and for a few moments loses all reflection; and it is not
properly passages such as we should call affecting that produce this
impression on him; but, if I express myself clearly, the _beautiful_
passages, those out of which the pure spirit of the poet looks forth, as
it were, through open, sparkling eyes,--passages which others at most
rejoice over, and which many thousands altogether overlook."

"And with a soul so tender, why does he never venture on the stage?"

"A hoarse voice," said Serlo, "and a stiff carriage, exclude him from
it; as his melancholic temper excludes him from society. What trouble
have I taken, and in vain, to make him take to me! But he is a charming
reader; such another I have never heard; no one can observe like him the
narrow limit between declamation and graceful recital."

"The very man!" exclaimed our friend, "the very man! What a fortunate
discovery! We have now the proper hand for delivering the passage of
'The rugged Pyrrhus.'"

"One requires your eagerness," said Serlo, "before he can employ every
object in the use it was meant for."

"In truth," said Wilhelm, "I was very much afraid we should be obliged
to leave this passage out: the omission would have lamed the whole

"Well! That is what I cannot understand," observed Aurelia.

"I hope you will erelong be of my opinion," answered Wilhelm.
"Shakspeare has introduced these travelling players with a double
purpose. The person who recites the death of Priam with such feeling, in
the _first_ place, makes a deep impression on the prince himself; he
sharpens the conscience of the wavering youth: and, accordingly, this
scene becomes a prelude to that other, where, in the _second_ place, the
little play produces such effect upon the King. Hamlet sees himself
reproved and put to shame by the player, who feels so deep a sympathy in
foreign and fictitious woes; and the thought of making an experiment
upon the conscience of his stepfather is in consequence suggested to
him. What a royal monologue is that, which ends the second act! How
charming it will be to speak it!

    "'Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
    Is it not monstrous that this player here,
    But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
    Could force his soul so to his own conceit,
    That, from her working, all his visage wann'd;
    Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
    A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
    With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
    For Hecuba!
    What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
    That he should weep for her?'"

"If we can but persuade our man to come upon the stage," observed

"We must lead him to it by degrees," said Serlo. "At the rehearsal he
may read the passage: we shall tell him that an actor whom we are
expecting is to play it; and so, by and by, we shall lead him nearer to
the point."

Having agreed on this affair, the conversation next turned upon the
Ghost. Wilhelm could not bring himself to give the part of the living
King to the Pedant, that so Old Boisterous might play the Ghost: he was
of opinion that they ought to wait a while; because some other actors
had announced themselves, and among these it was probable they would
find a fitter man.

We can easily conceive, then, how astonished Wilhelm must have been
when, returning home that evening, he found a billet lying on his table,
sealed with singular figures, and containing what follows:--

"Strange youth! we know thou art in great perplexity. For thy Hamlet
thou canst hardly find men enough, not to speak of ghosts. Thy zeal
deserves a miracle: miracles we cannot work, but somewhat marvellous
shall happen. If thou have faith, the Ghost shall arise at the proper
hour! Be of courage and keep firm! This needs no answer: thy
determination will be known to us."

With this curious sheet he hastened back to Serlo, who read and re-read
it, and at last declared, with a thoughtful look, that it seemed a
matter of some moment; that they must consider well and seriously
whether they could risk it. They talked the subject over at some length;
Aurelia was silent, only smiling now and then; and a few days after,
when speaking of the incident again, she gave our friend, not obscurely,
to understand that she held it all a joke of Serlo's. She desired him to
cast away anxiety, and to expect the Ghost with patience.

Serlo, for most part, was in excellent humor: the actors that were going
to leave him took all possible pains to play well, that their absence
might be much regretted; and this, combined with the new-fangled zeal of
the others, gave promise of the best results.

His intercourse with Wilhelm had not failed to exert some influence on
him. He began to speak more about art: for, after all, he was a German;
and Germans like to give themselves account of what they do. Wilhelm
wrote down many of their conversations; which, as our narrative must not
be so often interrupted here, we shall communicate to such of our
readers as feel an interest in dramaturgic matters, by some other

In particular, one evening, the manager was very merry in speaking of
the part of Polonius, and how he meant to take it up. "I engage," said
he, "on this occasion, to present a very meritorious person in his best
aspect. The repose and security of this old gentleman, his emptiness and
his significance, his exterior gracefulness and interior meanness, his
frankness and sycophancy, his sincere roguery and deceitful truth, I
will introduce with all due elegance in their fit proportions. This
respectable, gray-haired, enduring, time-serving half-knave, I will
represent in the most courtly style: the occasional roughness and
coarseness of our author's strokes will further me here. I will speak
like a book when I am prepared beforehand, and like an ass when I utter
the overflowings of my heart. I will be insipid and absurd enough to
chime in with every one, and acute enough never to observe when people
make a mock of me. I have seldom taken up a part with so much zeal and

"Could I but hope as much from mine!" exclaimed Aurelia. "I have neither
youth nor softness enough to be at home in this character. One thing
alone I am too sure of,--the feeling that turns Ophelia's brain, I shall
not want."

"We must not take the matter up so strictly," said our friend. "For my
share, I am certain, that the wish to act the character of Hamlet has
led me exceedingly astray, throughout my study of the play. And now, the
more I look into the part, the more clearly do I see, that, in my whole
form and physiognomy, there is not one feature such as Shakspeare meant
for Hamlet. When I consider with what nicety the various circumstances
are adapted to each other, I can scarcely hope to produce even a
tolerable effect."

"You are entering on your new career with becoming conscientiousness,"
said Serlo. "The actor fits himself to his part as he can, and the part
to him as it must. But how has Shakspeare drawn his Hamlet? Is he so
utterly unlike you?"

"In the first place," answered Wilhelm, "he is fair-haired."

"That I call far-fetched," observed Aurelia. "How do you infer that?"

"As a Dane, as a Northman, he is fair-haired and blue-eyed by descent."

"And you think Shakspeare had this in view?"

"I do not find it specially expressed; but, by comparison of passages, I
think it incontestable. The fencing tires him; the sweat is running from
his brow; and the Queen remarks, '_He's fat, and scant of breath._' Can
you conceive him to be otherwise than plump and fair-haired?
Brown-complexioned people, in their youth, are seldom plump. And does
not his wavering melancholy, his soft lamenting, his irresolute
activity, accord with such a figure? From a dark-haired young man, you
would look for more decision and impetuosity."

"You are spoiling my imagination," cried Aurelia: "away with your fat
Hamlets! Do not set your well-fed prince before us! Give us rather any
_succedaneum_ that will move us, will delight us. The intention of the
author is of less importance to us than our own enjoyment, and we need a
charm that is adapted for us."


One evening a dispute arose among our friends about the novel and the
drama, and which of them deserved the preference. Serlo said it was a
fruitless and misunderstood debate: both might be superior in their
kinds, only each must keep within the limits proper to it.

"About their limits and their kinds," said Wilhelm, "I confess myself
not altogether clear."

"Who _is_ so?" said the other; "and yet perhaps it were worth while to
come a little closer to the business."

They conversed together long upon the matter; and, in fine, the
following was nearly the result of their discussion:--

"In the novel as well as in the drama, it is human nature and human
action that we see. The difference between these sorts of fiction lies
not merely in their outward form,--not merely in the circumstance that
the personages of the one are made to speak, while those of the other
have commonly their history narrated. Unfortunately many dramas are but
novels, which proceed by dialogue; and it would not be impossible to
write a drama in the shape of letters.

"But, in the novel, it is chiefly _sentiments_ and _events_ that are
exhibited; in the drama, it is _characters_ and _deeds_. The novel must go
slowly forward; and the sentiments of the hero, by some means or
another, must restrain the tendency of the whole to unfold itself and to
conclude. The drama, on the other hand, must hasten: and the character
of the hero must press forward to the end: it does not restrain, but is
restrained. The novel-hero must be suffering,--at least he must not in a
high degree be active: in the dramatic one, we look for activity and
deeds. Grandison, Clarissa, Pamela, the Vicar of Wakefield, Tom Jones
himself, are, if not suffering, at least retarding, personages; and the
incidents are all in some sort modelled by their sentiments. In the
drama the hero models nothing by himself; all things withstand him; and
he clears and casts away the hinderances from off his path, or else
sinks under them."

Our friends were also of opinion, that, in the novel, some degree of
scope may be allowed to Chance, but that it must always be led and
guided by the sentiments of the personages: on the other hand, that
Fate, which, by means of outward, unconnected circumstances, carries
forward men, without their own concurrence, to an unforeseen
catastrophe, can have place only in the drama; that Chance may produce
pathetic situations, but never tragic ones; Fate, on the other hand,
ought always to be terrible,--and is, in the highest sense, tragic, when
it brings into a ruinous concatenation the guilty man, and the guiltless
that was unconcerned with him.

These considerations led them back to the play of "Hamlet," and the
peculiarities of its composition. The hero in this case, it was
observed, is endowed more properly with sentiments than with a
character: it is events alone that push him on, and accordingly the play
has in some measure the expansion of a novel. But as it is Fate that
draws the plan, as the story issues from a deed of terror, and the hero
is continually driven forward to a deed of terror, the work is tragic in
the highest sense, and admits of no other than a tragic end.

The book-rehearsal was now to take place, to which Wilhelm had looked
forward as to a festival. Having previously collated all the parts, no
obstacle on this side could oppose him. The whole of the actors were
acquainted with the piece: he endeavored to impress their minds with the
importance of these book-rehearsals. "As you require," said he, "of
every musical performer, that he shall, in some degree, be able to play
from the book: so every actor, every educated man, should train himself
to recite from the book, to catch immediately the character of any
drama, any poem, any tale he may be reading, and exhibit it with grace
and readiness. No committing to memory will be of service, if the actor
have not, in the first place, penetrated into the sense and spirit of
his author: the mere letter will avail him nothing."

Serlo declared that he would overlook all subsequent rehearsals,--the
last rehearsal itself,--if justice were but done to these rehearsals
from the book. "For, commonly," said he, "there is nothing more amusing
than to hear an actor speak of study: it is as if freemasons were to
talk of building."

The rehearsal passed according to their wishes; and we may assert, that
the fame and favor which our company acquired afterwards had their
foundation in these few but well-spent hours.

"You did right, my friend," said Serlo, when they were alone, "in
speaking to our fellow-laborers so earnestly; and yet I am afraid they
will scarcely fulfil your wishes."

"How so?" asked Wilhelm.

"I have noticed," answered Serlo, "that, as easily as you may set in
motion the imaginations of men, gladly as they listen to your tales and
fictions, it is yet very seldom that you find among them any touch of an
imagination you can call productive. In actors this remark is strikingly
exemplified. Any one of them is well content to undertake a beautiful,
praiseworthy, brilliant part; and seldom will any one of them do more
than self-complacently transport himself into his hero's place, without
in the smallest troubling his head whether other people view him so or
not. But to seize with vivacity what the author's feeling was in
writing; what portion of your individual qualities you must cast off, in
order to do justice to a part; how, by your own conviction that you are
become another man, you may carry with you the convictions of the
audience; how, by the inward truth of your conceptive power, you can
change these boards into a temple, this pasteboard into woods,--to seize
and execute all this, is given to very few. That internal strength of
soul, by which alone deception can be brought about; that lying truth,
without which nothing will affect us rightly,--have, by most men, never
even been imagined.

"Let us not, then, press too hard for spirit and feeling in our friends.
The surest way is first coolly to instruct them in the sense and letter
of the play,--if possible, to open their understandings. Whoever has the
talent will then, of his own accord, eagerly adopt the spirited feeling
and manner of expression; and those who have it not will at least be
prevented from acting or reciting altogether falsely. And among actors,
as indeed in all cases, there is no worse arrangement than for any one
to make pretensions to the spirit of a thing, while the sense and letter
of it are not ready and clear to him."


Coming to the first stage-rehearsal very early, Wilhelm found himself
alone upon the boards. The appearance of the place surprised him, and
awoke the strangest recollections. A forest and village scene stood
exactly represented as he once had seen it in the theatre of his native
town. On that occasion also, a rehearsal was proceeding; and it was the
morning when Mariana first confessed her love to him, and promised him a
happy interview. The peasants' cottages resembled one another on the two
stages, as they did in nature: the true morning sun, beaming through a
half-closed window-shutter, fell upon a part of a bench ill joined to a
cottage door; but unhappily it did not now enlighten Mariana's waist and
bosom. He sat down, reflecting on this strange coincidence: he almost
thought that perhaps on this very spot he would soon see her again. And,
alas! the truth was nothing more, than that an afterpiece, to which this
scene belonged, was at that time very often played upon the German

Out of these meditations he was roused by the other actors, along with
whom two amateurs, frequenters of the wardrobe and the stage, came in,
and saluted Wilhelm with a show of great enthusiasm. One of these was in
some degree attached to Frau Melina, but the other was entirely a lover
of the art, and both were of the kind which a good company should always
wish to have about it. It was difficult to say whether their love for
the stage, or their knowledge of it, was the greater. They loved it too
much to know it perfectly: they knew it well enough to prize the good
and to discard the bad. But, their inclination being so powerful, they
could tolerate the mediocre; and the glorious joy which they experienced
from the foretaste and the aftertaste of excellence surpassed
expression. The mechanical department gave them pleasure, the
intellectual charmed them; and so strong was their susceptibility, that
even a discontinuous rehearsal afforded them a species of illusion.
Deficiencies appeared in their eyes to fade away in distance: the
successful touched them like an object near at hand. In a word, they
were judges such as every artist wishes in his own department. Their
favorite movement was from the side-scenes to the pit, and from the pit
to the side-scenes; their happiest place was in the wardrobe; their
busiest employment was in trying to improve the dress, position,
recitation, gesture, of the actor; their liveliest conversation was on
the effect produced by him; their most constant effort was to keep him
accurate, active, and attentive, to do him service or kindness, and,
without squandering, to procure for the company a series of enjoyments.
The two had obtained the exclusive privilege of being present on the
stage at rehearsals as well as exhibitions. In regard to "Hamlet," they
had not in all points agreed with Wilhelm: here and there he had
yielded; but, for most part, he had stood by his opinion: and, upon the
whole, these discussions had been very useful in the forming of his
taste. He showed both gentlemen how much he valued them; and they again
predicted nothing less, from these combined endeavors, than a new epoch
for the German theatre.

The presence of these persons was of great service during the
rehearsals. In particular they labored to convince our players, that,
throughout the whole of their preparations, the posture and action, as
they were intended ultimately to appear, should always be combined with
the words, and thus the whole be mechanically united by habit. In
rehearsing a tragedy especially, they said, no common movement with the
hands should be allowed: a tragic actor that took snuff in the rehearsal
always frightened them; for, in all probability, on coming to the same
passage in the exhibition, he would miss his pinch. Nay, on the same
principles, they maintained that no one should rehearse in boots, if his
part were to be played in shoes. But nothing, they declared, afflicted
them so much as when the women, in rehearsing, stuck their hands into
the folds of their gowns.

By the persuasion of our friends, another very good effect was brought
about: the actors all began to learn the use of arms. Since military
parts occur so frequently, said they, can any thing look more absurd
than men, without the smallest particle of discipline, trolling about
the stage in captains' and majors' uniforms?

Wilhelm and Laertes were the first that took lessons of a subaltern:
they continued their practising of fence with the greatest zeal.

Such pains did these two men take for perfecting a company which had so
fortunately come together. They were thus providing for the future
satisfaction of the public, while the public was usually laughing at
their taste. People did not know what gratitude they owed our friends,
particularly for performing one service,--the service of frequently
impressing on the actor the fundamental point, that it was his duty to
speak so loud as to be heard. In this simple matter, they experienced
more opposition and repugnance than could have been expected. Most part
maintained that they were heard well enough already; some laid the blame
upon the building; others said, one could not yell and bellow, when one
had to speak naturally, secretly, or tenderly.

Our two friends, having an immeasurable stock of patience, tried every
means of undoing this delusion, of getting round this obstinate
self-will. They spared neither arguments nor flatteries; and at last
they reached their object, being aided not a little by the good example
of Wilhelm. By him they were requested to sit down in the remotest
corners of the house, and, every time they did not hear him perfectly,
to rap on the bench with a key. He articulated well, spoke out in a
measured manner, raised his tones gradually, and did not overcry
himself in the most vehement passages. The rapping of the key was heard
less and less every new rehearsal: by and by the rest submitted to the
same operation, and at last it seemed rational to hope that the piece
would be heard by every one in all the nooks of the house.

From this example we may see how desirous people are to reach their
object in their own way; what need there often is of enforcing on them
truths which are self-evident; and how difficult it may be to reduce the
man who aims at effecting something to admit the primary conditions
under which alone his enterprise is possible.


The necessary preparations for scenery and dresses, and whatever else
was requisite, were now proceeding. In regard to certain scenes and
passages, our friend had whims of his own, which Serlo humored, partly
in consideration of their bargain, partly from conviction, and because
he hoped by these civilities to gain Wilhelm, and to lead him according
to his own purposes the more implicitly in time to come.

Thus, for example, the King and Queen were, at the first audience, to
appear sitting on the throne, with the courtiers at the sides, and
Hamlet standing undistinguished in the crowd. "Hamlet," said he, "must
keep himself quiet: his sable dress will sufficiently point him out. He
should rather shun remark than seek it. Not till the audience is ended,
and the King speaks with him as with a son, should he advance, and allow
the scene to take its course."

A formidable obstacle still remained, in regard to the two pictures
which Hamlet so passionately refers to in the scene with his mother. "We
ought," said Wilhelm, "to have both of them visible, at full length, in
the bottom of the chamber, near the main door; and the former king must
be clad in armor, like the Ghost, and hang at the side where it enters.
I could wish that the figure held its right hand in a commanding
attitude, were somewhat turned away, and, as it were, looked over its
shoulder, that so it might perfectly resemble the Ghost at the moment
when he issues from the door. It will produce a great effect, when at
this instant Hamlet looks upon the Ghost, and the Queen upon the
picture. The stepfather may be painted in royal ornaments, but not so

There were several other points of this sort, about which we shall,
perhaps, elsewhere have opportunity to speak.

"Are you, then, inexorably bent on Hamlet's dying at the end?" inquired

"How can I keep him alive," said Wilhelm, "when the whole play is
pressing him to death? We have already talked at large on that matter."

"But the public wishes him to live."

"I will show the public any other complaisance; but, as to this, I
cannot. We often wish that some gallant, useful man, who is dying of a
chronical disease, might yet live longer. The family weep, and conjure
the physician; but he cannot stay him: and no more than this physician
can withstand the necessity of nature, can we give law to an
acknowledged necessity of art. It is a false compliance with the
multitude, to raise in them emotions which they _wish_, when these are
not emotions which they _ought_, to feel."

"Whoever pays the cash," said Serlo, "may require the ware according to
his liking."

"Doubtless, in some degree," replied our friend; "but a great public
should be reverenced, not used as children are, when pedlers wish to
hook the money from them. By presenting excellence to the people, you
should gradually excite in them a taste and feeling for the excellent;
and they will pay their money with double satisfaction when reason
itself has nothing to object against this outlay. The public you may
flatter, as you do a well-beloved child, to better, to enlighten, it;
not as you do a pampered child of quality, to perpetuate the error you
profit from."

In this manner various other topics were discussed relating to the
question, What might still be changed in the play, and what must of
necessity remain untouched? We shall not enter farther on those points
at present; but, perhaps, at some future time we may submit this altered
"Hamlet" itself to such of our readers as feel any interest in the


The main rehearsal was at length concluded: it had lasted very long.
Serlo and Wilhelm still found much to care for: notwithstanding all the
time which had already been consumed in preparation, some highly
necessary matters had been left to the very last moment.

Thus, the pictures of the kings, for instance, were not ready: and the
scene between Hamlet and his mother, from which so powerful an effect
was looked for, had a very helpless aspect, as the business stood; for
neither Ghost nor painted image of him was at present forthcoming. Serlo
made a jest of this perplexity: "We should be in a pretty scrape," said
he, "if the Ghost were to decline appearing, and the guard had nothing
to fight with but the air, and our prompter were obliged to speak the
spirit's part from the side-scenes."

"We will not scare away our strange friend by unbelief," said Wilhelm:
"doubtless at the proper season he will come, and astonish us as much as
the spectators."

"Well, certainly," said Serlo, "I shall be a happy man to-morrow night,
when once the play will have been acted. It costs us more arrangement
than I dreamed of."

"But none of you," exclaimed Philina, "will be happier than I, little as
my part disturbs me. Really, to hear a single subject talked of forever
and forever, when, after all, there is nothing to come of it beyond an
exhibition, which will be forgotten like so many hundred others, this is
what I have not patience for. In Heaven's name, not so many _pros_ and
_cons_! The guests you entertain have always something to object against
the dinner; nay, if you could hear them talk of it at home, they cannot
understand how it was possible to undergo so sad a business."

"Let me turn your illustration, pretty one, to my own advantage,"
answered Wilhelm. "Consider how much must be done by art and nature, by
traffickers and tradesmen, before an entertainment can be given. How
many years the stag must wander in the forest, the fish in the river or
the sea, before they can deserve to grace our table! And what cares and
consultations with her cooks and servants has the lady of the house
submitted to! Observe with what indifference the people swallow the
production of the distant vintager, the seaman, and the vintner, as if
it were a thing of course. And ought these men to cease from laboring,
providing, and preparing; ought the master of the house to cease from
purchasing and laying up the fruit of their exertions,--because at last
the enjoyment it affords is transitory? But no enjoyment can be
transitory; the impression which it leaves is permanent: and what is
done with diligence and effort communicates to the spectator a hidden
force, of which we cannot say how far its influence may reach."

"'Tis all one to me," replied Philina: "only here again I must observe,
that you men are constantly at variance with yourselves. With all this
conscientious horror at curtailing Shakspeare, you have missed the
finest thought there was in 'Hamlet'!"

"The finest?" cried our friend.

"Certainly the finest," said Philina: "the prince himself takes pleasure
in it."

"And it is?" inquired Serlo.

"If you wore a wig," replied Philina, "I would pluck it very coolly off
you; for I think you need to have your understanding opened."

The rest began to think what she could mean: the conversation paused.
The party arose; it was now grown late; they seemed about to separate.
While they were standing in this undetermined mood, Philina all at once
struck up a song, with a very graceful, pleasing tune:--

      "Sing me not with such emotion,
        How the night so lonesome is:
      Pretty maids, I've got a notion
        It is the reverse of this.

      For as wife and man are plighted,
        And the better half the wife;
      So is night to day united:
        Night's the better half of life.

      Can you joy in bustling daytime,
        Day when none can get his will?
      It is good for work, for haytime;
        For much other it is ill.

      But when, in the nightly glooming,
        Social lamp on table glows,
      Face for faces dear illuming,
        And such jest and joyance goes;

      When the fiery, pert young fellow,
        Wont by day to run or ride,
      Whispering now some tale would tell O,
        All so gentle by your side;

      When the nightingale to lovers
        Lovingly her songlet sings,
      Which for exiles and sad rovers
        Like mere woe and wailing rings,--

      With a heart how lightsome feeling,
        Do ye count the kindly clock,
      Which twelve times deliberate pealing,
        Tells you none to-night shall knock!

      Therefore, on all fit occasions,
        Mark it, maidens, what I sing:
      Every day its own vexations,
        And the night its joys, will bring."

She made a slight courtesy on concluding, and Serlo gave a loud "Bravo!"
She scuttled off, and left the room with a teehee of laughter. They
heard her singing and skipping as she went down-stairs.

Serlo passed into another room: Wilhelm bade Aurelia good-night; but she
continued looking at him for a few moments, and said,--

"How I dislike that woman! Dislike her from my heart, and to her very
slightest qualities! Those brown eyelashes, with her fair hair, which
our brother thinks so charming, I cannot bear to look at; and that scar
upon her brow has something in it so repulsive, so low and base, that I
could recoil ten paces every time I meet her. She was lately telling as
a joke, that her father, when she was a child, threw a plate at her
head, of which this is the mark. It is well that she is marked in the
eyes and brow, that those about her may be on their guard."

Wilhelm made no answer; and Aurelia went on, apparently with greater

"It is next to impossible for me to speak a kind, civil word to her, so
deeply do I hate her, with all her wheedling. Would that we were rid of
her! And you, too, my friend, have a certain complaisance for the
creature, a way of acting towards her, that grieves me to the soul,--an
attention which borders on respect; which, by Heaven! she does not

"Whatever she may be," replied our friend, "I owe her thanks. Her
upbringing is to blame: to her natural character I would do justice."

"Character!" exclaimed Aurelia; "and do you think such a creature has a
character? O you men! It is so like you! These are the women you

"My friend, can you suspect me?" answered Wilhelm. "I will give account
of every minute I have spent beside her."

"Come, come," replied Aurelia: "it is late, we will not quarrel. All
like each, and each like all! Good-night, my friend! Good-night, my
sparkling bird-of-paradise!"

Wilhelm asked how he had earned this title.

"Another time," cried she; "another time. They say it has no feet, but
hovers in the air, and lives on ether. That, however, is a story, a
poetic fiction. Good-night! Dream sweetly, if you are in luck!"

She proceeded to her room; and he, being left alone, made haste to his.

Half angrily he walked along his chamber to and fro. The jesting but
decided tone of Aurelia had hurt him: he felt deeply how unjust she was.
Could he treat Philina with unkindness or ill-nature? She had done no
evil to him; but, for any love to her, he could proudly and confidently
take his conscience to witness that it was not so.

On the point of beginning to undress, he was going forward to his bed to
draw aside the curtains, when, not without extreme astonishment, he saw
a pair of women's slippers lying on the floor before it. One of them was
resting on its sole, the other on its edge. They were Philina's
slippers: he recognized them but too well. He thought he noticed some
disorder in the curtains; nay, it seemed as if they moved. He stood, and
looked with unaverted eyes.

A new impulse, which he took for anger, cut his breath: after a short
pause, he recovered, and cried in a firm tone,--

"Come out, Philina! What do you mean by this? Where is your sense, your
modesty? Are we to be the speech of the house to-morrow?"

Nothing stirred.

"I do not jest," continued he: "these pranks are little to my taste."

No sound! No motion!

Irritated and determined, he at last went forward to the bed, and tore
the curtains asunder. "Arise," said he, "if I am not to give you up my
room to-night."

With great surprise, he found his bed unoccupied; the sheets and pillows
in the sleekest rest. He looked around: he searched and searched, but
found no traces of the rouge. Behind the bed, the stove, the drawers,
there was nothing to be seen: he sought with great and greater
diligence; a spiteful looker-on might have believed that he was seeking
in the hope of finding.

All thought of sleep was gone. He put the slippers on his table; went
past it, up and down; often paused before it; and a wicked sprite that
watched him has asserted that our friend employed himself for several
hours about these dainty little shoes; that he viewed them with a
certain interest; that he handled them and played with them; and it was
not till towards morning that he threw himself on the bed, without
undressing, where he fell asleep amidst a world of curious fantasies.

He was still slumbering, when Serlo entered hastily. "Where are you?"
cried he: "still in bed? Impossible! I want you in the theatre: we have
a thousand things to do."


The forenoon and the afternoon fled rapidly away. The playhouse was
already full: our friend hastened to dress. It was not with the joy
which it had given him when he first essayed it, that he now put on the
garb of Hamlet: he only dressed that he might be in readiness. On his
joining the women in the stage-room, they unanimously cried that nothing
sat upon him right; the fine feather stood awry; the buckle of his belt
did not fit: they began to slit, to sew, and piece together. The music
started: Philina still objected somewhat to his ruff; Aurelia had much
to say against his mantle. "Leave me alone, good people," cried he:
"this negligence will make me liker Hamlet." The women would not let him
go, but continued trimming him. The music ceased: the acting was begun.
He looked at himself in the glass, pressed his hat closer down upon his
face, and retouched the painting of his cheeks.

At this instant somebody came rushing in, and cried, "The Ghost! the

Wilhelm had not once had time all day to think of the Ghost, and whether
it would come or not. His anxiety on that head was at length removed,
and now some strange assistant was to be expected. The stage-manager
came in, inquiring after various matters: Wilhelm had not time to ask
about the Ghost; he hastened to present himself before the throne, where
King and Queen, surrounded with their court, were already glancing in
all the splendors of royalty, and waiting till the scene in front of
them should be concluded. He caught the last words of Horatio, who was
speaking of the Ghost, in extreme confusion, and seemed to have almost
forgotten his part.

The intermediate curtain went aloft, and Hamlet saw the crowded house
before him. Horatio, having spoken his address, and been dismissed by
the King, pressed through to Hamlet; and, as if presenting himself to
the Prince, he said, "The Devil is in harness: he has put us all in

In the mean while, two men of large stature, in white cloaks and
capouches, were observed standing in the side-scenes. Our friend, in the
distraction, embarrassment, and hurry of the moment, had failed in the
first soliloquy; at least, such was his own opinion, though loud
plaudits had attended his exit. Accordingly, he made his next entrance
in no pleasant mood, with the dreary wintry feeling of dramatic
condemnation. Yet he girded up his mind, and spoke that appropriate
passage on the "rouse and wassail," the "heavy-headed revel" of the
Danes, with suitable indifference; he had, like the audience, in
thinking of it, quite forgotten the Ghost; and he started, in real
terror, when Horatio cried out, "Look, my lord! it comes!" He whirled
violently round; and the tall, noble figure, the low, inaudible tread,
the light movement in the heavy-looking armor, made such an impression
on him, that he stood as if transformed to stone, and could utter only
in a half-voice his "Angels and ministers of grace defend us!" He glared
at the form, drew a deep breathing once or twice, and pronounced his
address to the Ghost in a manner so confused, so broken, so constrained,
that the highest art could not have hit the mark so well.

His translation of this passage now stood him in good stead. He had kept
very close to the original, in which the arrangement of the words
appeared to him expressive of a mind confounded, terrified, and seized
with horror:--

    "'Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd,
    Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell,
    Be thy intents wicked, or charitable,
    Thou com'st in such a questionable shape,
    That I will speak to thee: I'll call thee Hamlet,
    King, father, royal Dane: oh, answer me!'"

A deep effect was visible in the audience. The Ghost beckoned, the
Prince followed him amid the loudest plaudits.

The scene changed: and, when the two had re-appeared, the Ghost, on a
sudden, stopped, and turned round; by which means Hamlet came to be a
little too close upon it. With a longing curiosity, he looked in at the
lowered visor; but except two deep-lying eyes, and a well-formed nose,
he could discern nothing. Gazing timidly, he stood before the Ghost; but
when the first tones issued from the helmet, and a somewhat hoarse, yet
deep and penetrating, voice, pronounced the words, "I am thy father's
spirit," Wilhelm, shuddering, started back some paces; and the audience
shuddered with him. Each imagined that he knew the voice: Wilhelm
thought he noticed in it some resemblance to his father's. These strange
emotions and remembrances, the curiosity he felt about discovering his
secret friend, the anxiety about offending him, even the theatric
impropriety of coming too near him in the present situation, all this
affected Wilhelm with powerful and conflicting impulses. During the long
speech of the Ghost, he changed his place so frequently, he seemed so
unsettled and perplexed, so attentive and so absent-minded, that his
acting caused a universal admiration, as the Spirit caused a universal
horror. The latter spoke with a feeling of melancholy anger, rather than
of sorrow; but of an anger spiritual, slow, and inexhaustible. It was
the mistemper of a noble soul, that is severed from all earthly things,
and yet devoted to unbounded woe. At last he vanished, but in a curious
manner; for a thin, gray, transparent gauze arose from the place of
descent, like a vapor, spread itself over him, and sank along with him.

Hamlet's friends now entered, and swore upon the sword. Old Truepenny,
in the mean time, was so busy under ground, that, wherever they might
take their station, he was sure to call out right beneath them, "Swear!"
and they started, as if the soil had taken fire below them, and hastened
to another spot. On each of these occasions, too, a little flame pierced
through at the place where they were standing. The whole produced on the
spectators a profound impression.

After this, the play proceeded calmly on its course: nothing failed; all
prospered; the audience manifested their contentment, and the actors
seemed to rise in heart and spirits every scene.


The curtain fell, and rapturous applauses sounded out of every corner of
the house. The four princely corpses sprang aloft, and embraced each
other. Polonius and Ophelia likewise issued from their graves, and
listened with extreme satisfaction, as Horatio, who had stepped before
the curtain to announce the following play, was welcomed with the most
thundering plaudits. The people would not hear of any other play, but
violently required the repetition of the present.

"We have won," cried Serlo, "and so not another reasonable word this
night! Every thing depends on the first impression: we should never take
it ill of any actor, that, on occasion of his first appearance, he is
provident, and even self-willed."

The box-keeper came, and delivered him a heavy sum. "We have made a good
beginning," cried the manager, "and prejudice itself will now be on our
side. But where is the supper you promised us? To-night we may be
allowed to relish it a little."

It had been agreed that all the party were to stay together in their
stage-dresses, and enjoy a little feast among themselves. Wilhelm had
engaged to have the place in readiness, and Frau Melina to provide the

A room, which commonly was occupied by scene-painters, had accordingly
been polished up as well as possible: our friends had hung it round with
little decorations, and so decked and trimmed it, that it looked half
like a garden, half like a colonnade. On entering it, the company were
dazzled with the glitter of a multitude of lights, which, across the
vapors of the sweetest and most copious perfumes, spread a stately
splendor over a well-decorated and well-furnished table. These
preparations were hailed with joyful interjections by the party; all
took their places with a certain genuine dignity; it seemed as if some
royal family had met together in the Kingdom of the Shades. Wilhelm sat
between Aurelia and the Frau Melina; Serlo between Philina and Elmira;
nobody was discontented with himself or with his place.

Our two theatric amateurs, who had from the first been present, now
increased the pleasure of the meeting. While the exhibition was
proceeding, they had several times stepped round, and come upon the
stage, expressing, in the warmest terms, the delight which they and the
audience felt. They now descended to particulars, and each was richly
rewarded for his efforts.

With boundless animation, the company extolled man after man, and
passage after passage. To the prompter, who had modestly sat down at the
bottom of the table, they gave a liberal commendation for his "rugged
Pyrrhus;" the fencing of Hamlet and Laertes was beyond all praise;
Ophelia's mourning had been inexpressibly exalted and affecting; of
Polonius they would not trust themselves to speak.

Every individual present heard himself commended through the rest and by
them, nor was the absent Ghost defrauded of his share of praise and
admiration. He had played the part, it was asserted, with a very happy
voice, and in a lofty style; but what surprised them most, was the
information which he seemed to have about their own affairs. He entirely
resembled the painted figure, as if he had sat to the painter of it; and
the two amateurs described, in glowing language, how awful it had looked
when the spirit entered near the picture, and stepped across before his
own image. Truth and error, they declared, had been commingled in the
strangest manner: they had felt as if the Queen really did not see the
Ghost. And Frau Melina was especially commended, because on this
occasion she had gazed upwards at the picture, while Hamlet was pointing
downwards at the Spectre.

Inquiry was now made how the apparition could have entered. The
stage-manager reported that a back-door, usually blocked up by
decorations, had that evening, as the Gothic hall was occupied, been
opened; that two large figures in white cloaks and hoods, one of whom
was not to be distinguished from the other, had entered by this passage;
and by the same, it was likely, they had issued when the third act was

Serlo praised the Ghost for one merit,--that he had not whined and
lamented like a tailor; nay, to animate his son, had even introduced a
passage at the end, which more beseemed such a hero. Wilhelm had kept it
in memory: he promised to insert it in his manuscript.

Amid the pleasures of the entertainment, it had not been noticed that
the children and the harper were absent. Erelong they made their
entrance, and were blithely welcomed by the company. They came in
together, very strangely decked: Felix was beating a triangle, Mignon a
tambourine; the old man had his large harp hung round his neck, and was
playing on it whilst he carried it before him. They marched round and
round the table, and sang a multitude of songs. Eatables were handed
them; and the guests seemed to think they could not do a greater
kindness to the children, than by giving them as much sweet wine as they
chose to have. For the company themselves had not by any means neglected
a stock of savory flasks, presented by the two amateurs, which had
arrived that evening in baskets. The children tripped about, and sang:
Mignon, in particular, was frolicsome beyond all wont. She beat the
tambourine with the greatest liveliness and grace: now, with her finger
pressed against the parchment, she hummed across it swiftly to and fro;
now rattled on it with her knuckles, now with the back of her hand; nay,
sometimes, with alternating rhythm, she struck it first against her knee
and then against her head; and anon twirling it in her hand, she made
the shells jingle by themselves; and thus, from the simplest instrument,
elicited a great variety of tones. After she and Felix had long rioted
about, they sat down upon an elbow-chair which was standing empty at the
table, exactly opposite to Wilhelm.

"Keep out of the chair!" cried Serlo: "it is waiting for the Ghost, I
think; and, when he comes, it will be worse for you."

"I do not fear him," answered Mignon: "if he come, we can rise. He is my
uncle, and will not harm me." To those who did not know that her reputed
father had been named the Great Devil, this speech was unintelligible.

The party looked at one another: they were more and more confirmed in
their suspicion that the manager was in the secret of the Ghost. They
talked and tippled, and the girls from time to time cast timid glances
towards the door.

The children, who, sitting in the big chair, looked from over the table
but like puppets in their box, did actually at length start a little
drama in the style of Punch. The screeching tone of these people Mignon
imitated very well; and Felix and she began to knock their heads
together, and against the edges of the table, in such a way as only
wooden puppets could endure. Mignon, in particular, grew frantic with
gayety: the company, much as they had laughed at her at first, were in
fine obliged to curb her. But persuasion was of small avail; for she now
sprang up, and raved, and shook her tambourine, and capered round the
table. With her hair flying out behind her, with her head thrown back,
and her limbs, as it were, cast into the air, she seemed like one of
those antique Mænads, whose wild and all but impossible positions still,
on classic monuments, often strike us with amazement.

Incited by the talents and the uproar of the children, each endeavored
to contribute something to the entertainment of the night. The girls
sung several canons; Laertes whistled in the manner of a nightingale;
and the Pedant gave a symphony _pianissimo_ upon the Jew's-harp.
Meanwhile the youths and damsels, who sat near each other, had begun a
great variety of games; in which, as the hands often crossed and met,
some pairs were favored with a transient squeeze, the emblem of a
hopeful kindness. Madam Melina in particular seemed scarcely to conceal
a decided tenderness for Wilhelm. It was late; and Aurelia, perhaps the
only one retaining self-possession in the party, now stood up, and
signified that it was time to go.

By way of termination, Serlo gave a firework, or what resembled one; for
he could imitate the sound of crackers, rockets, and fire wheels, with
his mouth, in a style of nearly inconceivable correctness. You had only
to shut your eyes, and the deception was complete. In the mean time,
they had all risen: the men gave their arms to the women to escort them
home. Wilhelm was walking last with Aurelia. The stage-manager met him
on the stairs, and said to him, "Here is the veil our Ghost vanished in;
it was hanging fixed to the place where he sank; we found it this
moment."--"A curious relic!" said our friend, and took it with him.

At this instant his left arm was laid hold of, and he felt a smart
twinge of pain in it. Mignon had hid herself in the place: she had
seized him, and bit his arm. She rushed past him, down stairs, and

On reaching the open air, almost all of them discovered that they had
drunk too liberally. They glided asunder without taking leave.

The instant Wilhelm gained his room, he stripped, and, extinguishing his
candle, hastened into bed. Sleep was overpowering him without delay,
when a noise, that seemed to issue from behind the stove, aroused him.
In the eye of his heated fancy, the image of the harnessed King was
hovering there: he sat up that he might address the Spectre; but he felt
himself encircled with soft arms, and his mouth was shut with kisses,
which he had not force to push away.


Next morning Wilhelm started up with an unpleasant feeling, and found
himself alone. His head was still dim with the tumult, which he had not
yet entirely slept off; and the recollection of his nightly visitant
disquieted his mind. His first suspicion lighted on Philina; but, on
second thoughts, he conceived that it could not have been she. He sprang
out of bed: and, while putting on his clothes, he noticed that the door,
which commonly he used to bolt, was now ajar; though whether he had shut
it on the previous night, or not, he could not recollect.

But what surprised him most was the Spirit's veil, which he found lying
on his bed. Having brought it up with him, he had most probably thrown
it there himself. It was a gray gauze: on the hem of it he noticed an
inscription broidered in dark letters. He unfolded it, and read the
struck with it, and knew not what to think or say.

At this moment Mignon entered with his breakfast. The aspect of the
child astonished Wilhelm, we may almost say frightened him. She appeared
to have grown taller over night: she entered with a stately, noble air,
and looked him in the face so earnestly, that he could not endure her
glances. She did not touch him, as at other times, when, for morning
salutation, she would press his hand, or kiss his cheek, his lips, his
arm, or shoulder; but, having put his things in order, she retired in

The appointed time of a first rehearsal now arrived: our friends
assembled, all of them entirely out of tune from yesternight's debauch.
Wilhelm roused himself as much as possible, that he might not at the
very outset violate the principles he had preached so lately with such
emphasis. His practice in the matter helped him through; for practice
and habit must, in every art, fill up the voids which genius and temper
in their fluctuations will so often leave.

But, in the present case, our friends had especial reason to admit the
truth of the remark, that no one should begin with a festivity any
situation that is meant to last, particularly that is meant to be a
trade, a mode of living. Festivities are fit for what is happily
concluded: at the commencement, they but waste the force and zeal which
should inspire us in the struggle, and support us through a
long-continued labor. Of all festivities, the marriage festival appears
the most unsuitable: calmness, humility, and silent hope befit no
ceremony more than this.

So passed the day, which to Wilhelm seemed the most insipid he had ever
spent. Instead of their accustomed conversation in the evening, the
company began to yawn: the interest of Hamlet was exhausted; they rather
felt it disagreeable than otherwise that the play was to be repeated
next night. Wilhelm showed the veil which the royal Dane had left: it
was to be inferred from this, that he would not come again. Serlo was of
that opinion; he appeared to be deep in the secrets of the Ghost: but,
on the other hand, the inscription, "Flee, youth! Flee!" seemed
inconsistent with the rest. How could Serlo be in league with any one
whose aim it was to take away the finest actor of his troop?

It had now become a matter of necessity to confer on Boisterous the
Ghost's part, and on the Pedant that of the King. Both declared that
they had studied these sufficiently: nor was it wonderful; for in such a
number of rehearsals, and so copious a treatment of the subject, all of
them had grown familiar with it: each could have exchanged his part with
any other. Yet they rehearsed a little here and there, and prepared the
new adventurers, as fully as the hurry would admit. When the company was
breaking up at a pretty late hour, Philina softly whispered Wilhelm as
she passed, "I must have my slippers back: thou wilt not bolt the door?"
These words excited some perplexity in Wilhelm, when he reached his
chamber; they strengthened the suspicion that Philina was the secret
visitant: and we ourselves are forced to coincide with this idea;
particularly as the causes, which awakened in our friend another and a
stranger supposition, cannot be disclosed. He kept walking up and down
his chamber in no quiet frame: his door was actually not yet bolted.

On a sudden Mignon rushed into the room, laid hold of him, and cried,
"Master! save the house! It is on fire!" Wilhelm sprang through the
door, and a strong smoke came rushing down upon him from the upper
story. On the street he heard the cry of fire; and the harper, with his
instrument in his hand, came down-stairs breathless through the smoke.
Aurelia hurried out of her chamber, and threw little Felix into
Wilhelm's arms.

"Save the child!" cried she, "and we will mind the rest."

Wilhelm did not look upon the danger as so great: his first thought was,
to penetrate to the source of the fire, and try to stifle it before it
reached a head. He gave Felix to the harper; commanding him to hasten
down the stone stairs, which led across a little garden-vault out into
the garden, and to wait with the children in the open air. Mignon took a
light to show the way. He begged Aurelia to secure her things there
also. He himself pierced upwards through the smoke, but it was in vain
that he exposed himself to such danger. The flame appeared to issue from
a neighboring house; it had already caught the wooden floor and
staircase: some others, who had hastened to his help, were suffering
like himself from fire and vapor. Yet he kept inciting them; he called
for water; he conjured them to dispute every inch with the flame, and
promised to abide by them to the last. At this instant, Mignon came
springing up, and cried. "Master! save thy Felix! The old man is mad! He
is killing him." Scarcely knowing what he did, Wilhelm darted down
stairs; and Mignon followed close behind him.

On the last steps, which led into the garden-vault, he paused with
horror. Some heaps of fire-wood branches, and large masses of straw,
which had been stowed in the place, were burning with a clear flame;
Felix was lying on the ground, and screaming; the harper stood aside,
holding down his head, and leaned against the wall. "Unhappy creature!
what is this?" said Wilhelm. The old man spoke not; Mignon lifted Felix,
and carried him with difficulty to the garden; while Wilhelm strove to
pull the fire asunder and extinguish it, but only by his efforts made
the flame more violent. At last he, too, was forced to flee into the
garden, with his hair and his eyelashes burned; tearing the harper with
him through the conflagration, who, with singed beard, unwillingly
accompanied him.

Wilhelm hastened instantly to seek the children. He found them on the
threshold of a summer-house at some distance: Mignon was trying every
effort to pacify her comrade. Wilhelm took him on his knee: he
questioned him, felt him, but could obtain no satisfactory account from
either him or Mignon.

Meanwhile, the fire had fiercely seized on several houses: it was now
enlightening all the neighborhood. Wilhelm looked at the child in the
red glare of the flames: he could find no wound, no blood, no hurt of
any kind. He groped over all the little creature's body, but the boy
gave no sign of pain: on the contrary, he by degrees grew calm, and
began to wonder at the blazing houses, and express his pleasure at the
spectacle of beams and rafters burning all in order, like a grand
illumination, so beautifully there.

Wilhelm thought not of the clothes or goods he might have lost: he felt
deeply how inestimable to him was this pair of human beings, who had
just escaped so great a danger. He pressed little Felix to his heart
with a new emotion: Mignon, too, he was about to clasp with joyful
tenderness; but she softly avoided this: she took him by the hand, and
held it fast.

"Master," said she (till the present evening she had hardly ever named
him master; at first she used to name him sir, and afterwards to call
him father),--"Master! we have escaped an awful danger: thy Felix was on
the point of death."

By many inquiries, Wilhelm learned from her at last, that, when they
came into the vault, the harper tore the light from her hand, and set on
fire the straw. That he then put Felix down, laid his hands with strange
gestures on the head of the child, and drew a knife as if he meant to
sacrifice him. That she sprang forward, and snatched it from him; that
she screamed; and some one from the house, who was carrying something
down into the garden, came to her help, but must have gone away again in
the confusion, and left the old man and the child alone.

Two or even three houses were now flaming in a general blaze. Owing to
the conflagration in the vault, no person had been able to take shelter
in the garden. Wilhelm was distressed about his friends, and in a less
degree about his property. Not venturing to quit the children, he was
forced to sit, and see the mischief spreading more and more.

In this anxious state he passed some hours. Felix had fallen asleep on
his bosom: Mignon was lying at his side, and holding fast his hand. The
efforts of the people finally subdued the fire. The burned houses sank,
with successive crashes, into heaps; the morning was advancing; the
children awoke, and complained of bitter cold; even Wilhelm, in his
light dress, could scarcely brook the chillness of the falling dew. He
took the young ones to the rubbish of the prostrate building, where,
among the ashes and the embers, they found a very grateful warmth.

The opening day collected, by degrees, the various individuals of the
party. All of them had got away unhurt: no one had lost much. Wilhelm's
trunk was saved among the rest.

Towards ten o'clock Serlo called them to rehearse their "Hamlet," at
least some scenes, in which fresh players were to act. He had some
debates to manage, on this point, with the municipal authorities. The
clergy required, that, after such a visitation of Providence, the
playhouse should be shut for some time; and Serlo, on the other hand,
maintained, that both for the purpose of repairing the damage he had
suffered, and of exhilarating the depressed and terrified spirits of the
people, nothing could be more in place than the exhibition of some
interesting play. His opinion in the end prevailed, and the house was
full. The actors played with singular fire, with more of a passionate
freedom than at first. The feelings of the audience had been heightened
by the horrors of the previous night, and their appetite for
entertainment had been sharpened by the tedium of a wasted and
dissipated day: every one had more than usual susceptibility for what
was strange and moving. Most of them were new spectators, invited by the
fame of the play: they could not compare the present with the preceding
evening. Boisterous played altogether in the style of the unknown Ghost:
the Pedant, too, had accurately seized the manner of his predecessor;
nor was his own woful aspect without its use to him; for it seemed as
if, in spite of his purple cloak and his ermine collar, Hamlet were
fully justified in calling him a "king of shreds and patches."

Few have ever reached the throne by a path more singular than his had
been. But although the rest, and especially Philina, made sport of his
preferment, he himself signified that the count, a consummate judge, had
at the first glance predicted this and much more of him. Philina, on the
other hand, recommended lowliness of mind to him; saying, she would now
and then powder the sleeves of his coat, that he might remember that
unhappy night in the castle, and wear his crown with meekness.


Our friends had sought out other lodgings, on the spur of the moment,
and were by this means much dispersed. Wilhelm had conceived a liking
for the garden-house, where he had spent the night of the conflagration:
he easily obtained the key, and settled himself there. But Aurelia being
greatly hampered in her new abode, he was obliged to retain little Felix
with him. Mignon, indeed, would not part with the boy.

He had placed the children in a neat chamber on the upper floor: he
himself was in the lower parlor. The young ones were asleep at this
time: Wilhelm could not sleep.

Adjoining the lovely garden, which the full moon had just risen to
illuminate, the black ruins of the fire were visible; and here and there
a streak of vapor was still mounting from them. The air was soft, the
night extremely beautiful. Philina, in issuing from the theatre, had
jogged him with her elbow, and whispered something to him, which he did
not understand. He felt perplexed and out of humor: he knew not what he
should expect or do. For a day or two Philina had avoided him: it was
not till to-night that she had given him any second signal. Unhappily
the doors, that he was not to bolt, were now consumed: the slippers had
evaporated into smoke. How the girl would gain admission to the garden,
if her aim was such, he knew not. He wished she might not come, and yet
he longed to have some explanation with her.

But what lay heavier at his heart than this, was the fate of the harper,
whom, since the fire, no one had seen. Wilhelm was afraid, that, in
clearing off the rubbish, they would find him buried under it. Our
friend had carefully concealed the suspicion which he entertained, that
it was the harper who had fired the house. The old man had been first
seen, as he rushed from the burning and smoking floor, and his
desperation in the vault appeared a natural consequence of such a deed.
Yet, from the inquiry which the magistrates had instituted touching the
affair, it seemed likely that the fire had not originated in the house
where Wilhelm lived, but had accidentally been kindled in the third from
that, and had crept along beneath the roofs before it burst into

Seated in a grove, our friend was meditating all these things, when he
heard a low footfall in a neighboring walk. By the melancholy song
which arose along with it, he recognized the harper. He caught the words
of the song without difficulty: it turned on the consolations of a
miserable man, conscious of being on the borders of insanity. Unhappily
our friend forgot the whole of it except the last verse:--

    "Wheresoe'er my steps may lead me,
      Meekly at the door I'll stay:
    Pious hands will come to feed me,
      And I'll wander on my way.
    Each will feel a touch of gladness
      When my aged form appears:
    Each will shed a tear of sadness,
      Though I reck not of his tears."

So singing, he had reached the garden-door, which led into an
unfrequented street. Finding it bolted, he was making an attempt to
climb the railing, when Wilhelm held him back, and addressed some kindly
words to him. The old man begged to have the door unlocked, declaring
that he would and must escape. Wilhelm represented to him that he might
indeed escape from the garden, but could not from the town; showing, at
the same time, what suspicions he must needs incur by such a step. But
it was in vain: the old man held by his opinion. Our friend, however,
would not yield; and at last he brought him, half by force, into the
garden-house, in which he locked himself along with him. The two carried
on a strange conversation; which, however, not to afflict our readers
with repeating unconnected thoughts and dolorous emotions, we had rather
pass in silence than detail at large.


Undetermined what to do with this unhappy man, who displayed such
indubitable symptoms of madness, Wilhelm would have been in great
perplexity, had not Laertes come that very morning, and delivered him
from his uncertainty. Laertes, as usual, rambling everywhere about the
town, had happened, in some coffee-house, to meet with a man, who, a
short time ago, had suffered under violent attacks of melancholy. This
person, it appeared, had been intrusted to the care of some country
clergyman, who made it his peculiar business to attend to people in
such situations. In the present instance, as in many others, his
treatment had succeeded: he was still in town, and the friends of the
patient were showing him the greatest honor.

Wilhelm hastened to find out this person: he disclosed the case to him,
and agreed with him about the terms. The harper was to be brought over
to him, under certain pretexts. The separation deeply pained our friend;
so used was he to see the man beside him, and to hear his spirited and
touching strains. The hope of soon beholding him recovered, served, in
some degree, to moderate this feeling. The old man's harp had been
destroyed in the burning of the house: they purchased him another, and
gave it him when he departed.

Mignon's little wardrobe had in like manner been consumed. As Wilhelm
was about providing her with new apparel, Aurelia proposed that now at
last they should dress her as a girl.

"No! no! not at all!" cried Mignon, and insisted on it with such
earnestness, that they let her have her way.

The company had not much leisure for reflection: the exhibitions
followed close on one another.

Wilhelm often mingled with the audience, to ascertain their feelings;
but he seldom heard a criticism of the kind he wished: more frequently
the observations he listened to distressed or angered him. Thus, for
instance, shortly after "Hamlet" had been acted for the first time, a
youth was telling, with considerable animation, how happy he had been
that evening in the playhouse. Wilhelm hearkened, and was scandalized to
learn that his neighbor had, on that occasion, in contempt of those
behind him, kept his hat on, stubbornly refusing to remove it till the
play was done; to which heroical transaction he still looked back with
great contentment.

Another gentleman declared that Wilhelm played Laertes very well, but
that the actor who had undertaken Hamlet did not seem too happy in _his_
part. This permutation was not quite unnatural; for Wilhelm and Laertes
did resemble one another, though in a very distant manner.

A third critic warmly praised his acting, particularly in the scene with
his mother; only he regretted much, that, in this fiery moment, a white
strap had peered out from below the Prince's waistcoat, whereby the
illusion had been greatly marred.

Meanwhile, in the interior of the company, a multitude of alterations
were occurring. Philina, since the evening subsequent to that of the
fire, had never given our friend the smallest sign of closer intimacy.
She had, as it seemed on purpose, hired a remote lodging: she associated
with Elmira, and came seldomer to Serlo,--an arrangement very gratifying
to Aurelia. Serlo continued still to like her, and often visited her
quarters, particularly when he hoped to find Elmira there. One evening
he took Wilhelm with him. At their entrance, both of them were much
surprised to see Philina, in the inner room, sitting in close contact
with a young officer. He wore a red uniform with white pantaloons; but,
his face being turned away, they could not see it. Philina came into the
outer room to meet her visitors, and shut the door behind her. "You
surprise me in the middle of a very strange adventure," cried she.

"It does not appear so strange," said Serlo; "but let us see this
handsome, young, enviable gallant. You have us in such training, that we
dare not show any jealousy, however it may be."

"I must leave you to suspicion for a time," replied Philina in a jesting
tone; "yet I can assure you, the gallant is a lady of my friends, who
wishes to remain a few days undiscovered. You shall know her history in
due season; nay, perhaps you shall even behold the beautiful spinster in
person; and then most probably I shall have need of all my prudence and
discretion, for it seems too likely that your new acquaintance will
drive your old friend out of favor."

Wilhelm stood as if transformed to stone. At the first glance, the red
uniform had reminded him of Mariana: the figure, too, was hers; the fair
hair was hers; only the present individual seemed to be a little taller.

"For Heaven's sake," cried he, "let us know something more about your
friend! let us see this lady in disguise! We are now partakers of your
secret: we will promise, we will swear; only let us see the lady!"

"What a fire he is in!" cried Philina: "but be cool, be calm; for to-day
there will nothing come of it."

"Let us only know her name!" cried Wilhelm.

"It were a fine secret, then," replied Philina.

"At least her first name!"

"If you can guess it, be it so. Three guesses I will give you,--not a
fourth. You might lead me through the whole calendar."

"Well!" said Wilhelm: "Cecilia, then?"

"None of your Cecilias!"


"Not at all! Have a care, I pray you: guess better, or your curiosity
will have to sleep unsatisfied."

Wilhelm paused and shivered: he tried to speak, but the sound died away
within him. "Mariana?" stammered he at last, "Mariana?"

"Bravo!" cried Philina. "Hit to a hair's-breadth!" said she, whirling
round upon her heel, as she was wont on such occasions.

Wilhelm could not utter a word; and Serlo, not observing his emotion,
urged Philina more and more to let them in.

Conceive the astonishment of both, when Wilhelm, suddenly and vehemently
interrupting their raillery, threw himself at Philina's feet, and, with
an air and tone of the deepest passion, begged and conjured her, "Let me
see the stranger," cried he: "she is mine; she is my Mariana! She for
whom I have longed all the days of my life, she who is still more to me
than all the women in this world! Go in to her at least, and tell her
that I am here,--that the man is here who linked to her his earliest
love, and all the happiness of his youth. Say that he will justify
himself, though he left her so unkindly; he will pray for pardon of her;
and will grant her pardon, whatsoever she may have done to him; he will
even make no pretensions further, if he may but see her, if he may but
see that she is living and in happiness."

Philina shook her head, and said, "Speak low! Do not betray us! If the
lady is indeed your friend, her feelings must be spared; for she does
not in the least suspect that you are here. Quite a different sort of
business brings her hither; and you know well enough, one had rather see
a spectre than a former lover at an inconvenient time. I will ask her,
and prepare her: we will then consider what is further to be done.
To-morrow I shall write you a note, saying when you are to come, or
whether you may come at all. Obey me punctually; for I protest, that,
without her own and my consent, no eye shall see this lovely creature. I
shall keep my doors better bolted; and, with axe and crow, you surely
will not visit me."

Our friend conjured her, Serlo begged of her; but all in vain: they were
obliged to yield, and leave the chamber and the house.

With what feelings Wilhelm passed the night is easy to conceive. How
slowly the hours of the day flowed on, while he sat expecting a message
from Philina, may also be imagined. Unhappily he had to play that
evening: such mental pain he had never endured. The moment his part was
done, he hastened to Philina's house, without inquiring whether he had
got her leave or not. He found her doors bolted: and the people of the
house informed him that mademoiselle had set out early in the morning,
in company with a young officer; that she had talked about returning
shortly; but they had not believed her, she having paid her debts, and
taken every thing along with her.

This intelligence drove Wilhelm almost frantic. He hastened to Laertes,
that he might take measures for pursuing her, and, cost what it would,
for attaining certainty regarding her attendant. Laertes, however,
represented to him the imprudence of such passion and credulity. "I dare
wager, after all," said he, "that it is no one else but Friedrich. The
boy is of a high family, I know; he is madly in love with Philina; it is
likely he has cozened from his friends a fresh supply of money, so that
he can once more live with her in peace for a while."

These considerations, though they did not quite convince our friend,
sufficed to make him waver. Laertes showed him how improbable the story
was with which Philina had amused them; reminded him how well the
stranger's hair and figure answered Friedrich; that with the start of
him by twelve hours, they could not easily be overtaken; and, what was
more than all, that Serlo could not do without him at the theatre.

By so many reasons, Wilhelm was at last persuaded to postpone the
execution of his project. That night Laertes got an active man, to whom
they gave the charge of following the runaways. It was a steady person,
who had often officiated as courier and guide to travelling-parties, and
was at present without employment. They gave him money, they informed
him of the whole affair; instructing him to seek and overtake the
fugitives, to keep them in his eye, and instantly to send intelligence
to Wilhelm where and how he found them. That very hour he mounted horse,
pursuing this ambiguous pair; by which exertions, Wilhelm was in some
degree at least, composed.


The departure of Philina did not make a deep sensation, either in the
theatre or in the public. She never was in earnest with any thing: the
women universally detested her; the men rather wished to see her
selves-two than on the boards. Thus her fine, and, for the stage, even
happy, talents were of no avail to her. The other members of the company
took greater labor on them to supply her place: the Frau Melina, in
particular, was much distinguished by her diligence and zeal. She noted
down, as formerly, the principles of Wilhelm; she guided herself
according to his theory and his example; there was of late a something
in her nature that rendered her more interesting. She soon acquired an
accurate mode of acting: she attained the natural tone of conversation
altogether, that of keen emotion she attained in some degree. She
contrived, moreover, to adapt herself to Serlo's humors: she took pains
in singing for his pleasure, and succeeded in that matter moderately

By the accession of some other players, the company was rendered more
complete: and while Wilhelm and Serlo were busied each in his degree,
the former insisting on the general tone and spirit of the whole, the
latter faithfully elaborating the separate passages, a laudable ardor
likewise inspired the actors; and the public took a lively interest in
their concerns.

"We are on the right path," said Serlo once: "if we can continue thus,
the public, too, will soon be on it. Men are easily astonished and
misled by wild and barbarous exhibitions; yet lay before them any thing
rational and polished, in an interesting manner, and doubt not they will
catch at it."

"What forms the chief defect of our German theatre, what prevents both
actor and spectator from obtaining proper views, is the vague and
variegated nature of the objects it contains. You nowhere find a barrier
on which to prop your judgment. In my opinion, it is far from an
advantage to us that we have expanded our stage into, as it were, a
boundless arena for the whole of nature; yet neither manager nor actor
need attempt contracting it, until the taste of the nation shall itself
mark out the proper circle. Every good society submits to certain
conditions and restrictions; so also must every good theatre. Certain
manners, certain modes of speech, certain objects, and fashions of
proceeding, must altogether be excluded. You do not grow poorer by
limiting your household expenditure."

On these points our friends were more or less accordant or at variance.
The majority, with Wilhelm at their head, were for the English theatre;
Serlo and a few others for the French.

It was also settled, that in vacant hours, of which unhappily an actor
has too many, they should in company peruse the finest plays in both
these languages; examining what parts of them seemed best and worthiest
of imitation. They accordingly commenced with some French pieces. On
these occasions, it was soon observed, Aurelia went away whenever they
began to read. At first they supposed she had been sick: Wilhelm once
questioned her about it.

"I would not assist at such a reading," said she, "for how could I hear
and judge, when my heart was torn in pieces? I hate the French language
from the bottom of my soul."

"How can you be hostile to a language," cried our friend, "to which we
Germans are indebted for the greater part of our accomplishments; to
which we must become indebted still more, if our natural qualities are
ever to assume their proper form?"

"It is no prejudice!" replied Aurelia, "a painful impression, a hated
recollection of my faithless friend, has robbed me of all enjoyment in
that beautiful and cultivated tongue. How I hate it now with my whole
strength and heart! During the period of our kindliest connection, he
wrote in German; and what genuine, powerful, cordial German! It was not
till he wanted to get quit of me that he began seriously to write in
French. I marked, I felt, what he meant. What he would have blushed to
utter in his mother tongue, he could by this means write with a quiet
conscience. It is the language of reservations, equivocations, and lies:
it is a _perfidious_ language. Heaven be praised! I cannot find another
word to express this _perfide_ of theirs in all its compass. Our poor
_treulos_, the _faithless_ of the English, are innocent as babes beside
it. _Perfide_ means faithless with pleasure, with insolence and malice.
How enviable is the culture of a nation that can figure out so many
shades of meaning by a single word! French is exactly the language of
the world,--worthy to become the universal language, that all may have
it in their power to cheat and cozen and betray each other! His French
letters were always smooth and pleasant, while you read them. If you
chose to believe it, they sounded warmly, even passionately; but, if you
examined narrowly, they were but phrases,--accursed phrases! He has
spoiled my feeling to the whole language, to French literature, even to
the beautiful, delicious expressions of noble souls which may be found
in it. I shudder when a French word is spoken in my hearing."

In such terms she could for hours continue to give utterance to her
chagrin, interrupting or disturbing every other kind of conversation.
Sooner or later, Serlo used to put an end to such peevish lamentations
by some bitter sally; but by this means, commonly, the talk for the
evening was destroyed.

In all provinces of life, it is unhappily the case, that whatever is to
be accomplished by a number of co-operating men and circumstances cannot
long continue perfect. Of an acting company as well as of a kingdom, of
a circle of friends as well as of an army, you may commonly select the
moment when it may be said that all was standing on the highest pinnacle
of harmony, perfection, contentment, and activity. But alterations will
ere long occur; the individuals that compose the body often change; new
members are added; the persons are no longer suited to the
circumstances, or the circumstances to the persons; what was formerly
united quickly falls asunder. Thus it was with Serlo's company. For a
time you might have called it as complete as any German company could
ever boast of being. Most of the actors were occupying their proper
places: all had enough to do, and all did it willingly. Their private
personal condition was not bad; and each appeared to promise great
things in his art, for each commenced with animation and alacrity. But
it soon became apparent that a part of them were mere automatons, who
could not reach beyond what was attainable without the aid of feeling.
Nor was it long till grudgings and envyings arose among them, such as
commonly obstruct every good arrangement, and easily distort and tear in
pieces every thing that reasonable and thinking men would wish to keep

The departure of Philina was not quite so insignificant as it had at
first appeared. She had always skilfully contrived to entertain the
manager, and keep the others in good humor. She had endured Aurelia's
violence with amazing patience, and her dearest task had been to flatter
Wilhelm. Thus she was, in some respects, a bond of union for the whole:
the loss of her was quickly felt.

Serlo could not live without some little passion of the love sort.
Elmira was of late grown up, we might almost say grown beautiful; for
some time she had been attracting his attention: and Philina, with her
usual dexterity, had favored this attachment so soon as she observed it.
"We should train ourselves in time," she would say, "to the business of
procuress: nothing else remains for us when we are old." Serlo and
Elmira had by this means so approximated to each other, that, shortly
after the departure of Philina, both were of a mind: and their small
romance was rendered doubly interesting, as they had to hide it
sedulously from the father; Old Boisterous not understanding jokes of
that description. Elmira's sister had been admitted to the secret; and
Serlo was, in consequence, obliged to overlook a multitude of things in
both of them. One of their worst habits was an excessive love of
junketing,--nay, if you will, an intolerable gluttony. In this respect
they altogether differed from Philina, to whom it gave a new tint of
loveliness, that she seemed, as it were, to live on air, eating very
little; and, for drink, merely skimming off, with all imaginable grace,
the foam from a glass of champagne.

Now, however, Serlo, if he meant to please his doxies, was obliged to
join breakfast with dinner; and with this, by a substantial bever, to
connect the supper. But, amid gormandizing, Serlo entertained another
plan, which he longed to have fulfilled. He imagined that he saw a kind
of attachment between Wilhelm and Aurelia, and he anxiously wished that
it might assume a serious shape. He hoped to cast the whole mechanical
department of his theatrical economy on Wilhelm's shoulders; to find in
him, as in the former brother, a faithful and industrious tool. Already
he had, by degrees, shifted over to him most of the cares of management;
Aurelia kept the strong-box; and Serlo once more lived as he had done of
old, entirely according to his humor. Yet there was a circumstance which
vexed him in secret, as it did his sister likewise.

The world has a particular way of acting towards public persons of
acknowledged merit: it gradually begins to be indifferent to them, and
to favor talents which are new, though far inferior; it makes excessive
requisitions of the former, and accepts of any thing with approbation
from the latter.

Serlo and Aurelia had opportunity enough to meditate on this
peculiarity. The strangers, especially the young and handsome ones, had
drawn the whole attention and applause upon themselves; and Serlo and
his sister, in spite of the most zealous efforts, had in general to make
their exits without the welcome sound of clapping hands. It is true,
some special causes were at work on this occasion. Aurelia's pride was
palpable, and her contempt for the public was known to many. Serlo,
indeed, flattered every individual; but his cutting jibes against the
whole were often circulated and repeated. The new members, again, were
not only strangers, unknown, and wanting help, but some of them were
likewise young and amiable: thus all of them found patrons.

Erelong, too, there arose internal discontents, and many bickerings,
among the actors. Scarcely had they noticed that our friend was acting
as director, when most of them began to grow the more remiss, the more
he strove to introduce a better order, greater accuracy, and chiefly to
insist that every thing mechanical should be performed in the most
strict and regular manner.

Thus, by and by, the whole concern, which actually for a time had nearly
looked ideal, grew as vulgar in its attributes as any mere itinerating
theatre. And, unhappily, just as Wilhelm, by his labor, diligence, and
vigorous efforts, had made himself acquainted with the requisitions of
the art, and trained completely both his person and his habits to comply
with them, he began to feel, in melancholy hours, that this craft
deserved the necessary outlay of time and talents less than any other.
The task was burdensome, the recompense was small. He would rather have
engaged with any occupation in which, when the period of exertion is
passed, one can enjoy repose of mind, than with this, wherein, after
undergoing much mechanical drudgery, the aim of one's activity cannot
still be attained but by the strongest effort of thought and emotion.
Besides, he had to listen to Aurelia's complaints about her brother's
wastefulness: he had to misconceive the winks and nods of Serlo, trying
from afar to lead him to a marriage with Aurelia. He had, withal, to
hide his own secret sorrow, which pressed heavy on his heart, because of
that ambiguous officer whom he had sent in quest of. The messenger
returned not, sent no tidings; and Wilhelm feared that his Mariana was
lost to him a second time.

About this period, there occurred a public mourning, which obliged our
friends to shut their theatre for several weeks. Wilhelm seized this
opportunity to pay a visit to the clergyman with whom the harper had
been placed to board. He found him in a pleasant district; and the first
thing that he noticed in the parsonage was the old man teaching a boy to
play upon his instrument. The harper showed great joy at sight of
Wilhelm: he rose, held out his hand, and said, "You see, I am still good
for something in the world; permit me to continue; for my hours are all
distributed, and full of business."

The clergyman saluted Wilhelm very kindly, and told him that the harper
promised well, already giving hopes of a complete recovery.

Their conversation naturally turned upon the various modes of treating
the insane.

"Except physical derangements," observed the clergyman, "which often
place insuperable difficulties in the way, and in regard to which I
follow the prescriptions of a wise physician, the means of curing
madness seem to me extremely simple. They are the very means by which
you hinder sane persons from becoming mad. Awaken their activity;
accustom them to order; bring them to perceive that they hold their
being and their fate in common with many millions; that extraordinary
talents, the highest happiness, the deepest misery, are but slight
variations from the general lot: in this way, no insanity will enter,
or, if it has entered, will gradually disappear. I have portioned out
the old man's hours: he gives lessons to some children on the harp; he
works in the garden; he is already much more cheerful. He wishes to
enjoy the cabbages he plants: my son, to whom in case of death he has
bequeathed his harp, he is ardent to instruct, that the boy may be able
to make use of his inheritance. I have said but little to him, as a
clergyman, about his wild, mysterious scruples; but a busy life brings
on so many incidents, that erelong he must feel how true it is, that
doubt of any kind can be removed by nothing but activity. I go softly to
work: yet, if I could get his beard and hood removed, I should reckon it
a weighty point; for nothing more exposes us to madness than
distinguishing ourselves from others, and nothing more contributes to
maintain our common sense than living in the universal way with
multitudes of men. Alas! how much there is in education, in our social
institutions, to prepare us and our children for insanity!"

Wilhelm staid some days with this intelligent divine; heard from him
many curious narratives, not of the insane alone, but of persons such as
commonly are reckoned wise and rational, though they may have
peculiarities which border on insanity.

The conversation became doubly animated, on the entrance of the doctor,
with whom it was a custom to pay frequent visits to his friend the
clergyman, and to assist him in his labors of humanity. The physician
was an oldish man, who, though in weak health, had spent many years in
the practice of the noblest virtues. He was a strong advocate for
country life, being himself scarcely able to exist except in the open
air. Withal, he was extremely active and companionable. For several
years he had shown a special inclination to make friends with all the
country clergymen within his reach. Such of these as were employed in
any useful occupation he strove by every means to help; into others, who
were still unsettled in their aims, he endeavored to infuse a taste for
some profitable species of exertion. Being at the same time in
connection with a multitude of noblemen, magistrates, judges, he had in
the space of twenty years, in secret, accomplished much towards the
advancement of many branches of husbandry: he had done his best to put
in motion every project that seemed capable of benefiting agriculture,
animals, or men, and had thus forwarded improvement in its truest sense.
"For man," he used to say, "there is but one misfortune,--when some idea
lays hold of him, which exerts no influence upon active life, or, still
more, which withdraws him from it. At the present time," continued he,
on this occasion, "I have such a case before me: it concerns a rich and
noble couple, and hitherto has baffled all my skill. The affair belongs
in part to your department, worthy pastor; and your friend here will
forbear to mention it again.

"In the absence of a certain nobleman, some persons of the house, in a
frolic not entirely commendable, disguised a young man in the master's
clothes. The lady was to be imposed upon by this deception; and,
although it was described to me as nothing but a joke, I am much afraid
the purpose of it was to lead this noble and most amiable lady from the
path of honor. Her husband, however, unexpectedly returns; enters his
chamber; thinks he sees his spirit; and from that time falls into a
melancholy temper, firmly believing that his death is near.

"He has now abandoned himself to men who pamper him with religious
ideas; and I see not how he is to be prevented from going among the
Hernhuters with his lady, and, as he has no children, from depriving his
relations of the chief part of his fortune."

"With his lady?" cried our friend in great agitation; for this story had
frightened him extremely.

"And, alas!" replied the doctor, who regarded Wilhelm's exclamation only
as the voice of common sympathy, "this lady is herself possessed with a
deeper sorrow, which renders a removal from the world desirable to her
also. The same young man was taking leave of her: she was not
circumspect enough to hide a nascent inclination towards him: the youth
grew bolder, clasped her in his arms, and pressed a large portrait of
her husband, which was set with diamonds, forcibly against her breast.
She felt a sharp pain, which gradually went off, leaving first a little
redness, then no trace at all. As a man, I am convinced that she has
nothing further to reproach herself with, in this affair; as a
physician, I am certain that this pressure could not have the smallest
ill effect. Yet she will not be persuaded that an induration is not
taking place in the part; and, if you try to overcome her notion by the
evidence of feeling, she maintains, that, though the evil is away this
moment, it will return the next. She conceives that the disease will end
in cancer, and thus her youth and loveliness be altogether lost to
others and herself."

"Wretch that I am!" cried Wilhelm, striking his brow, and rushing from
the company into the fields. He had never felt himself in such a
miserable case.

The clergyman and the physician were of course exceedingly astonished at
this singular discovery. In the evening all their skill was called for,
when our friend returned, and, with a circumstantial disclosure of the
whole occurrence, uttered the most violent accusations of himself. Both
took interest in him: both felt a real concern about his general
condition, particularly as he painted it in the gloomy colors which
arose from the humor of the moment.

Next day the physician, without much entreaty, was prevailed upon to
accompany him in his return; both that he might bear him company, and
that he might, if possible, do something for Aurelia, whom our friend
had left in rather dangerous circumstances.

In fact, they found her worse than they expected. She was afflicted with
a sort of intermittent fever, which could the less be mastered, as she
purposely maintained and aggravated the attacks of it. The stranger was
not introduced as a physician: he behaved with great courteousness and
prudence. They conversed about her situation, bodily and mental: her new
friend related many anecdotes of persons who, in spite of lingering
disorders, had attained a good old age; adding, that, in such cases,
nothing could be more injurious than the intentional recalling of
passionate and disagreeable emotions. In particular he stated, that, for
persons laboring under chronical and partly incurable distempers, he had
always found it a very happy circumstance when they chanced to
entertain, and cherish in their minds, true feelings of religion. This
he signified in the most unobtrusive manner, as it were historically;
promising Aurelia at the same time the reading of a very interesting
manuscript, which he said he had received from the hands of an excellent
lady of his friends, who was now deceased. "To me," he said, "it is of
uncommon value; and I shall trust you even with the original. Nothing
but the title is in my hand-writing: I have called it, 'Confessions of a
Fair Saint.'"

Touching the medical and dietetic treatment of the racked and hapless
patient, he also left his best advice with Wilhelm. He then departed;
promising to write, and, if possible, to come again in person.

Meanwhile, in Wilhelm's absence, there had changes been preparing such
as he was not aware of. During his directorship, our friend had managed
all things with a certain liberality and freedom; looking chiefly at the
main result. Whatever was required for dresses, decorations, and the
like, he had usually provided in a plentiful and handsome style; and,
for securing the co-operation of his people, he had flattered their
self-interest, since he could not reach them by nobler motives. In this
he felt his conduct justified the more; as Serlo for his own part never
aimed at being a strict economist, but liked to hear the beauty of his
theatre commended, and was contented if Aurelia, who conducted the
domestic matters, on defraying all expenses, signified that she was free
from debt, and could besides afford the necessary sums for clearing off
such scores as Serlo in the interim, by lavish kindness to his
mistresses or otherwise, might have incurred.

Melina, who was charged with managing the wardrobe, had all the while
been silently considering these things, with the cold, spiteful temper
peculiar to him. On occasion of our friend's departure, and Aurelia's
increasing sickness, he contrived to signify to Serlo, that more money
might be raised and less expended, and, consequently, something be laid
up, or at least a merrier life be led. Serlo hearkened gladly to such
allegations, and Melina risked the exhibition of his plan.

"I will not say," continued he, "that any of your actors has at present
too much salary: they are meritorious people, they would find a welcome
anywhere; but, for the income which they bring us in, they have too
much. My project would be, to set up an opera; and, as to what concerns
the playhouse, I may be allowed to say it, you are the person for
maintaining that establishment upon your single strength. Observe how at
present your merits are neglected; and justice is refused you, not
because your fellow-actors are excellent, but merely good.

"Come out alone, as used to be the case; endeavor to attract around you
middling, I will even say inferior people, for a slender salary; regale
the public with mechanical displays, as you can so cleverly do; apply
your remaining means to the opera, which I am talking of; and you will
quickly see, that, with the same labor and expense, you will give
greater satisfaction, while you draw incomparably more money than at

These observations were so flattering to Serlo, that they could not fail
of making some impression on him. He readily admitted, that, loving
music as he did, he had long wished for some arrangement such as this;
though he could not but perceive that the public taste would thus be
still more widely led astray, and that with such a mongrel theatre, not
properly an opera, not properly a playhouse, any residue of true feeling
for regular and perfect works of art must shortly disappear.

Melina ridiculed, in terms more plain than delicate, our friend's
pedantic notions in this matter, and his vain attempts to form the
public mind, instead of being formed by it: Serlo and he at last agreed,
with full conviction, that the sole concern was, how to gather money,
and grow rich, or live a joyous life; and they scarcely concealed their
wish to be delivered from those persons who at present hindered them.
Melina took occasion to lament Aurelia's weak health, and the speedy end
which it threatened; thinking all the while directly the reverse. Serlo
affected to regret that Wilhelm could not sing, thus signifying that his
presence was by no means indispensable. Melina then came forward with a
whole catalogue of savings, which, he said, might be effected; and Serlo
saw in him his brother-in-law replaced threefold. They both felt that
secrecy was necessary in the matter, but this mutual obligation only
joined them closer in their interests. They failed not to converse
together privately on every thing that happened; to blame whatever
Wilhelm or Aurelia undertook; and to elaborate their own project, and
prepare it more and more for execution.

Silent as they both might be about their plan, little as their words
betrayed them, in their conduct they were not so politic as constantly
to hide their purposes. Melina now opposed our friend in many points
that lay within the province of the latter; and Serlo, who had never
acted smoothly to his sister, seemed to grow more bitter the more her
sickness deepened, the more her passionate and variable humors would
have needed toleration.

About this period they took up the "Emilie Galotti" of Lessing. The
parts were very happily distributed and filled: within the narrow circle
of this tragedy, the company found room for showing all the complex
riches of their acting. Serlo, in the character of Marinelli, was
altogether in his place; Odoardo was very well exhibited; Madam Melina
played the Mother with considerable skill; Elmira gained distinction as
Emilie; Laertes made a stately Appiani; and Wilhelm had bestowed the
study of some months upon the Prince's part. On this occasion, both
internally and with Aurelia and Serlo, he had often come upon this
question: What is the distinction between a noble and a well-bred
manner? and how far must the former be included in the latter, though
the latter is not in the former?

Serlo, who himself in Marinelli had to act the courtier accurately,
without caricature, afforded him some valuable thoughts on this. "A
well-bred carriage," he would say, is difficult to imitate; for in
strictness it is negative, and it implies a long-continued previous
training. You are not required to exhibit in your manner any thing that
specially betokens dignity; for, by this means, you are like to run into
formality and haughtiness: you are rather to avoid whatever is
undignified and vulgar. You are never to forget yourself; are to keep a
constant watch upon yourself and others; to forgive nothing that is
faulty in your own conduct, in that of others neither to forgive too
little nor too much. Nothing must appear to touch you, nothing to
agitate: you must never overhaste yourself, must ever keep yourself
composed, retaining still an outward calmness, whatever storms may rage
within. The noble character at certain moments may resign himself to his
emotions; the well-bred never. The latter is like a man dressed out in
fair and spotless clothes: he will not lean on any thing; every person
will beware of rubbing on him. He distinguishes himself from others, yet
he may not stand apart; for as in all arts, so in this, the hardest must
at length be done with ease: the well-bred man of rank, in spite of
every separation, always seems united with the people round him; he is
never to be stiff or uncomplying; he is always to appear the first, and
never to insist on so appearing.

"It is clear, then, that, to seem well-bred, a man must actually be so.
It is also clear why women generally are more expert at taking up the
air of breeding than the other sex; why courtiers and soldiers catch it
more easily than other men."

Wilhelm now despaired of doing justice to his part; but Serlo aided and
encouraged him, communicated the acutest observations on detached
points, and furnished him so well, that, on the exhibition of the piece,
the public reckoned him a very proper Prince.

Serlo had engaged to give him, when the play was over, such remarks as
might occur upon his acting: a disagreeable contention with Aurelia
prevented any conversation of that kind. Aurelia had acted the character
of Orsina, in such a style as few have ever done. She was well
acquainted with the part, and during the rehearsals she had treated it
indifferently: but, in the exhibition of the piece, she had opened, as
it were, all the sluices of her personal sorrow; and the character was
represented so as never poet in the first glow of invention could have
figured it. A boundless applause rewarded her painful efforts; but her
friends, on visiting her when the play was finished, found her half
fainting in her chair.

Serlo had already signified his anger at her overcharged acting, as he
called it; at this disclosure of her inmost heart before the public, to
many individuals of which the history of her fatal passion was more or
less completely known. He had spoken bitterly and fiercely; grinding
with his teeth and stamping with his feet, as was his custom when
enraged. "Never mind her," cried he, when he saw her in the chair,
surrounded by the rest: "she will go upon the stage stark-naked one of
these days, and then the approbation will be perfect."

"Ungrateful, inhuman man!" exclaimed she: "soon shall I be carried naked
to the place where approbation or disapprobation can no longer reach our
ears!" With these words she started up, and hastened to the door. The
maid had not yet brought her mantle; the sedan was not in waiting; it
had been raining lately; a cold, raw wind was blowing through the
streets. They endeavored to persuade her to remain, for she was very
warm. But in vain: she purposely walked slow; she praised the coolness,
seemed to inhale it with peculiar eagerness. No sooner was she home,
than she became so hoarse that she could hardly speak a word: she did
not mention that there was a total stiffness in her neck and along her
back. Shortly afterwards a sort of palsy in the tongue came on, so that
she pronounced one word instead of another. They put her to bed: by
numerous and copious remedies, the evil changed its form, but was not
mastered. The fever gathered strength: her case was dangerous.

Next morning she enjoyed a quiet hour. She sent for Wilhelm, and
delivered him a letter. "This sheet," said she, "has long been waiting
for the present moment. I feel that my end is drawing nigh: promise me
that you yourself will take this paper; that, by a word or two, you will
avenge my sorrows on the faithless man. He is not void of feeling: my
death will pain him for a moment."

Wilhelm took the letter; still endeavoring to console her, and to drive
away the thought of death.

"No," said she: "do not deprive me of my nearest hope. I have waited for
him long: I will joyfully clasp him when he comes."

Shortly after this the manuscript arrived which the physician had
engaged to send her. She called for Wilhelm,--made him read it to her.
The effect which it produced upon her, the reader will be better able to
appreciate after looking at the following Book. The violent and stubborn
temper of our poor Aurelia was mollified by hearing it. She took back
the letter, and wrote another, as it seemed, in a meeker tone; charging
Wilhelm at the same time to console her friend, if he should be
distressed about her death; to assure him that she had forgiven him, and
wished him every kind of happiness.

From this time she was very quiet, and appeared to occupy herself with
but a few ideas, which she endeavored to extract and appropriate from
the manuscript, out of which she frequently made Wilhelm read to her.
The decay of her strength was not perceptible: nor had Wilhelm been
anticipating the event, when one morning, as he went to visit her, he
found that she was dead.

Entertaining such respect for her as he had done, and accustomed as he
was to live in her society, the loss of her affected him with no common
sorrow. She was the only person that had truly wished him well: the
coldness of Serlo he had felt of late but too keenly. He hastened,
therefore, to perform the service she had intrusted to him: he wished to
be absent for a time.

On the other hand, this journey was exceedingly convenient for Melina:
in the course of his extensive correspondence, he had lately entered
upon terms with a male and a female singer, who, it was intended,
should, by their performances in interludes, prepare the public for his
future opera. The loss of Aurelia, and Wilhelm's absence, were to be
supplied in this manner; and our friend was satisfied with any thing
that could facilitate his setting out.

He had formed, within himself, a singular idea of the importance of his
errand. The death of his unhappy friend had moved him deeply; and,
having seen her pass so early from the scene, he could not but be
hostilely inclined against the man who had abridged her life, and made
that shortened term so full of woe.

Notwithstanding the last mild words of the dying woman, he resolved,
that, on delivering his letter, he would pass a strict sentence on her
faithless friend; and, not wishing to depend upon the temper of the
moment, he studied an address, which, in the course of preparation,
became more pathetic than just. Having fully convinced himself of the
good composition of his essay, he began committing it to memory, and at
the same time making ready for departure. Mignon was present as he
packed his articles: she asked him whether he intended travelling south
or north; and, learning that it was the latter, she replied, "Then, I
will wait here for thee." She begged of him the pearl necklace which had
once been Mariana's. He could not refuse to gratify the dear little
creature, and he gave it her: the neckerchief she had already. On the
other hand, she put the veil of Hamlet's Ghost into his travelling-bag;
though he told her it could not be of any service to him.

Melina took upon him the directorship: his wife engaged to keep a
mother's eye upon the children, whom Wilhelm parted with unwillingly.
Felix was very merry at the setting out; and, when asked what pretty
thing he wished to have brought back for him, he said, "Hark you! bring
me a papa!" Mignon seized the traveller's hand; then, standing on her
tiptoes, she pressed a warm and cordial, though not a tender, kiss, upon
his lips, and cried, "Master! forget us not, and come soon back."

And so we leave our friend, entering on his journey, amid a thousand
different thoughts and feelings; and here subjoin, by way of close, a
little poem, which Mignon had recited once or twice with great
expressiveness, and which the hurry of so many singular occurrences
prevented us from inserting sooner:--

    "Not speech, bid silence, I implore thee;
      For secrecy's my duty still:
    My heart entire I'd fain lay bare before thee,
      But such is not of fate the will.

    In season due the sun's course backward throws
      Dark night; ensue must light; the mountain's
    Hard rock, at length, its bosom doth unclose,
      Now grudging earth no more the hidden fountains.

    Each seeks repose upon a friend's true breast,
      Where by laments he frees his bosom lonely;
    Whereas an oath my lips hold closely pressed,
      The which to speech a God can open only."
                                           --_Editor's Version._



Till my eighth year I was always a healthy child, but of that period I
can recollect no more than of the day when I was born. About the
beginning of my eighth year, I was seized with a hemorrhage; and from
that moment my soul became all feeling, all memory. The smallest
circumstances of that accident are yet before my eyes as if they had
occurred but yesterday.

During the nine months which I then spent patiently upon a sick-bed, it
appears to me the groundwork of my whole turn of thought was laid; as
the first means were then afforded my mind of developing itself in its
own manner.

I suffered and I loved: this was the peculiar form of my heart. In the
most violent fits of coughing, in the depressing pains of fever, I lay
quiet, like a snail drawn back within its house: the moment I obtained a
respite, I wanted to enjoy something pleasant; and, as every other
pleasure was denied me, I endeavored to amuse myself with the innocent
delights of eye and ear. The people brought me dolls and picture-books,
and whoever would sit by my bed was obliged to tell me something.

From my mother I rejoiced to hear the Bible histories, and my father
entertained me with natural curiosities. He had a very pretty cabinet,
from which he brought me first one drawer and then another, as occasion
served; showing me the articles, and pointing out their properties.
Dried plants and insects, with many kinds of anatomical preparations,
such as human skin, bones, mummies, and the like, were in succession
laid upon the sick-bed of the little one; the birds and animals he
killed in hunting were shown to me, before they passed into the kitchen;
and, that the Prince of the World might also have a voice in this
assembly, my aunt related to me love-adventures out of fairy-tales. All
was accepted, all took root. There were hours in which I vividly
conversed with the Invisible Power. I can still repeat some verses which
I then dictated, and my mother wrote down.

Often I would tell my father back again what I had learned from him.
Rarely did I take any physic without asking where the simples it was
made of grew, what look they had, what names they bore. Nor had the
stories of my aunt lighted on stony ground. I figured myself out in
pretty clothes, and met the most delightful princes, who could find no
peace or rest till they discovered who the unknown beauty was. One
adventure of this kind, with a charming little angel dressed in white,
with golden wings, who warmly courted me, I dwelt upon so long, that my
imagination painted out his form almost to visibility.

After a year I was pretty well restored to health, but nothing of the
giddiness of childhood remained with me. I could not play with dolls: I
longed for beings able to return my love. Dogs, cats, and birds, of
which my father kept a great variety, afforded me delight; but what
would I have given for such a creature as my aunt once told me of! It
was a lamb which a peasant-girl took up and nourished in a wood; but, in
the guise of this pretty beast, an enchanted prince was hid, who at
length appeared in his native shape, a lovely youth, and rewarded his
benefactress by his hand. Such a lamb I would have given the world for.

But there was none to be had; and, as every thing about me went on in
such a quite natural manner, I by degrees all but abandoned nearly all
hopes of such a treasure. Meanwhile I comforted myself by reading books
in which the strangest incidents were set forth. Among them all, my
favorite was the "Christian German Hercules:" that devout love-history
was altogether in my way. Whenever any thing befell his dear Valiska,
and cruel things befell her, he always prayed before hastening to her
aid; and the prayers stood there _verbatim_. My longing after the
Invisible, which I had always dimly felt, was strengthened by such
means; for, in short, it was ordained that God should also be my

As I grew older I continued reading, Heaven knows what, in chaotic
order. The "Roman Octavia" was the book I liked beyond all others. The
persecutions of the first Christians, decorated with the charms of a
romance, awoke the deepest interest in me.

But my mother now began to murmur at my constant reading; and, to humor
her, my father took away my books to-day, but gave them back to-morrow.
She was wise enough to see that nothing could be done in this way: she
next insisted merely that my Bible should be read with equal diligence.
To this I was not disinclined, and I accordingly perused the sacred
volume with a lively interest. Withal my mother was extremely careful
that no books of a corruptive tendency should come into my hands:
immodest writings I would, of my own accord, have cast away; for my
princes and my princesses were all extremely virtuous.

To my mother, and my zeal for knowledge, it was owing, that, with all my
love of books, I also learned to cook; for much was to be seen in
cookery. To cut up a hen, a pig, was quite a feast for me. I used to
bring the entrails to my father, and he talked with me about them as if
I had been a student of anatomy. With suppressed joy he would often call
me his misfashioned son.

I had passed my twelfth year. I learned French, dancing, and drawing: I
received the usual instructions in religion. In the latter, many
thoughts and feelings were awakened, but nothing properly relating to my
own condition. I liked to hear the people speak of God: I was proud that
I could speak on these points better than my equals. I zealously read
many books which put me in a condition to talk about religion; but it
never once struck me to think how matters stood with _me_, whether _my_
soul was formed according to these holy precepts, whether it was like a
glass from which the everlasting sun could be reflected in its glancing.
From the first I had presupposed all this.

My French I learned with eagerness. My teacher was a clever man. He was
not a vain empiric, not a dry grammarian: he had learning, he had seen
the world. Instructing me in language, he satisfied my zeal for
knowledge in a thousand ways. I loved him so much, that I used to wait
his coming with a palpitating heart. Drawing was not hard for me: I
should have made greater progress had my teacher possessed head and
science; he had only hands and practice.

Dancing was at first one of my smallest amusements; my body was too
sensitive for it; I learned it only in the company of my sisters. But
our dancing-master took a thought of gathering all his scholars, male
and female, and giving them a ball. This event gave dancing quite
another charm for me.

Amid a throng of boys and girls, the most remarkable were two sons of
the marshal of the court. The youngest was of my age; the other, two
years older: they were children of such beauty, that, according to the
universal voice, no one had seen their like. For my part, scarcely had I
noticed them when I lost sight of all the other crowd. From that moment
I began to dance with care, and to wish that I could dance with grace.
How came it, on the other hand, that these two boys distinguished me
from all the rest? No matter: before an hour had passed we had become
the warmest friends, and our little entertainment did not end till we
had fixed upon the time and place where we were next to meet. What a joy
for me! And how charmed was I next morning when both of them inquired
for my health, each in a gallant note, accompanied with a nosegay! I
have never since felt as I then did. Compliment was met by compliment:
letter answered letter. The church and the public-walks were grown a
rendezvous; our young acquaintances, in all their little parties, now
invited us together; while, at the same time, we were sly enough to veil
the business from our parents, so that they saw no more of it than we
thought good.

Thus had I at once got a pair of lovers. I had yet decided upon neither:
they both pleased me, and we did extremely well together. All at once
the eldest of the two fell very sick. I myself had often been sick; and
thus I was enabled, by rendering him many little dainties and delicacies
suited for a sick person, to afford some solace to the sufferer. His
parents thankfully acknowledged my attention: in compliance with the
prayer of their beloved son, they invited me, with all my sisters, to
their house so soon as he had arisen from his sick-bed. The tenderness
which he displayed on meeting me was not the feeling of a child: from
that day I gave the preference to him. He warned me to keep our secret
from his brother; but the flame could no longer be concealed, and the
jealousy of the younger completed our romance. He played us a thousand
tricks: eager to annihilate our joys, he but increased the passion he
was seeking to destroy.

At last I had actually found the wished-for lamb, and this attachment
acted on me like my sickness: it made me calm, and drew me back from
noisy pleasures. I was solitary, I was moved; and thoughts of God again
occurred to me. He was again my confidant; and I well remember with what
tears I often prayed for this poor boy, who still continued sickly.

The more childishness there was in this adventure, the more did it
contribute to the forming of my heart. Our French teacher had now turned
us from translating into daily writing him some letter of our own
invention. I brought my little history to market, shrouded in the names
of Phyllis and Damon. The old man soon saw through it, and, to render me
communicative, praised my labor very much. I still waxed bolder; came
openly out with the affair, adhering, even in the minute details, to
truth. I do not now remember what the passage was at which he took
occasion to remark, "How pretty, how natural, it is! But the good
Phyllis had better have a care: the thing may soon grow serious."

I felt vexed that he did not look upon the matter as already serious;
and I asked him, with an air of pique, what he meant by serious. I had
not to repeat the question: he explained himself so clearly, that I
could scarcely hide my terror. Yet as anger came along with it, as I
took it ill that he should entertain such thoughts, I kept myself
composed: I tried to justify my nymph, and said, with glowing cheeks,
"But, sir, Phyllis is an honorable girl."

He was rogue enough to banter me about my honorable heroine. While we
were speaking French, he played upon the word _honnête_, and hunted the
honorableness of Phyllis over all its meanings. I felt the ridicule of
this, and extremely puzzled. He, not to frighten me, broke off, but
afterwards often led the conversation to such topics. Plays, and little
histories, such as I was reading and translating with him, gave him
frequent opportunity to show how feeble a security against the calls of
inclination our boasted virtue was. I no longer contradicted him, but I
was in secret scandalized; and his remarks became a burden to me.

With my worthy Damon, too, I by degrees fell out of all connection. The
chicanery of the younger boy destroyed our intercourse. Soon after, both
these blooming creatures died. I lamented sore: however, in a short
time, I forgot.

But Phyllis rapidly increased in stature, was altogether healthy, and
began to see the world. The hereditary prince now married, and a short
time after, on his father's death, began his rule. Court and town were
in the liveliest motion: my curiosity had copious nourishment. There
were plays and balls, with all their usual accompaniments; and, though
my parents kept retired as much as possible, they were obliged to show
themselves at court, where I was of course introduced. Strangers were
pouring in from every side; high company was in every house; even to us
some cavaliers were recommended, others introduced; and, at my uncle's,
men of every nation might be met with.

My honest mentor still continued, in a modest and yet striking way, to
warn me, and I in secret to take it ill of him. With regard to his
assertion, that women under every circumstance were weak, I did not feel
at all convinced; and here, perhaps, I was in the right, and my mentor
in the wrong: but he spoke so earnestly that once I grew afraid he might
be right, and said to him, with much vivacity, "Since the danger is so
great, and the human heart so weak, I will pray to God that he may keep

This simple answer seemed to please him, for he praised my purpose; but,
on my side, it was any thing but seriously meant. It was, in truth, but
an empty word; for my feelings towards the Invisible were almost totally
extinguished. The hurry and the crowd I lived in dissipated my
attention, and carried me along as in a rapid stream. These were the
emptiest years of my life. All day long to speak of nothing, to have no
solid thought, never to do any thing but revel,--such was my employment.
On my beloved books I never once bestowed a thought. The people I lived
among had not the slightest tinge of literature or science: they were
German courtiers, a class of men at that time altogether destitute of

Such society, it may be thought, must naturally have led me to the brink
of ruin. I lived away in mere corporeal cheerfulness: I never took
myself to task, I never prayed, I never thought about myself or God. Yet
I look upon it as a providential guidance, that none of these many
handsome, rich, and well-dressed men could take my fancy. They were
rakes, and did not conceal it; this scared me back: they adorned their
speech with double meanings; this offended me, made me act with coldness
towards them. Many times their improprieties exceeded belief, and I did
not restrain myself from being rude.

Besides, my ancient counsellor had once in confidence contrived to tell
me, that, with the greater part of these lewd fellows, health, as well
as virtue, was in danger. I now shuddered at the sight of them: I was
afraid if one of them in any way approached too near me. I would not
touch their cups or glasses,--even the chairs they had been sitting on.
Thus, morally and physically, I remained apart from them: all the
compliments they paid me I haughtily accepted, as incense that was due.

Among the strangers then resident among us was one young man peculiarly
distinguished, whom we used in sport to call Narciss. He had gained a
reputation in the diplomatic line; and, among the various changes now
occurring at court, he was in hopes of meeting with some advantageous
place. He soon became acquainted with my father: his acquirements and
manners opened for him the way to a select society of most accomplished
men. My father often spoke in praise of him: his figure, which was very
handsome, would have made a still better impression, had it not been for
something of self-complacency which breathed from the whole carriage of
the man. I had seen him. I thought well of him; but we had never spoken.

At a great ball, where we chanced to be in company, I danced a minuet
with him; but this, too, passed without results. The more violent
dances, in compliance with my father, who felt anxious about my health,
I was accustomed to avoid: in the present case, when these came on, I
retired to an adjoining room, and began to talk with certain of my
friends, elderly ladies, who had set themselves to cards.

Narciss, who had jigged it for a while, at last came into the room where
I was; and having got the better of a bleeding at the nose, which had
overtaken him in dancing, he began speaking with me about a multitude of
things. In half an hour the talk had grown so interesting, that neither
of us could think of dancing any more. We were rallied by our friends,
but we did not let their bantering disturb us. Next evening we
recommenced our conversation, and were very careful not to hurt our

The acquaintance then was made. Narciss was often with my sisters and
myself; and I now once more began to reckon over and consider what I
knew, what I thought of, what I had felt, and what I could express
myself about in conversation. My new friend had mingled in the best
society; besides the department of history and politics, with every part
of which he was familiar, he had gained extensive literary knowledge;
there was nothing new that issued from the press, especially in France,
that he was unacquainted with. He brought or sent me many a pleasant
book, but this we had to keep as secret as forbidden love. Learned
women had been made ridiculous, nor were well-informed women
tolerated,--apparently because it would have been uncivil to put so many
ill-informed men to shame. Even my father, much as he delighted in this
new opportunity of cultivating my mind, expressly stipulated that our
literary commerce should remain secret.

Thus our intercourse continued for almost year and day; and still I
could not say, that, in any wise, Narciss had ever shown me aught of
love or tenderness. He was always complaisant and kind, but manifested
nothing like attachment: on the contrary, he even seemed to be in some
degree affected by the charms of my youngest sister, who was then
extremely beautiful. In sport, he gave her many little friendly names
out of foreign tongues; for he could speak two or three of these
extremely well, and loved to mix their idiomatic phrases with his
German. Such compliments she did not answer very liberally; she was
entangled in a different noose: and being very sharp, while he was very
sensitive, the two were often quarrelling about trifles. With my mother
and my aunt he kept on very pleasant terms; and thus, by gradual
advances, he was grown to be a member of the family.

Who knows how long we might have lived in this way, had not a curious
accident altered our relations all at once? My sisters and I were
invited to a certain house, to which we did not like to go. The company
was too mixed; and persons of the stupidest, if not the rudest, stamp
were often to be met there. Narciss, on this occasion, was invited also;
and on his account I felt inclined to go, for I was sure of finding one,
at least, whom I could converse with as I desired. Even at table we had
many things to suffer, for several of the gentlemen had drunk too much:
then, in the drawing-room, they insisted on a game at forfeits. It went
on with great vivacity and tumult. Narciss had lost a forfeit: they
ordered him, by way of penalty, to whisper something pleasant in the ear
of every member of the company. It seems he staid too long beside my
next neighbor, the lady of a captain. The latter on a sudden struck him
such a box with his fist, that the powder flew about me, into my eyes.
When I had got my eyes cleared, and in some degree recovered from my
terror, I saw that both gentlemen had drawn their swords. Narciss was
bleeding; and the other, mad with wine and rage and jealousy, could
scarcely be held back by all the company. I seized Narciss, led him by
the arm up-stairs; and, as I did not think my friend safe even here from
his frantic enemy, I shut the door and bolted it.

Neither of us considered the wound serious, for a slight cut across the
hand was all we saw. Soon, however, I discovered that there was a stream
of blood running down his back, that there was a deep wound on the
head. I now began to be afraid. I hastened to the lobby, to get help:
but I could see no person; every one had staid below to calm the raving
captain. At last a daughter of the family came skipping up: her mirth
annoyed me; she was like to die with laughing at the bedlam spectacle. I
conjured her, for the sake of Heaven, to get a surgeon; and she, in her
wild way, sprang down-stairs to fetch me one herself.

Returning to my wounded friend, I bound my handkerchief about his hand,
and a neckerchief, that was hanging on the door, about his head. He was
still bleeding copiously: he now grew pale, and seemed as if he were
about to faint. There was none at hand to aid me: I very freely put my
arm round him, patted his cheek, and tried to cheer him by little
flatteries. It seemed to act on him like a spiritual remedy: he kept his
senses, but sat as pale as death.

At last the active housewife arrived: it is easy to conceive her terror
when she saw my friend in this predicament, lying in my arms, and both
of us bestreamed with blood. No one had supposed he was wounded: all
imagined I had carried him away in safety.

Now smelling-bottles, wine, and every thing that could support and
stimulate, were copiously produced. The surgeon also came, and I might
easily have been dispensed with. Narciss, however, held me firmly by the
hand: I would have staid without holding. During the dressing of his
wounds, I continued wetting his lips with wine: I minded not, though all
the company were now about us. The surgeon having finished, his patient
took a mute but tender leave of me, and was conducted home.

The mistress of the house now led me to her bedroom: she had to strip me
altogether; and I must confess, while they washed the blood from me, I
saw with pleasure, for the first time, in a mirror, that I might be
reckoned beautiful without help of dress. No portion of my clothes could
be put on again; and, as the people of the house were all either less or
larger than myself, I was taken home in a strange disguise. My parents
were, of course, astonished. They felt exceedingly indignant at my
fright, at the wounds of their friend, at the captain's madness, at the
whole occurrence. A very little would have made my father send the
captain a challenge, that he might avenge his friend without delay. He
blamed the gentlemen that had been there, because they had not punished
on the spot such a murderous attempt; for it was but too clear, that
the captain, instantly on striking, had drawn his sword, and wounded the
other from behind. The cut across the hand had been given just when
Narciss himself was grasping at his sword. I felt unspeakably affected,
altered; or how shall I express it? The passion which was sleeping at
the deepest bottom of my heart had at once broken loose, like a flame
getting air. And if joy and pleasure are well suited for the first
producing and the silent nourishing of love, yet this passion, bold by
nature, is most easily impelled by terror to decide and to declare
itself. My mother gave her little flurried daughter some medicine, and
made her go to bed. With the earliest morrow my father hastened to
Narciss, whom he found lying very sick of a wound-fever.

He told me little of what passed between them, but tried to quiet me
about the probable results of this event. They were now considering
whether an apology should be accepted, whether the affair should go
before a court of justice, and many other points of that description. I
knew my father too well to doubt that he would be averse to see the
matter end without a duel: but I held my peace; for I had learned from
him before, that women should not meddle in such things. For the rest,
it did not strike me as if any thing had passed between the friends, in
which my interests were specially concerned; but my father soon
communicated to my mother the purport of their further conversation.
Narciss, he said, appeared to be exceedingly affected at the help
afforded by me; had embraced him, declared himself my debtor forever,
signified that he desired no happiness except what he could share with
me, and concluded by entreating that he might presume to ask my hand.
All this mamma repeated to me, but subjoined the safe reflection, that,
"as for what was said in the first agitation of mind in such a case,
there was little trust to be placed in it."--"Of course, none," I
answered with affected coldness; though all the while I was feeling,
Heaven knows what.

Narciss continued sick for two months; owing to the wound in his right
hand, he could not even write. Yet, in the mean time, he showed me his
regard by the most obliging courtesies. All these unusual attentions I
combined with what my mother had disclosed to me, and constantly my head
was full of fancies. The whole city talked of the occurrence. With me
they spoke of it in a peculiar tone: they drew inferences, which,
greatly as I struggled to avoid them, touched me very close. What had
formerly been habitude and trifling, was now grown seriousness and
inclination. The anxiety in which I lived was the more violent, the more
carefully I studied to conceal it from every one. The idea of losing him
frightened me: the possibility of any closer union made me tremble. For
a half-prudent girl, there is really something awful in the thought of

By such incessant agitations I was once more led to recollect myself.
The gaudy imagery of a thoughtless life, which used to hover day and
night before my eyes, was at once blown away. My soul again began to
awaken, but the greatly interrupted intimacy with my invisible friend
was not so easy to renew. We still continued at a frigid distance: it
was again something, but little to the times of old.

A duel had been fought, and the captain severely wounded, before I ever
heard of it. The public feeling was, in all senses, strong on the side
of my lover, who at length again appeared upon the scene. But, first of
all, he came, with his head tied up and his arm in a sling, to visit us.
How my heart beat while he was there! The whole family was present:
general thanks and compliments were all that passed on either side.
Narciss, however, found an opportunity to show some secret tokens of his
love to me; by which means my inquietude was but increased. After his
recovery he visited us throughout the winter on the former footing; and
in spite of all the soft, private marks of tenderness which he contrived
to give me, the whole affair remained unsettled, undiscussed.

In this manner was I kept in constant practice. I could trust my
thoughts to no mortal, and from God I was too far removed. Him I had
quite forgotten those four wild years: I now again began to think of him
occasionally, but our acquaintance had grown cool; they were visits of
mere ceremony these; and as, moreover, in waiting on him, I used to
dress in fine apparel, to set before him self-complacently my virtue,
honor, and superiorities to others, he did not seem to notice me, or
know me in that finery.

A courtier would have been exceedingly distressed, if the prince who
held his fortune in his hands had treated him in this way; but, for me,
I did not sorrow at it. I had what I required,--health and conveniences:
if God should please to think of me, well; if not, I reckoned I had done
my duty.

This, in truth, I did not think at that period; yet it was the true
figure of my soul. But, to change and purify my feelings, preparations
were already made.

The spring came on: Narciss once visited me unannounced, and at a time
when I happened to be quite alone. He now appeared in the character of
lover, and asked me if I could bestow on him my heart, and, so soon as
he should obtain some lucrative and honorable place, my hand along with

He had been received into our service; but at first they kept him back,
and would not rapidly promote him, because they dreaded his ambition.
Having some little fortune of his own, he was left with a slender

Notwithstanding my regard for him, I knew that he was not a man to treat
with altogether frankly. I drew up, therefore, and referred him to my
father. About my father he did not seem to doubt, but wished first to be
at one with me, now and here. I at last said, Yes; but stipulated, as an
indispensable condition, that my parents should concur. He then spoke
formally with both of them; they signified their satisfaction: mutual
promises were given, on the faith of his advancement, which it was
expected would be speedy. Sisters and aunts were informed of this
arrangement, and the strictest secrecy enjoined on them.

Thus had my lover become my bridegroom, and great was the difference
between the two. If one could change the lovers of all honorable maidens
into bridegrooms, it would be a kindness to our sex, even though
marriage should not follow the connection. The love between two persons
does not lessen by the change, but it becomes more reasonable.
Innumerable little follies, all coquetries and caprices, disappear. If
the bridegroom tells us that we please him better in a morning-cap than
in the finest head-dress, no discreet young woman will disturb herself
about her hair-dressing; and nothing is more natural than that he, too,
should think solidly, and rather wish to form a housewife for himself
than a gaudy doll for others. And thus it is in every province of the

Should a young woman of this kind be fortunate enough to have a
bridegroom who possesses understanding and acquirements, she learns from
him more than universities and foreign lands can teach. She not only
willingly receives instruction when he offers it, but she endeavors to
elicit more and more from him. Love makes much that was impossible
possible. By degrees, too, that subjection, so necessary and so graceful
for the female sex, begins: the bridegroom does not govern like the
husband; he only asks: but his mistress seeks to discover what he
wants, and to offer it before he asks it.

So did experience teach me what I would not for much have missed. I was
happy, truly happy as woman could be in the world,--that is to say, for
a while.

Amid these quiet joys, a summer passed away. Narciss gave not the
slightest reason to complain of him: he daily became more dear to me; my
whole soul was his. This he well knew, and knew also how to prize it.
Meanwhile, from seeming trifles, something rose, which by and by grew
hurtful to our union.

Narciss behaved to me as to a bride, and never dared to ask of me such
favors as were yet forbidden us. But, about the boundaries of virtue and
decorum, we were of very different opinions. I meant to walk securely,
and so never granted him the smallest freedom which the whole world
might not have witnessed. He, used to dainties, thought this diet very
strict. On this point there was continual variance: he praised my
modesty, and sought to undermine my resolution.

The _serious_ of my old French teacher now occurred to me, as well as
the defence which I had once suggested in regard to it.

With God I had again become a little more acquainted. He had given me a
bridegroom whom I loved, and for this I felt some thankfulness. Earthly
love itself concentrated my soul, and put its powers in motion: nor did
it contradict my intercourse with God. I naturally complained to him of
what alarmed me, but I did not perceive that I myself was wishing and
desiring it. In my own eyes I was strong: I did not pray, "Lead us not
into temptation!" My thoughts were far beyond temptation. In this flimsy
tinsel-work of virtue I came to God. He did not drive me back. On the
smallest movement towards him, he left a soft impression in my soul; and
this impression caused me always to return.

Except Narciss, the world was altogether dead to me: excepting him,
there was nothing in it that had any charm. Even my love for dress was
but the wish to please him: if I knew that he was not to see me, I could
spend no care upon it. I liked to dance; but, if he was not beside me,
it seemed as if I could not bear the motion. At a brilliant festival, if
he was not invited, I could neither take the trouble of providing new
things, nor of putting on the old according to the mode. To me they
were alike agreeable, or rather, I might say, alike burdensome. I used
to reckon such an evening very fairly spent when I could join myself to
any ancient card-party, though formerly I had not the smallest taste for
such things; and, if some old acquaintance came and rallied me about it,
I would smile, perhaps for the first time all that night. So, likewise,
it was with promenades, and every social entertainment that can be

    "Him had I chosen from all others;
    His would I be, and not another's:
    To me his love was all in all."

Thus was I often solitary in the midst of company, and real solitude was
generally acceptable to me. But my busy soul could neither sleep nor
dream: I felt and thought, and acquired by degrees some faculty to speak
about my feelings and my thoughts with God. Then were feelings of
another sort unfolded, but these did not contradict the former feelings:
my affection to Narciss accorded with the universal scheme of nature; it
nowhere hindered the performance of a duty. They did not contradict each
other, yet they were immensely different. Narciss was the only living
form which hovered in my mind, and to which my love was all directed;
but the other feeling was not directed towards any form, and yet it was
unspeakably agreeable. I no longer have it: I no longer can impart it.

My lover, whom I used to trust with all my secrets, did not know of
this. I soon discovered that he thought far otherwise: he often gave me
writings which opposed, with light and heavy weapons, all that can be
called connection with the Invisible. I used to read the books because
they came from him; but, at the end, I knew no word of all that had been
argued in them.

Nor, in regard to sciences and knowledge, was there want of
contradiction in our conduct. He did as all men do,--he mocked at
learned women; and yet he kept continually instructing me. He used to
speak with me on all subjects, law excepted; and, while constantly
procuring books of every kind for me, he frequently repeated the
uncertain precept, "That a lady ought to keep the knowledge she might
have more secret than the Calvinist his creed in Catholic countries."
And while I, by natural consequence, endeavored not to show myself more
wise or learned than formerly before the world, Narciss himself was
commonly the first who yielded to the vanity of speaking about me and
my superiorities.

A nobleman of high repute, and at that time valued for his influence,
his talents, and accomplishments, was living at our court with great
applause. He bestowed especial notice on Narciss, whom he kept
continually about him. They once had an argument about the virtue of
women. Narciss repeated to me what had passed between them: I was not
wanting with my observations, and my friend required of me a written
essay on the subject. I could write French fluently enough: I had laid a
good foundation with my teacher. My correspondence with Narciss was
likewise carried on in French: except in French books, there was then no
elegant instruction to be had. My essay pleased the count: I was obliged
to let him have some little songs, which I had lately been composing. In
short, Narciss appeared to revel without stint in the renown of his
beloved: and the story, to his great contentment, ended with a French
epistle in heroic verse, which the count transmitted to him on
departing; in which their argument was mentioned, and my friend reminded
of his happiness in being destined, after all his doubts and errors, to
learn most certainly what virtue was, in the arms of a virtuous and
charming wife.

He showed this poem first of all to me, and then to almost every one;
each thinking of the matter what he pleased. Thus did he act in several
cases: every stranger, whom he valued, must be made acquainted in our

A noble family was staying for a season in the place, to profit by the
skill of our physician. In this house, too, Narciss was looked on as a
son; he introduced me there; we found among these worthy persons the
most pleasant entertainment for mind and heart. Even the common pastimes
of society appeared less empty here than elsewhere. All knew how matters
stood with us: they treated us as circumstances would allow, and left
the main relation unalluded to. I mention this one family; because, in
the after-period of my life, it had a powerful influence upon me.

Almost a year of our connection had elapsed; and, along with it, our
spring was over. The summer came, and all grew drier and more earnest.

By several unexpected deaths, some offices fell vacant, which Narciss
might make pretensions to. The instant was at hand when my whole destiny
must be decided; and while Narciss, and all our friends, were making
every effort to efface some impressions which obstructed him at court,
and to obtain for him the wished-for situation, I turned with my request
to my Invisible Friend. I was received so kindly, that I gladly came
again. I confessed, without disguise, my wish that Narciss might obtain
the place; but my prayer was not importunate, and I did not require that
it should happen for the sake of my petition.

The place was obtained by a far inferior competitor. I was dreadfully
troubled at this news: I hastened to my room, the door of which I locked
behind me. The first fit of grief went off in a shower of tears: the
next thought was, "Yet it was not by chance that it happened;" and
instantly I formed the resolution to be well content with it, seeing
even this apparent evil would be for my true advantage. The softest
emotions then pressed in upon me, and divided all the clouds of sorrow.
I felt, that, with help like this, there was nothing one might not
endure. At dinner I appeared quite cheerful, to the great astonishment
of all the house.

Narciss had less internal force than I, and I was called upon to comfort
him. In his family, too, he had many crosses to encounter, some of which
afflicted him considerably; and, such true confidence subsisting between
us, he intrusted me with all. His negotiations for entering on foreign
service were not more fortunate; all this I felt deeply on his account
and mine; all this, too, I ultimately carried to the place where my
petitions had already been so well received.

The softer these experiences were, the oftener did I endeavor to renew
them: I hoped continually to meet with comfort where I had so often met
with it. Yet I did not always meet with it: I was as one that goes to
warm him in the sunshine, while there is something standing in the way
that makes a shadow. "What is this?" I asked myself. I traced the matter
zealously, and soon perceived that it all depended on the situation of
my soul: if this was not turned in the straightest direction towards
God, I still continued cold; I did not feel his counter-influence; I
could obtain no answer. The second question was, "What hinders this
direction?" Here I was in a wide field: I perplexed myself in an inquiry
which lasted nearly all the second year of my attachment to Narciss. I
might have ended the investigation sooner, for it was not long till I
had got upon the proper trace; but I would not confess it, and I sought
a thousand outlets.

I very soon discovered that the straight direction of my soul was marred
by foolish dissipations, and employment with unworthy things. The how
and the where were clear enough to me. Yet by what means could I help
myself, or extricate my mind from the calls of a world where every thing
was either cold indifference or hot insanity? Gladly would I have left
things standing as they were, and lived from day to day, floating down
with the stream, like other people whom I saw quite happy: but I durst
not: my inmost feelings contradicted me too often. Yet if I determined
to renounce society, and alter my relations to others, it was not in my
power. I was hemmed in as by a ring drawn round me; certain connections
I could not dissolve; and, in the matter which lay nearest to my heart,
fatalities accumulated and oppressed me more and more. I often went to
bed with tears, and, after a sleepless night, arose again with tears: I
required some strong support: and God would not vouchsafe it me while I
was running with the cap and bells.

I proceeded now to estimate my doings, all and each: dancing and play
were first put upon their trial. Never was there any thing spoken,
thought, or written, for or against these practices, which I did not
examine, talk of, read, weigh, reject, aggravate, and plague myself
about. If I gave up these habits, I was certain that Narciss would be
offended; for he dreaded exceedingly the ridicule which any look of
straitlaced conscientiousness gives one in the eyes of the world. And
doing what I now looked upon as folly, noxious folly, out of no taste of
my own, but merely to gratify him, it all grew wofully irksome to me.

Without disagreeable prolixities and repetitions, it is not in my power
to represent what pains I took, in trying so to counteract those
occupations which distracted my attention and disturbed my peace of
mind, that my heart, in spite of them, might still be open to the
influences of the Invisible Being. But at last, with pain, I was
compelled to admit, that in this way the quarrel could not be composed.
For no sooner had I clothed myself in the garment of folly, than it came
to be something more than a mask, than the foolishness pierced and
penetrated me through and through.

May I here overstep the province of a mere historical detail, and offer
one or two remarks on what was then taking place within me? What could
it be which so changed my tastes and feelings, that, in my twenty-second
year, nay, earlier, I lost all relish for the recreations with which
people of that age are harmlessly delighted? Why were they not harmless
for me? I may answer, "Just because they were not harmless; because I
was not, like others of my years, unacquainted with my soul." No! I knew,
from experiences which had reached me unsought, that there are loftier
emotions, which afford us a contentment such as it is vain to seek in
the amusements of the world; and that, in these higher joys, there is
also kept a secret treasure for strengthening the spirit in misfortune.

But the pleasures of society, the dissipations of youth, must needs have
had a powerful charm for me; since it was not in my power to engage in
them without participation, to act among them as if they were not there.
How many things could I now do, if I liked, with entire coldness, which
then dazzled and confounded me, nay, threatened to obtain the mastery
over me! Here there could no medium be observed: either those delicious
amusements, or my nourishing and quickening internal emotions, must be
given up.

But, in my soul, the strife had, without my own consciousness, already
been decided. Even if there still was any thing within me that longed
for earthly pleasures, I had now become unfitted for enjoying them. Much
as a man might hanker after wine, all desire of drinking would forsake
him, if he should be placed among full barrels in a cellar, where the
foul air was like to suffocate him. Free air is more than wine; this I
felt but too keenly: and, from the first, it would have cost me little
studying to prefer the good to the delightful, if the fear of losing the
affection of Narciss had not restrained me. But at last, when after many
thousand struggles, and thoughts continually renewed, I began to cast a
steady eye upon the bond which held me to him, I discovered that it was
but weak, that it might be torn asunder. I at once perceived it to be
only as a glass bell, which shut me up in the exhausted, airless space:
one bold stroke to break the bell in pieces, and thou art delivered!

No sooner thought than tried. I drew off the mask, and on all occasions
acted as my heart directed. Narciss I still cordially loved: but the
thermometer, which formerly had stood in hot water, was now hanging in
the natural air; it could rise no higher than the warmth of the
atmosphere directed.

Unhappily it cooled very much. Narciss drew back, and began to assume a
distant air: this was at his option, but my thermometer descended as he
drew back. Our family observed this, questioned me, and seemed to be
surprised. I explained to them, with stout defiance, that heretofore I
had made abundant sacrifices; that I was ready, still farther and to the
end of my life, to share all crosses that befell him; but that I
required full freedom in my conduct, that my doings and avoidings must
depend upon my own conviction; that, indeed, I would never bigotedly
cleave to my own opinion, but, on the other hand, would willingly be
reasoned with; yet, as it concerned my own happiness, the decision must
proceed from myself, and be liable to no manner of constraint. The
greatest physician could not move me, by his reasonings, to take an
article of food, which perhaps was altogether wholesome and agreeable to
many, so soon as my experience had shown, that on all occasions it was
noxious to me; as I might produce coffee for an instance: and just as
little, nay, still less, would I have any sort of conduct which misled
me, preached up and demonstrated upon me as morally profitable.

Having so long prepared myself in silence, these debates were rather
pleasant than vexatious to me. I gave vent to my soul: I felt the whole
worth of my determination. I yielded not a hair's-breadth, and those to
whom I owed no filial respect were sharply handled and despatched. In
the family I soon prevailed. My mother from her youth had entertained
these sentiments, though in her they had never reached maturity; for no
necessity had pressed upon her, and exalted her courage to achieve her
purpose. She rejoiced in beholding her silent wishes fulfilled through
me. My younger sisters seemed to join themselves with me: the second was
attentive and quiet. Our aunt had the most to object. The arguments
which she employed appeared to her irrefragable; and they were
irrefragable, being altogether commonplace. At last I was obliged to
show her, that she had no voice in the affair in any sense; and, after
this, she seldom signified that she persisted in her views. She was,
indeed, the only person that observed this transaction close at hand,
without in some degree experiencing its influence. I do not calumniate
her, when I say that she had no character, and the most limited ideas.

My father had acted altogether in his own way. He spoke not much, but
often, with me on the matter: his arguments were rational; and, being
_his_ arguments, they could not be impugned. It was only the deep
feeling of my right that gave me strength to dispute against him. But
the scenes soon changed: I was forced to make appeal to his heart.
Straitened by his understanding, I came out with the most pathetic
pleadings. I gave free course to my tongue and to my tears. I showed him
how much I loved Narciss; how much constraint I had for two years been
enduring; how certain I was of being in the right; that I was ready to
testify that certainty, by the loss of my beloved bridegroom and
prospective happiness,--nay, if it were necessary, by the loss of all
that I possessed on earth; that I would rather leave my native country,
my parents, and my friends, and beg my bread in foreign lands, than act
against these dictates of my conscience. He concealed his emotion: he
said nothing on the subject for a while, and at last he openly declared
in my favor.

During all this time Narciss forbore to visit us; and my father now gave
up the weekly club, where he was used to meet him. The business made a
noise at court, and in the town. People talked about it, as is common in
such cases, which the public takes a vehement interest in, because its
sentence has usurped an influence on the resolutions of weak minds. I
knew enough about the world to understand that one's conduct is often
censured by the very persons who would have advised it, had one
consulted them; and independently of this, with my internal composure, I
should have looked on all such transitory speculations just as if they
had not been.

On the other hand, I hindered not myself from yielding to my inclination
for Narciss. To me he had become invisible, and to him my feelings had
not altered. I loved him tenderly; as it were anew, and much more
steadfastly than before. If he chose to leave my conscience undisturbed,
then I was his: wanting this condition, I would have refused a kingdom
with him. For several months I bore these feelings and these thoughts
about with me; and, finding at last that I was calm and strong enough to
go peacefully and firmly to work, I wrote him a polite but not a tender
note, inquiring why he never came to see me.

As I knew his manner of avoiding to explain himself in little matters,
but of silently doing what seemed good to him, I purposely urged him in
the present instance. I got a long, and, as it seemed to me, pitiful,
reply, in vague style and unmeaning phrases, stating, that, without a
better place, he could not fix himself, and offer me his hand; that I
best knew how hard it had fared with him hitherto; that as he was
afraid lest a fruitless intercourse, so long continued, might prove
hurtful to my reputation, I would give him leave to continue at his
present distance; so soon as it was in his power to make me happy, he
would look upon the word which he had given me as sacred.

I answered him on the spot, that, as our intercourse was known to all
the world, it might, perhaps, be rather late to spare my reputation: for
which, at any rate, my conscience and my innocence were the surest
pledges; however, that I hereby freely gave him back his word, and hoped
the change would prove a happy one for him. The same hour I received a
short reply, which was, in all essential particulars, entirely
synonymous with the first. He adhered to his former statement, that, so
soon as he obtained a situation, he would ask me, if I pleased, to share
his fortune with him.

This I interpreted as meaning simply nothing. I signified to my
relations and acquaintances, that the affair was altogether settled; and
it was so in fact. Having, nine months afterwards, obtained the
much-desired preferment, he offered me his hand, but under the
condition, that, as the wife of a man who must keep house like other
people, I should alter my opinions. I returned him many thanks, and
hastened with my heart and mind away from this transaction, as one
hastens from the playhouse when the curtain falls. And as he, a short
time afterwards, had found a rich and advantageous match, a thing now
easy for him; and as I now knew him to be happy in the way he liked,--my
own tranquillity was quite complete.

I must not pass in silence the fact, that several times before he got a
place, and after it, there were respectable proposals made to me; which,
however, I declined without the smallest hesitation, much as my father
and my mother could have wished for more compliance on my part.

At length, after a stormy March and April, the loveliest May weather
seemed to be allotted me. With good health, I enjoyed an indescribable
composure of mind: look around me as I pleased, my loss appeared a gain
to me. Young and full of sensibility, I thought the universe a thousand
times more beautiful than formerly, when I required to have society and
play, that in the fair garden tedium might not overtake me. And now, as
I did not conceal my piety, I likewise took heart to own my love for the
sciences and arts. I drew, painted, read, and found enough of people to
support me: instead of the great world, which I had left, or, rather,
which had left me, a smaller one formed itself about me, which was
infinitely richer and more entertaining. I had a turn for social life;
and I do not deny, that, on giving up my old acquaintances, I trembled
at the thought of solitude. I now found myself abundantly, perhaps
excessively, indemnified. My acquaintances erelong were very numerous,
not at home only, but likewise among people at a distance. My story had
been noised abroad, and many persons felt a curiosity to see the woman
who had valued God above her bridegroom. There was a certain pious tone
to be observed, at that time, generally over Germany. In the families of
several counts and princes, a care for the welfare of the soul had been
awakened. Nor were there wanting noblemen who showed a like attention;
while, in the inferior classes, sentiments of this kind were diffused on
every side.

The noble family, whom I mentioned above, now drew me nearer to them.
They had, in the mean while, gathered strength; several of their
relations having settled in the town. These estimable persons courted my
familiarity, as I did theirs. They had high connections: I became
acquainted, in their house, with a great part of the princes, counts,
and lords of the empire. My sentiments were not concealed from any one:
they might be honored or be tolerated; I obtained my object,--none
attacked me.

There was yet another way by which I was again led back into the world.
About this period a step-brother of my father, who till now had never
visited the house except in passing, staid with us for a considerable
time. He had left the service of his court, where he enjoyed great
influence and honor, simply because all matters were not managed quite
according to his mind. His intellect was just, his character was rigid.
In these points he was very like my father: only the latter had withal a
certain touch of softness, which enabled him with greater ease to yield
a little in affairs, and though not to do, yet to permit, some things
against his own conviction; and then to evaporate his anger at them,
either in silence by himself, or in confidence amid his family. My uncle
was a great deal younger, and his independence of spirit had been
favored by his outward circumstances. His mother had been very rich, and
he still had large possessions to expect from her near and distant
relatives; so he needed no foreign increase: whereas my father, with his
moderate fortune, was bound to his place by the consideration of his

My uncle had become still more unbending from domestic sufferings. He
had early lost an amiable wife and a hopeful son; and, from that time,
he appeared to wish to push away from him every thing that did not hang
upon his individual will.

In our family it was whispered now and then with some complacency, that
probably he would not wed again, and so we children might anticipate
inheriting his fortune. I paid small regard to this, but the demeanor of
the rest was not a little modified by their hopes. In his own
imperturbable firmness of character, my uncle had grown into the habit
of never contradicting any one in conversation. On the other hand, he
listened with a friendly air to every one's opinion, and would himself
elucidate and strengthen it by instances and reasons of his own. All who
did not know him fancied that he thought as they did: for he was
possessed of a preponderating intellect, and could transport himself
into the mental state of any man, and imitate his manner of conceiving.
With me he did not prosper quite so well; for here the question was
about emotions, of which he had not any glimpse: and, with whatever
tolerance and sympathy and rationality he spoke about my sentiments, it
was palpable to me, that he had not the slightest notion of what formed
the ground of all my conduct.

With all his secrecy, we by and by found out the aim of his unusual stay
with us. He had, as we at length discovered, cast his eyes upon our
youngest sister, with the view of giving her in marriage, and rendering
her happy as he pleased; and certainly, considering her personal and
mental attractions, particularly when a handsome fortune was laid into
the scale along with them, she might pretend to the first matches. His
feelings towards me he likewise showed us pantomimically, by procuring
me a post of canoness, the income of which I very soon began to draw.

My sister was not so contented with his care as I. She now disclosed to
me a tender secret, which hitherto she had very wisely kept back;
fearing, as in truth it happened, that I would by all means counsel her
against connection with a man who was not suited to her. I did my
utmost, and succeeded. The purpose of my uncle was too serious and too
distinct: the prospect for my sister, with her worldly views, was too
delightful to be thwarted by a passion which her own understanding
disapproved; she mustered force to give it up.

On her ceasing to resist the gentle guidance of my uncle, the foundation
of his plan was quickly laid. She was appointed maid of honor at a
neighboring court, where he could commit her to the oversight and the
instructions of a lady, his friend, who presided there as governess with
great applause. I accompanied her to the place of her new abode. Both of
us had reason to be satisfied with the reception we met with; and
frequently I could not help, in secret, smiling at the character, which
now as canoness, as young and pious canoness, I was enacting in the

In earlier times a situation such as this would have confused me
dreadfully, perhaps have turned my head; but now, in the midst of all
the splendors that surrounded me, I felt extremely cool. With great
quietness I let them frizzle me, and deck me out for hours, and thought
no more of it than that my place required me to wear that gala livery.
In the thronged saloons I spoke with all and each, though no shape or
character among them made any impression on me. On returning to my
house, nearly all the feeling I brought back with me was that of tired
limbs. Yet my understanding drew advantage from the multitude of persons
whom I saw: and I became acquainted with some ladies, patterns of every
virtue, of a noble and good demeanor; particularly with the governess,
under whom my sister was to have the happiness of being formed.

At my return, however, the consequences of this journey, in regard to
health, were found to be less favorable. With the greatest temperance,
the strictest diet, I had not been, as I used to be, completely mistress
of my time and strength. Food, motion, rising, and going to sleep,
dressing and visiting, had not depended, as at home, on my own
conveniency and will. In the circle of social life you cannot stop
without a breach of courtesy: all that was needful I had willingly
performed; because I looked upon it as my duty, because I knew that it
would soon be over, and because I felt myself completely healthy. Yet
this unusual, restless life must have had more effect upon me than I was
aware of. Scarcely had I reached home, and cheered my parents with a
comfortable narrative, when I was attacked by a hemorrhage, which,
although it did not prove dangerous or lasting, yet left a weakness
after it, perceptible for many a day.

Here, then, I had another lesson to repeat. I did it joyfully. Nothing
bound me to the world, and I was convinced that here the true good was
never to be found; so I waited in the cheerfullest and meekest state:
and, after having abdicated life, I was retained in it.

A new trial was awaiting me: my mother took a painful and oppressive
ailment, which she had to bear five years, before she paid the debt of
nature. All this time we were sharply proved. Often, when her terror
grew too strong, she would have us all summoned, in the night, to her
bed, that so at least she might be busied, if not bettered, by our
presence. The load grew heavier, nay, scarcely to be borne, when my
father, too, became unwell. From his youth he had frequently had violent
headaches, which, however, at longest never used to last beyond six and
thirty hours. But now they were continual; and, when they mounted to a
high degree of pain, his moanings tore my very heart. It was in these
tempestuous seasons that I chiefly felt my bodily weakness; because it
kept me from my holiest and dearest duties, or rendered the performance
of them hard to an extreme degree.

It was now that I could try whether the path which I had chosen was the
path of fantasy or truth; whether I had merely thought as others showed
me, or the object of my trust had a reality. To my unspeakable support,
I always found the latter. The straight direction of my heart to God,
the fellowship of the "Beloved Ones."[3] I had sought and found; and
this was what made all things light to me. As a traveller in the dark,
my soul, when all was pressing on me from without, hastened to the place
of refuge; and never did it return empty.

In later times some champions of religion, who seem to be animated more
by zeal than feeling for it, have required of their brethren to produce
examples of prayers actually heard; apparently as wishing to have seal
and signature, that so they might proceed juridically in the matter. How
unknown must the true feeling be to these persons! how few real
experiences can they themselves have made!

I can say that I never returned empty, when in straits and oppression I
called on God. This is saying infinitely much: more I must not and can
not say. Important as each experience was at the critical moment for
myself, the recital of them would be flat, improbable, and
insignificant, were I to specify the separate cases. Happy was I, that a
thousand little incidents in combination proved, as clearly as the
drawing of my breath proved me to be living, that I was not without God
in the world. He was near to me: I was before him. This is what, with a
diligent avoidance of all theological systematic terms, I can with the
greatest truth declare.

Much do I wish, that, in those times too, I had been entirely without
system. But which of us arrives early at the happiness of being
conscious of his individual self, in its own pure combination, without
extraneous forms? I was in earnest with religion. I timidly trusted in
the judgments of others: I entirely gave in to the Hallean system of
conversion, but my nature would by no means tally with it.

According to this scheme of doctrine, the alteration of the heart must
begin with a deep terror on account of sin: the heart in this agony must
recognize, in a less or greater degree, the punishment which it has
merited, must get a foretaste of hell, and so embitter the delight of
sin. At last it feels a very palpable assurance of grace; which,
however, in its progress often fades away, and must again be sought with
earnest prayer.

Of all this no jot or tittle happened with me. When I sought God
sincerely, he let himself be found of me, and did not reproach me about
by-gone things. On looking back, I saw well enough where I had been
unworthy, where I still was so; but the confession of my faults was
altogether without terror. Not for a moment did the fear of hell occur
to me; nay, the very notion of a wicked spirit, and a place of
punishment and torment after death, could nowise gain admission into the
circle of my thoughts. I considered the men who lived without God, whose
hearts were shut against the trust in and the love of the Invisible, as
already so unhappy, that a hell and external pains appeared to promise
rather an alleviation than an increase of their misery. I had but to
look upon the persons, in this world, who in their breasts gave scope to
hateful feelings; who hardened their hearts against the good of whatever
kind, and strove to force the evil on themselves and others; who shut
their eyes by day, that so they might deny the shining of the sun. How
unutterably wretched did these persons seem to me! Who could have formed
a hell to make their situation worse?

This mood of mind continued in me, without change, for half a score of
years. It maintained itself through many trials, even at the moving
death-bed of my beloved mother. I was frank enough, on this occasion,
not to hide my comfortable frame of mind from certain pious but
rigorously orthodox people; and I had to suffer many a friendly
admonition on that score. They reckoned they were just in season, for
explaining with what earnestness one should be diligent to lay a right
foundation in the days of health and youth.

In earnestness I, too, determined not to fail. For the moment I allowed
myself to be convinced; and fain would I have grown, for life,
distressed and full of fears. But what was my surprise on finding that I
absolutely could not. When I thought of God, I was cheerful and
contented: even at the painful end of my dear mother, I did not shudder
at the thought of death. Yet I learned many and far other things than my
uncalled teachers thought of, in these solemn hours.

By degrees I grew to doubt the dictates of so many famous people, and
retained my own sentiments in silence. A certain lady of my friends, to
whom I had at first disclosed too much, insisted always on interfering
with my business. Of her, too, I was obliged to rid myself: I at last
firmly told her, that she might spare herself this labor, as I did not
need her counsel; that I knew my God, and would have no guide but him.
She was greatly offended: I believe she never quite forgave me.

Such determination to withdraw from the advices and the influence of my
friends, in spiritual matters, produced the consequence, that also in my
temporal affairs I gained sufficient courage to obey my own persuasions.
But for the assistance of my faithful, invisible Leader, I could not
have prospered here. I am still gratefully astonished at his wise and
happy guidance. No one knew how matters stood with me: even I myself did
not know.

The thing, the wicked and inexplicable thing, which separates us from
the Being to whom we owe our life, and in whom all that deserves the
name of life must find its nourishment,--the thing which we call sin I
yet knew nothing of.

In my intercourse with my invisible Friend, I felt the sweetest
enjoyment of all my powers. My desire of constantly enjoying this
felicity was so predominant, that I abandoned without hesitation
whatever marred our intercourse; and here experience was my best
teacher. But it was with me as with sick persons who have no medicine,
and try to help themselves by diet: something is accomplished, but far
from enough.

I could not always live in solitude, though in it I found the best
preservative against the dissipation of my thoughts. On returning to the
tumult, the impression it produced upon me was the deeper for my
previous loneliness. My most peculiar advantage lay in this, that love
for quiet was my ruling passion, and that in the end I still drew back
to it. I perceived, as in a kind of twilight, my weakness and my misery,
and tried to save myself by avoiding danger and exposure.

For seven years I had used my dietetic scheme. I held myself not wicked,
and I thought my state desirable. But for some peculiar circumstances
and occurrences I had remained in this position: it was by a curious
path that I got farther. Contrary to the advice of all my friends, I
entered on a new connection. Their objections, at first, made me pause.
I turned to my invisible Leader; and, as he permitted me, I went forward
without fear.

A man of spirit, heart, and talents had bought a property beside us.
Among the strangers whom I grew acquainted with, were this person and
his family. In our manners, domestic economy, and habits we accorded
well; and thus we soon approximated to each other.

Philo, as I propose to call him, was already middle-aged: in certain
matters he was highly serviceable to my father, whose strength was now
decaying. He soon became the friend of the family: and finding in me, as
he was pleased to say, a person free alike from the extravagance and
emptiness of the great world, and from the narrowness and aridness of
the still world in the country, he courted intimacy with me; and erelong
we were in one another's confidence. To me he was very pleasing and

Though I did not feel the smallest inclination or capacity for mingling
in public business, or seeking any influence on it, yet I liked to hear
about such matters,--liked to know whatever happened far and near. Of
worldly things, I loved to get a clear though unconcerned perception:
feeling, sympathy, affection, I reserved for God, for my people, and my

The latter were, if I may say so, jealous of Philo, in my new connection
with him. In more than one sense, they were right in warning me about
it. I suffered much in secret, for even I could not consider their
remonstrances as altogether empty or selfish. I had been accustomed,
from of old, to give a reason for my views and conduct; but in this case
my conviction would not follow. I prayed to God, that here, as
elsewhere, he would warn, restrain, and guide me; and, as my heart on
this did not dissuade me, I went forward on my way with comfort.

Philo, on the whole, had a remote resemblance to Narciss: only a pious
education had more enlivened and concentrated his feelings. He had less
vanity, more character; and in business, if Narciss was delicate, exact,
persevering, indefatigable, the other was clear, sharp, quick, and
capable of working with incredible ease. By means of him I learned the
secret history of almost every noble personage with whose exterior I had
got acquainted in society. It was pleasant for me to behold the tumult,
off my watch-tower from afar. Philo could now hide nothing from me: he
confided to me, by degrees, his own concerns, both inward and outward. I
was in fear because of him, for I foresaw certain circumstances and
entanglements; and the mischief came more speedily than I had looked
for. There were some confessions he had still kept back, and even at
last he told me only what enabled me to guess the worst.

What an effect had this upon my heart! I attained experiences which to
me were altogether new. With infinite sorrow I beheld an Agathon, who,
educated in the groves of Delphi, still owed his school-fees, which he
was now obliged to pay with their accumulated interest; and this Agathon
was my especial friend. My sympathy was lively and complete; I suffered
with him; both of us were in the strangest state.

After having long occupied myself with the temper of his mind, I at last
turned round to contemplate my own. The thought, "Thou art no better
than he," rose like a little cloud before me, and gradually expanded
till it darkened all my soul.

I now not only thought myself no better than he: I felt this, and felt
it as I should not wish to do again. Nor was it any transitory mood. For
more than a year, I was compelled to feel, that, had not an unseen hand
restrained me, I might have become a Girard, a Cartouche, a Damiens, or
any wretch you can imagine. The tendencies to this I traced too clearly
in my heart. Heavens, what a discovery!

If hitherto I had never been able, in the faintest degree, to recognize
in myself the reality of sin by experience, its possibility was now
become apparent to me by anticipation, in the frightfullest manner. And
yet I knew not evil; I but feared it: I felt that I might be guilty, and
could not accuse myself of being so.

Deeply as I was convinced that such a temperament of soul, as I now saw
mine to be, could never be adapted for that union with the invisible
Being which I hoped for after death, I did not, in the smallest, fear
that I should finally be separated from him. With all the wickedness
which I discovered in my heart, I still loved _Him_: I hated what I
felt, nay, wished to hate it still more earnestly; my whole desire was,
to be delivered from this sickness, and this tendency to sickness; and I
was persuaded that the great Physician would at length vouchsafe his

The sole question was, What medicine will cure this malady? The practice
of virtue? This I could not for a moment think. For ten years I had
already practised more than mere virtue; and the horrors now first
discovered had, all the while, lain hidden at the bottom of my soul.
Might they not have broken out with me, as they did with David when he
looked on Bathsheba? Yet was not he a friend of God! and was not I
assured, in my inmost heart, that God was my friend?

Was it, then, an unavoidable infirmity of human nature? Must we just
content ourselves in feeling and acknowledging the sovereignty of
inclination? And, with the best will, is there nothing left for us but
to abhor the fault we have committed, and on the like occasion to commit
it again?

From systems of morality I could obtain no comfort. Neither their
severity, by which they try to bend our inclinations, nor their
attractiveness, by which they try to place our inclinations on the side
of virtue, gave me any satisfaction. The fundamental notions, which I
had imbibed from intercourse with my invisible Friend, were of far
higher value to me.

Once, while I was studying the songs composed by David after that
tremendous fall, it struck me very much that he traced his indwelling
corruption even in the substance out of which he had been shaped; yet
that he wished to be freed from sin, and that he earnestly entreated for
a pure heart.

But how was this to be attained? The answer from Scripture I was well
aware of: "that the blood of Jesus cleanseth us from all sin," was a
Bible truth which I had long known. But now, for the first time, I
observed that as yet I had never understood this oft-repeated saying.
The questions, What does it mean? How is it to be? were day and night
working out their answers in me. At last I thought I saw, as by a gleam
of light, that what I sought was to be found in the incarnation of the
everlasting Word, by whom all things, even we ourselves, were made. That
the Eternal descended as an inhabitant to the depths in which we dwell,
which he surveys and comprehends; that he passed through our lot from
stage to stage, from conception and birth to the grave; that by this
marvellous circuit he again mounted to those shining heights, whither we
too must rise in order to be happy: all this was revealed to me, as in a
dawning remoteness.

Oh! why must we, in speaking of such things, make use of figures which
can only indicate external situations? Where is there in his eyes aught
high or deep, aught dark or clear? It is we only that have an Under and
Upper, a night and day. And even for this did he become like us, since
otherwise we could have had no part in him.

But how shall we obtain a share in this priceless benefit? "By faith,"
the Scripture says. And what is faith? To consider the account of an
event as true, what help can this afford me? I must be enabled to
appropriate its effects, its consequences. This appropriating faith must
be a state of mind peculiar, and, to the natural man, unknown.

"Now, gracious Father, grant me faith!" so prayed I once, in the deepest
heaviness of heart. I was leaning on a little table, where I sat: my
tear-stained countenance was hidden in my hands. I was now in the
condition in which we seldom are, but in which we are required to be, if
God is to regard our prayers.

Oh, that I could but paint what I felt then! A sudden force drew my soul
to the cross where Jesus once expired: it was a sudden force, a pull, I
cannot name it otherwise, such as leads our soul to an absent loved one;
an approximation, which, perhaps, is far more real and true than we
imagine. So did my soul approach the Son of man, who died upon the
cross; and that instant did I know what faith was.

"This is faith!" said I, and started up as if half frightened. I now
endeavored to get certain of my feeling, of my view; and shortly I
became convinced that my soul had acquired a power of soaring upwards
which was altogether new to it.

Words fail us in describing such emotions. I could most distinctly
separate them from all fantasy: they were entirely without fantasy,
without image; yet they gave us just such certainty of their referring
to some object as our imagination gives us when it paints the features
of an absent lover.

When the first rapture was over, I observed that my present condition
of mind had formerly been known to me; only I had never felt it in such
strength; I had never held it fast, never made it mine. I believe,
indeed, every human soul at intervals feels something of it. Doubtless
it is this which teaches every mortal that there is a God.

With such faculty, wont from of old to visit me now and then, I had
hitherto been well content: and had not, by a singular arrangement of
events, that unexpected sorrow weighed upon me for a twelvemonth; had
not my own ability and strength, on that occasion, altogether lost
credit with me,--I perhaps might have remained content with such a state
of matters all my days.

But now, since that great moment, I had, as it were, got wings. I could
mount aloft above what used to threaten me; as the bird can fly singing
and with ease across the fiercest stream, while the little dog stands
anxiously baying on the bank.

My joy was indescribable; and, though I did not mention it to any one,
my people soon observed an unaccustomed cheerfulness in me, and could
not understand the reason of my joy. Had I but forever held my peace,
and tried to nourish this serene temper in my soul; had I not allowed
myself to be misled by circumstances, so as to reveal my secret,--I
might then have been saved once more a long and tedious circuit.

As in the previous ten years of my Christian course, this necessary
force had not existed in my soul, I had just been in the case of other
worthy people,--had helped myself by keeping my fancy always full of
images, which had some reference to God,--a practice so far truly
useful; for noxious images and their baneful consequences are by that
means kept away. Often, too, our spirit seizes one or other of these
spiritual images, and mounts with it a little way upwards, like a young
bird fluttering from twig to twig.

Images and impressions pointing towards God are presented to us by the
institutions of the Church, by organs, bells, singing, and particularly
by the preaching of our pastors. Of these I used to be unspeakably
desirous; no weather, no bodily weakness, could keep me from church; the
sound of the Sunday bells was the only thing that rendered me impatient
on a sick-bed. Our head court-chaplain, a gifted man, I heard with great
pleasure; his colleagues, too, I liked: and I could pick the golden
apple of the Word from the common fruit, with which on earthen platters
it was mingled. With public ordinances, all sorts of private exercises
were combined; and these, too, only nourished fancy and a finer kind of
sense. I was so accustomed to this track, I reverenced it so much, that
even now no higher one occurred to me. For my soul has only feelers, and
not eyes: it gropes, but does not see. Ah! that it could get eyes, and

Now again, therefore, I went with a longing mind to sermon; but, alas!
what happened? I no longer found what I was wont to find. These
preachers were blunting their teeth on the shell, while I enjoyed the
kernel. I soon grew weary of them; and I had already been so spoiled,
that I could not be content with the little they afforded me. I required
images, I wanted impressions from without, and reckoned it a pure
spiritual desire that I felt.

Philo's parents had been in connection with the Herrnhuter Community: in
his library were many writings of Count Zinzendorf's. He had spoken with
me, more than once, very candidly and clearly on the subject; inviting
me to turn over one or two of these treatises, if it were but for the
sake of studying a psychological phenomenon. I looked upon the count,
and those that followed him, as very heterodox; and so the Ebersdorf
Hymn-book, which my friend had pressed upon me, lay unread.

However, in this total destitution of external excitements for my soul,
I opened the hymn-book, as it were, by chance, and found in it, to my
astonishment, some songs which actually, though under a fantastic form,
appeared to shadow what I felt. The originality and simplicity of their
expression drew me on. It seemed to be peculiar emotions expressed in a
peculiar way: no school technology suggested any notion of formality or
commonplace. I was persuaded that these people felt as I did: I was very
happy to lay hold of here and there a stanza in their songs, to fix it
in my memory, and carry it about with me for days.

Since the moment when the truth had been revealed to me, some three
months had in this way passed on. At last I came to the resolution of
disclosing every thing to Philo, and asking him to let me have those
writings, about which I had now become immoderately curious. Accordingly
I did so, notwithstanding there was something in my heart which
earnestly dissuaded me.

I circumstantially related to him all the story; and as he was himself a
leading person in it, and my narrative conveyed the sharpest reprimand
on him, he felt surprised and moved to an extreme degree. He melted into
tears. I rejoiced; believing that, in his mind also, a full and
fundamental change had taken place.

He provided me with all the writings I could require, and now I had
excess of nourishment for my imagination. I made rapid progress in the
Zinzendorfic mode of thought and speech. And be it not supposed that I
am yet incapable of prizing the peculiar turn and manner of the count. I
willingly do him justice: he is no empty fantast; he speaks of mighty
truths, and mostly in a bold, figurative style; the people who despise
him know not either how to value or discriminate his qualities.

At that time I became exceedingly attached to him. Had I been mistress
of myself, I would certainly have left my friends and country, and gone
to join him. We should infallibly have understood each other, and should
hardly have agreed together long.

Thanks to my better genius, that now kept me so confined by my domestic
duties! I reckoned it a distant journey if I visited the garden. The
charge of my aged, weakly father afforded me employment enough; and in
hours of recreation, I had Fancy to procure me pastime. The only mortal
whom I saw was Philo; he was highly valued by my father; but, with me,
his intimacy had been cooled a little by the late explanation. Its
influence on him had not penetrated deep: and, as some attempts to talk
in my dialect had not succeeded with him, he avoided touching on this
subject; and the rather, as his extensive knowledge put it always in his
power to introduce new topics in his conversation.

I was thus a Herrnhut sister on my own footing. I had especially to hide
this new turn of my temper and my inclinations from the head
court-chaplain, whom, as my father confessor, I had much cause to honor,
and whose high merits his extreme aversion to the Herrnhut Community did
not diminish, in my eyes, even then. Unhappily this worthy person had to
suffer many troubles on account of me and others.

Several years ago he had become acquainted with an upright, pious
gentleman, residing in a distant quarter, and had long continued in
unbroken correspondence with him, as with one who truly sought God. How
painful was it to the spiritual leader, when this gentleman subsequently
joined himself to the Community of Herrnhut, where he lived for a long
while! How delightful, on the other hand, when at length he quarrelled
with the brethren, determined to settle in our neighborhood, and seemed
once more to yield himself completely to the guidance of his ancient

The stranger was presented, as in triumph, by the upper pastor, to all
the chosen lambs of his fold. To our house alone he was not introduced,
because my father did not now see company. The gentleman obtained no
little approbation: he combined the polish of the court with the winning
manner of the brethren; and, having also many fine qualities by nature,
he soon became the favorite saint with all who knew him,--a result at
which the chaplain was exceedingly contented. But, alas! it was merely
in externals that the gentleman had split with the Community: in his
heart he was yet entirely a Herrnhuter. He was, in truth, concerned for
the reality of the matter; but yet the gimcracks, which the count had
stuck round it, were, at the same time, quite adapted to his taste.
Besides, he had now become accustomed to this mode of speaking and
conceiving: and, if he had to hide it carefully from his old friend, the
gladder was he, in any knot of trusty persons, to come forth with his
couplets, litanies, and little figures; in which, as might have been
supposed, he met with great applause.

I knew nothing of the whole affair, and wandered quietly along in my
separate path. For a good while we continued mutually unknown.

Once, in a leisure hour, I happened to visit a lady who was sick. I
found several acquaintances with her, and soon perceived that my
appearance had cut short their conversation. I affected not to notice
any thing, but saw erelong, with great surprise, some Herrnhut figures
stuck upon the wall in elegant frames. Quickly comprehending what had
passed before my entrance, I expressed my pleasure at the sight, in a
few suitable verses.

Conceive the wonder of my friends! We explained ourselves: instantly we
were agreed, and in each other's confidence.

I often henceforth sought opportunities of going out. Unhappily I found
such only once in the three or four weeks; yet I grew acquainted with
our gentleman apostle, and by degrees with all the body. I visited their
meetings when I could: with my social disposition, it was quite
delightful for me to communicate to others, and to hear from them, the
feelings which, till now, I had conceived and harbored by myself.

But I was not so completely taken with my friends, as not to see that
few of them could really feel the sense of those affecting words and
emblems; and that from these they drew as little benefit as formerly
they did from the symbolic language of the Church. Yet, notwithstanding,
I went on with them, not letting this disturb me. I thought I was not
called to search and try the hearts of others. Had not I, too, by
long-continued innocent exercisings of that sort, been prepared for
something better? I had my share of profit from our meetings: in
speaking, I insisted on attending to the sense and spirit, which, in
things so delicate, is rather apt to be disguised by words than
indicated by them; and for the rest, I left, with silent tolerance, each
to act according to his own conviction.

These quiet times of secret social joy were shortly followed by storms
of open bickering and contradiction,--contentions which excited great
commotion, I might almost say occasioned not a little scandal, in court
and town. The period was now arrived when our chaplain, that stout
gain-sayer of the Herrnhut Brethren, must discover to his deep, but, I
trust, sanctified humiliation, that his best and once most zealous
hearers were now all leaning to the side of that community. He was
excessively provoked: in the first moments he forgot all moderation, and
could not, even if he had inclined it, retract afterwards. Violent
debates took place, in which happily I was not mentioned, both as being
an accidental member of those hated meetings, and then because, in
respect of certain civic matters, our zealous preacher could not safely
disoblige either my father or my friend. With silent satisfaction I
continued neutral. It was irksome to me to converse about such feelings
and objects, even with well-affected people, when they could not
penetrate the deepest sense, and lingered merely on the surface. But to
strive with adversaries, about things on which even friends could
scarcely understand each other, seemed to me unprofitable, nay,
pernicious. For I soon perceived, that many amiable noblemen, who on
this occurrence could not shut their hearts to enmity and hatred, had
rapidly passed over to injustice, and, in order to defend an outward
form, had almost sacrificed their most substantial duties.

Far as the worthy clergyman might, in the present case, be wrong; much
as others tried to irritate me at him,--I could never hesitate to give
him my sincere respect. I knew him well: I could candidly transport
myself into his way of looking at these matters. I have never seen a
man without his weaknesses: only in distinguished men they strike us
more. We wish, and will at all rates have it, that persons privileged as
they are should at the same time pay no tribute, no tax whatever. I
honored him as a superior man, and hoped to use the influence of my calm
neutrality to bring about, if not a peace, at least a truce. I know not
what my efforts might have done; but God concluded the affair more
briefly, and took the chaplain to himself. On his coffin all wept, who
had lately been striving with him about words. His uprightness, his fear
of God, no one had ever doubted.

I, too, was erelong forced to lay aside this Herrnhut doll-work, which,
by means of these contentions, now appeared before me in a rather
different light. Our uncle had, in silence, executed his intentions with
my sister. He offered her a young man of rank and fortune as a
bridegroom, and showed, by a rich dowry, what might be expected of
himself. My father joyfully consented: my sister was free and
forewarned; she did not hesitate to change her state. The bridal was
appointed at my uncle's castle: family and friends were all invited, and
we came together in the cheerfullest mood.

For the first time in my life, the aspect of a house excited admiration
in me. I had often heard of my uncle's taste, of his Italian architect,
of his collections and his library; but, comparing this with what I had
already seen, I had formed a very vague and fluctuating picture of it in
my thoughts. Great, accordingly, was my surprise at the earnest and
harmonious impression which I felt on entering the house, and which
every hall and chamber deepened. If elsewhere pomp and decoration had
but dissipated my attention, I felt here concentrated and drawn back
upon myself. In like manner the preparatives for these solemnities and
festivals produced a silent pleasure, by their air of dignity and
splendor; and to me it seemed as inconceivable that one man could have
invented and arranged all this, as that more than one could have worked
together in so high a spirit. Yet, withal, the landlord and his people
were entirely natural: not a trace of stiffness or of empty form was to
be seen.

The wedding itself was managed in a striking way: an exquisite strain of
vocal music came upon us by surprise, and the clergyman went through the
ceremony with a singular solemnity. I was standing by Philo at the time;
and, instead of a congratulation, he whispered in my ear, "When I saw
your sister give away her hand, I felt as if a stream of boiling water
had been poured over me."--"Why so?" I inquired. "It is always the way
with me," said he, "when I see two people joined." I laughed at him, but
I have often since had cause to recollect his words.

The revel of the party, among whom were many young people, looked
particularly glittering and airy; as every thing around us was dignified
and serious. The furniture, plate, table-ware, and table-ornaments
accorded with the general whole; and if in other houses you would say
the architect was of the school of the confectioner, it here appeared as
if even our confectioner and butler had taken lessons from the

We staid together several days, and our intelligent and gifted landlord
had variedly provided for the entertainment of his guests. I did not in
the present case repeat the melancholy proof, which has so often in my
life been forced upon me, how unhappily a large mixed company are
situated, when, altogether left to themselves, they have to select the
most general and vapid pastimes, that the fools of the party may not
want amusement, however it may fare with those that are not such.

My uncle had arranged it altogether differently. Two or three marshals,
if I may call them so, had been appointed by him: one of them had charge
of providing entertainment for the young. Dances, excursions, little
games, were of his invention and under his direction: and as young
people take delight in being out-of-doors, and do not fear the
influences of the air, the garden and garden-hall had been assigned to
them; while some additional pavilions and galleries had been erected and
appended to the latter, formed of boards and canvas merely, but in such
proportions, so elegant and noble, they reminded one of nothing but
stone and marble.

How rare is a festivity in which the person who invites the guests feels
also that it is his duty to provide for their conveniences and wants of
every kind!

Hunting and card parties, short promenades, opportunities for trustful
private conversations, were afforded the elder persons; and whoever
wished to go earliest to bed was sure to be lodged the farthest from

By this happy order, the space we lived in appeared to be a little
world: and yet, considered narrowly, the castle was not large; without
an accurate knowledge of it, and without the spirit of its owner, it
would have been impossible to entertain so many people here, and quarter
each according to his humor.

As the aspect of a well-formed person pleases us, so also does a fair
establishment, by means of which the presence of a rational, intelligent
mind is manifested. We feel a joy in entering even a cleanly house,
though it may be tasteless in its structure and its decorations, because
it shows us the presence of a person cultivated in at least one sense.
Doubly pleasing is it, therefore, when, from a human dwelling, the
spirit of a higher though merely sensual culture speaks to us.

All this was vividly impressed on my observation at my uncle's castle. I
had heard and read much of art; Philo, too, was a lover of pictures, and
had a fine collection: I myself had often practised drawing; but I had
been too deeply occupied with my emotions, striving exclusively after
the one thing needful, which alone I was bent on carrying to perfection;
and then, such objects of art as I had hitherto seen, appeared, like all
other worldly objects, to distract my thoughts. But now, for the first
time, outward things had led me back upon myself: I now first perceived
the difference between the natural charm of the nightingale's song, and
that of a four-voiced anthem pealed from the expressive organs of men.

My joy over this discovery I did not hide from my uncle, who, when all
the rest were settled at their posts, was wont to come and talk with me
in private. He spoke with great modesty of what he possessed and had
produced here, with great decision of the views in which it had been
gathered and arranged: and I could easily observe that he spoke with a
forbearance towards me; seeming, in his usual way, to rate the
excellence, which he himself possessed below that other excellence,
which, in my way of thinking, was the best and properest.

"If we can conceive it possible," he once observed, "that the Creator of
the world himself assumed the form of his creature, and lived in that
manner for a time upon earth, this creature must appear to us of
infinite perfection, because susceptible of such a combination with its
Maker. Hence, in our idea of man, there can be no inconsistency with our
idea of God; and if we often feel a certain disagreement with him and
remoteness from him, it is but the more on that account our duty, not
like advocates of the wicked Spirit, to keep our eyes continually upon
the nakedness and weakness of our nature, but rather to seek out every
property and beauty by which our pretension to a similarity with the
Divinity may be made good."

I smiled, and answered, "Do not make me blush, dear uncle, by your
complaisance in talking in my language! What you have to say is of such
importance to me, that I wish to hear it in your own most peculiar
style; and then what parts of it I cannot quite appropriate I will
endeavor to translate."

"I may continue," he replied, "in my own most peculiar way, without any
alteration of my tone. Man's highest merit always is, as much as
possible to rule external circumstances, and as little as possible to
let himself be ruled by them. Life lies before us, as a huge quarry lies
before the architect: he deserves not the name of architect, except
when, out of this fortuitous mass, he can combine, with the greatest
economy and fitness and durability, some form, the pattern of which
originated in his spirit. All things without us, nay, I may add, all
things on us, are mere elements; but deep within us lies the creative
force, which out of these can produce what they were meant to be, and
which leaves us neither sleep nor rest, till, in one way or another,
without us or on us, that same have been produced. You, my dear niece,
have, it may be, chosen the better part; you have striven to bring your
moral being, your earnest, lovely nature, into accordance with itself
and with the Highest: but neither ought we to be blamed, when we strive
to get acquainted with the sentient man in all his comprehensiveness,
and to bring about an active harmony among his powers."

By such discoursing, we in time grew more familiar; and I begged of him
to speak with me as with himself, omitting every sort of condescension.
"Do not think," replied my uncle, "that I flatter you when I commend
your mode of thinking and acting. I reverence the individual who
understands distinctly what it is he wishes; who unweariedly advances,
who knows the means conducive to his object, and can seize and use them.
How far his object may be great or little, may merit praise or censure,
is the next consideration with me. Believe me, love, most part of all
the misery and mischief, of all that is denominated evil in the world,
arises from the fact, that men are too remiss to get a proper knowledge
of their aims, and, when they do know them, to work intensely in
attaining them. They seem to me like people who have taken up a notion
that they must and will erect a tower, and who yet expend on the
foundation not more stones and labor than would be sufficient for a hut.
If you, my friend, whose highest want it was to perfect and unfold your
moral nature, had, instead of those bold and noble sacrifices, merely
trimmed between your duties to yourself and to your family, your
bridegroom, or perhaps your husband, you must have lived in constant
contradiction with your feelings, and never could have had a peaceful

"You employ the word sacrifice," I answered here: "and I have often
thought, that to a higher purpose, as to a divinity, we offer up by way
of sacrifice a thing of smaller value; feeling like persons who should
willingly and gladly bring a favorite lamb to the altar for the health
of a beloved father."

"Whatever it may be," said he, "reason or feeling, that commands us to
give up the one thing for the other, to choose the one before the other,
decision and perseverance are, in my opinion, the noblest qualities of
man. You cannot have the ware and the money both at the same time; and
he who always hankers for the ware without having heart to give the
money for it, is no better off than he who repents him of the purchase
when the ware is in his hands. But I am far from blaming men on this
account: it is not they that are to blame; it is the difficult,
entangled situation they are in: they know not how to guide themselves
in its perplexities. Thus, for instance, you will on the average find
fewer bad economists in the country than in towns, and fewer again in
small towns than in great; and why? Man is intended for a limited
condition; objects that are simple, near, determinate, he comprehends,
and he becomes accustomed to employ such means as are at hand; but, on
entering a wider field, he now knows neither what he would nor what he
should; and it amounts to quite the same, whether his attention is
distracted by the multitude of objects, or is overpowered by their
magnitude and dignity. It is always a misfortune for him when he is
induced to struggle after any thing with which he cannot connect himself
by some regular exertion of his powers.

"Certainly," pursued he, "without earnestness there is nothing to be
done in life; yet, among the people whom we name cultivated men, little
earnestness is to be found: in labors and employments, in arts, nay,
even in recreations, they proceed, if I may say so, with a sort of
self-defence; they live, as they read a heap of newspapers, only to have
done with it; they remind one of that young Englishman at Rome, who
said, with a contented air one evening in some company, that to-day he
had despatched six churches and two galleries. They wish to know and
learn a multitude of things, and precisely those they have the least
concern with; and they never see that hunger is not stilled by snapping
at the air. When I become acquainted with a man, my first inquiry is,
With what does he employ himself, and how, and with what degree of
perseverance? The answer regulates the interest I shall take in him for

"My dear uncle," I replied, "you are, perhaps, too rigorous: you perhaps
withdraw your helping hand from here and there a worthy man to whom you
might be useful."

"Can it be imputed as a fault," said he, "to one who has so long and
vainly labored on them and about them? How much we have to suffer in our
youth from men who think they are inviting us to a delightful
pleasure-party, when they undertake to introduce us to the Danaides or
Sisyphus! Heaven be praised! I have rid myself of these people: if one
of them unfortunately comes within my sphere, I forthwith, in the
politest manner, compliment him out again. It is from such persons that
you hear the bitterest complaints about the miserable course of things,
the aridity of science, the levity of artists, the emptiness of poets,
and much more of that sort. They do not recollect that they, and the
many like them, are the very persons who would never read a book which
had been written just as they require it; that true poetry is alien to
them; that even an excellent work of art can never gain their
approbation except by means of prejudice. But let us now break off, for
this is not the time to rail or to complain."

He directed my attention to the different pictures hanging on the wall:
my eye dwelt on those whose look was beautiful or subject striking. This
he permitted for a while: at last he said, "Bestow a little notice on
the spirit manifested in these other works. Good minds delight to trace
the finger of the Deity in nature: why not likewise pay some small
regard to the hand of his imitator?" He then led my observation to some
unobtrusive figures; endeavoring to make me understand that it was the
history of art alone which could give us an idea of the worth and
dignity of any work of art; that we should know the weary steps of mere
handicraft and mechanism, over which the man of talents has struggled in
the course of centuries, before we can conceive how it is possible for
the man of genius to move with airy freedom on the pinnacle whose very
aspect makes us giddy.

With this view he had formed a beautiful series of works; and, whilst he
explained it, I could not help conceiving that I saw before me a
similitude of moral culture. When I expressed my thought to him, he
answered, "You are altogether right; and we see from this, that those do
not act well, who, in a solitary, exclusive manner, follow moral
cultivation by itself. On the contrary, it will be found, that he whose
spirit strives for a development of that kind, has likewise every
reason, at the same time, to improve his finer sentient powers; that so
he may not run the risk of sinking from his moral height by giving way
to the enticements of a lawless fancy, and degrading his moral nature by
allowing it to take delight in tasteless baubles, if not in something

I did not suspect him of levelling at me; but I felt myself struck, when
I reflected how many insipidities there might be in the songs that used
to edify me, and how little favor the figures which had joined
themselves to my religious ideas would have found in the eyes of my

Philo, in the mean time, had frequently been busied in the library: he
now took me along with him. We admired the selection, as well as the
multitude, of books. They had been collected on my uncle's general
principle: there were none to be found among them but such as either
lead to correct knowledge, or teach right arrangement; such as either
give us fit materials, or further the concordance of our spirit.

In the course of my life I had read very largely; in certain branches,
there was almost no work unknown to me: the more pleasant was it here to
speak about the general survey of the whole; to mark deficiencies, and
not, as elsewhere, see nothing but a hampered confusion or a boundless

Here, too, we became acquainted with a very interesting, quiet man. He
was a physician and a naturalist: he seemed rather one of the _Penates_
than of the inmates. He showed us the museum, which, like the library,
was fixed in glass cases to the walls of the chambers, adorning and
ennobling the space, which it did not crowd. On this occasion I recalled
with joy the days of my youth, and showed my father many of the things
he had been wont to lay upon the sick-bed of his little child, just
opening its little eyes to look into the world then. At the same time
the physician, in our present and following conversations, did not
scruple to avow how near he approximated to me in respect of my
religious sentiments: he warmly praised my uncle for his tolerance, and
his esteem of all that testified or forwarded the worth and unity of
human nature; admitting, also, that he called for a similar return from
others, and would shun and condemn nothing else so heartily as
individual pretension and narrow exclusiveness.

Since the nuptials of my sister, joy had sparkled in the eyes of our
uncle: he often spoke with me of what he meant to do for her and for her
children. He had several fine estates: he managed them himself, and
hoped to leave them in the best condition to his nephews. Regarding the
small estate where we at present were, he appeared to entertain peculiar
thoughts. "I will leave it to none," said he, "but to a person who can
understand and value and enjoy what it contains, and who feels how
loudly every man of wealth and rank, especially in Germany, is called on
to exhibit something like a model to others."

Most of his guests were now gone: we, too, were making ready for
departure, thinking we had seen the final scene of this solemnity, when
his attention in affording us some dignified enjoyment produced a new
surprise. We had mentioned to him the delight which the chorus of
voices, suddenly commencing without accompaniment of any instrument, had
given us, at my sister's marriage. We hinted, at the same time, how
pleasant it would be were such a thing repeated; but he seemed to pay no
heed to us. The livelier was our surprise, when he said, one evening,
"The music of the dance has died away; our transitory, youthful friends
have left us; the happy pair themselves have a more serious look than
they had some days ago. To part at such a time, when, perhaps, we shall
never meet again, certainly never without changes, exalts us to a solemn
mood, which I know not how to entertain more nobly than by the music you
were lately signifying a desire to have repeated."

The chorus, which had in the mean while gathered strength, and by secret
practice more expertness, was accordingly made to sing to us a series of
four and of eight voiced melodies, which, if I may say so, gave a real
foretaste of bliss. Till then I had only known the pious mode of
singing, as good souls practise it, frequently with hoarse pipes,
imagining, like wild birds, that they are praising God, while they
procure a pleasant feeling to themselves. Or, perhaps, I had listened to
the vain music of concerts, in which you are at best invited to admire
the talent of the singer, and very seldom have even a transient
enjoyment. Now, however, I was listening to music, which, as it
originated in the deepest feeling of the most accomplished human beings,
was, by suitable and practised organs in harmonious unity, made again to
address the deepest and best feelings of man, and to impress him at that
moment with a lively sense of his likeness to the Deity. They were all
devotional songs, in the Latin language: they sat like jewels in the
golden ring of a polished intellectual conversation; and, without
pretending to edify, they elevated me and made me happy in the most
spiritual manner.

At our departure he presented all of us with handsome gifts. To me he
gave the cross of my order, more beautifully and artfully worked and
enamelled than I had ever seen it before. It was hung upon a large
brilliant, by which also it was fastened to the chain: this he gave me,
he said, "as the noblest stone in the cabinet of a collector."

My sister, with her husband, went to their estates, the rest of us to
our abodes; appearing to ourselves, so far as outward circumstances were
concerned, to have returned to quite an every-day existence. We had
been, as it were, dropped from a palace of the fairies down upon the
common earth, and were again obliged to help ourselves as we best could.

The singular experiences which this new circle had afforded left a fine
impression on my mind. This, however, did not long continue in its first
vivacity: though my uncle tried to nourish and renew it by sending me
certain of his best and most pleasing works of art; changing them, from
time to time, with others which I had not seen.

I had been so much accustomed to be busied with myself, in regulating
the concerns of my heart and temper, and conversing on these matters
with persons of a like mind, that I could not long study any work of art
attentively without being turned by it back upon myself. I was used to
look at a picture or copper-plate merely as at the letters of a book.
Fine printing pleases well, but who would read a book for the beauty of
the printing? In like manner I required of each pictorial form that it
should tell me something, should instruct, affect, improve me; and,
after all my uncle's letters to expound his works of art, say what he
would, I continued in my former humor.

Yet not only my peculiar disposition, but external incidents and changes
in our family, still farther drew me back from contemplations of that
nature; nay, for some time even from myself. I had to suffer and to do
more than my slender strength seemed fit for.

My maiden sister had, till now, been as a right arm to me. Healthy,
strong, unspeakably good-natured, she had managed all the housekeeping;
I myself being busied with the personal nursing of our aged father. She
was seized with a catarrh, which changed to a disorder of the lungs: in
three weeks she was lying in her coffin. Her death inflicted wounds on
me, the scars of which I am not yet willing to examine.

I was lying sick before they buried her: the old ailment in my breast
appeared to be awakening; I coughed with violence, and was so hoarse I
could not speak beyond a whisper.

My married sister, out of fright and grief, was brought to bed before
her time. Our old father thought he was about to lose at once his
children and the hope of their posterity; his natural tears increased my
sorrow: I prayed to God that he would give me back a sufferable state of
health. I asked him but to spare my life till my father should die. I
recovered: I was what I reckoned well, being able to discharge my
duties, though with pain.

My sister was again with child. Many cares, which in such cases are
committed to the mother, in the present instance fell to me. She was not
altogether happy with her husband; this was to be hidden from our
father: I was often made judge of their disputes, in which I could
decide with the greater safety, as my brother trusted in me; and the two
were really worthy persons, only each of them, instead of humoring,
endeavored to convince, the other, and, out of eagerness to live in
constant harmony, never could agree. I now learned to mingle seriously
in worldly matters, and to practise what of old I had but sung.

My sister bore a son: the frailty of my father did not hinder him from
travelling to her. The sight of the child exceedingly enlivened and
cheered him: at the christening, contrary to his custom, he seemed as if
inspired; nay, I might say like a Genius with two faces. With the one,
he looked joyfully forward to those regions which he soon hoped to
enter; with the other, to the new, hopeful, earthly life which had
arisen in the boy descended from him. On our journey home he never
wearied talking to me of the child, its form, its health, and his wish
that the gifts of this new denizen of earth might be rightly cultivated.
His reflections on the subject lasted when we had arrived at home: it
was not till some days afterwards that I observed a kind of fever in
him, which displayed itself, without shivering, in a sort of languid
heat commencing after dinner. He did not yield, however: he went out as
usual in the mornings, faithfully attending to the duties of his office,
till at last continuous serious symptoms kept him within doors.

I never shall forget with what distinctness, clearness, and repose of
mind he settled in the greatest order the concerns of his house, nay,
the arrangements of his funeral, as he would have done a business of
some other person.

With a cheerfulness which he never used to show, and which now mounted
to a lively joy, he said to me, "Where is the fear of death which I once
felt? Shall I shrink at departing? I have a gracious God; the grave
awakens no terror in me; I have an eternal life."

To recall the circumstances of his death, which shortly followed, forms
one of the most pleasing entertainments of my solitude: the visible
workings of a higher Power in that solemn time, no one shall ever argue
from me.

The death of my beloved father altogether changed my mode of life. From
the strictest obedience, the narrowest confinement, I passed at once
into the greatest freedom: I enjoyed it like a sort of food from which
one has long abstained. Formerly I very seldom spent two hours from
home: now I very seldom lived a day there. My friends, whom I had been
allowed to visit only by hurried snatches, wished now to have my company
without interruption, as I did to have theirs. I was often asked to
dinner: at walks and pleasure-jaunts I never failed. But, when once the
circle had been fairly run, I saw that the invaluable happiness of
liberty consisted, not in doing what one pleases and what circumstances
may invite to, but in being able, without hinderance or restraint, to do
in the direct way what one regards as right and proper; and, in this
instance, I was old enough to reach a valuable truth, without smarting
for my ignorance.

One pleasure I could not deny myself: it was, as soon as might be, to
renew and strengthen my connection with the Herrnhut Brethren. I
hastened, accordingly, to visit one of their establishments at no great
distance; but here I by no means found what I had been anticipating. I
was frank enough to signify my disappointment, which they tried to
soften by alleging that the present settlement was nothing to a full and
fitly organized community. This I did not take upon me to deny; yet, in
my thought, the genuine spirit of the matter might have displayed itself
in a small body as well as in a great one.

One of their bishops, who was present, a personal disciple of the count,
took considerable pains with me. He spoke English perfectly; and as I,
too, understood a little of it, he reckoned this a token that we both
belonged to one class. I, however, reckoned nothing of the kind: his
conversation did not in the least satisfy me. He had been a cutler; was
a native of Moravia; his mode of thought still savored of the artisan.
With Herr Von L----, who had been a major in the French service, I got
upon a better footing: yet I could never bring myself to the
submissiveness he showed to his superiors; nay, I felt as if you had
given me a box on the ear, when I saw the major's wife, and other women
more or less like ladies, take the bishop's hand and kiss it. Meanwhile
a journey into Holland was proposed; which, however, doubtless for my
good, did not take place.

My sister had been delivered of a daughter; and now it was the turn of
us women to exult, and consider how the little creature should be bred
like one of us. The husband, on the other hand, was not so satisfied,
when in the following year another daughter saw the light: with his
large estates, he wanted to have boys about him, who in future might
assist him in his management.

My health was feeble: I kept myself in peace, and, by a quiet mode of
life, in tolerable equilibrium. I was not afraid of death; nay, I wished
to die: yet I secretly perceived that God was granting time for me to
prove my soul, and to advance still nearer to himself. In my many
sleepless nights, especially, I have at times felt something which I
cannot undertake to describe.

It was as if my soul were thinking separately from the body: she looked
upon the body as a foreign substance, as we look upon a garment. She
pictured with extreme vivacity events and times long past, and felt, by
means of this, events that were to follow. Those times are all gone by;
what follows likewise will go by; the body, too, will fall to pieces
like a vesture; but I, the well-known I, I am.

The thought is great, exalted, and consoling; yet an excellent friend,
with whom I every day became more intimate, instructed me to dwell on it
as little as I could. This was the physician whom I met in my uncle's
house, and who had since accurately informed himself about the temper of
my body and my spirit. He showed me how much these feelings, when we
cherish them within us independently of outward objects, tend, as it
were, to excavate us, and to undermine the whole foundation of our
being. "To be active," he would say, "is the primary vocation of man:
all the intervals in which he is obliged to rest, he should employ in
gaining clearer knowledge of external things; for this will in its turn
facilitate activity."

This friend was acquainted with my custom of looking on my body as an
outward object: he knew also that I pretty well understood my
constitution, my disorder, and the medicines of use for it; nay, that,
by continual sufferings of my own or other people's, I had really grown
a kind of half-doctor: he now carried forward my attention from the
human body, and the drugs which act upon it, to the kindred objects of
creation; he led me up and down as in the paradise of the first man;
only, if I may continue my comparison, allowing me to trace, in dim
remoteness, the Creator walking in the garden in the cool of the

How gladly did I now see God in nature, when I bore him with such
certainty within my heart! How interesting to me was his handiwork! how
thankful did I feel that he had pleased to quicken me with the breath of
his mouth!

We again had hopes that my sister would present us with a boy: her
husband waited anxiously for that event, but did not live to see it. He
died in consequence of an unlucky fall from horseback; and my sister
followed him, soon after she had brought into the world a lovely boy.
The four orphans they had left I could not look at but with sadness. So
many healthy people had been called away before poor, sickly me; might I
not also have blights to witness among these fair and hopeful blossoms?
I knew the world sufficiently to understand what dangers threaten the
precarious breeding of a child, especially a child of quality; and it
seemed as if, since the period of my youth, these dangers had increased.
I felt that, weakly as I was, I could not be of much, perhaps of any,
service to the little ones; and I rejoiced the more on finding that my
uncle, as indeed might have been looked for, had determined to devote
his whole attention to the education of these amiable creatures. And
this they doubtless merited in every sense: they were handsome; and,
with great diversities, all promised to be well-conditioned, reasonable

Since my worthy doctor had suggested it, I loved to trace out family
likenesses among our relatives and children. My father had carefully
preserved the portraits of his ancestors, and got his own and those of
his descendants drawn by tolerable masters; nor had my mother and her
people been forgotten. We accurately knew the characters of all the
family; and, as we had frequently compared them with each other, we now
endeavored to discover in the children the same peculiarities outward or
inward. My sister's eldest son, we thought, resembled his paternal
grandfather, of whom there was a fine youthful picture in my uncle's
collection: he had been a brave soldier; and in this point, too, the boy
took after him, liking arms above all things, and busying himself with
them whenever he paid me a visit. For my father had left a very pretty
armory; and the boy got no rest till I had given him a pair of pistols
and a fowling-piece, and he had learned the proper way of using them. At
the same time, in his conduct or bearing, there was nothing like
rudeness: far from that, he was always meek and sensible.

The eldest daughter had attracted my especial love; of which, perhaps,
the reason was, that she resembled me, and of all the four seemed to
like me best. But I may well admit, that, the more closely I observed
her as she grew, the more she shamed me: I could not look on her without
a sentiment of admiration, nay, I may almost say, of reverence. You
would scarcely have seen a nobler form, a more peaceful spirit, an
activity so equable and universal. No moment of her life was she
unoccupied, and every occupation in her hands became dignified. All
seemed indifferent to her, so that she could but accomplish what was
proper in the place and time; and, in the same manner, she could
patiently continue unemployed, when there was nothing to be done. This
activity without need of occupation I have never elsewhere met with. In
particular, her conduct to the suffering and destitute was, from her
earliest youth, inimitable. For my part, I freely confess I never had
the gift to make a business of beneficence: I was not niggardly to the
poor; nay, I often gave too largely for my means; yet this was little
more than buying myself off: and a person needed to be made for me, if I
was to bestow attention on him. Directly the reverse was the conduct of
my niece. I never saw her give a poor man money: whatever she obtained
from me for this purpose, she failed not in the first place to change
for some necessary article. Never did she seem more lovely in my eyes,
than when rummaging my clothes-presses: she was always sure to light on
something which I did not wear and did not need; to sew these old
cast-off articles together, and put them on some ragged child, she
thought her highest happiness.

Her sister's turn of mind appeared already different: she had much of
her mother; she promised to become very elegant and beautiful, and she
now bids fair to keep her promise. She is greatly taken up with her
exterior: from her earliest years she could decorate and carry herself
in a way that struck you. I still remember with what ecstasy, when quite
a little creature, she saw herself in a mirror, decked in certain
precious pearls, once my mother's, which she had by chance discovered,
and made me try upon her.

Reflecting on these diverse inclinations, it was pleasant for me to
consider how my property would, after my decease, be shared among them,
and again called into use. I saw the fowling-pieces of my father once
more travelling round the fields on my nephew's shoulder, and birds once
more falling from his hunting-pouch: I saw my whole wardrobe issuing
from the church, at Easter Confirmation, on the persons of tidy little
girls; while the best pieces of it were employed to decorate some
virtuous burgher maiden on her marriage-day. In furnishing such children
and poor little girls, Natalia had a singular delight; though, as I must
here remark, she showed not the smallest love, or, if I may say it,
smallest need, of a dependence upon any visible or invisible Being, such
as I had in my youth so strongly manifested.

When I also thought that the younger sister, on that same day, would
wear my jewels and pearls at court, I could see with peace my
possessions, like my body, given back to the elements.

The children waxed apace: to my comfort, they are healthy, handsome,
clever creatures. That my uncle keeps them from me, I endure without
repining: when staying in the neighborhood, or even in town, they seldom
see me.

A singular personage, regarded as a French clergyman, though no one
rightly knows his history, has been intrusted with the oversight of all
these children. He has them taught in various places: they are put to
board now here, now there.

At first I could perceive no plan whatever in this mode of education;
till at last our doctor told me the abbé had convinced my uncle, that,
in order to accomplish any thing by education, we must first become
acquainted with the pupil's tendencies and wishes; that, these once
ascertained, he ought to be transported to a situation where he may, as
speedily as possible, content the former and attain the latter, and so,
if he have been mistaken, may still in time perceive his error, and at
last, having found what suits him, may hold the faster by it, may the
more diligently fashion himself according to it. I wish this strange
experiment may prosper: with such excellent natures it is, perhaps,

But there is one peculiarity in these instructors, which I never shall
approve of: they study to seclude the children from whatever might
awaken them to an acquaintance with themselves and with the invisible,
sole, faithful Friend. I often take it ill of my uncle, that, on this
account, he considers me dangerous for the little ones. Thus in practice
there is no man tolerant! Many assure us that they willingly leave each
to take his own way, yet all endeavor to exclude from action every one
that does not think as they do.

This removal of the children troubles me the more, the more I am
convinced of the reality of my belief. How can it fail to have a
heavenly origin, an actual object, when in practice it is so effectual?
Is it not by practice alone that we prove our own existence? Why, then,
may we not, by a like mode, prove to ourselves the influence of that
Power who gives us all good things?

That I am still advancing, never retrograding; that my conduct is
approximating more and more to the image I have formed of perfection;
that I every day feel more facility in doing what I reckon proper, even
while the weakness of my body so obstructs me,--can all this be
accounted for upon the principles of human nature, whose corruption I
have so clearly seen into? For me, at least, it cannot.

I scarcely remember a commandment: to me there is nothing that assumes
the aspect of law; it is an impulse that leads me, and guides me always
aright. I freely follow my emotions, and know as little of constraint as
of repentance. God be praised that I know to whom I am indebted for such
happiness, and that I cannot think of it without humility! There is no
danger I should ever become proud of what I myself can do or can forbear
to do: I have seen too well what a monster might be formed and nursed in
every human bosom, did not higher Influence restrain us.

[Footnote 3: So in the original.--ED.]



Spring had come in all its brilliancy; a storm that had been lowering
all day went fiercely down upon the hills; the rain drew back into the
country; the sun came forth in all its splendor, and upon the dark vapor
rose the lordly rainbow. Wilhelm was riding towards it: the sight made
him sad. "Ah!" said he within himself, "must it be that the fairest hues
of life appear to us only on a ground of black? And must drops fall, if
we are to be enraptured? A bright day is like a dull day, if we look at
it unmoved; and what can move us but some silent hope that the inborn
inclination of our soul shall not always be without an object? The
recital of a noble action moves us; the sight of every thing harmonious
moves us: we feel then as if we were not altogether in a foreign land;
we fancy we are nearer the home towards which our best and inmost wishes
impatiently strive."

Meanwhile a pedestrian overtook him, and, walking with a stout step by
the side of the horse, began to keep him company. After a few common
words, he looked at the rider, and said, "If I am not mistaken, I must
have already seen you somewhere."

"I, too, remember you," said Wilhelm: "had we not some time ago a
pleasant sail together?"--"Right!" replied the other.

Wilhelm looked at him more narrowly, then, after a pause, observed, "I
do not know what alteration has occurred in you. Last time we met, I
took you for a Lutheran country clergyman: you now seem to me more like
a Catholic priest."

"To-day, at least, you are not wrong," replied the other, taking off his
hat, and showing him the tonsure. "Where is your company gone? Did you
stay long with them?"

"Longer than was good: on looking back upon the period which I passed
in their society, it seems as if I looked into an endless void; nothing
of it has remained with me."

"Here you are mistaken," said the stranger: "every thing that happens to
us leaves some trace behind it; every thing contributes imperceptibly to
form us. Yet often it is dangerous to take a strict account of that. For
either we grow proud and negligent, or downcast and dispirited; and both
are equally injurious in their consequences. The safe plan is, always
simply to do the task that lies nearest us; and this in the present
case," added he, with a smile, "is to hasten to our quarters."

Wilhelm asked how far Lothario's house was distant: the stranger
answered that it lay behind the hill. "Perhaps I shall meet you there,"
continued he: "I have merely a small affair to manage in the
neighborhood. Farewell till then!" And, with this, he struck into a
steep path that seemed to lead more speedily across the hill.

"Yes, the man is right!" said Wilhelm to himself, as he proceeded: "we
should think of what is nearest; and for me, at present, there is
nothing nearer than the mournful errand I have come to do. Let me see
whether I can still repeat the speech, which is to put that cruel man to

He then began reciting to himself this piece of oratory: not a syllable
was wanting; and the more his recollection served him, the higher grew
his passion and his courage. Aurelia's sorrows and her death were
vividly present to his soul.

"Spirit of my friend!" exclaimed he, "hover round me, and, if thou
canst, give some sign to me that thou art softened, art appeased!"

Amid such words and meditations, he had reached the summit of the hill;
and, near the foot of its declivity, he now beheld a curious building,
which he at once took to be Lothario's dwelling. An old, irregular
castle, with several turrets and peaked roofs, appeared to have been the
primitive erection; but the new additions to it, placed near the main
structure, looked still more irregular. A part of them stood close upon
the main edifice: others, at some distance, were combined with it by
galleries and covered passages. All external symmetry, every shade of
architectural beauty, appeared to have been sacrificed to the
convenience of the interior. No trace of wall or trench was to be seen;
none of avenues or artificial gardens. A fruit and pot-herb garden
reached to the very buildings, and little patches of a like sort showed
themselves even in the intermediate spaces. A cheerful village lay at no
great distance: the fields and gardens everywhere appeared in the
highest state of cultivation.

Sunk in his own impassioned feelings, Wilhelm rode along, not thinking
much of what he saw: he put up his horse at an inn, and, not without
emotion, hastened to the castle.

An old serving-man received him at the door, and signified, with much
good-nature, that to-day it would be difficult to get admission to his
lordship, who was occupied in writing letters, and had already refused
some people that had business with him. Our friend became more
importunate: the old man was at last obliged to yield, and announce him.
He returned, and conducted Wilhelm to a spacious, ancient hall; desiring
him to be so good as wait, since perhaps it might be some time before
his lordship could appear. Our friend walked up and down unrestfully,
casting now and then a look at the knights and dames whose ancient
figures hung round him on the walls. He repeated the beginning of his
speech: it seemed, in presence of these ruffs and coats of mail, to
answer even better. Every time there rose any stir, he put himself in
posture to receive his man with dignity; meaning first to hand him the
letter, then assail him with the weapons of reproach.

More than once mistaken, he was now beginning to be really vexed and out
of tune, when at last a handsome man, in boots and light surtout,
stepped in from a side-door. "What good news have you for me?" said he
to Wilhelm, with a friendly voice: "pardon me, that I have made you

So speaking, he kept folding a letter which he held in his hand.
Wilhelm, not without embarrassment, delivered him Aurelia's paper, and
replied, "I bring you the last words of a friend, which you will not
read without emotion."

Lothario took it, and returned to his chamber with it; where, as Wilhelm
through the open door could very easily observe, he addressed and sealed
some letters before opening Aurelia's. He appeared to have perused it
once or twice; and Wilhelm, though his feelings signified that the
pathetic speech would sort but ill with such a cool reception, girded up
his mind, went forward to the threshold, and was just about beginning
his address, when a tapestry-door of the cabinet opened, and the
clergyman came in.

"I have got the strangest message you can think of," cried Lothario to
him. "Pardon me," continued he, addressing Wilhelm, "if I am not in a
mood for speaking further with you at this moment. You remain with us
to-night: you, abbé, see the stranger properly attended to."

With these words, he made his guest a bow: the clergyman took Wilhelm by
the hand, who followed, not without reluctance.

They walked along some curious passages in silence, and at last reached
a very pretty chamber. The abbé led him in, then left him, making no
excuses. Erelong an active boy appeared: he introduced himself as
Wilhelm's valet, and brought up his supper. In waiting, he had much to
say about the order of the house, about their breakfasting and dining,
labors and amusements; interspersing many things in commendation of

Pleasant as the boy was, Wilhelm endeavored to get rid of him as soon as
possible. He wished to be alone, for he felt exceedingly oppressed and
straitened in his new position. He reproached himself with having
executed his intention so ill, with having done his errand only half.
One moment, he proposed to undertake next morning what he had neglected
to-night; the next, he saw, that, by Lothario's presence, he would be
attuned to quite a different set of feelings. The house, too, where he
was, seemed very strange to him: he could not be at home in his
position. Intending to undress, he opened his travelling-bag: with his
night-clothes, he took out the Spirit's veil, which Mignon had packed in
along with them. The sight of it increased the sadness of his humor.
"Flee, youth! flee!" cried he. "What means this mystic word? What am I
to flee, or whither? It were better had the Spirit called to me, Return
to thyself!" He cast his eyes on some English copper-plates hung round
the room in frames; most of them he looked at with indifference: at last
he met with one, in which a ship was represented sinking in a tempest; a
father, with his lovely daughters, was awaiting death from the intrusive
billows. One of the maidens had a kind of likeness to the Amazon: an
indescribable compassion seized our friend; he felt an irresistible
necessity to vent his feelings; tears filled his eyes, he wept, and did
not recover his composure till slumber overpowered him.

Strange dreams arose upon him towards morning. He was in a garden, which
in boyhood he had often visited: he looked with pleasure at the
well-known alleys, hedges, flower-beds. Mariana met him: he spoke to
her with love and tenderness, recollecting nothing of any by-gone
grievance. Erelong his father joined them, in his week-day dress; with a
look of frankness that was rare in him, he bade his son fetch two seats
from the garden-house; then took Mariana by the hand, and led her into a

Wilhelm hastened to the garden-house, but found it altogether empty:
only at a window in the farther side he saw Aurelia standing. He went
forward, and addressed her, but she turned not round; and, though he
placed himself beside her, he could never see her face. He looked out
from the window: in an unknown garden, there were several people, some
of whom he recognized. Frau Melina, seated under a tree, was playing
with a rose which she had in her hand: Laertes stood beside her,
counting money from the one hand to the other. Mignon and Felix were
lying on the grass, the former on her back, the latter on his face.
Philina came, and clapped her hands above the children: Mignon lay
unmoved; Felix started up and fled. At first he laughed while running,
as Philina followed; but he screamed in terror when he saw the harper
coming after him with large, slow steps. Felix ran directly to a pond.
Wilhelm hastened after him: too late; the child was lying in the water!
Wilhelm stood as if rooted to the spot. The fair Amazon appeared on the
other side of the pond: she stretched her right hand towards the child,
and walked along the shore. The child came through the water, by the
course her finger pointed to; he followed her as she went round; at last
she reached her hand to him, and pulled him out. Wilhelm had come
nearer: the child was all in flames; fiery drops were falling from his
body. Wilhelm's agony was greater than ever; but instantly the Amazon
took a white veil from her head, and covered up the child with it. The
fire was at once quenched. But, when she lifted up the veil, two boys
sprang out from under it, and frolicsomely sported to and fro; while
Wilhelm and the Amazon proceeded hand in hand across the garden, and
noticed in the distance Mariana and his father walking in an alley,
which was formed of lofty trees, and seemed to go quite round the
garden. He turned his steps to them, and, with his beautiful attendant,
was moving through the garden, when suddenly the fair-haired Friedrich
came across their path, and kept them back with loud laughter and a
thousand tricks. Still, however, they insisted on proceeding; and
Friedrich hastened off, running towards Mariana and the father. These
seemed to flee before him; he pursued the faster, till Wilhelm saw them
hovering down the alley almost as on wings. Nature and inclination
called on him to go and help them, but the hand of the Amazon detained
him. How gladly did he let himself be held! With this mingled feeling he
awoke, and found his chamber shining with the morning beams.


Our friend was called to breakfast by the boy: he found the abbé waiting
in the hall; Lothario, it appeared, had ridden out. The abbé was not
very talkative, but rather wore a thoughtful look: he inquired about
Aurelia's death, and listened to our friend's recital of it with
apparent sympathy. "Ah!" cried he, "the man that discerns, with lively
clearness, what infinite operations art and nature must have joined in
before a cultivated human being can be formed; the man that himself as
much as possible takes interest in the culture of his fellow-men,--is
ready to despair when he sees how lightly mortals will destroy
themselves, will blamelessly or blamably expose themselves to be
destroyed. When I think of these things, life itself appears to me so
uncertain a gift, that I could praise the man who does not value it
beyond its worth."

Scarcely had he spoken, when the door flew violently up: a young lady
came rushing in; she pushed away the old servant, who attempted to
restrain her. She made right to the abbé, and seized him by the arm: her
tears and sobs would hardly let her speak these words: "Where is he?
Where have you put him? 'Tis a frightful treachery! Confess it now! I
know what you are doing: I will after him,--will know where you have
sent him!"

"Be calm, my child," replied the abbé, with assumed composure; "come
with me to your room: you shall know it all; only you must have the
strength to listen, if you ask me to relate." He offered her his hand,
as if he meant to lead her out. "I will not return to my room," cried
she: "I hate the walls where you have kept me prisoner so long. I know
it already: the colonel has challenged him; he is gone to meet his
enemy: perhaps this very moment he--once or twice I thought I heard the
sound of shots! I tell you, order out a coach, and come along with me,
or I will fill the house and all the village with my screaming."

Weeping bitterly, she hastened to the window: the abbé held her back,
and sought in vain to soothe her.

They heard a sound of wheels: she threw up the window, exclaiming, "He
is dead! They are bringing home his body."--"He is coming out," replied
the abbé: "you perceive he lives."--"He is wounded," said she wildly,
"else he would have come on horseback. They are holding him! The wound
is dangerous!" She ran to the door, and down the stairs: the abbé
hastened after her; and Wilhelm, following, observed the fair one meet
her lover, who had now dismounted.

Lothario leaned on his attendant, whom Wilhelm at once knew as his
ancient patron, Jarno. The wounded man spoke very tenderly and kindly to
the tearful damsel: he rested on her shoulder, and came slowly up the
steps, saluted Wilhelm as he passed, and was conducted to his cabinet.

Jarno soon returned, and, going up to Wilhelm, "It appears," said he,
"you are predestined everywhere to find a theatre and actors. We have
here commenced a play which is not altogether pleasant."

"I rejoice to find you," answered Wilhelm, "in so strange an hour: I am
astonished, frightened; and your presence already quiets my mind. Tell
me, is there danger? Is the baron badly wounded?"

"I imagine not," said Jarno.

It was not long till the young surgeon entered from the cabinet. "Now,
what say you?" cried Jarno to him. "That it is a dangerous piece of
work," replied the other, putting several instruments into his leathern
pouch. Wilhelm looked at the band, which was hanging from the pouch: he
fancied he knew it. Bright, contrary colors, a curious pattern, gold and
silver wrought in singular figures, marked this band from all the bands
in the world. Wilhelm was convinced he beheld the very pouch of the
ancient surgeon who had dressed his wounds in the green of the forest;
and the hope, so long deferred, of again finding traces of the lovely
Amazon, struck like a flame through all his soul.

"Where did you get that pouch?" cried he. "To whom did it belong before
you? I beg of you, tell me."--"I bought it at an auction," said the
other: "what is it to me whom it belonged to?" So speaking, he went out;
and Jarno said, "If there would come but one word of truth from our
young doctor's mouth!"--"Then, he did not buy the pouch?" said Wilhelm.
"Just as little as Lothario is in danger," said the other.

Wilhelm stood, immersed in many reflections: Jarno asked how he had
fared of late. Wilhelm sketched an outline of his history; and when he
at last came to speak of Aurelia's death, and his message to the place,
his auditor exclaimed, "Well! it is strange! most strange!"

The abbé entered from Lothario's chamber, beckoned Jarno to go in
instead of him, and said to Wilhelm, "The baron bids me ask you to
remain with us a day or two, to share his hospitality, and, in the
present circumstances, contribute to his solacement. If you need to give
any notice to your people, your letter shall be instantly despatched.
Meanwhile, to make you understand this curious incident, of which you
have been witness, I must tell you something, which, indeed, is no
secret. The baron had a small adventure with a lady, which excited more
than usual attention; the lady having taken him from a rival, and
wishing to enjoy her victory too ostentatiously. After a time he no
longer found the same delight in her society; which he, of course,
forsook: but, being of a violent temper, she could not bear her fate
with patience. Meeting at a ball, they had an open quarrel: she thought
herself irreparably injured, and would be revenged. No knight stepped
forth to do battle for her; till her husband, whom for years she had not
lived with, heard of the affair and took it up. He challenged the baron,
and to-day he has wounded him; yet, as I hear, the gallant colonel has
himself come still worse off."

From this hour our friend was treated in the house as if he had belonged
to it.


At times they had read a little to the patient: Wilhelm joyfully
performed this service. Lydia stirred not from Lothario's bed: her care
for him absorbed her whole attention. But to-day the patient himself
seemed occupied with thought: he bade them lay aside their book.
"To-day," said he, "I feel through my whole heart how foolishly we let
our time pass on. How many things have I proposed to do, how many have I
planned; yet how we loiter in our noblest purposes! I have just read
over the scheme of the changes which I mean to make in my estates; and
it is chiefly, I may say, on their account that I rejoice at the
bullet's not having gone a deadlier road."

Lydia looked at him with tenderness, with tears in her eyes; as if to
ask if _she_, if his friends, could not pretend to any interest in his
wish to live. Jarno answered, "Changes such as you project require to be
considered well on every side before they are resolved on."

"Long considerations," said Lothario, "are commonly a proof that we have
not the point to be determined clearly in our eye; precipitate
proceedings, that we do not know it. I see distinctly, that, in managing
my property, there are several particulars in which the services of my
dependants cannot be remitted; certain rights which I must rigidly
insist on: but I also see that there are other articles, advantageous to
me, but by no means indispensable, which might admit of relaxation. Do I
not profit by my lands far better than my father did? Is not my income
still increasing? And shall I alone enjoy this growing benefit? Shall
not those who labor with and for me partake, in their degree, of the
advantages which expanding knowledge, which a period of improvement, are
procuring for us?"

"'Tis human nature!" cried Jarno: "I do not blame myself when I detect
this selfish quality among the rest. Every man desires to gather all
things round him, to shape and manage them according to his own
pleasure: the money which he himself does not expend, he seldom reckons
well expended."

"Certainly," observed Lothario, "much of the capital might be abated if
we consumed the interest less capriciously."

"The only thing I shall mention," said the other, "the only reason I can
urge against your now proceeding with those alterations, which, for a
time at least, must cause you loss, is, that you yourself are still in
debt, and that the payment presses hard on you. My advice is, therefore,
to postpone your plan till you are altogether free."

"And in the mean while leave it at the mercy of a bullet, or the fall
of a tile, to annihilate the whole result of my existence and activity!
O my friend! it is ever thus: it is ever the besetting fault of
cultivated men, that they wish to spend their whole resources on some
idea, scarcely any part of them on tangible, existing objects. Why was
it that I contracted debts, that I quarrelled with my uncle, that I left
my sisters to themselves so long? Purely for the sake of an idea. In
America I fancied I might accomplish something; over seas, I hoped to
become useful and essential: if any task was not begirt with a thousand
dangers, I considered it trivial, unworthy of me. How differently do
matters now appear! How precious, how important, seems the duty which is
nearest me, whatever it may be!"

"I recollect the letter which you sent me from the Western world," said
Jarno: "it contains the words, 'I will return; and in my house, amid my
fields, among my people, I will say, _Here or nowhere is America!_'"

"Yes, my friend; and I am still repeating it, and still repining at
myself that I am not so busy here as I was there. For certain equable,
continuous modes of life, there is nothing more than judgment necessary,
and we study to attain nothing more: so that we become unable to discern
what extraordinary services each vulgar day requires of us; or, if we do
discern them, we find abundance of excuses for not doing them. A
judicious man is valuable to himself, but of little value for the
general whole."

"We will not," said Jarno, "bear too hard upon judgment: let us grant,
that, whenever extraordinary things are done, they are generally

"Yes! and just because they are not done according to the proper plan.
My brother-in-law, you see, is giving up his fortune, so far as in his
power, to the Community of Herrnhut: he reckons, that, by doing so, he
is advancing the salvation of his soul. Had he sacrificed a small
portion of his revenue, he might have rendered many people happy, might
have made for them and for himself a heaven upon earth. Our sacrifices
are rarely of an active kind: we, as it were, abandon what we give away.
It is not from resolution, but despair, that we renounce our property.
In these days, I confess it, the image of the count is hovering
constantly before me: I have firmly resolved on doing from conviction
what a crazy fear is forcing upon him. I will not wait for being cured.
Here are the papers: they require only to be properly drawn out. Take
the lawyer with you; our guest will help: what I want, you know as well
as I; recovering or dying. I will stand by it, and say, _Here or nowhere
is Herrnhut!_"

When he mentioned dying, Lydia sank before his bed: she hung upon his
arm, and wept bitterly. The surgeon entered: Jarno gave our friend the
papers, and made Lydia leave the room.

"For Heaven's sake! what is this about the count?" cried Wilhelm, when
they reached the hall and were alone. "What count is it that means to
join the Herrnhuters?"

"One whom you know very well," said Jarno. "You yourself are the ghost
who have frightened the unhappy wiseacre into piety: you are the villain
who have brought his pretty wife to such a state that she inclines
accompanying him."

"And she is Lothario's sister?" cried our friend.

"No other!"--"And Lothario knows"--

"The whole!"

"Oh, let me fly!" cried Wilhelm. "How shall I appear before him? What
can he say to me?"

"That no man should cast a stone at his brother; that when one composes
long speeches, with a view to shame his neighbors, he should speak them
to a looking-glass."

"Do you know that too?"

"And many things beside," said Jarno, with a smile. "But in the present
case," continued he, "you shall not get away from me so easily as you
did last time. You need not now be apprehensive of my bounty-money: I
have ceased to be a soldier; when I was one, you might have thought more
charitably of me. Since you saw me, many things have altered. My prince,
my only friend and benefactor, being dead, I have now withdrawn from
busy life and its concerns. I used to have a pleasure in advancing what
was reasonable; when I met with any despicable thing, I hesitated not to
call it so; and men had never done with talking of my restless head and
wicked tongue. The herd of people dread sound understanding more than
any thing: they ought to dread stupidity, if they had any notion what
was really dreadful. Understanding is unpleasant, they must have it
pushed aside; stupidity is but pernicious, they can let it stay. Well,
be it so! I need to live: I will by and by communicate my plans to you;
if you incline, you shall partake in them. But tell me first how things
have gone with you. I see, I feel, that you are changed. How is it with
your ancient maggot of producing something beautiful and good in the
society of gypsies?"

"Do not speak of it!" cried Wilhelm: "I have been already punished for
it. People talk about the stage, but none that has not been upon it can
form the smallest notion of it. How utterly these men are unacquainted
with themselves, how thoughtlessly they carry on their trade, how
boundless their pretensions are, no mortal can conceive. Each would be
not only first, but sole; each wishes to exclude the rest, and does not
see that even with them he can scarcely accomplish any thing. Each
thinks himself a man of marvellous originality; yet, with a ravening
appetite for novelty, he cannot walk a footstep from the beaten track.
How vehemently they counterwork each other! It is only the pitifullest
self-love, the narrowest views of interest, that unite them. Of
reciprocal accommodation they have no idea: backbiting and hidden
spitefulness maintain a constant jealousy among them. In their lives
they are either rakes or simpletons. Each claims the loftiest respect,
each writhes under the slightest blame. 'All this he knew already,' he
will tell you! Why, then, did he not do it? Ever needy, ever
unconfiding, they seem as if their greatest fear were reason and good
taste; their highest care, to secure the majesty of their self-will."

Wilhelm drew breath, intending to proceed with his eulogium, when an
immoderate laugh from Jarno interrupted him. "Poor actors!" cried he;
threw himself into a chair, and laughed away. "Poor, dear actors! Do you
know, my friend," continued he, recovering from his fit, "that you have
been describing, not the playhouse, but the world; that, out of all
ranks, I could find you characters and doings in abundance to suit your
cruel pencil? Pardon me: it makes me laugh again, that you should think
these amiable qualities existed on the boards alone."

Wilhelm checked his feelings. Jarno's extravagant, untimely laughter had
in truth offended him. "It is scarcely hiding your misanthropy," said
he, "when you maintain that faults like these are universal."

"And it shows your unacquaintance with the world, when you impute them
to the theatre in such a heinous light. I pardon, in the player, every
fault that springs from self-deception and the desire to please. If he
seem not something to himself and others, he is nothing. To seem is his
vocation; he must prize his moment of applause, for he gets no other
recompense; he must try to glitter,--he is there to do so."

"You will give me leave at least to smile, in my turn," answered
Wilhelm. "I should never have believed that you could be so merciful, so

"I swear to you I am serious, fully and deliberately serious. All faults
of the man I can pardon in the player: no fault of the player can I
pardon in the man. Do not set me upon chanting my lament about the
latter: it might have a sharper sound than yours."

The surgeon entered from the cabinet; and, to the question how his
patient was, he answered, with a lively air of complaisance, "Extremely
well, indeed: I hope soon to see him quite recovered." He hastened
through the hall, not waiting Wilhelm's speech, who was preparing to
inquire again with greater importunity about the leathern case. His
anxiety to gain some tidings of his Amazon inspired him with confidence
in Jarno: he disclosed his case to him, and begged his help. "You that
know so many things," said he, "can you not discover this?"

Jarno reflected for a moment; then, turning to his friend, "Be calm,"
said he, "give no one any hint of it: we shall come upon the fair one's
footsteps, never fear. At present I am anxious only for Lothario: the
case is dangerous; the kindliness and comfortable talking of the doctor
tells me so. We should be quit of Lydia, for here she does no good; but
how to set about the task I know not. To-night I am looking for our old
physician: we shall then take further counsel."


The physician came: it was the good, old, little doctor whom we know
already, and to whom we were obliged for the communication of the pious
manuscript. First of all, he visited the wounded man, with whose
condition he appeared to be by no means satisfied. He had next a long
interview with Jarno, but they made no allusion to the subject of it
when they came to supper.

Wilhelm saluted him in the kindest manner, and inquired about the
harper. "We have still hopes of bringing round the hapless creature,"
answered the physician. "He formed a dreary item in your limited and
singular way of life," said Jarno. "How has it fared with him? Tell me."

Having satisfied Jarno's curiosity, the physician thus proceeded: "I
have never seen another man so strangely circumstanced. For many years
he has not felt the smallest interest in any thing without him, scarcely
paid the smallest notice to it: wrapped up in himself, he has looked at
nothing but his own hollow, empty Me, which seemed to him like an
immeasurable abyss. It was really touching when he spoke to us of this
mournful state. 'Before me,' cried he, 'I see nothing; behind me nothing
but an endless night, in which I live in the most horrid solitude. There
is no feeling in me but the feeling of my guilt; and this appears but
like a dim, formless spirit, far before me. Yet here there is no height,
no depth, no forwards, no backwards: no words can express this
never-changing state. Often in the agony of this sameness I exclaim with
violence, Forever! Forever! and this dark, incomprehensible word is
clear and plain to the gloom of my condition. No ray of Divinity
illuminates this night: I shed all my tears by myself and for myself.
Nothing is more horrible to me than friendship and love, for they alone
excite in me the wish that the apparitions which surround me might be
real. But these two spectres also have arisen from the abyss to plague
me, and at length to tear from me the precious consciousness of my
existence, unearthly though it be.'

"You should hear him speak," continued the physician, "when in hours of
confidence he thus alleviates his heart. I have listened to him often
with the deepest feelings. When pressed by any thing, and, as it were,
compelled for an instant to confess that a space of time has passed, he
looks astounded, then again refers the alteration to the things about
him, considering it as an appearance of appearances, and so rejecting
the idea of progress in duration. One night he sung a song about his
gray hairs: we all sat round him weeping."

"Oh, get it for me!" cried Wilhelm.

"But have you not discovered any trace of what he calls his crime?"
inquired Jarno: "nor found out the reason of his wearing such a singular
garb; of his conduct at the burning of the house; of his rage against
the child?"

"It is only by conjectures that we can approximate to any knowledge of
his fate: to question him directly contradicts our principle. Observing
easily that he was of the Catholic religion, we thought perhaps
confession might afford him some assuagement; but he shrinks away with
the strangest gestures every time we try to introduce the priest to him.
However, not to leave your curiosity respecting him entirely
unsatisfied, I may communicate our suppositions on the subject. In his
youth, we think, he must have been a clergyman: hence probably his wish
to keep his beard and long cloak. The joys of love appear to have
remained for many years unknown to him. Late in life, as we conceive,
some aberration with a lady very nearly related to him; then her death,
the consequence of an unlucky creature's birth,--have altogether crazed
his brain.

"His chief delusion is a fancy that he brings misfortune everywhere
along with him; and that death, to be unwittingly occasioned by a boy,
is constantly impending over him. At first he was afraid of Mignon, not
knowing that she was a girl; then Felix frightened him; and as, with all
his misery, he has a boundless love of life, this may, perhaps, have
been the origin of his aversion to the child."

"What hopes have you of his recovery?" inquired our friend.

"It advances slowly," answered the physician, "yet it does advance. He
continues his appointed occupations: we have now accustomed him to read
the newspapers; he always looks for them with eagerness."

"I am curious about his songs," said Jarno.

"Of these I can engage to get you several," replied the doctor. "Our
parson's eldest son, who frequently writes down his father's sermons,
has, unnoticed by the harper, marked on paper many stanzas of his
singing; out of which some songs have gradually been pieced together."

Next morning Jarno met our friend, and said to him, "We have to ask a
kindness of you. Lydia must, for some time, be removed: her violent,
unreasonable love and passionateness hinder the baron's recovery. His
wound requires rest and calmness, though with his healthy temperament it
is not dangerous. You see how Lydia tortures him with her tempestuous
anxieties, her ungovernable terrors, her never-drying tears;
and--Enough!" he added with a smile, after pausing for a moment, "our
doctor expressly requires that she must quit us for a while. We have got
her to believe that a lady, one of her most intimate friends, is at
present in the neighborhood, wishing and expecting instantly to see her.
She has been prevailed upon to undertake a journey to our lawyer's,
which is but two leagues off. This man is in the secret: he will wofully
lament that Fräulein Theresa should just have left him again; he will
seem to think she may still be overtaken. Lydia will hasten after her,
and, if you prosper, will be led from place to place. At last, if she
insist on turning back, you must not contradict her; but the night will
help you: the coachman is a cunning knave, and we shall speak with him
before he goes. You are to travel with her in the coach, to talk to her,
and manage the adventure."

"It is a strange and dubious commission that you give me," answered
Wilhelm. "How painful is the sight of true love injured! And am I to be
the instrument of injuring it? I have never cheated any person so; for
it has always seemed to me, that if we once begin deceiving, with a view
to good and useful purposes, we run the risk of carrying it to excess."

"Yet you cannot manage children otherwise," said Jarno.

"With children it may do," said Wilhelm; "for we love them tenderly, and
take an open charge of them. But with our equals, in behalf of whom our
heart is not so sure to call upon us for forbearance, it might
frequently be dangerous. Yet do not think," he added, after pausing for
a moment, "that I purpose to decline the task on this account. Honoring
your judgment as I do, feeling such attachment to your noble friend,
such eagerness to forward his recovery by whatever means, I willingly
forget myself and my opinions. It is not enough that we can risk our
life to serve a friend: in the hour of need, we should also yield him
our convictions. Our dearest passions, our best wishes, we are bound to
sacrifice in helping him. I undertake the charge; though it is easy to
foresee the pain I shall have to suffer, from the tears, from the
despair, of Lydia."

"And, for this, no small reward awaits you," answered Jarno: "Fräulein
Theresa, whom you get acquainted with, is a lady such as you will rarely
see. She puts many a man to shame; I may say, she is a genuine Amazon:
while others are but pretty counterfeits, that wander up and down the
world in that ambiguous dress."

Wilhelm was struck: he almost fancied that in Theresa he would find his
Amazon again; especially as Jarno, whom he importuned to tell him more,
broke off abruptly, and went away.

The new, near hope of once more seeing that beloved and honored being
awoke a thousand feelings in his heart. He now looked upon the task
which had been given him as the intervention of a special Providence:
the thought that he was minded treacherously to carry off a helpless
girl from the object of her sincerest, warmest love dwelt but a moment
in his mind, as the shadow of a bird flits over the sunshiny earth.

The coach was at the door: Lydia lingered for a moment, as she was about
to mount. "Salute your lord again for me," said she to the old servant:
"tell him that I shall be home before night." Tears were standing in her
eyes as she again looked back when the carriage started. She then turned
round to Wilhelm, made an effort to compose herself, and said, "In
Fräulein Theresa you will find a very interesting person. I wonder what
it is that brings her hither; for, you must know, Lothario and she once
passionately loved each other. In spite of the distance, he often used
to visit her: I was staying with her then; I thought they would have
lived and died for one another. But all at once it went to wreck, no
creature could discover why. He had seen me, and I must confess that I
was envious of Theresa's fortune; that I scarcely hid my love from him;
that, when he suddenly appeared to choose me in her stead, I could not
but accept of him. She behaved to me beyond my wishes, though it almost
seemed as if I had robbed her of this precious lover. But, ah! how many
thousand tears and pains that love of his has cost me! At first we met
only now and then, and by stealth, at some appointed place: but I could
not long endure that kind of life; in his presence only was I happy,
wholly happy! Far from him, my eyes were never dry, my pulse was never
calm. Once he staid away for several days: I was altogether in despair;
I ordered out my carriage, and surprised him here. He received me
tenderly; and, had not this unlucky quarrel happened, I should have led
a heavenly life with him. But, since the time he began to be in danger
and in pain, I shall not say what I have suffered: at this moment I am
bitterly reproaching myself that I could leave him for a single day."

Wilhelm was proceeding to inquire about Theresa, when they reached the
lawyer's house. This gentleman came forward to the coach, lamenting
wofully that Fräulein Theresa was already gone. He invited them to
breakfast; signifying, however, that the lady might be overtaken in the
nearest village. They determined upon following her: the coachman did
not loiter; they had soon passed several villages, and yet come up with
nobody. Lydia now gave orders for returning: the coachman drove along,
as if he did not understand her. As she insisted with redoubled
vehemence, Wilhelm called to him, and gave the promised token. The
coachman answered that it was not necessary to go back by the same road:
he knew a shorter, and, at the same time, greatly easier one. He turned
aside across a wood, and over large commons. At last, no object they
could recognize appearing, he confessed that unfortunately he had lost
his way; declaring, at the same time, that he would soon get right
again, as he saw a little town before him. Night came on: the coachman
managed so discreetly, that he asked everywhere, and nowhere waited for
an answer. He drove along all night: Lydia never closed an eye; in the
moonshine she was constantly detecting similarities, which as constantly
turned out to be dissimilar. In the morning things around seemed known
to her, and but more strange on that account. The coach drew up before a
neat little country-house: a young lady stepped out, and opened the
carriage-door. Lydia looked at her with a stare of wonder, looked round,
looked at her again, and fainted in the arms of Wilhelm.


Wilhelm was conducted to a little upper room: the house was new, as
small nearly as it could be, and extremely orderly and clean. In
Theresa, who had welcomed him and Lydia at the coach, he had not found
his Amazon: she was another and an altogether different woman. Handsome,
and but of middle stature, she moved about with great alertness; and it
seemed as if her clear, blue, open eyes let nothing that occurred escape

She entered Wilhelm's room, inquiring if he wanted any thing. "Pardon
me," said she, "for having lodged you in a chamber which the smell of
paint still renders disagreeable: my little dwelling is but just made
ready; you are handselling this room, which is appointed for my guests.
Would that you had come on some more pleasant errand! Poor Lydia is like
to be a dull companion: in other points, also, you will have much to
pardon. My cook has run away from me, at this unseasonable time; and a
serving-man has bruised his hand. The case might happen I had to manage
every thing myself; and if it were so, why, then we should just put up
with it. One is plagued so with nobody as with one's servants: none of
them will serve you, scarcely even serve himself."

She said a good deal more on different matters: in general she seemed to
like speaking. Wilhelm inquired for Lydia,--if he might not see her, and
endeavor to excuse himself.

"It will have no effect at present," said Theresa: "time excuses, as it
comforts. Words, in both cases, are of little effect. Lydia will not see
you. 'Keep him from my sight,' she cried, when I was leaving her: 'I
could almost despair of human nature. Such an honorable countenance, so
frank a manner, and this secret guile!' Lothario she has quite forgiven:
in a letter to the poor girl, he declares, 'My friends persuaded me, my
friends compelled me!' Among these she reckons you, and she condemns you
with the rest."

"She does me too much honor in so blaming me," said Wilhelm: "I have no
pretension to the friendship of that noble gentleman; on this occasion,
I am but a guiltless instrument. I will not praise what I have done: it
is enough that I could do it. It concerned the health, it concerned the
life, of a man whom I value more than any one I ever knew before. Oh,
what a man is he, Fräulein! and what men are they that live about him!
In their society, I for the first time, I may well say, carried on a
conversation; for the first time, was the inmost sense of my words
returned to me, more rich, more full, more comprehensive, from another's
mouth; what I had been groping for was rendered clear to me; what I had
been thinking I was taught to see. Unfortunately this enjoyment was
disturbed, at first by numerous anxieties and whims, and then by this
unpleasant task. I undertook it with submission; for I reckoned it my
duty, even though I sacrificed my feelings, to comply with the request
of this gifted company of men."

While he spoke, Theresa had been looking at him with a very friendly
air. "Oh, how sweet is it to hear one's own opinion uttered by a
stranger tongue! We are never properly ourselves until another thinks
entirely as we do. My own opinion of Lothario is perfectly the same as
yours: it is not every one that does him justice, and therefore all that
know him better are enthusiastic in esteem of him. The painful sentiment
that mingles with the memory of him in my heart cannot hinder me from
thinking of him daily." A sigh heaved her bosom as she spoke thus, and a
lovely tear glittered in her right eye. "Think not," continued she,
"that I am so weak, so easy to be moved. It is but the eye that weeps.
There was a little wart upon the under eyelid; they have happily removed
it, but the eye has been weak ever since; the smallest cause brings a
tear into it. Here sat the little wart: you cannot see a vestige of it

He saw no vestige, but he saw into her eye; it was clear as crystal: he
almost imagined he could see to the very bottom of her soul.

"We have now," said she, "pronounced the watchword of our friendship:
let us get entirely acquainted as fast as possible. The history of every
person paints his character. I will tell you what my life has been: do
you, too, place a little trust in me, and let us be united even when
distance parts us. The world is so waste and empty, when we figure only
towns and hills and rivers in it; but to know of some one here and there
whom we accord with, who is living on with us, even in silence,--this
makes our earthly ball a peopled garden."

She hastened off, engaging soon to take him out to walk. Her presence
had affected him agreeably: he wished to be informed of her relation to
Lothario. He was called: she came to meet him from her room. While they
descended, necessarily one by one, the straight and even steepish
stairs, she said, "All this might have been larger and grander, had I
chosen to accept the offers of your generous friend; but, to continue
worthy of him, I must study to retain the qualities which gave me merit
in his eyes. Where is the steward?" asked she, stepping from the bottom
of the stairs. "You must not think," continued she, "that I am rich
enough to need a steward: the few acres of my own little property I
myself can manage well enough. The steward is my new neighbor's, who has
bought a fine estate beside us, every point of which I am acquainted
with. The good old gentleman is lying ill of gout: his men are strangers
here; I willingly assist in settling them."

They took a walk through fields, meadows, and some orchards. Everywhere
Theresa kept instructing the steward; nothing so minute but she could
give account of it: and Wilhelm had reason to wonder at her knowledge,
her precision, the prompt dexterity with which she suggested means for
ends. She loitered nowhere, always hastened to the leading-points; and
thus her task was quickly over. "Salute your master," said she, as she
sent away the man: "I mean to visit him as soon as possible, and wish
him a complete recovery. There, now," she added with a smile, as soon as
he was gone, "I might soon be rich: my good neighbor, I believe, would
not be disinclined to offer me his hand."

"The old man with the gout?" cried Wilhelm: "I know not how,
at your years, you could bring yourself to make so desperate a
determination."--"Nor am I tempted to it!" said Theresa. "Whoever can
administer what he possesses has enough; and to be wealthy is a
burdensome affair, unless you understand it."

Wilhelm testified his admiration at her skill in husbandry concerns.
"Decided inclination, early opportunity, external impulse, and continued
occupation in a useful business," said she, "make many things, which
were at first far harder, possible in life. When you have learned what
causes stimulated me in this pursuit, you will cease to wonder at the
talent you now think strange."

On returning home, she sent him to her little garden. Here he could
scarcely turn himself, so narrow were the walks, so thickly was it sown
and planted. On looking over to the court, he could not help smiling:
the fire-wood was lying there, as accurately sawed, split, and piled, as
if it had been part of the building, and had been intended to continue
permanently there. The tubs and implements, all clean, were standing in
their places: the house was painted white and red; it was really
pleasant to behold. Whatever can be done by handicraft, which knows not
beautiful proportions, but labors for convenience, cheerfulness, and
durability, appeared united in this spot. They served him up dinner in
his own room: he had time enough for meditating. Especially it struck
him, that he should have got acquainted with another person of so
interesting a character, who had been so closely related to Lothario.
"It is just," said he to himself, "that a man so gifted should attract
round him gifted women. How far the influence of manliness and dignity
extends! Would that others did not come so wofully short, compared with
him! Yes, confess thy fear. When thou meetest with thy Amazon, this
woman of women, in spite of all thy hopes and dreaming, thou wilt find
her, in the end, to thy humiliation and thy shame,--his bride."


Wilhelm had passed a restless afternoon, not altogether without tedium,
when towards evening his door opened, and a handsome hunter-boy stepped
forward with a bow. "Shall we have a walk?" said the youth; and in the
instant Wilhelm recognized Theresa by her lovely eyes.

"Pardon me this masquerade," said she; "for now, alas! it is nothing
more. But, as I am going to tell you of the time when I so enjoyed the
world, I will recall those days by every method to my fancy. Come along!
Even the place where we have rested so often from our hunts and
promenades shall help me."

They went accordingly. On their way Theresa said to her attendant, "It
is not fair that I alone should speak: you already know enough of me, I
nothing about you. Tell me, in the mean while, something of yourself,
that I may gather courage to submit to you my history and
situation."--"Alas!" said Wilhelm, "I have nothing to relate but error
on the back of error, deviation following deviation; and I know none
from whom I would more gladly hide my present and my past embarrassments
than from yourself. Your look, the scene you move in, your whole
temperament and manner, prove to me that you have reason to rejoice in
your by-gone life; that you have travelled by a fair, clear path in
constant progress; that you have lost no time; that you have nothing to
reproach yourself withal."

Theresa answered with a smile, "Let us see if you will think so after
you have heard my history." They walked along: among some general
remarks, Theresa asked him, "Are you free?"--"I think I am," said he,
"and yet I do not wish it."--"Good!" said she: "that indicates a
complicated story: you also will have something to relate."

Conversing thus, they ascended the hill, and placed themselves beside a
lofty oak, which spread its shade far out on every side. "Here," said
she, "beneath this German tree, will I disclose to you the history of a
German maiden: listen to me patiently.

"My father was a wealthy nobleman of this province,--a cheerful,
clear-sighted, active, able man; a tender father, an upright friend, an
excellent economist. I knew but one fault in him: he was too compliant
to a wife who did not know his worth. Alas that I should have to say so
of my mother! Her nature was the opposite of his. She was quick and
changeful; without affection either for her home or for me, her only
child; extravagant, but beautiful, sprightly, full of talent, the
delight of a circle she had gathered round her. Her society, in truth,
was never large; nor did it long continue the same. It consisted
principally of men, for no woman could like to be near her; still less
could _she_ endure the merit or the praise of any woman. I resembled my
father, both in form and disposition. As the duckling, with its first
footsteps, seeks the water; so, from my earliest youth, the kitchen, the
storeroom, the granaries, the fields, were my selected element.
Cleanliness and order in the house seemed, even while I was playing in
it, to be my peculiar instinct, my peculiar object. This tendency gave
my father pleasure; and he directed, step by step, my childish endeavor
into the suitablest employments. On the contrary, my mother did not like
me; and she never for a moment hid it.

"I waxed in stature: with my years increased my turn for occupation, and
my father's love to me. When we were by ourselves, when walking through
the fields, when I was helping to examine his accounts, it was then I
could see how glad he was. While gazing on his eyes, I felt as if I had
been looking in upon myself; for it was in the eyes that I completely
resembled him. But, in the presence of my mother, he lost this energy,
this aspect: he excused me mildly when she blamed me unjustly and
violently; he took my part, not as if he would protect me, but as if he
would extenuate the demerit of my good qualities. To none of her
caprices did he set himself in opposition. She began to be immensely
taken with a passion for the stage: a theatre was soon got up; of men of
all shapes and ages, crowding to display themselves along with her upon
her boards, she had abundance; of women, on the other hand, there was
often a scarcity. Lydia, a pretty girl who had been brought up with me,
and who promised from the first to be extremely beautiful, had to
undertake the secondary parts; the mothers and the aunts were
represented by an ancient chamber-maid; while the leading heroines,
lovers, and shepherdesses of every kind were seized on by my mother. I
cannot tell you how ridiculous it seemed to me to see the people, every
one of whom I knew full well, standing on their scaffold, and
pretending, after they had dressed themselves in other clothes, to pass
for something else than what they were. In my eyes they were never any
thing but Lydia and my mother, this baron and that secretary, whether
they appeared as counts and princes, or as peasants; and I could not
understand how they meant to make me think that they were sad or happy,
that they were indifferent or in love, liberal or avaricious, when I
well knew the contrary to be the case. Accordingly I very seldom staid
among the audience: I always snuffed their candles, that I might not be
entirely without employment; I prepared the supper; and next morning,
before they rose, I used to have their wardrobe all sorted, which
commonly, the night before, they had left in a chaotic state.

"To my mother this activity appeared quite proper, but her love I could
not gain. She despised me; and I know for certain that she more than
once exclaimed with bitterness, 'If the mother could be as uncertain as
the father, you would scarcely take this housemaid for my daughter!'
Such treatment, I confess, at length entirely estranged me from her: I
viewed her conduct as the conduct of a person unconnected with me; and,
being used to watch our servants like a falcon (for this, be it said in
passing, is the ground of all true housekeeping), the proceedings of my
mother and her friends at the same time naturally forced themselves upon
my observation. It was easy to perceive that she did not look on all men
alike: I gave sharper heed, and soon found out that Lydia was her
confidant, and had herself, by this opportunity, become acquainted with
a passion, which, from her earliest youth, she had so often represented.
I was aware of all their meetings; but I held my tongue, hinting nothing
to my father, whom I was afraid of troubling. At last, however, I was
obliged to speak. Many of their enterprises could not be accomplished
without corrupting the servants. These now began to grow refractory:
they despised my father's regulations, disregarded my commands. The
disorders which arose from this I could not tolerate: I discovered all,
complained of all to my father.

"He listened to me calmly. 'Good girl!' replied he with a smile; 'I know
it all: be quiet, bear it patiently; for it is on thy account alone that
I endure it.'

"I was not quiet: I had not patience. I in secret blamed my father, for
I did not think that any reason should induce him to endure such things.
I called for regularity from all the servants: I was bent on driving
matters to extremity.

"My mother had been rich before her marriage, yet she squandered more
than she had a right to; and this, as I observed, occasioned many
conferences between my parents. For a long time the evil was not helped,
till at last the passions of my mother brought it to a head.

"Her first gallant became unfaithful in a glaring manner: the house, the
neighborhood, her whole condition, grew offensive to her. She insisted
on removing to a different estate; there she was too solitary: she
insisted on removing to the town; there she felt herself eclipsed among
the crowd. Of much that passed between my father and her I know nothing:
however, he at last determined, under stipulations which I did not
learn, to consent that she should take a journey, which she had been
meditating, to the south of France.

"We were now free; we lived as if in heaven: I do believe my father
could not be a loser, had he purchased her absence by a considerable
sum. All our useless domestics were dismissed, and fortune seemed to
smile on our undertakings: we had some extremely prosperous years; all
things succeeded to our wish. But, alas! this pleasing state was not of
long continuance: altogether unexpectedly my father had a shock of
palsy; it lamed his right side, and deprived him of the proper use of
speech. We had to guess at every thing that he required, for he never
could pronounce the word that he intended. There were times when this
was dreadfully afflicting to us: he would require expressly to be left
alone with me; with earnest gestures, he would signify that every one
should go away; and, when we saw ourselves alone, he could not speak the
word he meant. His impatience mounted to the highest pitch: his
situation touched me to the inmost heart. Thus much seemed certain: he
had something which he wished to tell me, which especially concerned my
interest. What longing did I feel to know it! At other times I could
discover all things in his eyes, but now it was in vain. Even his eyes
no longer spoke. Only this was clear: he wanted nothing, he desired
nothing; he was striving to discover something to me, which unhappily I
did not learn. His malady revisited him: he grew entirely inactive,
incapable of motion; and a short time afterwards he died.

"I know not how it had got rooted in my thoughts, that somewhere he had
hid a treasure which he wished at death to leave me rather than my
mother; I searched about for traces of it while he lived, but I could
meet with none: at his death a seal was put on every thing. I wrote to
my mother, offering to continue in the house, and manage for her: she
refused, and I was obliged to leave the place. A mutual testament was
now produced: it gave my mother the possession and the use of all; and I
was left, at least throughout her life, dependent on her. It was now
that I conceived I rightly understood my father's beckonings: I pitied
him for having been so weak; he had let himself be forced to do unjustly
to me even after he was dead. Certain of my friends maintained that it
was little better than if he had disinherited me: they called upon me to
attack the will by law, but this I never could resolve on doing. I
reverenced my father's memory too much: I trusted in destiny; I trusted
in myself.

"There was a lady in the neighborhood possessed of large property, with
whom I had always been on good terms: she gladly received me; I engaged
to superintend her household, and erelong the task grew very easy to me.
She lived regularly, she loved order in every thing; and I faithfully
assisted her in struggling with her steward and domestics. I am neither
of a niggardly nor grudging temper; but we women are disposed to insist,
more earnestly than men, that nothing shall be wasted. Embezzlement of
all sorts is intolerable to us: we require that each enjoy exactly in so
far as right entitles him.

"Here I was in my element once more: I mourned my father's death in
silence. My protectress was content with me: one small circumstance
alone disturbed my peace. Lydia returned: my mother had been harsh
enough to cast the poor girl off, after having altogether spoiled her.
Lydia had learned with her mistress to consider passions as her
occupation: she was wont to curb herself in nothing. On her unexpected
re-appearance, the lady whom I lived with took her in: she wished to
help me, but could train herself to nothing.

"About this time the relatives and future heirs of my protectress often
visited the house, to recreate themselves with hunting. Lothario was
frequently among them: it was not long till I had noticed, though
without the smallest reference to myself, how far he was superior to the
rest. He was courteous towards all, and Lydia seemed erelong to have
attracted his attention to her. Constantly engaged in something, I was
seldom with the company: while he was there I did not talk so much as
usual; for, I will confess it, lively conversation, from of old, had
been to me the finest seasoning of existence. With my father I was wont
to talk of every thing that happened. What you do not speak of, you
will seldom accurately think of. No man had I ever heard with greater
pleasure than I did Lothario, when he told us of his travels and
campaigns. The world appeared to lie before him clear and open, as to me
the district was in which I lived and managed. We were not entertained
with marvellous personal adventures, the extravagant half-truths of a
shallow traveller, who is always painting out himself, and not the
country he has undertaken to describe. Lothario did not tell us his
adventures: he led us to the place itself. I have seldom felt so pure a

"But still higher was my pleasure when I heard him talk, one evening,
about women. The subject happened to be introduced: some ladies of the
neighborhood had come to see us, and were speaking, in the common style,
about the cultivation of the female mind. Our sex, they said, was
treated unjustly: every sort of higher education men insisted on
retaining for themselves; they admitted us to no science, they required
us either to be dolls or family drudges. To all this Lothario said not
much; but, when the party was a little thinned, he gave us his opinion
more explicitly. 'It is very strange,' cried he, 'that men are blamed
for their proceeding here: they have placed woman on the highest station
she is capable of occupying. And where is there any station higher than
the ordering of the house? While the husband has to vex himself with
outward matters, while he has wealth to gather and secure, while perhaps
he takes part in the administration of the state, and everywhere depends
on circumstances; ruling nothing, I may say, while he conceives that he
is ruling much; compelled to be but politic where he would willingly be
reasonable, to dissemble where he would be open, to be false where he
would be upright; while thus, for the sake of an object which he never
reaches, he must every moment sacrifice the first of objects, harmony
with himself,--a reasonable housewife is actually governing in the
interior of her family; has the comfort and activity of every person in
it to provide for, and make possible. What is the highest happiness of
mortals, if not to execute what we consider right and good,--to be
really masters of the means conducive to our aims? And where should or
can our nearest aims be, but in the interior of our home? All those
indispensable and still to be renewed supplies, where do we expect, do
we require, to find them, if not in the place where we rise and where we
go to sleep, where kitchen and cellar, and every species of
accommodation for ourselves and ours, is to be always ready? What
unvarying activity is needed to conduct this constantly recurring series
in unbroken living order! How few are the men to whom it is given to
return regularly like a star, to command their day as they command their
night; to form for themselves their household instruments, to sow and to
reap, to gain and to expand, and to travel round their circle with
perpetual success and peace and love! It is when a woman has attained
this inward mastery, that she truly makes the husband whom she loves, a
master: her attention will acquire all sorts of knowledge; her activity
will turn them all to profit. Thus is she dependent upon no one; and she
procures her husband genuine independence, that which is interior and
domestic: whatever he possesses, he beholds secured; what he earns, well
employed: and thus he can direct his mind to lofty objects; and, if
fortune favors, he may act in the state the same character which so well
becomes his wife at home.'

"He then described to us the kind of wife he wished. I reddened; for he
was describing me, as I looked and lived. I silently enjoyed my triumph;
and the more, as I perceived, from all the circumstances, that he had
not meant me individually, that, indeed, he did not know me. I cannot
recollect a more delightful feeling in my life than this, when a man
whom I so highly valued gave the preference, not to my person, but to my
inmost nature. What a recompense did I consider it! What encouragement
did it afford me!

"So soon as they were gone, my worthy benefactress with a smile observed
to me, 'Pity that men often think and speak of what they will never
execute, else here were a special match, the exact thing for my dear
Theresa!' I made sport of her remark, and added, that indeed men's
understanding gave its vote for household wives, but that their heart
and imagination longed for other qualities; and that we household people
could not stand a rivalry with beautiful and lovely women. This was
spoken for the ear of Lydia; she did not hide from us that Lothario had
made a deep impression on her heart: and, in reality, he seemed at each
new visit to grow more and more attentive to her. She was poor, and not
of rank; she could not think of marriage; but she was unable to resist
the dear delight of charming and of being charmed. I had never loved,
nor did I love at present; but though it was unspeakably agreeable to
see in what light my turn of mind was viewed, how high it was ranked by
such a man, I will confess I still was not altogether satisfied. I now
wished that he should be acquainted with me, and should take a personal
interest in me. This wish arose, without the smallest settled thought of
any thing that could result from it.

"The greatest service I did my benefactress was in bringing into order
the extensive forests which belonged to her. In this precious property,
whose value time and circumstances were continually increasing, matters
still went on according to the old routine,--without regularity, without
plan, no end to theft and fraud. Many hills were standing bare: an equal
growth was nowhere to be found but in the oldest cuttings. I personally
visited the whole of them, with an experienced forester. I got the woods
correctly measured: I set men to hew, to sow, to plant; in a short time,
all things were in progress. That I might mount more readily on
horseback, and also walk on foot with less obstruction, I had a suit of
men's clothes made for me: I was present in many places, I was feared in

"Hearing that our young friends, with Lothario, were purposing to have
another hunt, it came into my head, for the first time in my life, to
make a figure, or, that I may not do myself injustice, to pass in the
eyes of this noble gentleman for what I was. I put on my men's clothes,
took my gun upon my shoulder, and went forward with our hunters, to
await the party on our marches. They came: Lothario did not know me; a
nephew of the lady introduced me to him as a clever forester, joked
about my youth, and carried on his jesting in my praise, till at last
Lothario recognized me. The nephew seconded my project, as if we had
concocted it together. He circumstantially and gratefully described what
I had done for the estates of his aunt, and consequently for himself.

"Lothario listened with attention: he talked with me, inquired
concerning all particulars of the estates and district. I, of course,
was glad to have such an opportunity of showing him my knowledge: I
stood my ordeal very well; I submitted certain projects of improvement
to him, which he sanctioned, telling me of similar examples, and
strengthening my arguments by the connection which he gave them. My
satisfaction grew more perfect every moment. Happily, however, I merely
wished that he should be acquainted with me, not that he should love me.
We came home; and I observed, more clearly than before, that the
attention he showed Lydia seemed expressive of a secret attachment. I
had reached my object, yet I was not at rest: from that day he showed a
true respect for me, a fine trust in me; in company he usually spoke to
me, asked my opinion, and appeared to be persuaded, that, in household
matters, nothing was unknown to me. His sympathy excited me extremely:
even when the conversation was of general finance and political economy,
he used to lead me to take part in it; and, in his absence, I endeavored
to acquire more knowledge of our province, nay, of all the empire. The
task was easy for me: it was but repeating on the great scale what I
knew so accurately on the small.

"From this period he visited our house oftener. We talked, I may say, of
every thing; yet in some degree our conversation always in the end grew
economical, if even but in a secondary sense. What immense effects a
man, by the continuous application of his powers, his time, his money,
even by means which seem but small, may bring about, was frequently and
largely spoken of.

"I did not withstand the tendency which drew me towards him; and, alas!
I felt too soon how deep, how cordial, how pure and genuine, was my
love, as I believed it more and more apparent that Lydia, and not
myself, was the occasion of these visits. She, at least, was most
vividly persuaded so: she made me her confidant; and this, again, in
some degree, consoled me. For, in truth, what she explained so much to
her advantage, I reckoned nowise of importance: there was not a trace of
any serious lasting union being meditated, but the more distinctly did I
see the wish of the impassioned girl to be his at any price.

"Thus did matters stand, when the lady of the house surprised me with an
unexpected message. 'Lothario,' said she, 'offers you his hand, and
desires through life to have you ever at his side.' She enlarged upon my
qualities, and told me, what I liked sufficiently to hear, that in me
Lothario was persuaded he had found the person whom he had so long been
seeking for.

"The height of happiness was now attained for me: my hand was asked by a
man for whom I had the greatest value, beside whom, and along with whom,
I might expect a full, expanded, free, and profitable employment of my
inborn tendency, of my talent perfected by practice. The sum of my
existence seemed to have enlarged itself into infinitude. I gave my
consent: he himself came, and spoke with me in private; he held out his
hand to me; he looked into my eyes, he clasped me in his arms, and
pressed a kiss upon my lips. It was the first and the last. He confided
to me all his circumstances; told me how much his American campaign had
cost him, what debts he had accumulated on his property: that, on this
score, he had in some measure quarrelled with his grand-uncle; that the
worthy gentleman intended to relieve him, though truly in his own
peculiar way, being minded to provide him with a rich wife, whereas, a
man of sense would choose a household wife, at all events; that,
however, by his sister's influence, he hoped his noble relative would be
persuaded. He set before me the condition of his fortune, his plans, his
prospects, and requested my co-operation. Till his uncle should consent,
our promise was to be a secret.

"Scarcely was he gone when Lydia asked me whether he had spoken of her.
I answered no, and tired her with a long detail of economical affairs.
She was restless, out of humor; and his conduct, when he came again, did
not improve her situation.

"But the sun, I see, is bending to the place of rest. Well for you, my
friend! You would otherwise have had to hear this story, which I often
enough go over by myself, in all its most minute particulars. Let me
hasten: we are coming to an epoch on which it is not good to linger.

"By Lothario I was made acquainted with his noble sister; and she, at a
convenient time, contrived to introduce me to the uncle. I gained the
old man: he consented to our wishes, and I returned with happy tidings
to my benefactress. The affair was now no secret in the house: Lydia
heard of it; she thought the thing impossible. When she could no longer
doubt of it, she vanished all at once: we knew not whither she had gone.

"Our marriage-day was coming near: I had often asked him for his
portrait; just as he was going off, I reminded him that he had promised
it. He said, 'You have never given me the case you want to have it
fitted into.' This was true: I had got a present from a female friend,
on which I set no ordinary value. Her name, worked from her own hair,
was fastened on the outer glass: within, there was a vacant piece of
ivory, on which her portrait was to have been painted, when a sudden
death snatched her from me. Lothario's love had cheered me at the time
her death lay heavy on my spirits, and I wished to have the void which
she had left me in her present filled by the picture of my friend.

"I ran to my chamber, fetched my jewel-box, and opened it in his
presence. Scarcely had he looked into it, when he noticed a medallion
with the portrait of a lady. He took it in his hand, considered it
attentively, and asked me hastily whose face it was. 'My mother's,'
answered I. 'I could have sworn,' said he, 'that it was the portrait of
a Madame Saint Alban, whom I met some years ago in Switzerland.'--'It is
the same,' replied I, smiling, 'and so you have unwittingly become
acquainted with your step-mother. Saint Alban is the name my mother has
assumed for travelling with: she passes under it in France at present.'

"'I am the miserablest man alive!' exclaimed he, as he threw the
portrait back into the box, covered his eyes with his hand, and hurried
from the room. He sprang on horseback: I ran to the balcony, and called
out after him; he turned, waved his hand to me, went speedily away,--and
I have never seen him more."

The sun went down: Theresa gazed with unaverted looks upon the splendor,
and both her fine eyes filled with tears.

Theresa spoke not: she laid her hand upon her new friend's hands; he
kissed it with emotion: she dried her tears, and rose. "Let us return,
and see that all is right," said she.

The conversation was not lively by the way. They entered the
garden-door, and noticed Lydia sitting on a bench: she rose, withdrew
before them, and walked in. She had a paper in her hand: two little
girls were by her. "I see," observed Theresa, "she is still carrying her
only comfort, Lothario's letter, with her. He promises that she shall
live with him again so soon as he is well: he begs of her till then to
stay in peace with me. On these words she hangs, with these lines she
solaces herself; but with his friends she is extremely angry."

Meanwhile the two children had approached. They courtesied to Theresa,
and gave her an account of all that had occurred while she was absent.
"You see here another part of my employment," said Theresa. "Lothario's
sister and I have made a league: we educate some little ones in common;
such as promise to be lively, serviceable housewives I take charge of,
she of such as show a finer and more quiet talent: it is right to
provide for the happiness of future husbands, both in household and in
intellectual matters. When you become acquainted with my noble friend, a
new era in your life will open. Her beauty, her goodness, make her
worthy of the reverence of the world." Wilhelm did not venture to
confess, that unhappily the lovely countess was already known to him;
that his transient connection with her would occasion him perpetual
sorrow. He was well pleased that Theresa let the conversation drop, that
some business called for her within. He was now alone: the intelligence
which he had just received of the young and lovely countess being driven
to replace, by deeds of benevolence, her own lost comfort, made him very
sad; he felt, that, with her, it was but a need of self-oblivion, an
attempt to supply, by the hopes of happiness to others, the want of a
cheerful enjoyment of existence in herself. He thought Theresa happy,
since, even in that unexpected melancholy alteration which had taken
place in her prospects, there was no alteration needed in herself. "How
fortunate beyond all others," cried he, "is the man, who, in order to
adjust himself to fate, is not required to cast away his whole preceding

Theresa came into his room, and begged pardon for disturbing him. "My
whole library," said she, "is in the wall-press here: they are rather
books which I do not throw aside, than which I have taken up. Lydia
wants a pious book: there are one or two of that sort among them.
Persons who throughout the whole twelve months are worldly, think it
necessary to be godly at a time of straits: all moral and religious
matters they regard as physic, which is to be taken with aversion when
they are unwell; in a clergyman, a moralist, they see nothing but a
doctor, whom they cannot soon enough get rid of. Now, I confess, I look
upon religion as a kind of diet, which can only be so when I make a
constant practice of it, when throughout the whole twelve months I never
lose it out of sight."

She searched among the books: she found some edifying works, as they are
called. "It was of my mother," said Theresa, "that poor Lydia learned to
have recourse to books like these. While her gallant continued faithful,
plays and novels were her life: his departure brought religious writings
once more into credit. I, for my share, cannot understand," continued
she, "how men have made themselves believe that God speaks to us through
books and histories. The man to whom the universe does not reveal
directly what relation it has to him, whose heart does not tell him what
he owes to himself and others, that man will scarcely learn it out of
books, which generally do little more than give our errors names."

She left our friend alone: he passed his evening in examining the little
library; it had, in truth, been gathered quite at random.

Theresa, for the few days Wilhelm spent with her, continued still the
same: she related to him at different times the consequences of that
singular incident with great minuteness. Day and hour, place and name,
were present to her memory: we shall here compress into a word or two so
much of it as will be necessary for the information of our readers.

The reason of Lothario's quick departure was, unhappily, too easy to
explain. He had met Theresa's mother on her journey: her charms
attracted him; she was no niggard of them; and this luckless transitory
aberration came at length to shut him out from being united to a lady
whom nature seemed to have expressly made for him. As for Theresa, she
continued in the pure circle of her duties. They learned that Lydia had
been living in the neighborhood in secret. She was happy that the
marriage, though for unknown causes, had not been completed. She
endeavored to renew her intimacy with Lothario; and more, as it seemed,
out of desperation than affection, by surprise than with consideration,
from tedium than of purpose, he had met her wishes.

Theresa was not uneasy on this account; she waived all further claims;
and, if he had even been her husband, she would probably have had
sufficient spirit to endure a matter of this kind, if it had not
troubled her domestic order: at least, she often used to say, that a
wife who properly conducted her economy should take no umbrage at such
little fancies of her husband, but be always certain that he would

Erelong Theresa's mother had deranged her fortune: the losses fell upon
the daughter, whose share of the effects, in consequence, was small. The
old lady, who had been Theresa's benefactress, died, leaving her a
little property in land, and a handsome sum by way of legacy. Theresa
soon contrived to make herself at home in this new, narrow circle.
Lothario offered her a better property, Jarno endeavoring to negotiate
the business; but she refused it. "I will show," said she, "in this
little, that I deserved to share the great with him; but I keep this
before me, that, should accident embarrass me, on my own account or that
of others, I will betake myself without the smallest hesitation to my
generous friend."

There is nothing less liable to be concealed and unemployed than
well-directed practical activity. Scarcely had she settled in her little
property, when her acquaintance and advice began to be desired by many
of her neighbors; and the proprietor of the adjacent lands gave her
plainly enough to understand that it depended on herself alone whether
she would take his hand, and be heiress of the greater part of his
estates. She had already mentioned the matter to our friend: she often
jested with him about marriages, suitable and unsuitable.

"Nothing," said she once, "gives a greater loose to people's tongues
than when a marriage happens which they can denominate unsuitable: and
yet the unsuitable are far more common than the suitable; for, alas!
with most marriages, it is not long till things assume a very piteous
look. The confusion of ranks by marriage can be called unsuitable only
when the one party is unable to participate in the manner of existence
which is native, habitual, and which at length grows absolutely
necessary, to the other. The different classes have different ways of
living, which they cannot change or communicate to one another; and this
is the reason why connections such as these, in general, were better not
be formed. Yet exceptions, and exceptions of the happiest kind, are
possible. Thus, too, the marriage of a young woman with a man advanced
in life is generally unsuitable; yet I have seen some such turn out
extremely well. For me, I know but of one kind of marriage that would be
entirely unsuitable,--that in which I should be called upon to make a
show, and manage ceremonies: I would rather give my hand to the son of
any honest farmer in the neighborhood."

Wilhelm at length made ready for returning. He requested of Theresa to
obtain for him a parting word with Lydia. The impassioned girl at last
consented: he said some kindly things to her, to which she answered,
"The first burst of anguish I have conquered. Lothario will be ever dear
to me: but for those friends of his, I know them; and it grieves me that
they are about him. The abbé, for a whim's sake, could leave a person in
extreme need, or even plunge one into it; the doctor would have all
things go on like clock-work; Jarno has no heart; and you--at least no
force of character! Just go on: let these three people use you as their
tool; they will have many an execution to commit to you. For a long
time, as I know well, my presence has been hateful to them. I had not
found out their secret, but I had observed that they had one. Why these
bolted rooms, these strange passages? Why can no one ever reach the
central tower? Why did they banish me, whenever they could, to my own
chamber? I will confess, jealousy at first incited me to these
discoveries: I feared some lucky rival might be hid there. I have now
laid aside that suspicion: I am well convinced that Lothario loves me,
that he means honorably by me; but I am quite as well convinced that his
false and artful friends betray him. If you would really do him service,
if you would ever be forgiven for the injury which I have suffered from
you, free him from the hands of these men. But what am I expecting! Give
this letter to him; repeat what it contains,--that I will love him
forever, that I depend upon his word. Ah!" cried she, rising, and
throwing herself with tears upon Theresa's neck: "he is surrounded by my
foes; they will endeavor to persuade him that I have sacrificed nothing
for his sake. Oh! Lothario may well believe that he is worthy of any
sacrifice, without needing to be grateful for it."

Wilhelm's parting with Theresa was more cheerful: she wished they might
soon meet again. "Me you wholly know," said she: "I alone have talked
while we have been together. It will be your duty, next time, to repay
my candor."

During his return he kept contemplating this new and bright phenomenon
with the liveliest recollection. What confidence had she inspired him
with. He thought of Mignon and Felix, and how happy they might be if
under her direction; then he thought of himself, and felt what pleasure
it would be to live beside a being so entirely serene and clear. As he
approached Lothario's castle, he observed, with more than usual
interest, the central tower and the many passages and side-buildings: he
resolved to question Jarno or the abbé on the subject, by the earliest


On arriving at the castle, Wilhelm found its noble owner in the way of
full recovery: the doctor and the abbé had gone off; Jarno alone was
there. It was not long till the patient now and then could ride,
sometimes by himself, sometimes with his friends. His conversation was
at once courteous and earnest, instructive and enlivening: you could
often notice in it traces of a tender sensibility; although he strove to
hide it, and almost seemed to blame it, when, in spite of him, it came
to view.

One evening while at table he was silent, though his look was very

"To-day," said Jarno, "you have met with an adventure; and, no doubt,
you relished it."

"I give you credit for your penetration," said Lothario. "Yes, I have
met with a very pleasing adventure. At another time, perhaps, I should
not have considered it so charming as to-day, when it came upon me so
attractively. Towards night I rode out beyond the river, through the
hamlets, by a path which I had often visited in former years. My bodily
ailings must have reduced me more than I supposed: I felt weak; but, as
my strength was re-awakening, I was, as it were, new-born. All objects
seemed to wear the hues they had in earlier times: all looked graceful,
lovely, charming, as they have not looked to me for many years. I easily
observed that it was mere debility, yet I continued to enjoy it: I rode
softly onwards, and could now conceive how men may grow to like diseases
which attune us to those sweet emotions. You know, perhaps, what used of
old so frequently to lead me that way?"

"If I mistake not," answered Jarno, "it was a little love-concern you
were engaged in with a farmer's daughter."

"It might be called a great one," said Lothario; "for we loved each
other deeply, seriously, and for a long time. To-day, it happened, every
thing combined to represent before me in its liveliest color the
earliest season of our love. The boys were again shaking may-bugs from
the trees: the ashen grove had not grown larger since the day I saw her
first. It was now long since I had met with Margaret. She is married at
a distance; and I had heard by chance that she was come with her
children, some weeks ago, to pay a visit to her father."

"This ride, then, was not altogether accidental?"

"I will not deny," replied Lothario, "that I wished to meet her. On
coming near the house, I saw her father sitting at the door: a child of
probably a year old was standing by him. As I approached, a female gave
a hasty look from an upper window; and a minute afterwards I heard some
person tripping down-stairs. I thought surely it was she; and, I will
confess, I was flattering myself that she had recognized me, and was
hastening to meet me. But what was my surprise and disappointment, when
she bounded from the door, seized the child, to whom the horses had come
pretty close, and took it in! It gave me a painful twinge: my vanity,
however, was a little solaced when I thought I saw a tint of redness on
her neck and on the ear, which were uncovered.

"I drew up, and, while speaking with the father, glanced sideways over
all the windows, to observe if she would not appear at some of them; but
no trace of her was visible. Ask I would not, so I rode away. My
displeasure was a little mollified by wonder; though I had not seen the
face, it appeared to me that she was scarcely changed; and ten years are
a pretty space! Nay, she looked even younger, quite as slim, as light of
foot; her neck, if possible, was lovelier than before; her cheeks as
quick at blushing; yet she was the mother of six children, perhaps of
more. This apparition suited the enchantment which surrounded me so
well, that I rode along with feelings grown still younger; and I did not
turn till I was at the forest, when the sun was going down. Strongly as
the falling dew and the prescription of our doctor called upon me to
proceed direct homewards, I could not help again going round by the
farmhouse. I observed a woman walking up and down the garden, which is
fenced by a light hedge. I rode along the footpath to it, and found
myself at no great distance from the person whom I wanted.

"Though the evening sun was glancing in my eyes, I saw that she was busy
with the hedge, which only slightly covered her. I thought I recognized
my mistress. On coming up, I halted, not without a palpitation at the
heart. Some high twigs of wild roses, which a soft air was blowing to
and fro, made her figure indistinct to me. I spoke to her, asked her how
she was. She answered, in an under-tone, 'Quite well.' In the mean time
I perceived a child behind the hedge, engaged in plucking roses; and I
took the opportunity of asking where her other children were. 'It is not
my child,' said she: 'that were rather early!' And at this moment it
happened that the twigs were blown aside, and her face could be
distinctly seen. I knew not what to make of the affair. It was my
mistress, and it was not. Almost younger, almost lovelier, than she
used to be ten years before. 'Are not you the farmer's daughter?'
inquired I, half confused. 'No,' said she: 'I am her cousin.'

"'You resemble one another wonderfully,' added I.

"'Yes, so says every one that knew her half a score of years ago.'

"I continued putting various questions to her: my mistake was pleasant
to me, even after I had found it out. I could not leave this living
image of by-gone blessedness that stood before me. The child, meanwhile,
had gone away: it had wandered to the pond in search of flowers. She
took her leave, and hastened after it.

"I had now, however, learned that my former love was really in her
father's house. While riding forward, I employed myself in guessing
whether it had been her cousin or she that had secured the child from
harm. I more than once, in thought, repeated all the circumstances of
the incident: I can remember few things that have affected me more
gratefully. But I feel that I am still unwell: we must ask the doctor to
deliver us from the remains of this pathetic humor."

With confidential narratives of pretty love adventures, it often happens
as with ghost stories: when the first is told, the others follow of

Our little party, in recalling other times, found numerous passages of
this description. Lothario had the most to tell. Jarno's histories were
all of one peculiar character: what Wilhelm could disclose we already
know. He was apprehensive they might mention his adventure with the
countess; but it was not hinted at, not even in the remotest manner.

"It is true," observed Lothario, "there can scarcely any feeling in the
world be more agreeable than when the heart, after a pause of
indifference, again opens to love for some new object; yet I would
forever have renounced that happiness, had fate been pleased to unite me
with Theresa. We are not always youths: we ought not always to be
children. To the man who knows the world, who understands what he should
do in it, what he should hope from it, nothing can be more desirable
than meeting with a wife who will everywhere co-operate with him, who
will everywhere prepare his way for him; whose diligence takes up what
his must leave; whose occupation spreads itself on every side, while his
must travel forward on its single path. What a heaven had I figured for
myself beside Theresa! Not the heaven of an enthusiastic bliss, but of a
sure life on earth; order in prosperity, courage in adversity, care for
the smallest, and a spirit capable of comprehending and managing the
greatest. Oh! I saw in her the qualities which, when developed, make
such women as we find in history, whose excellence appears to us far
preferable to that of men,--this clearness of view, this expertness in
all emergencies, this sureness in details, which brings the whole so
accurately out, although they never seem to think of it. You may well
forgive me," added he, and turning to Wilhelm, with a smile, "that I
forsook Aurelia for Theresa: with the one I could expect a calm and
cheerful life, with the other not a happy hour."

"I will confess," said Wilhelm, "that, in coming hither, I had no small
anger in my heart against you; that I proposed to censure with severity
your conduct to Aurelia."

"It was really censurable," said Lothario: "I should not have exchanged
my friendship for her with the sentiment of love; I should not, in place
of the respect which she deserved, have intruded an attachment she was
neither calculated to excite nor to maintain. Alas! she was not lovely
when she loved,--the greatest misery that can befall a woman."

"Well, it is past!" said Wilhelm. "We cannot always shun the things we
blame; in spite of us, our feelings and our actions sometimes strangely
swerve from their natural and right direction; yet there are certain
duties which we never should lose sight of. Peace be to the ashes of our
friend! Without censuring ourselves or her, let us with sympathizing
hearts strew flowers upon her grave. But, at the grave in which the
hapless mother sleeps, let me ask why you acknowledge not the child,--a
son whom any father might rejoice in, and whom you appear entirely to
overlook? With your pure and tender nature, how can you altogether cast
away the instinct of a parent? All this while you have not spent one
syllable upon that precious creature, of whose attractions I could say
so much."

"Whom do you speak of?" asked Lothario: "I do not understand you."

"Of whom but of your son, Aurelia's son, the lovely child, to whose good
fortune there is nothing wanting, but that a tender father should
acknowledge and receive him."

"You mistake, my friend!" exclaimed Lothario; "Aurelia never had a son,
at least by me: I know of no child, or I would with joy acknowledge it;
and, even in the present case, I will gladly look upon the little
creature as a relic of her, and take charge of educating it. But did
she ever give you to believe that the boy was hers, was mine?"

"I cannot recollect that I ever heard a word from her expressly on the
subject; but we took it up so, and I never for a moment doubted it."

"I can give you something like a clew to this perplexity," said Jarno.
"An old woman, whom you must have noticed often, gave Aurelia the child:
she accepted it with passion, hoping to alleviate her sorrows by its
presence; and, in truth, it gave her many a comfortable hour."

This discovery awoke anxieties in Wilhelm: he thought of his dear Mignon
and his beautiful Felix with the liveliest distinctness. He expressed
his wish to remove them both from the state in which they were.

"We shall soon arrange it," said Lothario. "The little girl may be
committed to Theresa: she cannot be in better hands. As for the boy, I
think you should yourself take charge of him: what in us the women leave
uncultivated, children cultivate when we retain them near us."

"But first, I think," said Jarno, "you will once for all renounce the
stage, as you have no talent for it."

Our friend was struck: he had to curb himself, for Jarno's harsh
sentence had not a little wounded his self-love. "If you convince me of
that," replied he, forcing a smile, "you will do me a service, though it
is but a mournful service to rouse one from a pleasing dream."

"Without enlarging on the subject," answered Jarno, "I could merely wish
you would go and fetch the children. The rest will come in course."

"I am ready," answered Wilhelm: "I am restless, and curious to see if I
can get no further knowledge of the boy: I long to see the little girl
who has attached herself so strangely to me."

It was agreed that he should lose no time in setting out. Next day he
had prepared himself: his horse was saddled; he only waited for Lothario
to take leave of him. At the dinner-hour they went as usual to table,
not waiting for the master of the house. He did not come till late, and
then sat down by them.

"I could bet," said Jarno, "that to-day you have again been making trial
of your tenderness of heart: you have not been able to withstand the
curiosity to see your quondam love."

"Guessed!" replied Lothario.

"Let us hear," said Jarno, "how it went: I long to know."

"I confess," replied Lothario, "the affair lay nearer my heart than it
reasonably ought: so I formed the resolution of again riding out, and
actually seeing the person whose renewed young image had affected me
with such a pleasing illusion. I alighted at some distance from the
house, and sent the horses to a side, that the children, who were
playing at the door, might not be disturbed. I entered the house: by
chance she met me just within the threshold; it was herself; and I
recognized her, notwithstanding the striking change. She had grown
stouter, and seemed to be larger; her gracefulness was shaded by a look
of staidness; her vivacity had passed into a calm reflectiveness. Her
head, which she once bore so airily and freely, drooped a little: slight
furrows had been traced upon her brow.

"She cast down her eyes on seeing me, but no blush announced any inward
movement of the heart. I held out my hand to her, she gave me hers; I
inquired about her husband, he was absent; about her children, she
stepped out and called them; all came in and gathered round her. Nothing
is more charming than to see a mother with a child upon her arm; nothing
is more reverend than a mother among many children. That I might say
something, I asked the name of the youngest. She desired me to walk in
and see her father; I agreed; she introduced me to the room, where every
thing was standing almost just as I had left it; and, what seemed
stranger still, the fair cousin, her living image, was sitting on the
very seat behind the spinning-wheel, where I had found my love so often
in the self-same form. A little girl, the very figure of her mother, had
come after us; and thus I stood in the most curious scene, between the
future and the past, as in a grove of oranges, where within a little
circle flowers and fruits are living, in successive stages of their
growth, beside each other. The cousin went away to fetch us some
refreshment: I gave the woman I had loved so much my hand, and said to
her, 'I feel a true joy in seeing you again.'--'You are very good to say
so,' answered she; 'but I also can assure you I feel the highest joy.
How often have I wished to see you once more in my life! I have wished
it in moments which I regarded as my last.' She said this with a settled
voice, without appearance of emotion, with that natural air which of old
delighted me so much. The cousin returned, the father with her; and I
leave you to conceive with what feelings I remained, and with what I
came away."


In his journey to the town, our friend was thinking of the lovely women
whom he knew or had heard of: their curious fortunes, which contained so
little happiness, were present to him with a sad distinctness. "Ah!"
cried he, "poor Mariana! What shall I yet learn of thee? And thou, noble
Amazon, glorious, protecting spirit, to whom I owe so much, whom I
everywhere expect to meet, and nowhere see, in what mournful
circumstances may I find thee, shouldst thou again appear before me!"

On his arrival in the town, there was not one of his acquaintances at
home: he hastened to the theatre; he supposed they would be rehearsing.
Here, however, all was still; the house seemed empty: one little door
alone was open. Passing through it to the stage, he found Aurelia's
ancient serving-maid, employed in sewing linen for a new decoration:
there was barely light enough to let her work. Felix and Mignon were
sitting by her on the floor: they had a book between them; and, while
Mignon read aloud, Felix was repeating all the words, as if he, too,
knew his letters,--as if he, too, could read.

The children started up, and ran to him: he embraced them with the
tenderest feelings, and brought them closer to the woman. "Art thou the
person," said he to her with an earnest voice, "from whom Aurelia
received this child?" She looked up from her work, and turned her face
to him: he saw her in full light; he started back in terror,--it was old

"Where is Mariana?" cried he. "Far from here," replied the crone.

"And Felix"--

"Is the son of that unhappy and too true and tender-hearted girl. May
you never feel what you have made us suffer! May the treasure which I
now deliver you make you as happy as he made us wretched!"

She arose to go away: Wilhelm held her fast. "I mean not to escape
you," said she: "let me fetch a paper that will make you glad and

She retired, and Wilhelm gazed upon the child with a painful joy: he
durst not reckon him his own. "He is thine!" cried Mignon, "he is
thine!" and passed the child to Wilhelm's knee.

Barbara came back, and handed him a letter. "Here are Mariana's last
words," said she.

"She is dead!" cried he.

"Dead," said the old woman. "I wish to spare you all reproaches."

Astonished and confounded, Wilhelm broke up the letter; but scarcely had
he read the first words of it when a bitter grief took hold of him: he
let the letter fall, and sank upon a seat. Mignon hurried to him, trying
to console him. In the mean time Felix had picked up the letter: he
teased his playmate till she yielded, till she knelt beside him and read
it over. Felix repeated the words, and Wilhelm was compelled to hear
them twice. "If this sheet should ever reach thee, then lament thy
ill-starred friend. Thy love has caused her death. The boy, whose birth
I survive but a few days, is thine: I die faithful to thee, much as
appearances may be against me; with thee I lost every thing that bound
me to life. I die content, for they have assured me that the child is
healthy and will live. Listen to old Barbara; forgive her: farewell, and
forget me not."

What a painful, and yet, to his comfort, half enigmatic letter! Its
contents pierced through his heart, as the children, stuttering and
stammering, pronounced and repeated them.

"That's what has come of it!" said the crone, not waiting till he had
recovered. "Thank Heaven, that, having lost so true a love, you have
still left you so fine a child. Your grief will be unequalled when you
learn how the poor, good girl stood faithful to you to the end, how
miserable she became, and what she sacrificed for your sake."

"Let me drain the cup of sorrow and of joy at once!" cried Wilhelm.
"Convince me, even persuade me, that she was a good girl, that she
deserved respect as well as love: then leave me to my grief for her
irreparable loss."

"It is not yet time," said Barbara: "I have work to do, and I would not
we were seen together. Let it be a secret that Felix is your son: I
should have too much abuse to suffer from the company, for having
formerly deceived them. Mignon will not betray us: she is good and

"I have known it long, and I said nothing," answered Mignon. "How is it
possible?" cried Barbara. "Whence?" cried Wilhelm.

"The spirit told it me."

"Where? Where?"

"In the vault, when the old man drew his knife, it called to me, 'Bring
his father;' and I thought it must be thou."

"_Who_ called to thee?"

"I know not: in my heart, in my head, I was terrified; I trembled, I
prayed; then it called, and I understood it."

Wilhelm pressed her to his heart, recommended Felix to her, and retired.
He had not observed till then that she was grown much paler and thinner
than when he left her. Madam Melina was the first acquaintance he met:
she received him in the friendliest manner. "Oh that you might find
every thing among us as you wished!" exclaimed she.

"I doubt it," answered Wilhelm: "I do not expect it. Confess that they
have taken all their measures to dispense with me."

"Why would you go away?" replied his friend.

"We cannot soon enough convince ourselves," said he, "how very simply we
may be dispensed with in the world. What important personages we
conceive ourselves to be! We think that it is we alone who animate the
circle we move in; that, in our absence, life, nourishment, and breath
will make a general pause: and, alas! the void which occurs is scarcely
remarked, so soon is it filled up again; nay, it is often but the place,
if not for something better, at least for something more agreeable."

"And the sorrows of our friends we are not to take into account?"

"For our friends, too, it is well, when they soon recover their
composure, when they say each to himself, there where thou art, there
where thou remainest, accomplish what thou canst; be busy, be courteous,
and let the present scene delight thee."

On a narrower inquiry, he found what he had looked for: the opera had
been set up, and was exclusively attracting the attention of the public.
His parts had in the mean while been distributed between Horatio and
Laertes, and both of them were in the habit of eliciting from the
spectators far more liberal applause than he had ever been enabled to

Laertes entered: and Madam Melina cried, "Look you here at this lucky
fellow; he is soon to be a capitalist, or Heaven knows what!" Wilhelm,
in embracing him, discovered that his coat was superfine: the rest of
his apparel was simple, but of the very best materials.

"Solve me the riddle!" cried our friend.

"You are still in time to learn," replied Laertes, "that my running to
and fro is now about to be repaid; that a partner in a large commercial
house is turning to advantage my acquirements from books or observation,
and allowing me a share with him. I would give something, could I
purchase back my confidence in women: there is a pretty niece in the
house; and I see well enough, that, if I pleased, I might soon be a made

"You have not heard," said Frau Melina, "that a marriage has already
taken place among ourselves? Serlo is actually wedded to the fair
Elmira: her father would not tolerate their secret correspondence."

They talked in this manner about many things that had occurred while he
was absent: nor was it difficult for him to observe, that, according to
the present temper and constitution of the company, his dismissal had
already taken place.

He impatiently expected Barbara, who had appointed him to wait for her
far in the night. She was to come when all were sleeping: she required
as many preparations as if she had been the youngest maiden gliding in
to her beloved. Meanwhile he read a hundred times the letter she had
given him,--read with unspeakable delight the word _faithful_ in the
hand of his darling, with horror the announcement of her death, whose
approaches she appeared to view unmoved.

Midnight was past, when something rustled at the half-open door, and
Barbara came in with a little basket. "I am to tell you the story of our
woes," said she: "and I must believe that you will sit unmoved at the
recital; that you are waiting for me but to satisfy your curiosity; that
you will now, as you did formerly, retire within your cold selfishness,
while our hearts are breaking. But look you here! Thus, on that happy
evening, did I bring you the bottle of champagne; thus did I place the
three glasses on the table: and as you then began, with soft nursery
tales, to cozen us and lull us asleep; so will I now with stern truths
instruct you and keep you waking."

Wilhelm knew not what to say, when the old woman, in fact, let go the
cork, and filled the three glasses to the brim.

"Drink!" cried she, having emptied at a draught her foaming glass.
"Drink, ere the spirit of it pass! This third glass shall froth away
untasted to the memory of my unhappy Mariana. How red were her lips when
she then drank your health! Ah, and now forever pale and cold!"

"Sibyl! Fury!" cried Wilhelm, springing up, and striking the table with
his fist, "what evil spirit possesses thee and drives thee? For what
dost thou take me, that thou thinkest the simplest narrative of
Mariana's death and sorrows will not harrow me enough, but usest these
hellish arts to sharpen my torment? If thy insatiable greediness is
such, that thou must revel at the funeral-table, drink and speak! I have
loathed thee from of old; and I cannot reckon Mariana guiltless while I
even look upon thee, her companion."

"Softly, mein Herr!" replied the crone: "you shall not ruffle me. Your
debts to us are deep and dark: the railing of a debtor does not anger
one. But you are right: the simplest narrative will punish you
sufficiently. Hear, then, the struggle and the victory of Mariana
striving to continue yours."

"Continue mine?" cried Wilhelm: "what fable dost thou mean to tell me?"

"Interrupt me not," said she; "hear me, and then give what belief you
list: to me it is all one. Did you not, the last night you were with us,
find a letter in the room, and take it with you?"

"I found the letter _after_ I had taken it with me: it was lying in the
neckerchief, which, in the warmth of my love, I had seized and carried

"What did the sheet contain?"

"The expectation of an angry lover to be better treated on the next than
he had been on the preceding evening. And that you kept your word to
him, I need not be told; for I saw him with my own eyes gliding from
your house before daybreak."

"You may have seen him; but what occurred within, how sadly Mariana
passed that night, how fretfully I passed it, you are yet to learn. I
will be altogether candid: I will neither hide nor palliate the fact,
that I persuaded Mariana to yield to the solicitations of a certain
Norberg; it was with repugnance that she followed my advice, nay, that
she even heard it. He was rich; he seemed attached: I hoped he would be
constant. Soon after, he was forced to go upon his journey; and Mariana
became acquainted with you. What had I then to abide! What to hinder,
what to undergo! 'Oh!' cried she often, 'hadst thou spared my youth, my
innocence, but four short weeks, I might have found a worthy object of
my love; I had then been worthy of him; and love might have given, with
a quiet conscience, what now I have sold against my will.' She entirely
abandoned herself to her affection for you: I need not ask if you were
happy. Over her understanding I had an unbounded power, for I knew the
means of satisfying all her little inclinations: but over her heart I
had no control; for she never sanctioned what I did for her, what I
counselled her to do, when her heart said nay. It was only to
irresistible necessity that she would yield, but erelong the necessity
appeared to her extremely pressing. In the first period of her youth,
she had never known want; by a complication of misfortunes, her people
lost their fortune; the poor girl had been used to have a number of
conveniences; and upon her young spirit certain principles of honor had
been stamped, which made her restless, without much helping her. She had
not the smallest skill in worldly matters: she was innocent in the
strictest meaning of the word. She had no idea that one could buy
without paying; nothing frightened her more than being in debt: she
always rather liked to give than take. This, and this alone, was what
made it possible that she could be constrained to give herself away, in
order to get rid of various little debts which weighed upon her."

"And couldst not thou," cried Wilhelm, in an angry tone, "have saved

"Oh, yes!" replied the beldame, "with hunger and need, with sorrow and
privation; but for this I was not disposed."

"Abominable, base procuress! So thou hast sacrificed the hapless
creature! Offered her up to thy throat, to thy insatiable maw!"

"It were better to compose yourself, and cease your reviling," said the
dame. "If you will revile, go to your high, noble houses: there you will
meet with many a mother, full of anxious cares to find out for some
lovely, heavenly maiden the most odious of men, provided he be the
richest. See the poor creature shivering and faltering before her fate,
and nowhere finding consolation, till some more experienced female lets
her understand, that, by marriage, she acquires the right, in future, to
dispose of her heart and person as she pleases."

"Peace!" cried Wilhelm. "Dost thou think that one crime can be the
excuse of another? To thy story, without further observations!"

"Do you listen, then, without blaming! Mariana became yours against my
will. In this adventure, at least, I have nothing to reproach myself
with. Norberg returned; he made haste to visit Mariana: she received him
coldly and angrily,--would not even admit him to a kiss. I employed all
my art in apologizing for her conduct,--gave him to understand that her
confessor had awakened her conscience: that, so long as conscientious
scruples lasted, one was bound to respect them. I at last so far
succeeded that he went away, I promising to do my utmost for him. He was
rich and rude; but there was a touch of goodness in him, and he loved
Mariana without limit. He promised to be patient, and I labored with the
greatest ardor not to try him too far. With Mariana I had a stubborn
contest: I persuaded her, nay, I may call it forced her, by the threat
of leaving her, to write to Norberg, and invite him for the night. You
came, and by chance picked up his answer in the neckerchief. Your
presence broke my game. For scarcely were you gone, when she anew began
her lamentation: she swore she would not be unfaithful to you; she was
so passionate, so frantic, that I could not help sincerely pitying her.
In the end, I promised, that for this night also I would pacify her
lover, and send him off, under some pretence or other. I entreated her
to go to bed, but she did not seem to trust me: she kept on her clothes,
and at last fell asleep, without undressing, agitated and exhausted with
weeping as she was.

"Norberg came; representing in the blackest hues her conscientious
agonies and her repentance, I endeavored to retain him: he wished to see
her, and I went into the room to prepare her; he followed me, and both
of us at once came forward to her bed. She awoke, sprang wildly up, and
tore herself from our arms: she conjured and begged, she entreated,
threatened, and declared she would not yield. She was improvident enough
to let fall some words about the true state of her affections, which
poor Norberg had to understand in a spiritual sense. At length he left
her, and she locked her door. I kept him long with me, and talked with
him about her situation. I told him that she was with child; that, poor
girl, she should be humored. He was so delighted with his fatherhood,
with his prospect of a boy, that he granted every thing she wished: he
promised rather to set out and travel for a time, than vex his dear,
and injure her by these internal troubles. With such intentions, at an
early hour he glided out; and if you, mein Herr, stood sentry by our
house, there was nothing wanting to your happiness, but to have looked
into the bosom of your rival, whom you thought so favored and so
fortunate, and whose appearance drove you to despair."

"Art thou speaking truth?" said Wilhelm.

"True," said the crone, "as I still hope to drive you to despair."

"Yes: certainly you would despair, if I could rightly paint to you the
following morning. How cheerfully did she awake! how kindly did she call
me in, how warmly thank me, how cordially press me to her bosom! 'Now,'
said she, stepping up to her mirror with a smile, 'can I again take
pleasure in myself, and in my looks, since once more I am my own, am
his, my one beloved friend's. How sweet is it to conquer! How I thank
thee for taking charge of me; for having turned thy prudence and thy
understanding, once, at least, to my advantage! Stand by me, and devise
the means of making me entirely happy!'

"I assented, would not irritate her: I flattered her hopes, and she
caressed me tenderly. If she retired but a moment from the window, I was
made to stand and watch: for you, of course, would pass; for she at
least would see you. Thus did we spend the restless day. At night, at
the accustomed hour, we looked for you with certainty. I was already out
waiting at the staircase: I grew weary, and came in to her again. With
surprise I found her in her military dress: she looked cheerful and
charming beyond what I had ever seen her. 'Do I not deserve,' said she,
'to appear to-night in man's apparel? Have I not struggled bravely? My
dearest shall see me as he saw me for the first time: I will press him
as tenderly and with greater freedom to my heart than then; for am I not
his much more than I was then, when a noble resolution had not freed me?
But,' added she, after pausing for a little, 'I have not yet entirely
won him; I must still risk the uttermost, in order to be worthy, to be
certain of possessing him; I must disclose the whole to him, discover to
him all my state, then leave it to himself to keep or to reject me. This
scene I am preparing for my friend, preparing for myself; and, were his
feelings capable of casting me away, I should then belong again entirely
to myself; my punishment would bring me consolation, I would suffer all
that fate could lay upon me.'

"With such purposes and hopes, mein Herr, this lovely girl expected you:
you came not. Oh! how shall I describe the state of watching and of
hope? I see thee still before me,--with what love, what heartfelt love,
thou spokest of the man whose cruelty thou hadst not yet experienced."

"Good, dear Barbara!" cried Wilhelm, springing up, and seizing the old
woman by the hand, "we have had enough of mummery and preparation! Thy
indifferent, thy calm, contented tone betrays thee. Give me back my
Mariana! She is living, she is near at hand. Not in vain didst thou
choose this late, lonely hour to visit me; not in vain hast thou
prepared me by thy most delicious narrative. Where is she? Where hast
thou hidden her? I believe all, I will promise to believe all, so thou
but show her to me, so thou give her to my arms. The shadow of her I
have seen already: let me clasp her once more to my bosom. I will kneel
before her, I will entreat forgiveness; I will congratulate her upon her
victory over herself and thee; I will bring my Felix to her. Come! Where
hast thou concealed her? Leave _her_, leave me no longer in uncertainty!
Thy object is attained. Where hast thou hidden her? Let me light thee
with this candle, let me once more see her fair and kindly face!"

He had pulled old Barbara from her chair: she stared at him; tears
started into her eyes, wild pangs of grief took hold of her. "What
luckless error," cried she, "leaves you still a moment's hope? Yes, I
have hidden her, but beneath the ground: neither the light of the sun
nor any social taper shall again illuminate her kindly face. Take the
boy Felix to her grave, and say to him, 'There lies thy mother, whom thy
father doomed unheard.' The heart of Mariana beats no longer with
impatience to behold you: not in a neighboring chamber is she waiting
the conclusion of my narrative or fable; the dark chamber has received
her, to which no bridegroom follows, from which none comes to meet a

She cast herself upon the floor beside a chair, and wept bitterly.
Wilhelm now, for the first time, felt entirely convinced that Mariana
was no more: his emotions it is easy to conceive. The old woman rose: "I
have nothing more to tell you," cried she, and threw a packet on the
table. "Here are some writings that will put your cruelty to shame:
peruse these sheets with unwet eyes, if you can." She glided softly out.
Our friend had not the heart to open the pocket-book that night: he had
himself presented it to Mariana; he knew that she had carefully
preserved in it every letter he had sent her. Next morning he prevailed
upon himself: he untied the ribbon; little notes came forward written
with pencil in his own hand, and recalled to him every situation, from
the first day of their graceful acquaintance to the last of their stern
separation. In particular, it was not without acute anguish that he read
a small series of billets which had been addressed to himself, and to
which, as he saw from their tenor, Werner had refused admittance.

"No one of my letters has yet penetrated to thee; my entreaties, my
prayers, have not reached thee; was it thyself that gave these cruel
orders? Shall I never see thee more? Yet again I attempt it: I entreat
thee, come, oh come! I ask not to retain thee, if I might but once more
press thee to my heart."

"When I used to sit beside thee, holding thy hands, looking in thy eyes,
and with the full heart of love and trust to call thee 'Dear, dear good
Wilhelm!' it would please thee so, that I had to repeat it over and
over. I repeat it once again: 'Dear, dear good Wilhelm! Be good as thou
wert: come, and leave me not to perish in my wretchedness.'"

"Thou regardest me as guilty: I am so, but not as thou thinkest. Come,
let me have this single comfort, to be altogether known to thee, let
what will befall me afterwards."

"Not for my sake alone, for thy own too, I beg of thee to come. I feel
the intolerable pains thou art suffering, whilst thou fleest from me.
Come, that our separation may be less cruel! Perhaps I was never worthy
of thee till this moment, when thou art repelling me to boundless woe."

"By all that is holy, by all that can touch a human heart, I call upon
thee! It involves the safety of a soul, it involves a life, two lives,
one of which must ever be dear to thee. This, too, thy suspicion will
discredit: yet I will speak it in the hour of death; the child which I
carry under my heart is thine. Since I began to love thee, no other man
has even pressed my hand. Oh that thy love, that thy uprightness, had
been the companions of my youth!"

"Thou wilt not hear me? I must even be silent. But these letters will
not die: perhaps they will speak to thee, when the shroud is covering my
lips, and the voice of thy repentance cannot reach my ear. Through my
weary life, to the last moment, this will be my only comfort, that,
though I cannot call myself blameless, towards thee I am free from

       *       *       *       *       *

Wilhelm could proceed no farther: he resigned himself entirely to his
sorrow, which became still more afflicting; when, Laertes entering, he
was obliged to hide his feelings. Laertes showed a purse of ducats, and
began to count and reckon them, assuring Wilhelm that there could be
nothing finer in the world than for a man to feel himself on the way to
wealth; that nothing then could trouble or detain him. Wilhelm bethought
him of his dream, and smiled; but at the same time, he remembered with a
shudder, that in his vision Mariana had forsaken him, to follow his
departed father, and that both of them at last had moved about the
garden, hovering in the air like spirits.

Laertes forced him from his meditations: he brought him to a
coffee-house, where, immediately on Wilhelm's entrance, several persons
gathered round him. They were men who had applauded his performance on
the stage: they expressed their joy at meeting him; lamenting that, as
they had heard, he meant to leave the theatre. They spoke so reasonably
and kindly of himself and his acting, of his talent, and their hopes
from it, that Wilhelm, not without emotion, cried at last, "Oh, how
infinitely precious would such sympathy have been to me some months ago!
How instructive, how encouraging! Never had I turned my mind so totally
from the concerns of the stage, never had I gone so far as to despair of
the public."

"So far as this," said an elderly man who now stepped forward, "we
should never go. The public is large: true judgment, true feeling, are
not quite so rare as one believes; only the artist ought not to demand
an unconditional approval of his work. Unconditional approval is always
the least valuable: conditional you gentlemen are not content with. In
life, as in art, I know well, a person must take counsel with himself
when he purposes to do or to produce any thing: but, when it is produced
or done, he must listen with attention to the voices of a number; and,
with a little practice, out of these many votes he will be able to
collect a perfect judgment. The few who could well have saved us this
trouble for the most part hold their peace."

"This they should not do," said Wilhelm. "I have often heard people, who
themselves kept silence in regard to works of merit, complain and lament
that silence was kept."

"To-day, then, we will speak aloud," cried a young man. "You must dine
with us; and we will try to pay off a little of the debt which we have
owed to you, and sometimes also to our good Aurelia."

This invitation Wilhelm courteously declined: he went to Frau Melina,
whom he wished to speak with on the subject of the children, as he meant
to take them from her.

Old Barbara's secret was not too religiously observed by him. He
betrayed himself so soon as he again beheld the lovely Felix. "Oh my
child!" cried he: "my dear child!" He lifted him, and pressed him to his

"Father! what hast thou brought for me?" cried the child. Mignon looked
at both, as if she meant to warn them not to blab.

"What new phenomenon is this?" said Frau Melina. They got the children
sent away; and Wilhelm, thinking that he did not owe old Barbara the
strictest secrecy, disclosed the whole affair to Frau Melina. She viewed
him with a smile. "Oh, these credulous men!" exclaimed she. "If any
thing is lying in their path, it is so easy to impose it on them; while
in other cases they will neither look to the right nor left, and can
value nothing which they have not previously impressed with the stamp of
an arbitrary passion!" She sighed, against her will: if our friend had
not been altogether blind, he must have noticed in her conduct an
affection for him which had never been entirely subdued.

He now spoke with her about the children,--how he purposed to keep Felix
with him, and to place Mignon in the country. Madam Melina, though sorry
at the thought of parting with them, said the plan was good, nay,
absolutely necessary. Felix was becoming wild with her, and Mignon
seemed to need fresh air and other occupation: she was sickly, and was
not yet recovering.

"Let it not mislead you," added Frau Melina, "that I have lightly hinted
doubts about the boy's being really yours. The old woman, it is true,
deserves but little confidence; yet a person who invents untruths for
her advantage, may likewise speak the truth when truths are profitable
to her. Aurelia she had hoodwinked to believe that Felix was Lothario's
son; and it is a property of us women, that we cordially like the
children of our lovers, though we do not know the mothers, or even hate
them from the heart." Felix came jumping in: she pressed him to her with
a tenderness which was not usual to her.

Wilhelm hastened home, and sent for Barbara, who, however, would not
undertake to meet him till the twilight. He received her angrily. "There
is nothing in the world more shameful," said he, "than establishing
one's self on lies and fables. Already thou hast done much mischief with
them; and now, when thy word could decide the fortune of my life, now
must I stand dubious, not venturing to call the child my own, though to
possess him without scruple would form my highest happiness. I cannot
look upon thee, scandalous creature, without hatred and contempt."

"Your conduct, if I speak with candor," said the old woman, "appears to
me intolerable. Even if Felix were not yours, he is the fairest and the
loveliest child in nature: one might purchase him at any price, to have
him always near one. Is he not worthy your acceptance? Do not I deserve
for my care, for the labor I have had with him, a little pension for the
small remainder of my life? Oh, you gentlemen who know no want! It is
well for you to talk of truth and honor; but how the miserable being
whose smallest necessity is unprovided for, who sees in her perplexities
no friend, no help, no counsel, how she is to press through the crowd of
selfish men, and to starve in silence, you are seldom at the trouble to
consider. Did you read Mariana's letters? They are the letters she wrote
to you at that unhappy season. It was in vain that I attempted to
approach you to deliver you these sheets: your savage brother-in-law had
so begirt you, that craft and cunning were of no avail; and at last,
when he began to threaten me and Mariana with imprisonment, I had then
to cease my efforts and renounce all hope. Does not every thing agree
with what I told you? And does not Norberg's letter put the story
altogether out of doubt?"

"What letter?" asked he.

"Did you not find it in the pocket-book?" said Barbara.

"I have not yet read all of them."

"Give me the pocket-book: on that paper every thing depends. Norberg's
luckless billet caused this sorrowful perplexity: another from his hand
may loose the knots, so far as aught may still depend upon unravelling
them." She took a letter from the book: Wilhelm recognized that odious
writing; he constrained himself, and read,--

"Tell me, girl, how hast thou got such power over me? I would not have
believed that a goddess herself could make a sighing lover of me.
Instead of hastening towards me with open arms, thou shrankest back from
me: one might have taken it for aversion. Is it fair that I should spend
the night with old Barbara, sitting on a trunk, and but two doors
between me and my pretty Mariana? It is too bad, I tell thee! I have
promised to allow thee time to think, not to press thee unrelentingly: I
could run mad at every wasted quarter of an hour. Have not I given thee
gifts according to my power? Dost thou still doubt of my love? What wilt
thou have? Do but tell me: thou shalt want for nothing. Would the Devil
had the priest that put such stuff into thy head! Why didst thou go to
such a churl? There are plenty of them that allow young people somewhat.
In short, I tell thee, things must alter: in two days I must have an
answer, for I am to leave the town; and, if thou become not kind and
friendly to me, thou shalt never see me more."...

In this style the letter spun itself to great length; turning, to
Wilhelm's painful satisfaction, still about the same point, and
testifying for the truth of the account which he had got from Barbara. A
second letter clearly proved that Mariana, in the sequel, also had
maintained her purpose; and it was not without heartfelt grief, that,
out of these and other papers, Wilhelm learned the history of the
unlucky girl to the very hour of her death.

Barbara had gradually tamed rude, regardless Norberg, by announcing to
him Mariana's death, and leaving him in the belief that Felix was his
son. Once or twice he had sent her money, which, however, she retained
for herself; having talked Aurelia into taking charge of the child. But,
unhappily, this secret source of riches did not long endure. Norberg, by
a life of riot, had impaired his fortune; and, by repeated love-affairs,
his heart was rendered callous to his supposed first-born.

Probable as all this seemed, beautifully as it all agreed, Wilhelm did
not venture to give way to joy. He still appeared to dread a present
coming from his evil Genius.

"Your jealous fears," said Barbara, who guessed his mood of mind, "time
alone can cure. Look upon the child as a stranger one; take stricter
heed of him on that account; observe his gifts, his temper, his
capacities; and if you do not, by and by, discover in him the exact
resemblance of yourself, your eyes must certainly be bad. Of this I can
assure you,--were I a man, no one should foist a child on me; but it is
a happiness for women, that, in these cases, men are not so quick of

These things over, Wilhelm and Barbara parted: he was to take Felix with
him; she, to carry Mignon to Theresa, and afterwards to live in any
place she pleased, upon a small annuity which he engaged to settle on

He sent for Mignon, to prepare her for the new arrangement. "Master,"
said she, "keep me with thee: it will do me good, and do me ill."

He told her, that, as she was now grown up, there should be something
further done for her instruction. "I am sufficiently instructed,"
answered she, "to love and grieve."

He directed her attention to her health, and showed that she required
continuous care, and the direction of a good physician. "Why care for
me," said she, "when there are so many things to care for?"

After he had labored greatly to persuade her that he could not take her
with him, that he would conduct her to a place where he might often see
her, she appeared as if she had not heard a word of it. "Thou wishest
not to have me with thee," said she. "Perhaps it is better: send me to
the old harper; the poor man is lonely where he is."

Wilhelm tried to show her that the old man was in comfortable
circumstances. "Every hour I long for him," replied the child.

"I did not see," said Wilhelm, "that thou wert so fond of him when he
was living with us."

"I was frightened for him when he was awake; I could not bear his eyes:
but, when he was asleep, I liked so well to sit by him! I used to chase
the flies from him: I could not look at him enough. Oh! he has stood by
me in fearful moments: none knows how much I owe him. Had I known the
road, I should have run away to him already."

Wilhelm set the circumstances in detail before her: he said that she had
always been a reasonable child, and that, on this occasion also, she
might do as she desired. "Reason is cruel," said she; "the heart is
better: I will go as thou requirest, only leave me Felix."

After much discussion her opinion was not altered; and Wilhelm at last
resolved on giving Barbara both the children, and sending them together
to Theresa. This was the easier for him, as he still feared to look
upon the lovely Felix as his son. He would take him on his arm, and
carry him about: the child delighted to be held before the glass;
Wilhelm also liked, though unavowedly, to hold him there, and seek
resemblances between their faces. If for a moment any striking
similarity appeared between them, he would press the boy in his arms;
and then, at once affrighted by the thought that he might be mistaken,
he would set him down, and let him run away. "Oh," cried he, "if I were
to appropriate this priceless treasure, and it were then to be snatched
from me, I should be the most unhappy man on earth!"

The children had been sent away; and Wilhelm was about to take a formal
leave of the theatre, when he felt that in reality he had already taken
leave, and needed but to go. Mariana was no more: his two guardian
spirits had departed, and his thoughts hied after them. The fair boy
hovered like a beautiful uncertain vision in the eyes of his
imagination: he saw him, at Theresa's hand, running through the fields
and woods, forming his mind and person in the free air, beside a free
and cheerful foster-mother. Theresa had become far dearer to him since
he figured her in company with Felix. Even while sitting in the theatre,
he thought of her with smiles; he was almost in her own case: the stage
could now produce no more illusion in him.

Serlo and Melina were excessively polite to him, when they observed that
he was making no pretensions to his former place. A portion of the
public wished to see him act again: this he could not accede to; nor in
the company did any one desire it, saving Frau Melina.

Of this friend he now took leave; he was moved at parting with her: he
exclaimed, "Why do we presume to promise any thing depending on an
unknown future? The most slight engagement we have not power to keep,
far less a purpose of importance. I feel ashamed in recollecting what I
promised to you all, in that unhappy night, when we were lying
plundered, sick, and wounded, crammed into a miserable tavern. How did
misfortune elevate my courage! what a treasure did I think I had found
in my good wishes! And of all this not a jot has taken effect! I leave
you as your debtor; and my comfort is, that our people prized my promise
at its actual worth, and never more took notice of it."

"Be not unjust to yourself," said Frau Melina: "if no one acknowledges
what you have done for us, I at least will not forget it. Our whole
condition had been different, if you had not been with us. But it is
with our purposes as with our wishes. They seem no longer what they
were, when they have been accomplished, been fulfilled; and we think we
have done, have wished for, nothing."

"You shall not, by your friendly statement," answered Wilhelm, "put my
conscience to peace. I shall always look upon myself as in your debt."

"Nay, perhaps you are so," said Madam Melina, "but not in the manner you
suppose. We reckon it a shame to fail in the fulfilment of a promise we
have uttered with the voice. O my friend! a worthy person by his very
presence promises us much. The confidence he elicits, the inclination he
inspires, the hopes he awakens, are unbounded: he is and continues in
our debt, although he does not know it. Fare you well! If our external
circumstances have been happily repaired by your direction, in my mind
there is, by your departure, produced a void which will not be filled up
again so easily."

Before leaving the city, Wilhelm wrote a copious sheet to Werner. He had
before exchanged some letters; but, not being able to agree, they had at
length ceased to write. Now, however, Wilhelm had again approximated to
his brother: he was just about to do what Werner had so earnestly
desired. He could say, "I am abandoning the stage: I mean to join myself
with men whose intercourse, in every sense, must lead me to a sure and
suitable activity." He inquired about his property; and it now seemed
strange to him, that he had never, for so long a time, disturbed himself
about it. He knew not that it is the manner of all persons who attach
importance to their inward cultivation altogether to neglect their
outward circumstances. This had been Wilhelm's case: he now for the
first time seemed to notice, that, to work effectively, he stood in need
of outward means. He entered on his journey, this time, in a temper
altogether different from that of last; the prospects he had in view
were charming; he hoped to meet with something cheerful by the way.


On returning to Lothario's castle, Wilhelm found that changes had
occurred. Jarno met him with the tidings, that, Lothario's uncle being
dead, the baron had himself set out to take possession of the heritage.
"You come in time," said he, "to help the abbé and me. Lothario has
commissioned us to purchase some extensive properties of land in this
quarter: he has long contemplated the bargain, and we have now got cash
and credit just in season. The only point which made us hesitate was,
that a distant trading-house had also views upon the same estates: at
length we have determined to make common cause with it, as otherwise we
might outbid each other without need or reason. The trader seems to be a
prudent man. At present we are making estimates and calculations: we
must also settle economically how the lands are to be shared, so that
each of us may have a fine estate." The papers were submitted to our
friend: the fields, meadows, houses, were inspected; and, though Jarno
and the abbé seemed to understand the matter fully, Wilhelm could not
help desiring that Theresa had been with them.

In these labors several days were spent, and Wilhelm had scarcely time
to tell his friends of his adventures and his dubious fatherhood. This
incident, to him so interesting, they treated with indifference and

He had noticed, that they frequently in confidential conversation, while
at table or in walks, would suddenly stop short, and give their words
another application; thereby showing, at least, that they had on the
anvil many things which were concealed from him. He bethought him of
what Lydia had said; and he put the greater faith in it, as one entire
division of the castle had always been inaccessible to him. The way to
certain galleries, particularly to the ancient tower, with which
externally he was so well acquainted, he had often sought, and hitherto
in vain.

One evening Jarno said to him, "We can now consider you as ours, with
such security, that it were unjust if we did not introduce you deeper
into our mysteries. It is right that a man, when he first enters upon
life, should think highly of himself, should determine to attain many
eminent distinctions, should endeavor to make all things possible; but,
when his education has proceeded to a certain pitch, it is advantageous
for him, that he learn to lose himself among a mass of men, that he
learn to live for the sake of others, and to forget himself in an
activity prescribed by duty. It is then that he first becomes acquainted
with himself, for it is conduct alone that compares us with others. You
shall soon see what a curious little world is at your very hand, and how
well you are known in it. To-morrow morning before sunrise be dressed
and ready."

Jarno came at the appointed hour: he led our friend through certain
known and unknown chambers of the castle, then through several
galleries; till at last they reached a large old door, strongly framed
with iron. Jarno knocked: the door went up a little, so as to admit one
person. Jarno shoved in our friend, but did not follow him. Wilhelm
found himself in an obscure and narrow stand: all was dark around him;
and, when he tried to go a step forward, he found himself hemmed in. A
voice not altogether strange to him cried, "Enter!" and he now
discovered that the sides of the place where he was were merely hung
with tapestry, through which a feeble light glimmered in to him.
"Enter!" cried the voice again: he raised the tapestry, and entered.

The hall in which he now stood appeared to have at one time been a
chapel: instead of the altar, he observed a large table raised some
steps above the floor, and covered with a green cloth hanging over it.
On the top of this, a drawn curtain seemed as if it hid a picture; on
the sides were spaces beautifully worked, and covered in with fine
wire-netting, like the shelves of a library; only here, instead of
books, a multitude of rolls had been inserted. Nobody was in the hall:
the rising sun shone through the window, right on Wilhelm, and kindly
saluted him as he came in.

"Be seated!" cried a voice, which seemed to issue from the altar.
Wilhelm placed himself in a small arm-chair, which stood against the
tapestry where he had entered. There was no seat but this in the room:
Wilhelm had to be content with it, though the morning radiance dazzled
him; the chair stood fast, he could only keep his hand before his eyes.

But now the curtain, which hung down above the altar, went asunder with
a gentle rustling, and showed, within a picture-frame, a dark, empty
aperture. A man stepped forward at it, in a common dress, saluted the
astonished looker-on, and said to him, "Do you not recognize me? Among
the many things which you would like to know, do you feel no curiosity
to learn where your grandfather's collection of pictures and statues
are at present? Have you forgot the painting which you once so much
delighted in? Where, think you, is the sick king's son now languishing?"
Wilhelm, without difficulty, recognized the stranger, whom, in that
important night, he had conversed with at the inn. "Perhaps," continued
his interrogator, "we should now be less at variance in regard to
destiny and character."

Wilhelm was about to answer, when the curtain quickly flew together.
"Strange!" said Wilhelm to himself: "can chance occurrences have a
connection? Is what we call Destiny but Chance? Where _is_ my
grandfather's collection? and why am I reminded of it in these solemn

He had not leisure to pursue his thoughts: the curtain once more parted;
and a person stood before him, whom he instantly perceived to be the
country clergyman that had attended him and his companions on that
pleasure-sail of theirs. He had a resemblance to the abbé, though he
seemed to be a different person. With a cheerful countenance, in a tone
of dignity, he said, "To guard from error is not the instructor's duty,
but to lead the erring pupil; nay, to let him quaff his error in deep,
satiating draughts, this is the instructor's wisdom. He who only tastes
his error, will long dwell with it, will take delight in it as in a
singular felicity; while he who drains it to the dregs will, if he be
not crazy, find it out." The curtain closed again, and Wilhelm had a
little time to think. "What error can he mean," said he within himself,
"but the error which has clung to me through my whole life,--that I
sought for cultivation where it was not to be found; that I fancied I
could form a talent in me, while without the smallest gift for it?"

The curtain dashed asunder faster than before: an officer advanced, and
said in passing, "Learn to know the men who may be trusted!" The curtain
closed; and Wilhelm did not long consider, till he found this officer to
be the one who had embraced him in the count's park, and had caused his
taking Jarno for a crimp. How that stranger had come hither, who he was,
were riddles to our friend. "If so many men," cried he, "took interest
in thee, know thy way of life, and how it should be carried on, why did
they not conduct thee with greater strictness, with greater seriousness?
Why did they favor thy silly sports, instead of drawing thee away from

"Dispute not with us!" cried a voice. "Thou art saved, thou art on the
way to the goal. None of thy follies wilt thou repent; none wilt thou
wish to repeat; no luckier destiny can be allotted to a man." The
curtain went asunder, and in full armor stood the old king of Denmark in
the space. "I am thy father's spirit," said the figure; "and I depart in
comfort since my wishes for thee are accomplished, in a higher sense
than I myself contemplated. Steep regions cannot be surmounted save by
winding paths: on the plain, straight roads conduct from place to place.
Farewell, and think of me when thou enjoyest what I have provided for

Wilhelm was exceedingly amazed and struck: he thought it was his
father's voice; and yet in truth it was not: the present and the past
alike confounded and perplexed him.

He had not meditated long when the abbé came to view, and placed himself
behind the green table. "Come hither!" cried he to his marvelling
friend. He went, and mounted up the steps. On the green cloth lay a
little roll. "Here is your indenture," said the abbé: "take it to heart;
it is of weighty import." Wilhelm lifted, opened it, and read:--


Art is long, life short, judgment difficult, opportunity transient. To
act is easy, to think is hard; to act according to our thought is
troublesome. Every beginning is cheerful: the threshold is the place of
expectation. The boy stands astonished, his impressions guide him: he
learns sportfully, seriousness comes on him by surprise. Imitation is
born with us: what should be imitated is not easy to discover. The
excellent is rarely found, more rarely valued. The height charms us, the
steps to it do not: with the summit in our eye, we love to walk along
the plain. It is but a part of art that can be taught: the artist needs
it all. Who knows it half, speaks much, and is always wrong: who knows
it wholly, inclines to act, and speaks seldom or late. The former have
no secrets and no force: the instruction they can give is like baked
bread, savory and satisfying for a single day; but flour cannot be sown,
and seed-corn ought not to be ground. Words are good, but they are not
the best. The best is not to be explained by words. The spirit in which
we act is the highest matter. Action can be understood and again
represented by the spirit alone. No one knows what he is doing while he
acts aright, but of what is wrong we are always conscious. Whoever
works with symbols only is a pedant, a hypocrite, or a bungler. There
are many such, and they like to be together. Their babbling detains the
scholar: their obstinate mediocrity vexes even the best. The instruction
which the true artist gives us opens the mind; for, where words fail
him, deeds speak. The true scholar learns from the known to unfold the
unknown, and approaches more and more to being a master.

"Enough!" cried the abbé: "the rest in due time. Now look round you
among these cases."

Wilhelm went, and read the titles of the rolls. With astonishment he
found, "Lothario's Apprenticeship," "Jarno's Apprenticeship," and his
own Apprenticeship placed there, with many others whose names he did not

"May I hope to cast a look into these rolls?"

"In this chamber there is now nothing hid from you."

"May I put a question?"

"Without scruple; and you may expect a positive reply, if it concerns a
matter which is nearest your heart, and ought to be so."

"Good, then! Ye marvellous sages, whose sight has pierced so many
secrets, can you tell me whether Felix is in truth my son?"

"Hail to you for this question!" cried the abbé, clapping hands for joy.
"Felix is your son! By the holiest that lies hid among us, I swear to
you Felix is your son; nor, in our opinion, was the mother that is gone
unworthy of you. Receive the lovely child from our hands: turn round,
and venture to be happy."

Wilhelm heard a noise behind him: he turned round, and saw a child's
face peeping archly through the tapestry at the end of the room; it was
Felix. The boy playfully hid himself so soon as he was noticed. "Come
forward!" cried the abbé: he came running; his father rushed towards
him, took him in his arms, and pressed him to his heart. "Yes! I feel
it," cried he, "thou art mine! What a gift of Heaven have I to thank my
friends for! Whence or how comest thou, my child, at this important

"Ask not," said the abbé. "Hail to thee, young man! Thy Apprenticeship
is done: Nature has pronounced thee free."


Comprising two hundred and fifty titles of standard works, embracing
fiction, essays, poetry, history, travel, etc., selected from the
world's best literature, written by authors of world-wide reputation.
Printed from large type, on good paper, and bound in handsome cloth
binding, uniform with this volume, Price, 75 cents per copy.


=Adam Bede.= By George Eliot.

=Æsop's Fables.=

=Alhambra, The.= By Washington Irving.

=Alice Lorraine.= By R. D. Blackmore.

=All Sorts and Conditions of Men.= By Besant and Rice.

=Andersen's Fairy Tales.=

=Arabian Nights Entertainments.=

=Armadale.= By Wilkie Collins.

=Armorel of Lyonesse.= By Walter Besant.

=Auld Licht Idylls.= By James M. Barrie.

=Aunt Diana.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.=

=Averil.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Bacon's Essays.= By Francis Bacon.

=Barbara Heathcote's Trial.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Barnaby Rudge.= By Charles Dickens.

=Berber, The.= By W. S. Mayo.

=Betrothed, The.= By Allessandro Manzoni.

=Bleak House.= By Charles Dickens.

=Bondman, The.= By Hall Caine.

=Bride of the Nile, The.= By George Ebers.

=Burgomaster's Wife, The.= By George Ebers.

=Cast up by the Sea.= By Sir Samuel Baker.

=Caxtons, The.= By Bulwer-Lytton.

=Charles Auchester.= By E. Berger.

=Charles O'Malley.= By Charles Lever.

=Children of the Abbey.= By Regina Maria Roche.

=Children of Gibeon.= By Walter Besant.

=Child's History of England.= By Charles Dickens.

=Christmas Stories.= By Charles Dickens.

=Cloister and the Hearth.= By Charles Reade.

=Confessions of an Opium-Eater.= By Thomas De Quincey.

=Consuelo.= By George Sand.

=Corinne.= By Madame De Stael.

=Countess of Rudolstadt.= By George Sand.

=Cousin Pons.= By Honore de Balzac.

=Cranford.= By Mrs. Gaskell.

=Crown of Wild Olive, The.= By John Ruskin.

=Daniel Deronda.= By George Eliot.

=Daughter of an Empress, The.= By Louisa Muhlbach.

=Daughter of Heth, A.= By Wm. Black.

=David Copperfield.= By Charles Dickens.

=Deemster, The.= By Hall Caine.

=Deerslayer, The.= By James Fenimore Cooper.

=Dombey & Son.= By Charles Dickens.

=Donal Grant.= By George Macdonald.

=Donald Ross of Heimra.= By William Black.

=Donovan.= By Edna Lyall.

=Dream Life.= By Ik. Marvel.

=East Lynne.= By Mrs. Henry Wood.

=Egoist, The.= By George Meredith.

=Egyptian Princess, An.= By George Ebers.

=Eight Years Wandering in Ceylon.= By Sir Samuel Baker.

=Emerson's Essays.= By Ralph Waldo Emerson.

=Emperor, The.= By George Ebers.

=Essays of Elia.= By Charles Lamb.

=Esther.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Far from the Madding Crowd.= By Thos. Hardy.

=Felix Holt.= By George Eliot.

=Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World.= By E. S. Creasy.

=File No. 113.= By Emile Gaboriau.

=First Violin.= By Jessie Fothergill.

=For Faith and Freedom.= By Walter Besant.

=Frederick the Great, and His Court.= By Louisa Muhlbach.

=French Revolution.= By Thomas Carlyle.

=From the Earth to the Moon.= By Jules Verne.

=Goethe and Schiller.= By Louisa Muhlbach.

=Gold Bug, The, and Other Tales.= By Edgar A. Poe.

=Gold Elsie.= By E. Marlitt.

=Great Expectations.= By Charles Dickens.

=Great Taboo, The.= By Grant Allen.

=Great Treason, A.= By Mary Hoppus.

=Green Mountain Boys, The.= By D. P. Thompson.

=Grimm's Household Tales.= By the Brothers Grimm.

=Grimm's Popular Tales.= By the Brothers Grimm.

=Gulliver's Travels.= By Dean Swift.

=Handy Andy.= By Samuel Lover.

=Hardy Norseman, A.= By Edna Lyall.

=Harold.= By Bulwer-Lytton.

=Harry Lorrequer.= By Charles Lever.

=Heir of Redclyffe.= By Charlotte M. Yonge.

=Henry Esmond.= By William M. Thackeray.

=Her Dearest Foe.= By Mrs. Alexander.

=Heriot's Choice.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Heroes and Hero Worship.= By Thomas Carlyle.

=History of Pendennis.= By William M. Thackeray.

=House of the Seven Gables.= By Nathaniel Hawthorne.

=How to be Happy Though Married.=

=Hunchback of Notre Dame.= By Victor Hugo.

=Hypatia.= By Charles Kingsley.

=Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow.= By Jerome K. Jerome.

=In Far Lochaber.= By William Black.

=In the Golden Days.= By Edna Lyall.

=In the Heart of the Storm.= By Maxwell Grey.

=It is Never Too Late to Mend.= By Charles Reade.

=Ivanhoe.= By Sir Walter Scott.

=Jack's Courtship.= By W. Clark Russell.

=Jane Eyre.= By Charlotte Bronte.

=John Halifax, Gentleman.= By Miss Muloch.

=Kenilworth.= By Sir Walter Scott.

=Kit and Kitty.= By R. D. Blackmore.

=Kith and Kin.= By Jessie Fothergill.

=Knickerbocker's History of New York.= By Washington Irving.

=Knight Errant.= By Edna Lyall.

=L'Abbe Constantin.= By Ludovic-Halevy.

=Lamplighter, The.= By Maria S. Cummins.

=Last Days of Pompeii.= By Bulwer-Lytton.

=Last of the Barons.= By Bulwer-Lytton.

=Last of the Mohicans.= By James Fenimore Cooper.

=Light of Asia, The.= By Sir Edwin Arnold.

=Little Dorrit.= By Charles Dickens.

=Lorna Doone.= By R. D. Blackmore.

=Louise de la Valliere.= By Alexandre Dumas.

=Lover or Friend?= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Lucile.= By Owen Meredith.

=Maid of Sker.= By R. D. Blackmore.

=Man and Wife.= By Wilkie Collins.

=Man in the Iron Mask.= By Alexandre Dumas.

=Martin Chuzzlewit.= By Charles Dickens.

=Mary St. John.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Master of Ballantrae, The.= By R. L. Stevenson.

=Master of the Ceremonies, The.= By G. M. Fenn.

=Masterman Ready.= By Captain Marryat.

=Merle's Crusade.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Micah Clarke.= By A. Conan Doyle.

=Michael Strogoff.= By Jules Verne.

=Middlemarch.= By George Eliot.

=Midshipman Easy.= By Captain Marryat.

=Mill on the Floss.= By George Eliot.

=Molly Bawn.= By The Duchess.

=Moonstone, The.= By Wilkie Collins.

=Mosses from an Old Manse.= By Nathaniel Hawthorne.

=Mysterious Island, The.= By Jules Verne.

=Natural Law in the Spiritual World.= By Henry Drummond.

=Nellie's Memories.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Newcomes, The.= By William M. Thackeray.

=Nicholas Nickleby.= By Charles Dickens.

=No Name.= By Wilkie Collins.

=Not Like Other Girls.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Old Curiosity Shop.= By Charles Dickens.

=Old Ma'm'selle's Secret.= By E. Marlitt.

=Old Myddelton's Money.= By Mary Cecil Hay.

=Oliver Twist.= By Charles Dickens.

=Only the Governess.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=On the Heights.= By Berthold Auerbach.

=Our Bessie.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Our Mutual Friend.= By Charles Dickens.

=Pair of Blue Eyes, A.= By Thomas Hardy.

=Past and Present.= By Thomas Carlyle.

=Pathfinder, The.= By James Fenimore Cooper.

=Pere Goriot.= By Honore de Balzac.

=Phantom Rickshaw, The.= By Rudyard Kipling.

=Phra, the Phoenician.= By Edwin L. Arnold.

=Picciola.= By X. B. Saintine.

=Pickwick Papers.= By Charles Dickens.

=Pilgrim's Progress.= By John Bunyan.

=Pilot, The.= By James Fenimore Cooper.

=Pioneers, The.= By James Fenimore Cooper.

=Prairie, The.= By James Fenimore Cooper.

=Pride and Prejudice.= By Jane Austen.

=Prime Minister, The.= By Anthony Trollope.

=Princess of Thule, A.= By Wm. Black.

=Professor, The.= By Charlotte Bronte.

=Put Yourself in His Place.= By Charles Reade.

=Queen Hortense.= By Louisa Muhlbach.

=Queenie's Whim.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Ralph the Heir.= By Anthony Trollope.

=Red Rover.= By James Fenimore Cooper.

=Reproach of Annesley.= By Maxwell Grey.

=Reveries of a Bachelor.= By Ik. Marvel.

=Rhoda Fleming.= By George Meredith.

=Ride to Khiva, A.= By Captain Fred Burnaby.

=Rienzi.= By Bulwer-Lytton.

=Robinson Crusoe.= By Daniel Defoe.

=Rob Roy.= By Sir Walter Scott.

=Romance of a Poor Young Man.= By Octave Feuillet.

=Romance of Two Worlds.= By Marie Corelli.

=Romola.= By George Eliot.

=Rory O'More.= By Samuel Lover.

=Sartor Resartus.= By Thomas Carlyle.

=Scarlet Letter, The.= By Nathaniel Hawthorne.

=Scottish Chiefs.= By Jane Porter.

=Search for Basil Lyndhurst.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Second Wife, The.= By E. Marlitt.

=Self-Help.= By Samuel Smiles.

=Sense and Sensibility.= By Jane Austen.

=Sesame and Lilies.= By John Ruskin.

=Shadow of the Sword.= By Robert Buchanan.

=Shirley.= By Charlotte Bronte.

=Silas Marner.= By George Eliot.

=Silence of Dean Maitland.= By Maxwell Grey.

=Sketch-Book, The.= By Washington Irving.

=Social Departure, A.= By Sara Jeannette Duncan.

=Soldiers Three, etc.= By Rudyard Kipling.

=Springhaven.= By R. D. Blackmore.

=Spy, The.= By James Fenimore Cooper.

=St. Katharine's by the Tower.= By Walter Besant.

=Story of an African Farm.= By Olive Schreiner.

=Swiss Family Robinson.= By Jean Rudolph Wyss.

=Tale of Two Cities.= By Charles Dickens.

=Talisman, The.= By Sir Walter Scott.

=Tartarin of Tarascon.= By Alphonse Daudet.

=Tempest Tossed.= By Theodore Tilton.

=Ten Years Later.= By Alexandre Dumas.

=Terrible Temptation, A.= By Charles Reade.

=Thaddeus of Warsaw.= By Jane Porter.

=Thelma.= By Marie Corelli.

=Three Guardsmen.= By Alexandre Dumas.

=Three Men in a Boat.= By Jerome K. Jerome.

=Tom Brown at Oxford.= By Thomas Hughes.

=Tom Brown's School Days.= By Thomas Hughes.

=Tom Burke of "Ours."= By Charles Lever.

=Tour of the World in Eighty Days, A.= By Jules Verne.

=Treasure Island.= By Robert Louis Stevenson.

=Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.= By Jules Verne.

=Twenty Years After.= By Alexandre Dumas.

=Twice Told Tales.= By Nathaniel Hawthorne.

=Two Admirals.= By James Fenimore Cooper.

=Two Chiefs of Dunboy.= By James A. Froude.

=Two on a Tower.= By Thomas Hardy.

=Two Years Before the Mast. By R. H. Dana, Jr.

=Uarda.= By George Ebers.

=Uncle Max.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Uncle Tom's Cabin.= By Harriet Beecher Stowe.

=Undine and Other Tales.= By De la Motte Fouque.

=Vanity Fair.= By William M. Thackeray.

=Vicar of Wakefield.= By Oliver Goldsmith.

=Villette.= By Charlotte Bronte.

=Virginians, The.= By William M. Thackeray.

=Vicomte de Bragelonne.= By Alexandre Dumas.

=Vivian Grey.= By Benjamin Disraeli.

=Water Witch, The.= By James Fenimore Cooper.

=Waverly.= By Sir Walter Scott.

=Wee Wifie.= By Rosa N. Carey.

=Westward Ho!= By Charles Kingsley.

=We Two.= By Edna Lyall.

=What's Mine's Mine.= By George Macdonald.

=When a Man's Single.= By J. M. Barrie.

=White Company, The.= By A. Conan Doyle.

=Wide, Wide World.= By Susan Warner.

=Widow Lerouge, The.= By Emile Gaborlau.

=Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship.= By Goethe (Carlyle).

=Wing-and-Wing.= By James Fenimore Cooper.

=Woman in White, The.= By Wilkie Collins.

=Won by Waiting.= By Edna Lyall.

=Wooing O't.= By Mrs. Alexander.

=World Went Very Well Then, The.= By Walter Besant.

=Wormwood.= By Marie Corelli.

=Wreck of the Grosvenor, The.= By W. Clark Russell.

=Zenobia.= By William Ware.

_For sale by all Booksellers, or will be sent post-paid on receipt of
price bythe publisher, =A. L. BURT, New York.=_


Uniform with This Volume.

This series affords wholesome reading for boys and girls, and all the
volumes are extremely interesting.--_Cincinnati Commercial-Gazette._

=JOE'S LUCK; or, A Brave Boy's Adventures in California.= By HORATIO

=JULIAN MORTIMER; or, A Brave Boy's Struggles for Home and Fortune.= By

=ADRIFT IN THE WILDS; or, The Adventures of Two Shiwrecked Boys.= By



=THE SLATE-PICKER; A Story of a Boy's Life in the Coal Mines.= By HARRY


=TOM, THE READY; or, Up from the Lowest.= By RANDOLPH HILL.

=THE CASTAWAYS; or, On the Florida Reefs.= By JAMES OTIS.

=CAPTAIN KIDD'S GOLD. The True Story of an Adventurous Sailor Boy.= By


=LOST IN THE CANON. The Story of Sam Willett's Adventures on the Great
Colorado of the West.= By ALFRED R. CALHOUN.

=A YOUNG HERO; or, Fighting to Win.= By EDWARD S. ELLIS.

=THE ERRAND BOY; or, How Phil Brent Won Success.= By HORATIO ALGER, JR.


=A RUNAWAY BRIG; or, An Accidental Cruise.= By JAMES OTIS.

=A JAUNT THROUGH JAVA. The Story of a Journey to the Sacred Mountain by
Two American Boys.= By E. S. ELLIS.

=CAPTURED BY APES; or, How Philip Garland Became King of Apeland.= By

=TOM THE BOOT-BLACK; or, The Road to Success.= By HORATIO ALGER, JR.

=ROY GILBERT'S SEARCH. A Tale of the Great Lakes.= By WILLIAM P.

=THE TREASURE-FINDERS. A Boy's Adventures in Nicarauga.= By JAMES OTIS.

=BUDD BOYD'S TRIUMPH; or, The Boy Firm of Fox Island.= By WILLIAM P.

=TONY, THE HERO; or, A Brave Boy's Adventures with a Tramp.= By HORATIO

=CAPTURED BY ZULUS. A Story of Trapping in Africa.= By HARRY PRENTICE.



=SEARCH FOR THE SILVER CITY. A Story of Adventure in Yucatan.= By JAMES

=THE BOY CRUISERS; or, Paddling in Florida.= By ST. GEORGE RATHBORNE.

=_The above stories are printed on extra paper, and bound in Handsome
Cloth Binding, in all respects uniform with this volume, at $1.00 per

_For sale by all Booksellers, or will be sent post-paid on receipt of
price, by the publisher, =A. L. BURT, 66 Reade St., New York.=_


=Uniform Cloth Binding.=


A carefully selected series of books for girls written by authors of
acknowledged r