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Title: The Story of My Life — Volume 01
Author: Ebers, Georg
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Volume 1.

Translated from the German by Mary J. Safford

                              TO MY SONS.

               When I began the incidents of yore,
               Still in my soul's depths treasured, to record,
               A voice within said: Soon, life's journey o'er,
               Thy portrait sole remembrance will afford.

               And, ere the last hour also strikes for thee,
               Search thou the harvest of the vanished years.
               Not futile was thy toil, if thou canst see
               That for thy sons fruit from one seed appears.

               Upon the course of thine own life look back,
               Follow thy struggles upwards to the light;
               Methinks thy errors will not seem so black,
               If they thy loved ones serve to guide aright.

               And should they see the star which 'mid the dark
               Illumed thy pathway to thy distant goal,
               Thither they'll turn the prow of their life bark;
               Its radiance their course also will control.

               Ay, when the ivy on my grave doth grow,
               When my dead hand the helm no more obeys,
               This book to them the twofold light will show,
               To which I ne'er forget to turn my gaze.

               One heavenward draws, with rays so mild and clear,
               Eyes dim with tears, when the world darkness veils,
               Showing 'mid desert wastes the spring anear,
               If, spent with wandering, your courage fails.

               Since first your lips could syllable a prayer,
               Its mercy you have proved a thousandfold;
               I too received it, though unto my share
               Fell what I pray life ne'er for you may hold.

               The other light, whose power full well you know,
               E'en though in words I nor describe nor name,
               Alike for me and you its rays aye glow--
               Maternal love, by day and night the same.

               This light within your youthful hearts has beamed,
               Ripening the germs of all things good and fair;
               I also fostered them, and joyous dreamed
               Of future progress to repay our care.

               Thus guarded, unto manhood you have grown;
               Still upward, step by step, you steadfast rise
               The oldest, healing's noble art has won;
               The second, to his country's call replies;

               The third, his mind to form is toiling still;
               And as this book to you I dedicate,
               I see the highest wish life could fulfil
               In you, my trinity, now incarnate.

               To pay it homage meet, my sons I'll guide
               As I revere it, 'mid the world's turmoil,
               Love for mankind, which putteth self aside,
               In love for native land and blessed toil.

                                             GEORG EBERS.

               October 1, 1892.


In this volume, which has all the literary charm and deftness of
character drawing that distinguish his novels, Dr. Ebers has told the
story of his growth from childhood to maturity, when the loss of his
health forced the turbulent student to lead a quieter life, and
inclination led him to begin his Egyptian studies, which resulted, first
of all, in the writing of An Egyptian Princess, then in his travels in
the land of the Pharaohs and the discovery of the Ebers Papyrus (the
treatise on medicine dating from the second century B.C.), and finally in
the series of brilliant historical novels that has borne his name to the
corners of the earth and promises to keep it green forever.

This autobiography carries the reader from 1837, the year of Dr. Ebers's
birth in Berlin, to 1863, when An Egyptian Princess was finished.
The subsequent events of his life were outwardly calm, as befits the
existence of a great scientist and busy romancer, whose fecund fancy
was based upon a groundwork of minute historical research.

Dr. Ebers attracted the attention of the learned world by his treatise
on Egypt and the Book of Moses, which brought him a professorship at his
university, Gottingen, in 1864, the year following the close of this
autobiography.  His marriage to the daughter of a burgomaster of Riga
took place soon afterward.  During the long years of their union Mrs.
Ebers was his active helpmate, many of the business details relating to
his works and their American and English editions being transacted by

After his first visit to Egypt, Ebers was called to the University of
Leipsic to fill the chair of Egyptology.  He went again to Egypt in 1872,
and in the course of his excavations at Thebes unearthed the Ebers
Papyrus already referred to, which established his name among the leaders
of what was then still a new science, whose foundations had been laid by
Champollion in 1821.

Ebers continued to occupy his chair at the Leipsic University, but, while
fulfilling admirably the many duties of a German professorship, he found
time to write several of his novels.  Uarda was published in 1876, twelve
years after the appearance of An Egyptian Princess, to be followed in
quick succession by Homo Sum, The Sisters, The Emperor, and all that long
line of brilliant pictures of antiquity.  He began his series of tales of
the middle ages and the dawn of the modern era in 1881 with The
Burgomaster's Wife.  In 1889 the precarious state of his health forced
him to resign his chair at the university.

Notwithstanding his sufferings and the obstacles they placed in his path,
he continued his wonderful intellectual activity until the end.  His last
novel, Arachne, was issued but a short time before his death, which took
place on August 7, 1898, at the Villa Ebers, in Tutzing, on the
Starenberg Lake, near Munich, where most of his later life was spent.
The monument erected to his memory by his own indefatigable activity
consists of sixteen novels, all of them of perennial value to historical
students, as well as of ever-fresh charm to lovers of fiction, many
treatises on his chosen branch of learning, two great works of reference
on Egypt and Palestine, and short stories, fairy tales, and biographies.

The Story of my Life is characterized by a captivating freshness.  Ebers
was born under a lucky star, and the pictures of his early home life, his
restless student days at that romantic old seat of learning, Gottingen,
are bright, vivacious, and full of colour.  The biographer, historian,
and educator shows himself in places, especially in the sketches of the
brothers Grimm, and of Froebel, at whose institute, Keilhau, Ebers
received the foundation of his education.  His discussion of Froebel's
method and of that of his predecessor, Pestalozzi, is full of interest,
because written with enthusiasm and understanding.  He was a good German,
in the largest sense of the word, and this trait, too, is brought forward
in his reminiscences of the turbulent days of 1848 in Berlin.

The story of Dr. Ebers's early life was worth the telling, and he has
told it himself, as no one else could tell it, with all the consummate
skill of his perfected craftsmanship, with all the reverent love of an
admiring son, and with all the happy exuberance of a careless youth
remembered in all its brightness in the years of his maturity.  Finally,
the book teaches a beautiful lesson of fortitude in adversity, of
suffering patiently borne and valiantly overcome by a spirit that,
greatly gifted by Nature, exercised its strength until the thin silver
lining illuminated the apparently impenetrable blackness of the cloud
that overhung Georg Moritz Ebers's useful and successful life.


By Georg Ebers












Though I was born in Berlin, it was also in the country.  True, it was
fifty-five years ago; for my birthday was March 1, 1837, and at that time
the house--[No. 4 Thiergartenstrasse]--where I slept and played during
the first years of my childhood possessed, besides a field and a meadow,
an orchard and dense shrubbery, even a hill and a pond.  Three big
horses, the property of the owner of our residence, stood in the stable,
and the lowing of a cow, usually an unfamiliar sound to Berlin children,
blended with my earliest recollections.

The Thiergartenstrasse--along which in those days on sunny mornings, a
throng of people on foot, on horseback, and in carriages constantly moved
to and fro--ran past the front of these spacious grounds, whose rear was
bounded by a piece of water then called the "Schafgraben," and which,
spite of the duckweed that covered it with a dark-green network of
leafage, was used for boating in light skiffs.

Now a strongly built wall of masonry lines the banks of this ditch, which
has been transformed into a deep canal bordered by the handsome houses of
the Konigin Augustastrasse, and along which pass countless heavily laden
barges called by the Berliners "Zillen."

The land where I played in my childhood has long been occupied by the
Matthaikirche, the pretty street which bears the same name, and a portion
of Konigin Augustastrasse, but the house which we occupied and its larger
neighbour are still surrounded by a fine garden.

This was an Eden for city children, and my mother had chosen it because
she beheld it in imagination flowing with the true Garden of Paradise
rivers of health and freedom for her little ones.

My father died on the 14th of February, 1837, and on the 1st of March of
the same year I was born, a fortnight after the death of the man in whom
my mother was bereft of both husband and lover.  So I am what is termed a
"posthumous" child.  This is certainly a sorrowful fate; but though there
were many hours, especially in the later years of my life, in which I
longed for a father, it often seemed to me a noble destiny and one worthy
of the deepest gratitude to have been appointed, from the first moment of
my existence, to one of the happiest tasks, that of consolation and

It was to soothe a mother's heartbreak that I came in the saddest hours
of her life, and, though my locks are now grey, I have not forgotten the
joyful moments in which that dear mother hugged her fatherless little
one, and among other pet names called him her "comfort child."

She told me also that posthumous children were always Fortune's
favorites, and in her wise, loving way strove to make me early familiar
with the thought that God always held in his special keeping those
children whose fathers he had taken before their birth.  This confidence
accompanied me through all my after life.

As I have said, it was long before I became aware that I lacked anything,
especially any blessing so great as a father's faithful love and care;
and when life showed to me also a stern face and imposed heavy burdens,
my courage was strengthened by my happy confidence that I was one of
Fortune's favorites, as others are buoyed up by their firm faith in their

When the time at last came that I longed to express the emotions of my
soul in verse, I embodied my mother's prediction in the lines:

               The child who first beholds the light of day
               After his father's eyes are closed for aye,
               Fortune will guard from every threatening ill,
               For God himself a father's place will fill.

People often told me that as the youngest, the nestling, I was my
mother's "spoiled child"; but if anything spoiled me it certainly was not
that.  No child ever yet received too many tokens of love from a sensible
mother; and, thank Heaven, the word applied to mine.  Fate had summoned
her to be both father and mother to me and my four brothers and sisters-
one little brother, her second child, had died in infancy--and she proved
equal to the task.  Everything good which was and is ours we owe to her,
and her influence over us all, and especially over me, who was afterward
permitted to live longest in close relations with her, was so great and
so decisive, that strangers would only half understand these stories of
my childhood unless I gave a fuller description of her.

These details are intended particularly for my children, my brothers and
sisters, and the dear ones connected with our family by ties of blood and
friendship, but I see no reason for not making them also accessible to
wider circles.  There has been no lack of requests from friends that I
should write them, and many of those who listen willingly when I tell
romances will doubtless also be glad to learn something concerning the
life of the fabulist, who, however, in these records intends to silence
imagination and adhere rigidly to the motto of his later life, "To be
truthful in love."

My mother's likeness as a young woman accompanies these pages, and must
spare me the task of describing her appearance.  It was copied from the
life-size portrait completed for the young husband by Schadow just prior
to his appointment as head of the Dusseldorf Academy of Art, and now in
the possession of my brother, Dr. Martin Ebers of Berlin.  Unfortunately,
our copy lacks the colouring; and the dress of the original, which shows
the whole figure, confirms the experience of the error committed in
faithfully reproducing the fashion of the day in portraits intended for
future generations.  It never fully satisfied me; for it very
inadequately reproduces what was especially precious to us in our mother
and lent her so great a charm--her feminine grace, and the tenderness of
heart so winningly expressed in her soft blue eyes.

No one could help pronouncing her beautiful; but to me she was at once
the fairest and the best of women, and if I make the suffering Stephanus
in Homo Sum say, "For every child his own mother is the best mother,"
mine certainly was to me.  My heart rejoiced when I perceived that every
one shared this appreciation.  At the time of my birth she was thirty-
five, and, as I have heard from many old acquaintances, in the full glow
of her beauty.

My father had been one of the Berlin gentlemen to whose spirit of self-
sacrifice and taste for art the Konigstadt Theater owed its prosperity,
and was thus brought into intimate relations with Carl von Holtei, who
worked for its stage both as dramatist and actor.  When, as a young
professor, I told the grey-haired author in my mother's name something
which could not fail to afford him pleasure, I received the most eager
assent to my query whether he still remembered her.  "How I thank your
admirable mother for inducing you to write!" ran  the  letter.  "Only I
must enter a protest against your first lines, suggesting that I might
have forgotten her.  I forget the beautiful, gentle, clever, steadfast
woman who (to quote Shakespeare's words) 'came adorned hither like sweet
May,' and, stricken by the hardest blows so soon after her entrance into
her new life, gloriously endured every trial of fate to become the
fairest bride, the noblest wife, most admirable widow, and most faithful
mother!  No, my young unknown friend, I have far too much with which to
reproach myself, have brought from the conflicts of a changeful life a
lacerated heart, but I have never reached the point where that heart
ceased to cherish Fanny Ebers among the most sacred memories of my
chequered career.  How often her loved image appears before me when, in
lonely twilight hours, I recall the past!"

Yes, Fate early afforded my mother an opportunity to test her character.
The city where shortly before my birth she became a widow was not her
native place.  My father had met her in Holland, when he was scarcely
more than a beardless youth.  The letter informing his relatives that
he had determined not to give up the girl his heart had chosen was not
regarded seriously in Berlin; but when the lover, with rare pertinacity,
clung to his resolve, they began to feel anxious.  The eldest son of one
of the richest families in the city, a youth of nineteen, wished to bind
himself for life--and to a foreigner--a total stranger.

My mother often told us that her father, too, refused to listen to the
young suitor, and how, during that time of conflict, while she was with
her family at Scheveningen, a travelling carriage drawn by four horses
stopped one day before her parents' unpretending house.  From this coach
descended the future mother-in-law.  She had come to see the paragon of
whom her son had written so enthusiastically, and to learn whether it
would be possible to yield to the youth's urgent desire to establish a
household of his own.  And she did find it possible; for the girl's rare
beauty and grace speedily won the heart of the anxious woman who had
really come to separate the lovers.  True, they were required to wait a
few years to test the sincerity of their affection.  But it withstood the
proof, and the young man, who had been sent to Bordeaux to acquire in a
commercial house the ability to manage his father's banking business, did
not hesitate an instant when his beautiful fiancee caught the smallpox
and wrote that her smooth face would probably be disfigured by the
malignant disease, but answered that what he loved was not only her
beauty but the purity and goodness of her tender heart.

This had been a severe test, and it was to be rewarded: not the smallest
scar remained to recall the illness.  When my father at last made my
mother his wife, the burgomaster of her native city told him that he gave
to his keeping the pearl of Rotterdam.  Post-horses took the young couple
in the most magnificent weather to the distant Prussian capital.  It must
have been a delightful journey, but when the horses were changed in
Potsdam the bride and groom received news that the latter's father was

So my parents entered a house of mourning.  My mother at that time had
only the slight mastery of German acquired during hours of industrious
study for her future husband's sake.  She did not possess in all Berlin a
single friend or relative of her own family, yet she soon felt at home in
the capital.  She loved my father.  Heaven gave her children, and her
rare beauty, her winning charm, and the receptivity of her mind quickly
opened all hearts to her in circles even wider than her husband's large
family connection.  The latter included many households whose guests
numbered every one whose achievements in science or art, or possession of
large wealth, had rendered them prominent in Berlin, and the "beautiful
Hollander," as my mother was then called, became one of the most courted
women in society.

Holtei had made her acquaintance at this time, and it was a delight to
hear her speak of those gay, brilliant days.  How often Baron von
Humboldt, Rauch, or Schleiermacher had escorted her to dinner!  Hegel
had kept a blackened coin won from her at whist.  Whenever he sat down
to play cards with her he liked to draw it out, and, showing it to his
partner, say, "My thaler, fair lady."

My mother, admired and petted, had thoroughly enjoyed the happy period of
my father's lifetime, entertaining as a hospitable hostess or visiting
friends, and she gladly recalled it.  But this brilliant life, filled to
overflowing with all sorts of amusements, had been interrupted just
before my birth.

The beloved husband had died, and the great wealth of our family, though
enough remained for comfortable maintenance, had been much diminished.

Such changes of outward circumstances are termed reverses of fortune,
and the phrase is fitting, for by them life gains a new form.  Yet real
happiness is more frequently increased than lessened, if only they do not
entail anxiety concerning daily bread.  My mother's position was far
removed from this point; but she possessed qualities which would have
undoubtedly enabled her, even in far more modest circumstances, to retain
her cheerfulness and fight her way bravely with her children through

The widow resolved that her sons should make their way by their own
industry, like her brothers, who had almost all become able officials in
the Dutch colonial service.  Besides, the change in her circumstances
brought her into closer relations with persons with whom by inclination
and choice she became even more intimately associated than with the
members of my father's family--I mean the clique of scholars and
government officials amid whose circle her children grew up, and whom
I shall mention later.

Our relatives, however, even after my father's death, showed the same
regard for my mother--who on her side was sincerely attached to many of
them--and urged her to accept the hospitality of their homes.  I, too,
when a child, still more in later years, owe to the Beer family many a
happy hour.  My father's cousin, Moritz von Oppenfeld, whose wife was an
Ebers, was also warmly attached to us.  He lived in a house which he
owned on the Pariser Platz, now occupied by the French embassy, and in
whose spacious apartments and elsewhere his kind heart and tender love
prepared countless pleasures for our young lives.



My father died in Leipzigerstrasse, where, two weeks after, I was born.
It is reported that I was an unusually sturdy, merry little fellow.  One
of my father's relatives, Frau Mosson, said that I actually laughed on
the third day of my life, and several other proofs of my precocious
cheerfulness were related by this lady.

So I must believe that--less wise than Lessing's son, who looked at life
and thought it would be more prudent to turn his back upon it--I greeted
with a laugh the existence which, amid beautiful days of sunshine, was to
bring me so many hours of suffering.

Spring was close at hand; the house in noisy Leipzigerstrasse was
distasteful to my mother, her soul longed for rest, and at that time she
formed the resolutions according to which she afterward strove to train
her boys to be able men.  Her first object was to obtain pure air for the
little children, and room for the larger ones to exercise.  So she looked
for a residence outside the gate, and succeeded in renting for a term of
years No. 4 Thiergartenstrasse, which I have already mentioned.

The owner, Frau Kommissionsrath Reichert, had also lost her husband a
short time before, and had determined to let the house, which stood near
her own, stand empty rather than rent it to a large family of children.

Alone herself, she shrank from the noise of growing boys and girls.  But
she had a warm, kind heart, and--she told me this herself--the sight of
the beautiful young mother in her deep mourning made her quickly forget
her prejudice.  "If she had brought ten bawlers instead of five," she
remarked, "I would not have refused the house to that angel face."

We all cherish a kindly memory of the vigorous, alert woman, with her
round, bright countenance and laughing eyes.  She soon became very
intimate with my mother, and my second sister, Paula, was her special
favorite, on whom she lavished every indulgence.  Her horses were the
first ones on which I was lifted, and she often took us with her in the
carriage or sent us to ride in it.

I still remember distinctly some parts of our garden, especially the
shady avenue leading from our balcony on the ground floor to the
Schafgraben, the pond, the beautiful flower-beds in front of Frau
Reichert's stately house, and the field of potatoes where I--the gardener
was the huntsman--saw my first partridge shot.  This was probably on the
very spot where for many years the notes of the organ have pealed
through the Matthaikirche, and the Word of God has been expounded to a
congregation whose residences stand on the playground of my childhood.

The house which sheltered us was only two stories high, but pretty and
spacious.  We needed abundant room, for, besides my mother, the five
children, and the female servants, accommodation was required for the
governess, and a man who held a position midway between porter and butler
and deserved the title of factotum if any one ever did.  His name was
Kurschner; he was a big-boned, square-built fellow about thirty years
old, who always wore in his buttonhole the little ribbon of the order he
had gained as a soldier at the siege of Antwerp, and who had been taken
into the house by our mother for our protection, for in winter our home,
surrounded by its spacious grounds, was very lonely.

As for us five children, first came my oldest sister Martha--now, alas!
dead--the wife of Lieutenant-Colonel Baron Curt von Brandenstein, and my
brother Martin, who were seven and five years older than I.

They were, of course, treated differently from us younger ones.

Paula was my senior by three years; Ludwig, or Ludo--he was called by his
nickname all his life--by a year and a half.

Paula, a fresh, pretty, bright, daring child, was often the leader in our
games and undertakings.  Ludo, who afterward became a soldier and as a
Prussian officer did good service in the war, was a gentle boy, somewhat
delicate in health--the broad-shouldered man shows no trace of it--and
the best of playfellows.  We were always together, and were frequently
mistaken for twins.  We shared everything, and on my birthday, gifts
were bestowed on him too; on his, upon me.

Each had forgotten the first person singular of the personal pronoun, and
not until comparatively late in life did I learn to use "I" and "me" in
the place of "we" and "us."

The sequence of events in this quiet country home has, of course,
vanished from my mind, and perhaps many which I mention here occurred in
Lennestrasse, where we moved later, but the memories of the time we spent
in the Thiergarten overlooked by our second home--are among the brightest
of my life.  How often the lofty trees and dense shrubbery of our own
grounds and the beautiful Berlin Thiergarten rise before my mental
vision, when my thoughts turn backward and I see merry children playing
among them, and hear their joyous laughter!

                         FAIRY TALES AND FACT.

What happened in the holy of holies, my mother's chamber, has remained,
down to the smallest details, permanently engraved upon my soul.

A mother's heart is like the sun--no matter how much light it diffuses,
its warmth and brilliancy never lessen; and though so lavish a flood of
tenderness was poured forth on me, the other children were no losers.
But I was the youngest, the comforter, the nestling; and never was the
fact of so much benefit to me as at that time.

My parents' bed stood in the green room with the bright carpet.  It had
been brought from Holland, and was far larger and wider than bedsteads of
the present day.  My mother had kept it.  A quilted silk coverlet was
spread over it, which felt exquisitely soft, and beneath which one could
rest delightfully.  When the time for rising came, my mother called me.
I climbed joyfully into her warm bed, and she drew her darling into her
arms, played all sorts of pranks with him, and never did I listen to more
beautiful fairy tales than at those hours.  They became instinct with
life to me, and have always remained so; for my mother gave them the form
of dramas, in which I was permitted to be an actor.

The best one of all was Little Red Riding Hood.  I played the little girl
who goes into the wood, and she was the wolf.  When the wicked beast had
disguised itself in the grandmother's cap I not only asked the regulation
questions: "Grandmother, what makes you have such big eyes?  Grandmother,
why is your skin so rough?" etc., but invented new ones to defer the
grand final effect, which followed the words, "Grandmother, why do you
have such big, sharp teeth?" and the answer, "So that I can eat you,"
whereupon the wolf sprang on me and devoured me--with kisses.

Another time I was Snow-White and she the wicked step-mother, and also
the hunter, the dwarf, and the handsome prince who married her.

How real this merry sport made the distress of persecuted innocence, the
terrors and charm of the forest, the joys and splendours of the fairy
realm!  If the flowers in the garden had raised their voices in song, if
the birds on the boughs had called and spoken to me--nay, if a tree had
changed into a beautiful fairy, or the toad in the damp path of our
shaded avenue into a witch--it would have seemed only natural.

It is a singular thing that actual events which happened in those early
days have largely vanished from my memory; but the fairy tales I heard
and secretly experienced became firmly impressed on my mind.  Education
and life provided for my familiarity with reality in all its harshness
and angles, its strains and hurts; but who in later years could have
flung wide the gates of the kingdom where everything is beautiful and
good, and where ugliness is as surely doomed to destruction as evil to
punishment?  Even poesy in our times turns from the Castalian fount whose
crystal-clear water becomes an unclean pool and, though reluctantly,
obeys the impulse to make its abode in the dust of reality.  Therefore I
plead with voice and pen in behalf of fairy tales; therefore I tell them
to my children and grandchildren, and have even written a volume of them

How perverse and unjust it is to banish the fairy tale from the life of
the child, because devotion to its charm might prove detrimental to the
grown person!  Has not the former the same claim to consideration as the

Every child is entitled to expect a different treatment and judgment,
and to receive what is his due undiminished.  Therefore it is unjust to
injure and rob the child for the benefit of the man.  Are we even sure
that the boy is destined to attain the second and third stages--youth and

True, there are some apostles of caution who deny themselves every joy of
existence while in their prime, in order, when their locks are grey, to
possess wealth which frequently benefits only their heirs.

All sensible mothers will doubtless, like ours, take care that their
children do not believe the stories which they tell them to be true.  I
do not remember any time when, if my mind had been called upon to decide,
I should have thought that anything I invented myself had really
happened; but I know that we were often unable to distinguish whether the
plausible tale related by some one else belonged to the realm of fact or
fiction.  On such occasions we appealed to my mother, and her answer
instantly set all doubts at rest; for we thought she could never be
mistaken, and knew that she always told the truth.

As to the stories invented by myself, I fared like other imaginative
children.  I could imagine the most marvellous things about every member
of the household, and while telling them--but only during that time--I
often fancied that they were true; yet the moment I was asked whether
these things had actually occurred, it seemed as if I woke from a dream.
I at once separated what I had imagined from what I had actually
experienced, and it would never have occurred to me to persist against my
better knowledge.  So the vividly awakened power of imagination led
neither me, my brothers and sisters, nor my children and grandchildren
into falsehood.

In after years I abhorred it, not only because my mother would rather
have permitted any other offence to pass unpunished, but because I had an
opportunity of perceiving its ugliness very early in life.  When only
seven or eight years old I heard a boy--I still remember his name--tell
his mother a shameless lie about some prank in which I had shared.  I did
not interrupt him to vindicate the truth, but I shrank in horror with the
feeling of having witnessed a crime.

If Ludo and I, even in the most critical situations, adhered to the truth
more rigidly than other boys, we "little ones" owe it especially to our
sister Paula, who was always a fanatic in its cause, and even now endures
many an annoyance because she scorns the trivial "necessary fibs" deemed
allowable by society.

True, the interesting question of how far necessary fibs are justifiable
among children, is yet to be considered; but what did we know of such
necessity in our sports in the Thiergarten?  From what could a lie have
saved us except a blow from a beloved mother's little hand, which, it is
true, when any special misdeed was punished by a box on the ear, could
inflict a tolerable amount of pain by means of the rings which adorned

There is a tradition that once when she had slapped Paula's pretty face,
the odd child rubbed her cheek and said, with the droll calmness that
rarely deserted her, "When you want to strike me again, mother, please
take off your rings first."

                    THE GOVERNESS--THE CEMETERY.

During the time we lived in the Thiergarten my mother's hand scarcely
ever touched my face except in a caress.  Every memory of her is bright
and beautiful.  I distinctly remember how merrily she jested and played
with us, and from my earliest recollections her beloved face always
greets me cheerily.  Yet she had moved to the Thiergarten with a heart
oppressed by the deepest sorrow.

I know from the woman who accompanied her there as the governess of the
two eldest children, and became a faithful friend, how deeply she needed
consolation, how completely her feelings harmonized with the widow's
weeds she wore, and in which she is said to have been so beautiful.

The name of this rare woman was Bernhardine Kron.  A native of
Mecklenburg, she united to rich and wide culture the sterling character,
warmth of feeling, and fidelity of this sturdy and sympathetic branch of
the German nation.  She soon became deeply attached to the young widow,
to whose children she was to devote her best powers, and, in after years,
her eyes often grew dim when she spoke of the time during which she
shared our mother's grief and helped her in her work of education.

Both liked to recall in later days the quiet evenings when, after the
rest of the household had retired, they read alone or discussed what
stirred their hearts.  Each gave the other what she could.  The German
governess went through our classic authors with her employer, and my
mother read to her the works of Racine and Corneille, and urged her to
speak French and English with her; for, like many natives of Holland, her
mastery of both languages was as thorough as if she had grown up in Paris
or London.  The necessity of studying and sharing her own rich
intellectual possessions continued to be a marked trait in my mother's
character until late in life, and how much cause for gratitude we all
have for the share she gave us of her own knowledge and experience!

Fraulein Kron always deeply appreciated the intellectual development she
owed to her employer, while the latter never forgot the comfort and
support bestowed by the faithful governess in the most sorrowful days of
her life.  When I first became conscious of my surroundings, these days
were over; but in saying that my first recollections of my mother were
bright and cheerful, I forgot the hours devoted to my father's memory.
She rarely brought them to our notice; a certain chaste reserve, even
later in life, prevented her showing her deepest grief to others.  She
always strove to cope with her sorest trials alone.  Her sunny nature
shrank from diffusing shadow and darkness around her.

On the 14th of February, the anniversary of my father's death, wherever
she might be, she always withdrew from the members of the household, and
even her own children.  A second occasion of sharing her sorrowful
emotion was repeated several times every summer.  This was the visit to
the cemetery, which she rarely made alone.

The visits impressed us all strongly, and the one I first remember could
not have occurred later than my fifth year, for I distinctly recollect
that Frau Rapp's horses took us to the churchyard.  My father was buried
in the Dreifaltigkeitskirchhof,--[Trinity churchyard]--just outside the
Halle Gate.  I found it so little changed when I entered it again, two
years ago, that I could walk without a guide directly to the Ebers family
vault.  But what a transformation had taken place in the way!

When we visited it with my mother, which was always in carriages, for it
was a long distance from our home, we drove quickly through the city, the
gate, and as far as the spot where I found the stately pile of the brick
Kreuzkirche; then we turned to the right, and if we had come in cabs we
children got out, it was so hard for the horses to drag the vehicles over
the sandy road which led to the cemetery.

During this walk we gathered blue cornflowers and scarlet poppies from
the fields, bluebells, daisies, ranunculus, and snapdragon from the
narrow border of turf along the roadside, and tied them into bouquets for
the graves.  My mother moved silently with us between the rows of grassy
mounds, tombstones, and crosses, while we carried the pots of flowers and
wreaths, which, to afford every one the pleasure of helping, she had
distributed among us at the gravedigger's house, just back of the

Our family burial place--my mother's stone cross now stands there beside
my father's--was one of those bounded in the rear by the church yard
wall; a marble slab set in the masonry bears the owner's name.  It is
large enough for us all, and lies at the right of the path between Count
Kalckreuth's and the stately mausoleum which contains the earthly remains
of Moritz von Oppenfeld--who was by far the dearest of our father's
relatives--and his family.

My mother led the way into the small enclosure, which was surrounded by
an iron railing, and prayed or thought silently of the beloved dead who
rested there.

Is there any way for us Protestants, when love for the dead longs to find
expression in action, except to adorn with flowers the places which
contain their earthly remains?  Their bright hues and a child's beaming
face are the only cheerful things which a mourner whose wounds are still
bleeding freshly beside a coffin can endure to see, and I might compare
flowers to the sound of bells.  Both are in place and welcome in the
supreme moments of life.

Therefore my mother, besides a heart full of love, always brought to my
father's grave children and flowers.  When she had satisfied the needs of
her own soul, she turned to us, and with cheerful composure directed the
decoration of the mound.  Then she spoke of our father, and if any of us
had recently incurred punishment--one instance of this kind is indelibly
impressed on my memory--she passed her arms around the child, and in
whispered words, which no one else could hear, entreated the son or
daughter not to grieve her so again, but to remember the dead.  Such an
admonition on this spot could not fail to produce its effect, and brought
forgiveness with it.

On our return our hands and hearts were free again, and we were at
liberty to use our tongues.  During these visits my interest in
Schleiermacher was awakened, for his grave--he died in 1834, three years
before I was born--lay near our lot, and we often stopped before the
stone erected by his friends, grateful pupils, and admirers.  It was
adorned with his likeness in marble; and my mother, who had frequently
met him, pausing in front of it, told us about the keen-sighted
theologian, philosopher, and pulpit orator, whose teachings, as I was to
learn later, had exerted the most powerful influence upon my principal
instructors at Keilhau.  She also knew his best enigmas; and the
following one, whose terse brevity is unsurpassed:

                   "Parted I am sacred,
                    United abominable"--

she had heard him propound himself.  The answer, "Mein eid" (my oath),
and "Meineid" (perjury), every one knows.

Nothing was further from my mother's intention than to make these visits
to the cemetery special memorial days; on the contrary, they were inter-
woven into our lives, not set at regular intervals or on certain dates,
but when her heart prompted and the weather was favourable for out-of-
door excursions.  Therefore they became associated in our minds with
happy and sacred memories.



The celebration of a memorial day by outward forms was one of my mother's
customs; for, spite of her sincerity of feeling, she favoured external
ceremonies, and tried when we were very young to awaken a sense of their
meaning in our minds.

On all festal occasions we children were freshly dressed from top to toe,
and all of us, including the servants, had cakes at breakfast, and the
older ones wine at dinner.

On the birthdays these cakes were surrounded by as many candles as we
numbered years, and provision was always made for a dainty arrangement of
gifts.  While we were young, my mother distinguished the "birthday child"
--probably in accordance with some custom of her native country--by a
silk scarf.  She liked to celebrate her own birthday, too, and ever since
I can remember--it was on the 25th of July--we had a picnic at that time.

We knew that it was a pleasure to her to see us at her table on that day,
and, up to the last years of her life, all whose vocations permitted met
at her house on the anniversary.

She went to church on Sunday, and on Good Friday she insisted that my
sisters as well as her self should wear black, not only during the
service, but throughout the rest of the day.

Few children enjoyed a more beautiful Christmas than ours, for under the
tree adorned with special love each found the desire of his or her heart
gratified, while behind the family gift-table there always stood another,
on which several poorer people whom I might call  "clients" of the
household, discovered presents which suited their needs.  Among them, up
to the time I went as a boy of eleven to Keilhau, I never failed to see
my oldest sister's nurse with her worthy husband, the shoemaker Grossman,
and their well-behaved children.  She gladly permitted us to share in the
distribution of the alms liberally bestowed on the needy.  The seeming
paradox, "No one ever grew poor by giving," I first heard from her lips,
and she more than once found an opportunity to repeat it.

We, however, never valued her gifts of money so highly as the trouble and
inconveniences she cheerfully encountered to aid or add to the happiness
of others by means of the numerous relations formed in her social life
and the influence gained mainly by her own gracious nature.  Many who are
now occupying influential positions owe their first start or have had the
path smoothed for them by her kindness.

As in many Berlin families, the Christmas Man came to us--an old man
disguised by a big beard and provided with a bag filled with nuts and
bonbons and sometimes trifling gifts.  He addressed us in a feigned
voice, saying that the Christ Child had sent him, but the dainties he had
were intended only for the good children who could recite some thing for
him.  Of course, provision for doing this had been made.  Everybody
pressed forward, but the Christmas Man kept order, and only when each had
repeated a little verse did he open the bag and distribute its contents
among us.

Usually the Christmas Man brought a companion, who followed him in the
guise of Knecht Ruprecht with his own bag of presents, and mingled with
his jests threats against naughty children.

The carp served on Christmas eve in every Berlin family, after the
distribution of gifts, and which were never absent from my mother's
table, I have always had on my own in Jena, Leipsic, and Munich, or
wherever the evening of December 24th might find us.  On the whole, we
remain faithful to the Christmas customs of my own home, which vary
little from those of the Germans in Riga, where my wife's family belong;
nay, it is so hard for me to relinquish such childish habits, that, when
unable to procure a Christmas tree for the two "Eves" I spent on the
Nile, I decked a young palm and fastened candles on it.  My mother's
permission that Knecht Ruprecht should visit us was contrary to her
principle never to allow us to be frightened by images of horror.  Nay,
if she heard that the servants threatened us with the Black Man and other
hobgoblins of Berlin nursery tales, she was always very angry.  The
arguments by which my wife induced me to banish the Christmas Man and
Knecht Ruprecht seem still more cogent, now that I think I understand the
hearts of children.  It is certainly far more beautiful and just as easy-
if we desire to utilize Christmas gifts for educational purposes--to
stimulate children to goodness by telling them of the pleasure it will
give the little Christ Child, rather than by filling them with dread of
Knecht Ruprecht.

True, my mother did not fail to endeavor to inspire us with love for the
Christ Child and the Saviour, and to draw us near to him.  She saw in
him, above all else, the embodiment of love, and loved him because her
loving heart understood his.  In after years my own investigation and
thought brought me to the same conviction which she had reached through
the relation of her feminine nature to the person and teachings of her
Saviour.  I perceived that the world as Jesus Christ found it owes him
nothing grander, more beautiful, loftier, or more pregnant with
importance than that he widened the circle of love which embraced only
the individual, the family, the city, or, at the utmost, the country of
which a person was a citizen, till it included all mankind, and this
human love, of which my mother's life gave us practical proof, is the
banner under which all the genuine progress of mankind in later years
has been made.

Nineteen centuries have passed since the one that gave us Him who died on
the cross, and how far we are still from a perfect realization of this
noblest of all the emotions of the heart and spirit!  And yet, on the day
when this human love has full sway, the social problems which now disturb
so many minds and will permit the brains of our best citizens to take no
rest, will be solved.


I omit saying more of my mother's religious feelings and relations to
God, because I know that it would be contrary to her wishes to inform
strangers of the glimpse she afterward afforded me of the inmost depths
of her soul.

That, like every other mother, she clasped our little hands in prayer is
a matter of course.  I could not fall asleep until she had done this and
given me my good-night kiss.  How often I have dreamed of her when,
before going to some entertainment, she came in full evening dress to
hear me repeat my little prayer and bid us good-bye!

But she also provided most carefully for the outward life; nay, perhaps
she laid a little too much stress upon our manners in greeting strangers,
at table, and elsewhere.

Among these forms I might number the fluent use of the French language,
which my mother early bestowed upon us as if its acquisition was mere
sport-bestowed; for, unhappily, I know of no German grammar school where
pupils can learn to speak French with facility; and how many never-to-be-
forgotten memories of travel, what great benefits during my period of
study in Paris I owe to this capacity!  We obtained it by the help of
bonnes, who found it easier to speak French to us because our mother
always did the same in their presence.

My mother considered it of the first importance to make us familiar with
French at a very early age, because, when she reached Berlin with a
scanty knowledge of German, her mastery of French secured numerous
pleasant things.  She often told us how highly French was valued in the
capital, and we must believe that the language possesses an imperishable
charm for Germans when we remember that this was the case so shortly
after the glorious uprising against the terrible despotism of France.
True, French, in addition to its melody and ambiguity, possesses more
subtle turns and apt phrases than most other languages; and even the most
German of Germans, our Bismarck, must recognize the fitness of its
phrases, because he likes to avail himself of them.  He has a perfect
knowledge of French, and I have noticed that, whenever he mingles it with
German, the former has some sentence which enables him to communicate in
better and briefer language whatever he may desire to express.  What
German form of speech, for instance, can convey the idea of fulness which
will permit no addition so well as the French popular saying, "Full as an
egg," which pleased me in its native land, and which first greeted me in
Germany as an expression used by the great chancellor?

My mother's solicitude concerning good manners and perfection in speaking
French, which so easily renders children mere dolls, fortunately could
not deprive us of our natural freshness and freedom from constraint.
But if any peril to the character does lurk in being unduly mindful of
external forms, we three brothers were destined to spend a large portion
of our boyhood amid surroundings which, as it were, led us back to
Nature.  Besides, even in Berlin we were not forbidden to play like
genuine boys.  We had no lack of playmates of both sexes, and with them
we certainly talked and shouted no French, but sturdy Berlin German.

In winter, too, we were permitted to enjoy ourselves out of doors, and
few boys made handsomer snow-men than those our worthy Kurschner--always
with the order in his buttonhole--helped us build in Thiergartenstrasse.

In the house we were obliged to behave courteously, and when I recall the
appearance of things there I become vividly aware that no series of years
witnessed more decisive changes in every department of life in Germany
than those of my boyhood.  The furnishing of the rooms differed little
from that of the present day, except that the chairs and tables were
somewhat more angular and the cushions less comfortable.  Instead of the
little knobs of the electric bells, a so-called "bell-rope," about the
width of one's hand, provided with a brass or metal handle, hung beside
the doors.

The first introduction of gas into the city was made by an English
company about ten years before my birth; but how many oil lamps I still
saw burning, and in my school days the manufacturing city of Kottbus,
which at that time contained about ten thousand inhabitants, was lighted
by them!  In my childhood gas was not used in the houses and theatres of
Berlin, and kerosene had not found its way to Germany.  The rooms were
lighted by oil lamps and candles, while the servants burned tallow-dips.
The latter were also used in our nursery, and during the years which I
spent at school in Keilhau all our studying was done by them.

Matches were not known.  I still remember the tinder box in the kitchen,
the steel, the flint, and the threads dipped in sulphur.  The sparks made
by striking fell on the tinder and caught it on fire here and there.
Soon after the long, rough lucifer matches appeared, which were dipped
into a little bottle filled, I believe, with asbestos wet with sulphuric

We never saw the gardener light his pipe except with flint, steel, and
tinder.  The gun he used had a firelock, and when he had put first
powder, then a wad, then shot, and lastly another wad into the barrel, he
was obliged to shake some powder into the pan, which was lighted by the
sparks from the flint striking the steel, if the rain did not make it too

For writing we used exclusively goose-quills, for though steel pens were
invented soon after I was born, they were probably very imperfect; and,
moreover, had to combat a violent prejudice, for at the first school we
attended we were strictly forbidden to use them.  So the penknife played
an important part on every writing-desk, and it was impossible to imagine
a good penman who did not possess skill in the art of shaping the quills.

What has been accomplished between 1837 and the present date in the way
of means of communication I need not recapitulate.  I only know how long
a time was required for a letter from my mother's brothers--one was a
resident of Java and the other lived as "Opperhoofd" in Japan--to reach
Berlin, and how often an opportunity was used, generally through the
courtesy of the Netherland embassy, for sending letters or little gifts
to Holland.  A letter forwarded by express was the swiftest way of
receiving or giving news; but there was the signal telegraph, whose arms
we often saw moving up and down, but exclusively in the service of the
Government.  When, a few years ago, my mother was ill in Holland, a reply
to a telegram marked "urgent" was received in Leipsic in eighteen
minutes.  What would our grandparents have said to such a miracle?

We were soon to learn by experience the number of days required to reach
my mother's home from Berlin, for there was then no railroad to Holland.

The remarkable changes wrought during my lifetime in the political
affairs of Germany I can merely indicate here.  I was born in despotic
Prussia, which was united to Austria and the German states and small
countries by a loosely formed league.  As guardians of this wretched
unity the various courts sent diplomats to Frankfort, who interrupted
their careless mode of life only to sharpen distrust of other courts or
suppress some democratic movement.

The Prussian nation first obtained in 1848 the liberties which had been
secured at an earlier date by the other German states, and nothing gives
me more cause for gratitude than the boon of being permitted to see the
realization and fulfilment of the dream of so many former generations,
and my dismembered native land united into one grand, beautiful whole.  I
deem it a great happiness to have been a contemporary of Emperor William
I, Bismarck, and Von Moltke, witnessed their great deeds as a man of
mature years, and shared the enthusiasm they evoked and which enabled
these men to make our German Fatherland the powerful, united empire it
is to-day.

The journey to Holland closes the first part of my childhood.  I look
back upon it as a beautiful, unshadowed dream out of doors or in a
pleasant house where everybody loved me.  But I could not single out the
years, months, or days of this retrospect.  It is only a smooth stream
which bears us easily along.  There is no series of events, only
disconnected images--a faithful dog, a picture on the wall, above all the
love and caresses of the mother lavished specially on me as the youngest,
and the most blissful of all sounds in the life of a German child, the
ringing of the little bell announcing that the Christmas tree is ready.

Only in after days, when the world of fairyland and legend is left
behind, does the child have any idea of consecutive events and human
destinies.  The stories told by mother and grandmother about Snow-White,
the Sleeping Beauty, the giants and the dwarfs, Cinderella, the stable at
Bethlehem where the Christ-Child lay in the manger beside the oxen and
asses, the angels who appeared to the shepherds singing "Glory to God in
the Highest," the three kings and the star which led them to the Christ-
Child, are firmly impressed on his memory.  I don't know how young I was
when I saw the first picture of the kings in their purple robes kneeling
before the babe in its mother's lap, but its forms and hues were
indelibly stamped upon my mental vision, and I never forgot its meaning.
True, I had no special thoughts concerning it; nay, I scarcely wondered
to see kings in the dust before a child, and now, when I hear the summons
of the purest and noblest of Beings, "Suffer little children to come unto
me," and understand the sacred simplicity of a child's heart, it no
longer awakens surprise.



The rattle of wheels and the blast of the postilion's horn closed the
first period of my childhood.  When I was four years old we went to my
mother's home to attend my grandparents' golden wedding.  If I wished to
describe the journey in its regular order I should be forced to depend
upon the statements of others.  So little of all which grown people
deem worth seeing and noting in Belgium, Holland, and on the Rhine has
remained in my memory, that I cannot help smiling when I hear people say
that they intend to take children travelling for their amusement and
instruction.  In our case we were put in the carriage because my mother
would not leave us behind, and wanted to give our grandparents pleasure
by our presence.  She was right, but in spite of my inborn love of travel
the month we spent on the journey seemed a period of very uncomfortable
restlessness.  A child realizes only a single detail of beauty--a flower,
a radiant star, a human face.  Any individual recollection of the journey
to Holland, aside from what has been told me, is getting into the
travelling carriage, a little green leather Bajazzo dressed in red and
white given to me by a relative, and the box of candies bestowed to take
on the trip by a friend of my mother.

Of our reception in the Belgian capital at the house of Adolphe Jones,
the husband of my aunt Henriette, a sister of my mother, I retain many

Our pleasant host was a painter of animals, whom I afterward saw sharing
his friend Verboeckhoven's studio, and whose flocks of sheep were very
highly praised.  At that time his studio was in his own house, and it
seems as if I could still hear the call in my aunt's shrill voice,
repeated countless times a day,  "Adolphe!" and the answer, following
promptly in the deepest bass tones, "Henriette!"  This singular freak,
which greatly amused us, was due, as I learned afterward, to my aunt's
jealousy, which almost bordered on insanity.

In later years I learned to know him as a jovial artist, who in the days
of his youth very possibly might have given the strait-laced lady cause
for anxiety.  Even when his locks were white he was ready for any
pleasure; but he devoted himself earnestly to art, and I am under
obligation to him for being the means of my mother's possessing the
friendship of the animal painter, Verboeckhoven, and that greatest of
more modern Belgian artists, Louis Gallait and his family, in whose
society and home I have passed many delightful hours.

In recalling our arrival at the Jones house I first see the merry,
smiling face--somewhat faunlike in its expression--of my six-foot uncle,
and the plump figure of his wonderfully good and when undisturbed by
jealousy--no less cheery wife.  There was something specially winning and
lovable about her, and I have heard that this lady, my mother's oldest
sister, possessed in her youth the same dazzling beauty.  At the famous
ball in Brussels this so captivated the Duke of Wellington that he
offered her his arm to escort her back to her seat.  My mother also
remembered the Napoleonic days, and I thought she had been specially
favoured in seeing this great man when he entered Rotterdam, and also

I remember my grandfather as a stately old gentleman.  He, as well as
the other members of the family, called me Georg Krullebol, which means
curly-head, to distinguish me from a cousin called Georg von Gent.  I
also remember that when, on the morning of December 5th, St. Nicholas
day, we children took our shoes to put on, we found them, to our delight,
stuffed with gifts; and lastly that on Christmas Eve the tree which had
been prepared for us in a room on the ground floor attracted such a crowd
of curious spectators in front of the Jones house that we were obliged to
close the shutters.  Of my grandparents' day of honor I remember nothing
except a large room filled with people, and the minutes during which
I repeated my little verse.  I can still see myself in a short pink
skirt, with a wreath of roses on my fair curls, wings on my shoulders, a
quiver on my back, and a bow in my hand, standing before the mirror very
much pleased with my appearance.  Our governess had composed little
Cupid's speech, my mother had drilled me thoroughly in it, so I do not
remember a moment of anxiety and embarrassment, but merely that it
afforded me the purest, deepest pleasure to be permitted to do something.

I must have behaved with the utmost ease before the spectators, many of
whom I knew, for I can still hear the loud applause which greeted me, and
see myself passed from one to another till I fled from the kisses and pet
names of grandparents, aunts, and cousins to my mother's lap.  Of the
bride and groom of this golden wedding I remember only that my
grandfather wore short trousers called 'escarpins' and stockings reaching
to the knee.  My grandmother, spite of her sixty-six years--she married
before she was seventeen--was said to look remarkably pretty.  Later I
often saw the heavy white silk dress strewn with tiny bouquets which she
wore as a bride and again remodelled at her silver wedding; for after her
death it was left to my mother.  Modern wedding gowns are not treasured
so long.  I have often wondered why I recollect my grandfather so
distinctly and my grandmother so dimly.  I have a clear idea of her
personal appearance, but this I believe I owe much more to her portrait
which hung in my mother's room beside her husband's, and is now one of my
own most cherished possessions.  Bradley, one of the best English
portrait painters, executed it, and all connoisseurs pronounce it a

This festival lives in my memory like the fresh spring morning of a day
whose noon is darkened by clouds, and which ends in a heavy thunderstorm.

Black clouds had gathered over the house adorned with garlands and
flowers, echoing for days with the gay conversations, jests, and
congratulations of the relatives united after long separation and the
mirth of children and grandchildren.  Not a loud word was permitted to be
uttered.  We felt that something terrible was impending, and people
called it grandfather's illness.  Never had I seen my mother's sunny face
so anxious and sad.  She rarely came to us, and when she did for a short
time her thoughts were far away, for she was nursing her father.

Then the day which had been dreaded came.  Wherever we looked the women
were weeping and the eyes of the men were reddened by tears.  My mother,
pale and sorrowful, told us that our dear grandfather was dead.

Children cannot understand the terrible solemnity of death.  This is a
gift bestowed by their guardian angels, that no gloomy shadows may darken
the sunny brightness of their souls.

I saw only that cheerful faces were changed to sad ones, that the figures
about us moved silently in sable robes and scarcely noticed us.  On the
tables in the nursery, where our holiday garments were made, black
clothes were being cut for us also, and I remember having my mourning
dress fitted.  I was pleased because it was a new one.  I tried to
manufacture a suit for my Berlin Jack-in-the-box from the scraps that
fell from the dressmaker's table.  Nothing amuses a child so much as to
imitate what older people are doing.  We were forbidden to laugh, but
after a few days our mother no longer checked our mirth.  Of our stay at
Scheveningen I recollect nothing except that the paths in the little
garden of the house we occupied were strewn with shells.  We dug a big
hole in the sand on the downs, but I retained no remembrance of the sea
and its majesty, and when I beheld it in later years it seemed as if I
were greeting for the first time the eternal Thalassa which was to become
so dear and familiar to me.

My grandmother, I learned, passed away scarcely a year after the death of
her faithful companion, at the home of her son, a lawyer in The Hague.

Two incidents of the journey back are vividly impressed on my mind.  We
went by steamer up the Rhine, and stopped at Ehrenbreitstein to visit old
Frau Mendelssohn, our guardian's mother, at her estate of Horchheim.  The
carriage had been sent for us, and on the drive the spirited horses ran
away and would have dashed into the Rhine had not my brother Martin, at
that time eleven years old, who was sitting on the box by the coachman,
saved us.

The other incident is of a less serious nature.  I had seen many a salmon
in the kitchen, and resolved to fish for one from the steamer; so I tied
a bit of candy to a string and dropped it from the deck.  The fish were
so wanting in taste as to disdain the sweet bait, but my early awakened
love of sport kept me patiently a long time in the same spot, which was
undoubtedly more agreeable to my mother than the bait was to the salmon.
As, protected by the guards, and probably watched by the governess and my
brothers and sisters, I devoted myself to this amusement, my mother went
down into the cabin to rest.  Suddenly there was a loud uproar on the
ship.  People shouted and screamed, everybody rushed on deck and looked
into the river.  Whether I, too, heard the fall and saw the life-boat
manned I don't remember; but I recollect all the more clearly my mother's
rushing frantically from the cabin and clasping me tenderly to her heart
as her rescued child.  So the drama ended happily, but there had been a
terrible scene.

Among the steamer's passengers was a crazy Englishman who was being
taken, under the charge of a keeper, to an insane asylum.  While my
mother was asleep the lunatic succeeded in eluding this man's vigilance
and plunged into the river.  Of course, there was a tumult on board, and
my mother heard cries of "Fallen into the river!"

"Save!"  "He'll drown!"  Maternal anxiety instantly applied them to the
child-angler, and she darted up the cabin stairs.  I need not describe
the state of mind in which she reached the deck, and her emotion when she
found her nestling in his place, still holding the line in his hand.

As the luckless son of Albion was rescued unharmed, we could look back
upon the incident gaily, but neither of us forgot this anxiety--the first
I was to cause my mother.

I have forgotten everything else that happened on our way home; but when
I think of this first journey, a long one for so young a child, and the
many little trips--usually to Dresden, where my grandmother Ebers lived--
which I was permitted to take, I wonder whether they inspired the love of
travel which moved me so strongly later, or whether it was an inborn
instinct.  If a popular superstition is correct, I was predestined to
journey.  No less a personage than Friedrich Froebel, the founder of the
kindergarten system, called my attention to it; for when I met him for
the first time in the Institute at Keilhau, he seized my curly hair, bent
my head back, gazed at me with his kind yet penetrating eyes, and said:
"You will wander far through the world, my boy; your teeth are wide



Lennestrasse is the scene of the period of my life which began with my
return from Holland.  If, coming from the Brandenburg Gate, you follow
the Thiergarten and pass the superb statue of Goethe, you will reach a
corner formed by two blocks of houses.  The one on the left, opposite to
the city wall, now called Koniggratz, was then known as
Schulgartenstrasse.  The other, on the right, whose windows overlooked
the Thiergarten, bore the name in my childhood of Lennestrasse, which it
owed to Lenne, the park superintendent, a man of great talent, but who
lives in my memory only as a particularly jovial old gentleman.  He
occupied No. 1, and was one of my mother's friends.  Next to Prince
Packler, he may certainly be regarded as one of the most inventive and
tasteful landscape gardeners of his time.  He transformed the gardens of
Sans-Souci and the Pfaueninsel at Potsdam, and laid out the magnificent
park on Babelsberg for Emperor William I, when he was only "Prince of
Prussia."  The magnificent Zoological Garden in Berlin is also his work;
but he prided himself most on rendering the Thiergarten a "lung" for the
people, and, spite of many obstacles, materially enlarging it.  Every
moment of the tireless man's time was claimed, and besides King Frederick
William IV, who himself uttered many a tolerably good joke, found much
pleasure in the society of the gay, clever Rhinelander, whom he often
summoned to dine with him at Potsdam.  Lenne undoubtedly appreciated this
honour, yet I remember the doleful tone in which he sometimes greeted my
mother with, "Called to court again!"

Like every one who loves Nature and flowers, he was fond of children.
We called him "Uncle Lenne," and often walked down our street hand in
hand with him.

It is well known that the part of the city on the other side of the
Potsdam Gate was called the "Geheimerath-Quarter."  Our street, it is
true, lay nearer to the Brandenburg Gate, yet it really belonged to that
section; for there was not a single house without at least one
Geheimerath (Privy Councillor).

Yet this superabundance of men in "secret" positions lent no touch of
mystery to our cheerful street, shaded by the green of the forest.
Franker, gayer, sometimes noisier children than its residents could not
be found in Berlin.  I was only a little fellow when we lived there, and
merely tolerated in the "big boys'" sports, but it was a festival when,
with Ludo, I could carry their provisions for them or even help them make
fireworks.  The old Rechnungsrath, who lived in the house owned by
Geheimerath Crede, the father of my Leipsic colleague, was their
instructor in this art, which was to prove disastrous to my oldest
brother and bright Paul Seiffart; for--may they pardon me the treachery--
they took one of the fireworks to school, where--I hope accidentally--it
went off.  At first this caused much amusement, but strict judgment
followed, and led to my mother's resolution to send her oldest son away
from home to some educational institution.

The well-known teacher, Adolph Diesterweg, whose acquaintance she had
made at the house of a friend, recommended Keilhau, and so our little
band was deprived of the leader to whom Ludo and I had looked up with a
certain degree of reverence on account of his superior strength, his bold
spirit of enterprise, and his kindly condescension to us younger ones.

After his departure the house was much quieter, but we did not forget
him; his letters from Keilhau were read aloud to us, and his descriptions
of the merry school days, the pedestrian tours, and sleigh-rides awakened
an ardent longing in Ludo and myself to follow him.

Yet it was so delightful with my mother, the sun around which our little
lives revolved!  I had no thought, performed no act, without wondering
what would be her opinion of it; and this intimate relation, though in an
altered form, continued until her death.  In looking backward I may
regard it as a law of my whole development that my conduct was regulated
according to the more or less close mental and outward connection in
which I stood with her.  The storm and stress period, during which my
effervescent youthful spirits led me into all sorts of follies, was the
only time in my life in which this close connection threatened to be
loosened.  Yet Fate provided that it should soon be welded more firmly
than ever.  When she died, a beloved wife stood by my side, but she was
part of myself; and in my mother Fate seemed to have robbed me of the
supreme arbitrator, the high court of justice, which alone could judge my

In Lennestrasse it was still she who waked me, prepared us to go to
school, took us to walk, and--how could I ever forget it?--gathered us
around her "when the lamps were lighted," to read aloud or tell us some
story.  But nobody was allowed to be perfectly idle.  While my sisters
sewed, I sketched; and, as Ludo found no pleasure in that, she sometimes
had him cut figures out; sometimes--an odd fancy--execute a masterpiece
of crocheting, which usually shared the fate of Penelope's web.

We listened with glowing cheeks to Robinson Crusoe and the Arabian
Nights, Gulliver's Travels and Don Quixote, both arranged for children,
the pretty, stories of Nieritz and others, descriptions of Nature and
travel, and Grimm's fairy tales.

On other winter evenings my mother--this will surprise many in the case
of so sensible a woman--took us to the theatre.  Two of our relatives,
Frau Amalie Beer and our beloved Moritz von Oppenfeld, subscribed for
boxes in the opera-house, and when they did not use them, which often
happened, sent us the key.

So as a boy I heard most of the operas produced at that time, and I saw
the ballets, of which Frederick William IV was especially fond, and which
Taglioni understood how to arrange so admirably.

Of course, to us children the comic "Robert and Bertram," by Ludwig
Schneider, and similar plays, were far more delightful than the grand
operas; yet even now I wonder that Don Giovanni's scene with the statue
and the conspiracy in the Huguenots stirred me, when a boy of nine or
ten, so deeply, and that, though possessing barely the average amount of
musical talent, Orpheus's yearning cry, "Eurydice!" rang in my ears so

That these frequently repeated pleasures were harmful to us children I
willingly admit.  And yet--when in after years I was told that I
succeeded admirably in describing large bodies of men seized by some
strong excitement, and that my novels did not lack dramatic movement or
their scenes vividness, and, where it was requisite, splendour--I perhaps
owe this to the superb pictures, interwoven with thrilling bursts of
melody, which impressed themselves upon my soul when a child.

Fortunately, the outdoor life at Keilhau counteracted the perils which
might have arisen from attending theatrical performances too young.  What
I beheld there, in field and forest, enabled me in after life, when I
desired a background for my stories, not to paint stage scenes, but take
Nature herself for a model.

I must also record another influence which had its share in my creative
toil--my early intercourse with artists and the opportunity of seeing
their work.

The statement has been made often enough, but I should like to repeat it
here from my own experience, that the most numerous and best impulses
which urge the author to artistic development come from his childhood.
This law, which results from observing the life and works of the greatest
writers, has shown itself very distinctly in a minor one like myself.

There was certainly no lack of varied stimulus during this early period
of my existence; but when I look back upon it, I become vividly aware of
the serious perils which threaten not only the external but the internal
development of the children who grow up in large cities.

Careful watching can guard them from the transgressions to which there
are many temptations, but not from the strong and varying impressions
which life is constantly forcing upon them.  They are thrust too early
from the paradise of childhood into the arena of life.  There are many
things to be seen which enrich the imagination, but where could the young
heart find the calmness it needs?  The sighing of the wind sweeping over
the cornfields and stirring the tree-tops in the forest, the singing of
the birds in the boughs, the chirping of the cricket, the vesper-bells
summoning the world to rest, all the voices which, in the country, invite
to meditation and finally to the formation of a world of one's own, are
silenced by the noise of the capital.  So it happens that the latter
produces active, practical men, and, under favorable circumstances, great
scholars, but few artists and poets.  If, nevertheless, the capitals are
the centers where the poets, artists, sculptors, and architects of the
country gather, there is a good reason for it.  But I can make no further
digression.  The sapling requires different soil and care from the tree.
I am grateful to my mother for removing us in time from the unrest of
Berlin life.


My mother told me I was never really taught to read.  Ludo, who was a
year and a half older, was instructed in the art.  I sat by playing, and
one day took up Speckter's Fables and read a few words.  Trial was then
made of my capability, and, finding that I only needed practice to be
able to read things I did not know already by heart, my brother and I
were thenceforth taught together.

At first the governess had charge of us, afterward we were sent to a
little school kept by Herr Liebe in the neighbouring Schulgarten (now
Koniggratz) Strasse.  It was attended almost entirely by children
belonging to the circle of our acquaintances, and the master was a
pleasant little man of middle age, who let us do more digging in his
garden and playing or singing than actual study.

His only child, a pretty little girl named Clara, was taught with us, and
I believe I have Herr Liebe to thank for learning to write.  In summer he
took us on long walks, frequently to the country seat of Herr Korte, who
stood high in the estimation of farmers.

From such excursions, which were followed by others made with the son and
tutor of a family among our circle of friends, we always brought our
mother great bunches of flowers, and often beautiful stories, too; for
the tutor, Candidate Woltmann, was an excellent story-teller, and I early
felt a desire to share with those whom I loved whatever charmed me.

It was from this man, who was as fond of the beautiful as he was of
children, that I first heard the names of the Greek heroes; and I
remember that, after returning from one of these walks, I begged my
mother to give us Schwab's Tales of Classic Antiquity, which was owned by
one of our companions.  We received it on Ludo's birthday, in September,
and how we listened when it was read to us--how often we ourselves
devoured its delightful contents!

I think the story of the Trojan War made a deeper impression upon me than
even the Arabian Nights.  Homer's heroes seemed like giant oaks, which
far overtopped the little trees of the human wood.  They towered like
glorious snow mountains above the little hills with which my childish
imagination was already filled; and how often we played the Trojan War,
and aspired to the honor of acting Hector, Achilles, or Ajax!

Of Herr Liebe, our teacher, I remember only three things.  On his
daughter's birthday he treated us to cake and wine, and we had to sing a
festal song composed by himself, the refrain of which changed every year:

              "Clara, with her fair hair thick,
               Clara, with her eyes like heaven,
               Can no more be called a chick,
               For to-day she's really seven."

I remember, too, how when she was eight years old we had to transpose the
words a little to make the measure right.  Karl von Holtei had a more
difficult task when, after the death of the Emperor Francis (Kaiser
Franz), he had to fit the name of his successor, Ferdinand, into the
beautiful "Gotterhalte Franz den Kaiser," but he got cleverly out of the
affair by making it "Gott erhalte Ferdinandum."--[God save the Emperor

My second recollection is, that we assisted Herr Liebe, who was a
churchwarden and had the honour of taking up the collection, to sort the
money, and how it delighted us to hear him scold--with good reason, too--
when we found among the silver and copper pieces--as, alas! we almost
always did--counters and buttons from various articles of clothing.

In the third place, I must accuse Herr Liebe of having paid very little
attention to our behaviour out of school.  Had he kept his eyes open, we
might have been spared many a bruise and our garments many a rent; for,
as often as we could manage it, instead of going directly home from the
Schulgartenstrasse, we passed through the Potsdam Gate to the square
beyond.  There lurked the enemy, and we sought them out.  The enemy were
the pupils of a humbler grade of school who called us Privy Councillor's
youngsters, which most of us were; and we called them, in return,
'Knoten,' which in its original meaning was anything but an insult,
coming as it does by a natural philological process from "Genote," the
older form of "Genosse" or comrade.

But to accuse us of arrogance on this account would be doing us wrong.
Children don't fight regularly with those whom they despise.  Our
"Knoten" was only a smart answer to their "Geheimrathsjoren."  If they
had called us boobies we should probably have called them blockheads, or
something of that sort.

This troop, which was not over-well-dressed even before the beginning of
the conflict, was led by some boys whose father kept a so-called flower
cellar--that is, a basement shop for plants, wreaths, etc.--at the head
of Leipzigerstrasse.  They often sought us out, but when they did not we
enticed them from their cellar by a particular sort of call, and as soon
as they appeared we all slipped into some courtyard, where a battle
speedily raged, in which our school knapsacks served as weapons of
offence and defence.  When I got into a passion I was as wild as a
fighting cock, and even quiet Ludo could deal hard blows; and I can say
the same of most of the "Geheimrathsjoren" and "Knoten."  It was not
often that any decided success attended the fight, for the janitor or
some inhabitant of the house usually interfered and brought it all to an
untimely end.  I remember still how a fat woman, probably a cook, seized
me by the collar and pushed me out into the street, crying: "Fie!  fie!
such young gentlemen ought to be ashamed of themselves."

Hegel, however, whose influence at that time was still great in the
learned circles of Berlin, had called shame "anger against what is
natural," and we liked what was natural.  So the battles with the
"Knoten" were continued until the Berlin revolution called forth more
serious struggles, and our mother sent us away to Keilhau.

Our sisters went to school also, a school kept by Fraulein Sollmann in
the Dorotheenstrasse.  And yet we had a tutor, I do not really know why.
Whether our mother had heard of the fights, and recognized the
impossibility of following us about everywhere, or whether the candidate
was to teach us the rudiments of Latin after we went to the Schmidt
school in the Leipziger Platz, at the beginning of my tenth year, I
neglected to inquire.

The Easter holidays always brought Brother Martin home.  Then he told us
about Keilhau, and we longed to accompany him there; and yet we had so
many good schoolmates and friends at home, such spacious playgrounds and
beautiful toys!  I recall with especial pleasure the army of tin soldiers
with which we fought battles, and the brass cannon that mowed down their
ranks.  We could build castles and cathedrals with our blocks, and
cooking was a pleasure, too, when our sisters allowed us to act as
scullions and waiters in white aprons and caps.

Martha, the eldest, was already a grown young lady, but so sweet and kind
that we never feared a rebuff from her; and her friends, too, liked us
little ones.

Martha's contemporaries formed a peculiarly charming circle.  There was
the beautiful Emma Baeyer, the daughter of General Baeyer, who afterward
conducted the measuring of the meridian for central Europe; pretty,
lively Anna Bisting; and Gretchen Bugler, a handsome, merry girl, who
afterward married Paul Heyse and died young; Clara and Agnes
Mitscherlich, the daughters of the celebrated chemist, the younger of
whom was especially dear to my childish heart.  Gustel Grimm, too, the
daughter of Wilhelm Grimm, was often at our house.  The queen of my
heart, however, was the sister of our playmate, Max Geppert, and at this
time the most intimate friend of my sister Paula.  The two took dancing
lessons together, and there was no greater joy than when the lesson was
at our house, for then the young ladies occasionally did us the favour of
dancing with us, to Herr Guichard's tiny violin.

Warm as was my love for the beautiful Annchen, my adored one came near
getting a cold from it, for, rogue that I was, I hid her overshoes during
the lesson on one rainy Saturday evening, that I might have the pleasure
of taking them to her the next morning.

She looked at that time like the woman with whom I celebrated my silver
wedding two years ago, and certainly belonged to the same feminine genre,
which I value and place as high above all others as Simonides von Amorgos
preferred the beelike woman to every other of her sex: I mean the kind
whose womanliness and gentle charm touch the heart before one ever thinks
of intellect or beauty.

Our mother smiled at these affairs, and her daughters, as girls, gave her
no great trouble in guarding their not too impressionable hearts.

There was only one boy for whom Paula showed a preference, and that was
pretty blond Paul, our Martin's friend, comrade, and contemporary, the
son of our neighbour, the Privy-Councillor Seiffart; and we lived a good
deal together, for his mother and ours were bosom friends, and our house
was as open to him as his to us.

Paul was born on the same November day as my sister, though several years
earlier, and their common birthday was celebrated, while we were little,
by a puppet-show at the neighbour's, conducted by some master in the
business, on a pretty little stage in the great hall at the Seiffarts'

I have never forgotten those performances, and laugh now when I think of
the knight who shouted to his servant Kasperle, "Fear my thread!"
(Zwirn), when what  he intended to say was, "Fear  my anger!" (Zorn).
Or of that same Kasperle, when he gave his wife a tremendous drubbing
with a stake, and then inquired, "Want another ounce of unburned wood-
ashes, my darling?"

Paula was very fond of these farces.  She was, however, from a child
rather a singular young creature, who did not by any means enjoy all the
amusements of her age.  When grown, it was often with difficulty that our
mother persuaded her to attend a ball, while Martha's eyes sparkled
joyously when there was a dance in prospect; and yet the tall and slender
Paula looked extremely pretty in a ball dress.

Gay and active, indeed bold as a boy sometimes, so that she would lead in
taking the rather dangerous leap from a balcony of our high ground floor
into the garden, clever, and full of droll fancies, she dwelt much in her
own thoughts.  Several volumes of her journal came to me after our
mother's death, and it is odd enough to find the thirteen-year-old girl
confessing that she likes no worldly pleasures, and yet, being a very
truthful child, she was only expressing a perfectly sincere feeling.

It was touching to read in the same confessions: "I was in a dreamy mood,
and they said I must be longing for something--Paul, no doubt.  I did not
dispute it, for I really was longing for some one, though it was not a
boy, but our dead father."  And Paula was only three years old when he
left us!

No one would have thought, who saw her delight when there were fireworks
in the Seiffarts' garden, or when in our own, with her curls and her gown
flying, her cheeks glowing, and her eyes flashing, she played with all
her heart at "catch" or "robber and princess," or, all animation and
interest, conducted a performance of our puppet-show, that she would
sometimes shun all noisy pleasure, that she longed with enthusiastic
piety for the Sunday churchgoing, and could plunge into meditation on
subjects that usually lie far from childish thoughts and feelings.

Yet who would fancy her thoughtless when she wrote in her journal: "Fie,
Paula!  You have taken no trouble.  Mother had a right to expect a better
report.  However, to be happy, one must forget what cannot be altered."

In reality, she was not in the least "featherheaded."  Her life proved
that, and it is apparent, too, in the words I found on another page of
her journal, at thirteen: "Mother and Martha are at the Drakes; I will
learn my hymn, and then read in the Bible about the sufferings of Jesus.
Oh, what anguish that must have been!  And I?  What do I do that is good,
in making others happy or consoling their trouble?  This  must be
different, Paula!  I will begin a new life.  Mother always says we are
happy when we deny self in order to do good.  Ah, if we always could!
But I will try; for He did, though He might have escaped, for our sins
and to make us happy."


Full as an egg
I plead with voice and pen in behalf of fairy tales
Nobody was allowed to be perfectly idle
The carp served on Christmas eve in every Berlin family
To be happy, one must forget what cannot be altered
Unjust to injure and rob the child for the benefit of the man

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