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Title: The Story of My Life — Complete
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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By Georg Ebers

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

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.



     BOOK 1.

     BOOK 2.

     XI.   -IN KEILHAU

     BOOK 4.

     BOOK 5.

     BOOK 6.



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 cheer.

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 “star.”

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 dead.

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 life.

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 manhood?

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.”


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 cemetery.

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

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 damp.

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 masterpiece.

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

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

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 apart.”


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

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

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 acts.

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

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

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

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

       “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

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’ residence.

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.”



The Drakes mentioned in my sister’s journal are the family of the
sculptor, to whom Berlin and many another German city owe such splendid
works of art.

He was also one of our neighbours, and a warm friendship bound him and
his young wife to my mother. He was kind to us children, too, and had
us in his studio, which was connected with the house like the other and
larger one in the Thiergarten. He even gave us a bit of clay to shape. I
have often watched him at work for hours, chattering to him, but happier
still to listen while he told us of his childhood when he was a
poor boy. He exhorted us to be thankful that we were better off, but
generally added that he would not exchange for anything in the world
those days when he went barefoot. His bright, clear artist’s eyes
sparkled as he spoke, and it must indeed have been a glorious
satisfaction to have conquered the greatest hindrances by his own might,
and to have raised himself to the highest pinnacle of life--that of art.
I had a dim impression of this when he talked to us, and now I consider
every one enviable who has only himself to thank for all he is, like
Drake, his friend in art Ritschl, and my dear friend Josef Popf, in
Rome, all three laurel-crowned masters in the art of sculpture.

In Drake’s studio I saw statues, busts, and reliefs grow out of the rude
mass of clay; I saw the plaster cast turned into marble, and the master,
with his sure hand, evoking splendid forms from the primary limestone.
What I could not understand, the calm, kindly man explained with
unfailing patience, and so I got an early insight into the sculptor’s
creative art.

It was these recollections of my childhood that suggested to me the
character of little Pennu in Uarda, of Polykarp in Homo Sum, of Pollux
in The Emperor, and the cheery Alexander in Per Aspera.

I often visited also, during my last years in Berlin, the studio of
another sculptor. His name was Streichenberg, and his workshop was in
our garden in the Linkstrasse.

If a thoughtful earnestness was the rule in Drake’s studio, in that of
Prof. Streichenberg artistic gaiety reigned. He often whistled or sang
at his work, and his young Italian assistant played the guitar. But
while I still know exactly what Drake executed in our presence, so that
I could draw the separate groups of the charming relief, the Genii of
the Thiergarten, I do not remember a single stroke of Streichenberg’s
work, though I can recall all the better the gay manner of the artist
whom we again met in 1848 as a demagogue.

At the Schmidt school Franz and Paul Meyerheim were among our comrades,
and how full of admiration I was when one of them--Franz, I think, who
was then ten or eleven years old--showed us a hussar he had painted
himself in oil on a piece of canvas! The brothers took us to their home,
and there I saw at his work their kindly father, the creator of so many
charming pictures of country and child life.

There was also a member of the artist family of the Begas, Adalbert,
who was one of our contemporaries and playmates, some of whose beautiful
portraits I saw afterward, but whom, to my regret, I never met again.

Most memorable of all were our meetings with Peter Cornelius, who also
lived in the Lennestrasse. When I think of him it always seems as if
he were looking me in the face. Whoever once gazed into his eyes could
never forget them. He was a little man, with waxen-pale, and almost
harsh, though well-formed features, and smooth, long, coal-black hair.
He might scarcely have been noticed save for his eyes, which overpowered
all else, as the sunlight puts out starlight. Those eyes would have
drawn attention to him anywhere. His peculiar seriousness and his
aristocratic reserve of manner were calculated to keep children at a
distance, even to repel them, and we avoided the stern little man whom
we had heard belonged to the greatest of the great. When he and his
amiable wife became acquainted with our mother, however, and he called
us to him, it is indescribable how his harsh features softened in the
intercourse with us little ones, till they assumed an expression of
the utmost benevolence, and with what penetrating, I might say fatherly
kindness, he talked and even jested with us in his impressive way. I
had the best of it, for my blond curly head struck him as usable in some
work of his, and my mother readily consented to my being his model. So
I had to keep still several hours day after day, though I confess, to
my shame, that I remember nothing about the sittings except having eaten
some particularly good candied fruit.

Even now I smile at the recollection of his making an angel or a spirit
of peace out of the wild boy who perhaps just before had been scuffling
with the enemy from the flower-cellar.

There was another celebrated inhabitant of the Lennestrasse whose
connection with us was still closer than that of Peter Cornelius. It was
the councillor of consistory and court chaplain Strauss, who lived at
No. 3.

Two men more unlike than he and his great artist-neighbour can hardly be
imagined, though their cradles were not far apart, for the painter was
born in Dusseldorf, and the clergyman at Iserlohn, in Westphalia.

Cornelius appears to me like a peculiarly delicate type of the Latin
race, while Strauss might be called a prototype of the sturdy Lower
Saxons. Broad-shouldered, stout, ruddy, with small but kindly blue eyes,
and a resonant bass voice suited to fill great spaces, he was always at
his ease and made others easy. He had a touch of the assured yet fine
dignity of a well-placed and well-educated Catholic prelate, though
combined with the warlike spirit of a Protestant.

Looking more closely at his healthy face, it revealed not only
benevolent amiability but superior sense and plain traces of that cheery
elasticity of soul which gave him such power over the hearts of the
listening congregation, and the disposition and mind of the king.

His religious views I do not accept, but I believe his strictly orthodox
belief was based upon conviction, and cannot be charged to any odious
display of piety to ingratiate himself with the king. It was in the time
of our boyhood that Alexander von Humboldt, going once with the king
to church, in Potsdam, in answer to the sneering question how he, who
passed for a freethinker at court, could go to the house of God, made
the apt reply, “In order to get on, your Excellency.”

When Strauss met us in the street and called to us with a certain
unction in his melodious voice, “Good-morning, my dear children in
Christ!” our hearts went out to him, and it seemed as if we had received
a blessing. He and his son Otto used to call me “Marcus Aurelius,” on
account of my curly blond head; and how often did he put his strong hand
into my thick locks to draw me toward him!

Strauss was in the counsels of the king, Frederick William IV, and at
important moments exercised an influence on his political decisions. Yet
that somewhat eccentric prince could not resist his inclination to make
cheap jokes at Strauss’s expense. After creating him court-chaplain, he
said to Alexander von Humboldt: “A trick in natural history which
you cannot copy! I have turned an ostrich (Strauss) into a bullfinch
(Dompfaffer)”--in allusion to Strauss’s being a preacher at the
cathedral (Dom).

Fritz, the worthy man’s eldest son, came to see me in Leipsic. Our
studies in the department of biblical geography had led us to different
conclusions, but our scientific views were constantly intermingled with
recollections of the Lennestrasse.

But better than he, who was much older, do I remember his brother Otto,
then a bright, amiable young man, and his mother, who was from the Rhine
country, a warm-hearted, kindly woman of aristocratic bearing.

Our mother had a very high opinion of the court chaplain, who had
christened us all and afterward confirmed my sisters, and officiated
at Martha’s marriage. But, much as she appreciated him as a friend
and counsellor, she could not accept his strict theology. Though she
received the communion at his hands, with my sisters, she preferred
the sermons of the regimental chaplain, Bollert, and later those of
the excellent Sydow. I well remember her grief when Bollert, whose free
interpretation of Scripture had aroused displeasure at court, was sent
to Potsdam.

I find an amusing echo of the effect of this measure in Paula’s journal,
and it would have been almost impossible for a growing girl of active
mind to take no note of opinions which she heard everywhere expressed.

Our entire circle was loyal; especially Privy-Councillor Seiffart, one
of our most intimate friends, a sarcastic Conservative, who was credited
with the expresssion, “The limited intellect of subjects,” which,
however, belonged to his superior, Minister von Rochow. Still, almost
all my mother’s acquaintances, and the younger ones without exception,
felt a desire for better political conditions and a constitution for the
brave, loyal, reflecting, and well-educated Prussian people. In the
same house with us lived two men who had suffered for their political
convictions--the brothers Grimm. They had been ejected from their chairs
among the seven professors of Gottingen, who were sacrificed to the
arbitrary humour of King Ernst August of Hanover.

Their dignified figures are among the noblest and most memorable
recollections of the Lennestrasse. They were, it might be said, one
person, for they were seldom seen apart; yet each had preserved his own
distinct individuality.

If ever the external appearance of distinguished men corresponded with
the idea formed of them from their deeds and works, it was so in their
case. One did not need to know them to perceive at the first glance
that they were labourers in the department of intellectual life, though
whether as scientists or poets even a practised observer would have
found it difficult to determine. Their long, flowing, wavy hair, and an
atmosphere of ideality which enveloped them both, might have inclined
one to the latter supposition; while the form of their brows, indicating
deep thought and severe mental labor, and their slightly stooping
shoulders, would have suggested the former. Wilhelm’s milder features
were really those of a poet, while Jakob’s sterner cast of countenance,
and his piercing eyes, indicated more naturally a searcher after

But just as certainly as that they both belonged to the strongest
champions of German science, the Muse had kissed them in their cradle.
Not only their manner of restoring our German legends, but almost all
their writings, give evidence of a poetical mode of viewing things,
and of an intuition peculiar to the spirit of poetry. Many of their
writings, too, are full of poetical beauties.

That both were men in the fullest meaning of the word was revealed at
the first glance. They proved it when, to stand by their convictions,
they put themselves and their families at the mercy of a problematical
future; and when, in advanced years, they undertook the gigantic work of
compiling so large and profound a German dictionary. Jakob looked as if
nothing could bend him; Wilhelm as if, though equally strong, he might
yield out of love.

And what a fascinating, I might almost say childlike, amiability was
united to manliness in both characters! Yes, theirs was indeed that
sublime simplicity which genius has in common with the children whom
the Saviour called to him. It spoke from the eyes whose gaze was
so searching, and echoed in their language which so easily mastered
difficult things, though when they condescended to play with their
children and with us, and jested so naively, we were half tempted to
think ourselves the wiser.

But we knew with what intellectual giants we had to do; no one had
needed to tell us that, at least; and when they called me to them I felt
as if the king himself had honoured me.

Only Wilhelm was married, and his wife had hardly her equal for sunny
and simple kindness of heart. A pleasanter, more motherly, sweeter
matron I never met.

Hermann, who won good rank as a poet, and was one of the very foremost
of our aesthetics, was much older than we. The tall young man, who often
walked as if he were absorbed in thought, seemed to us a peculiar and
unapproachable person. His younger brother, Rudolf, on the other hand,
was a cheery fellow, whose beauty and brightness charmed me unspeakably.
When he came along with elastic tread as if he were challenging life to
a conflict, and I saw him spring up the stairs three steps at a time,
I was delighted, and I knew that my mother was very fond of him. It was
just the same with “Gustel,” his sister, who was as amiable and kindly
as her mother.

I can still see the torchlight procession with which the Berlin students
honoured the beloved and respected brothers, and which we watched from
the Grimms’ windows because they were higher than ours. But there is
a yet brighter light of fire in my memory. It was shed by the burning
opera house. Our mother, who liked to have us participate in anything
remarkable which might be a recollection for life, took us out of our
beds to the next house, where the Seiffarts lived, and which had a
little tower on it. Thence we gazed in admiration at the ever-deepening
glow of the sky, toward which great tongues of flame kept streaming up,
while across the dusk shot formless masses like radiant spark-showering
birds. Pillars of smoke mingled with the clouds, and the metallic note
of the fire-bells calling for help accompanied the grand spectacle. I
was only six years old, but I remember distinctly that when Ludo and I
were taken to the Lutz swimming-baths next day, we found first on the
drill-ground, then on the bank of the Spree, and in the water, charred
pieces, large and small, of the side-scenes of the theatre. They were
the glowing birds whose flight I had watched from the tower of the Crede

This remark reminds me how early our mother provided for our physical
development, for I clearly remember that the tutor who took us little
fellows to the bath called our attention to these bits of decoration
while we were swimming. When I went to Keilhau, at eleven years old, I
had mastered the art completely.

I did, in fact, many things at an earlier age than is customary, because
I was always associated with my brother, who was a year and a half

We were early taught to skate, too, and how many happy hours we passed,
frequently with our sisters, on the ice by the Louisa and Rousseau
Islands in the Thiergarten! The first ladies who at that time
distinguished themselves as skaters were the wife and daughter of the
celebrated surgeon Dieffenbach--two fine, supple figures, who moved
gracefully over the ice, and in their fur-bordered jackets and Polish
caps trimmed with sable excited universal admiration.

On the whole, we had time enough for such things, though we lost many a
free hour in music lessons. Ludo was learning to play on the piano, but
I had chosen another instrument. Among our best friends, the three fine
sons of Privy-Councillor Oesterreich and others, there was a pleasant
boy named Victor Rubens, whose parents were likewise friends of my
mother. In the hospitable house of this agreeable family I had heard the
composer Vieuxtemps play the violin when I was nine years old. I went
home fairly enraptured, and begged my mother to let me take lessons.
My wish was fulfilled, and for many years I exerted myself zealously,
without any result, to accomplish something on the violin. I did,
indeed, attain to a certain degree of skill, but I was so little
satisfied with my own performances that I one day renounced the hope of
becoming a practical musician, and presented my handsome violin--a
gift from my grandmother--to a talented young virtuoso, the son of my
sisters’ French teacher.

The actress Crelinger, when she came to see my mother, made a great
impression on me, at this time, by her majestic appearance and her
deep, musical voice. She, and her daughter, Clara Stich, afterward Frau
Liedtcke, the splendid singer, Frau Jachmann-Wagner, and the charming
Frau Schlegel-Koster, were the only members of the theatrical profession
who were included among the Gepperts’ friends, and whose acquaintance we
made in consequence.

Frau Crelinger’s husband was a highly respected jurist and councillor of
justice, but among all the councillors’ wives by whom she was surrounded
I never heard her make use of her husband’s title. She was simply “Frau”
 in society, and for the public Crelinger. She knew her name had an
importance of its own. Even though posterity twines no wreaths for
actors, it is done in the grateful memory of survivors. I shall never
forget the ennobling and elevating hours I afterward owed to that great
and noble interpreter of character.

I am also indebted to Frau Jachmann-Wagner for much enjoyment both in
opera and the drama. She now renders meritorious service by fitting on
the soundest artistic principles--younger singers for the stage.

Among my mother’s papers was a humorous note announcing the arrival of a
friend from Oranienburg, and signed:

          “Your faithful old dog, Runge,
          Who was born in a quiet way
          At Neustadt, I’ve heard say.”

He came not once, but several times. He bore the title of professor, was
a chemist, and I learned from friends versed in that science that it was
indebted to him for interesting discoveries.

He had been an acquaintance of my father, and no one who met him,
bubbling over with animation and lively wit, could easily forget him. He
had a full face and long, straight, dark hair hanging on his short neck,
while intellect and kindness beamed from his twinkling eyes. When he
tossed me up and laughed, I laughed too, and it seemed as if all Nature
must laugh with us.

I have not met so strong and original a character for many a long year,
and I was very glad to read in the autobiography of Wackernagel that
when it went ill with him in Berlin, Hoffman von Fallersleben and this
same Runge invited him to Breslau to share their poverty, which was so
great that they often did not know at night where they should get the
next day’s bread.

How many other names with and without the title of privy-councillor
occur to me, but I must not allow myself to think of them.

Fraulein Lamperi, however, must have a place here. She used to dine with
us at least once a week, and was among the most faithful adherents of
our family. She had been governess to my father and his only sister,
and later was in the service of the Princess of Prussia, afterward the
Empress Augusta, as waiting-woman.

She, too, was one of those original characters whom we never find now.

She was so clever that, incredible as it sounds, she made herself a wig
and some false teeth, and yet she came of a race whose women were not
accustomed to serve themselves with their own hands; for the blood of
the venerable and aristocratic Altoviti family of Florence flowed in her
veins. Her father came into the world as a marquis of that name, but was
disinherited when, against the will of his family, he married the dancer
Lamperi. With her he went first to Warsaw, and then to Berlin, where he
supported himself and his children by giving lessons in the languages.
One daughter was a prominent member of the Berlin ballet, the other was
prepared by a most careful education to be a governess. She gave various
lessons to my sisters, and criticised our proceedings sharply, as she
did those of her fellow-creatures in general. “I can’t help it--I Must
say what I think,” was the palliating remark which followed every severe
censure; and I owe to her the conviction that it is much easier to
express disapproval, when it can be done with impunity, than to keep it
to one’s self, as I am also indebted to her for the subject of my fairy
tale, The Elixir.

I shall return to Fraulein Lamperi, for her connection with our
family did not cease until her death, and she lived to be ninety. Her
aristocratic connections in Florence--be it said to their honour--never
repudiated her, but visited her when they came to Berlin, and the
equipage of the Italian ambassador followed at her funeral, for he, too,
belonged to her father’s kindred. The extreme kindness extended to her
by Emperor William I and his sovereign spouse solaced her old age in
various ways.

One of the dearest friends of my sister Paula and of our family knew
more of me, unfortunately, at this time than I of her. Her name was
Babette Meyer, now Countess Palckreuth. She lived in our neighbourhood,
and was a charming, graceful child, but not one of our acquaintances.

When she was grown up--we were good friends then--she told me she was
coming from school one winter day, and some boys threw snowballs at her.
Then Ludo and I appeared--“the Ebers boys” and she thought that would be
the end of her; but instead of attacking her we fell upon the boys, who
turned upon us, and drove them away, she escaping betwixt Scylla and

Before this praiseworthy deed we had, however, thrown snow at a young
lady in wanton mischief. I forgive our heedlessness as we were forgiven,
but it is really a painful thought to me that we should have snowballed
a poor insane man, well known in the Thiergarten and Lennestrasse, and
who seriously imagined that he was made of glass.

I began to relate this, thinking of our uproarious laughter when the
poor fellow cried out: “Let me alone! I shall break! Don’t you hear me
clink?” Then I stopped, for my heart aches when I reflect what terrible
distress our thoughtlessness caused the unfortunate creature. We were
not bad-hearted children, and yet it occurred to none of us to put
ourselves in the place of the whimpering man and think what he suffered.
But we could not do it. A child is naturally egotistical, and unable in
such a case to distinguish between what is amusing and what is sad.
Had the cry, “It hurts me!” once fallen from the trembling lips of the
“glass man,” I think we should have thrown nothing more at him.

But our young hearts did not, under all circumstances, allow what amused
us to cast kinder feelings into the shade. The “man of glass” had
a feminine ‘pendant’ in the “crazy Frau Councillor with the velvet
envelope.” This was a name she herself had given to a threadbare
little velvet cloak, when some naughty boys--were we among them?--were
snowballing her, and she besought us not to injure her velvet envelope.
But when there was ice on the ground and one of the boys was trying
to get her on to a slide, Ludo and I interfered and prevented it.
Naturally, there was a good fight in consequence, but I am glad of it to
this day.


In the summer we were all frequently taken to the new Zoological Garden,
where we were especially delighted with the drollery of the monkeys.
Even then I felt a certain pity for the deer and does in confinement,
and for the wild beasts in their cages, and this so grew upon me that
many a visit to a zoological garden has been spoiled by it. Once in
Keilhau I caught a fawn in the wood and was delighted with my beautiful
prize. I meant to bring it up with our rabbits, and had already carried
it quite a distance, when suddenly I began to be sorry for it, and
thought how its mother would grieve, upon which I took it back to the
spot where I had found it and returned to the institution as fast as I
could, but said nothing at first about my “stupidity,” for I was ashamed
of it.

Excursions into the country were the most delightful pleasures of the
summer. The shorter ones took us to the suburbs of the capital, and
sometimes to Charlottenburg, where several of our acquaintances lived,
and our guardian, Alexander Mendelssohn, had a country house with a
beautiful garden, where there was never any lack of the owner’s children
and grandchildren for playmates. Sometimes we were allowed to go there
with other boys. We then had a few Groschen to get something at a
restaurant, and were generally brought home in a Kremser carriage. These
carriages were to be found in a long row by the wall outside of the
Brandenburg Gate or at the Palace in Charlottenburg or by the “Turkish
tent”--for at that time there were no omnibuses running to the decidedly
rural neighbouring city. Even when the carriages were arranged to
carry ten or twelve persons there was but one horse, and it was these
Rosinantes which probably gave rise to the following rhyme:

          “A Spandau wind,
          A child of Berlin,
          A Charlottenburg horse,
          Are all not worth a pin.”

The Berlin children were, on the whole, better than their reputation,
but not so the Charlottenburg horses. The Kremser carriages were named
from the man who owned most of them. The business was carried on by an
association. A single individual rarely hired one; either a family took
possession of it, or you got in and waited patiently till enough persons
had collected for the driver to think it worth while to take his whip
and say, “Well, get up!”

But this same Herr Kremser also had nice carriages for excursions into
the country, drawn by two or four horses, as might be required. For the
four-horse Kremser chariots there was even a driver in jockey costume,
who rode the saddle-horse.

Other excursions took us to the beautiful Humboldt’s Tegel, to the
Muggel and Schlachten Lakes, to Franzosisch Buchholz, Treptow, and
Stralau. We were, unfortunately, never allowed to attend the celebrated
fishing festival at Stralau.

But the crowning expedition of all was on our mother’s birthday,
either to the Pichelsbergen, wooded hills mirrored in ponds where fish
abounded, or to the Pfaueninsel at Potsdam.

The country around Berlin is considered hopelessly ugly, but with great
injustice. I have convinced myself since that I do not look back as
fondly on the Pichelsbergen and the Havelufer at Potsdam, where it was
granted us to pass such happy hours in the springtime of life, because
the force of imagination has clothed them with fancied charms. No, these
places have indeed a singularly peaceful attractiveness, and if I prefer
them, as a child of the century, to real mountains, there was a time
when the artist’s eye would have given them the preference over the
grand landscapes of the Alpine world.

At the beginning of the last century the latter were considered
repelling. They oppressed the soul by their immensity. No painter then
undertook to depict giant mountains with eternal snow upon summits which
towered above the clouds. A Salvator Rosa or Poussin, or even the great
Ruysdael, would have preferred to set up his easel at the Pichelsbergen
or in the country about Potsdam, rather than at the foot of Mont Blanc,
the Kunigssee, or the Eibsee, in which the rocks of the Zugspitze--my
vis-a-vis at Tutzingen--are magnificently reflected.

There is nothing more beautiful than the moderate, finely rounded
heights at these peaceful spots rich in vegetation and in water, when
gilded by the fading light of a lovely summer evening or illumined by
the rosy tinge of the afterglow. Many of our later German painters
have learned to value the charm of such a subject, while of our writers
Fontane has seized and very happily rendered all their witchery. At
my brother Ludo’s manorhouse on the banks of the Dahme, at his place
Dolgenbrodt, in Mark Brandenburg, Fontane experienced all the attraction
of the plain, which I have never felt more deeply than in that very spot
and on a certain evening at Potsdam when the bells of the little church
of Sakrow seemed to bid farewell to the sinking sun and invite him to

In the East I have seen the day-star set more brilliantly, but never
met with a more harmonious and lovely splendour of colour than on summer
evenings in the Mark, except in Holland on the shore of the North Sea.

Can I ever forget those festal days when, after saying our little
congratulatory verses to our mother, and admiring her birthday table,
which her friends always loaded with flowers, we awaited the carriages
that were to take us into the country? Besides a great excursion wagon,
there were generally some other coaches which conveyed us and the
families of our nearest friends on our jaunt.

How the young faces beamed, and how happy the old ones looked, and
what big baskets there were full of good things beside the coachman and
behind the carriage!

We were soon out of the city, and the birds by the wayside could not
have twittered and sung in May more gaily than we during these drives.

Once we let the horses rest, and took luncheon at Stimming near the
Wannsee, where Heinrich von Kleist with the beloved of his heart put
an end to his sad life. Before we stopped we met a troop of travelling
journeymen, and our mother, in the gratitude of her heart, threw them a
thaler, and said “Drink to my happiness; to-day is my birthday.”

When we had rested and gone on quite a distance we found the journeymen
ranged beside the road, and as they threw into the carriage an immense
bouquet of field flowers which they had gathered, one of them exclaimed:
“Long live the birthday-child! And health and happiness to the
beautiful, kind lady!” The others, and we, too, joined with all our
might in a “Hurrah!”

We felt like pagan Romans, who on starting out had perceived the
happiest omens in earth and sky.

And at the Pfaueninsel!

Frau Friedrich, the wife of the man in charge of the fountains, kept a
neat inn, in which, however, she by no means dished up to all persons
what they would like. But our mother knew her through Lenne, by whom her
husband was employed, and she took good care of us. How attractive to us
children was the choice yet large collection she possessed! Most of the
members of the royal house had often been her guests, and had increased
it to a little museum which contained countless milk and cream jugs of
every sort and metal, even the most precious, and of porcelain and glass
of every age. Many would have been rare and welcome ornaments to any
trades-museum. Our mother had contributed a remarkably handsome Japanese
jug which her brother had sent her.

After the banquet we young ones ran races, while the older people rested
till coffee and punch were served. Whether dancing was allowed at the
Pfaueninsel I no longer remember, but at the Pichelsbergen it certainly
was, and there were even three musicians to play.

And how delightful it was in the wood; how pleasant the rowing on the
water, during which, when the joy of existence was at its height, the
saddest songs were sung! Oh, I could relate a hundred things of those
birthdays in the country, but I have completely forgotten how we
got home. I only know that we waked the next morning full of happy

In the summer holidays we often took journeys--generally to Dresden,
where our father’s mother with her daughter, our aunt Sophie, had gone
to live, the latter having married Baron Adolf von Brandenstein, an
officer in the Saxon Guard, who, after laying aside the bearskin cap
and red coat, the becoming uniform of that time, was at the head of the
Dresden post office.

I remember these visits with pleasure, and the days when our grandmother
and aunt came to Berlin. I was fond of both of them, especially my
lively aunt, who was always ready for a joke, and my affection was
returned. But these, our nearest relatives, in early childhood only
passed through our lives like brilliant meteors; the visits we exchanged
lasted only a few days; and when they came to Berlin, in spite of my
mother’s pressing invitations, they never stayed at our house, but in
a hotel. I cannot imagine, either, that our grandmother would ever have
consented to visit any one. There was a peculiar exclusiveness about
her, I might almost say a cool reserve, which, although proofs of
her cordial love were not wanting, prevented her from caressing us or
playing with us as grandmothers do. She belonged to another age, and
our mother taught us, when greeting her, to kiss her little white hand,
which was always covered up to the fingers with waving lace, and to
treat her with the utmost deference. There was an air of aristocratic
quiet in her surroundings which caused a feeling of constraint. I
can still see the suite of spacious rooms she occupied, where silence
reigned except when Coco, the parrot, raised his shrill voice. Her
companion, Fraulein Raffius, always lowered her voice in her presence,
though when out of it she could play with us very merrily. The elderly
servant, who, singularly enough, was of noble family--his real name was
Von Wurmkessel--did his duty as noiselessly as a shadow. Then there was
a faint perfume of mignonette in most of the rooms, which makes me think
of them whenever I see the pretty flower, for, as is well known, smell
is the most powerful of all the senses in awakening memory.

I never sat in my grandmother’s lap. When we wished to talk with her
we had to sit beside her; and if we kept still she would question us
searchingly about everything--our play, our friends, our school.

This silence, which always struck us children at first with
astonishment, was interrupted very gaily by our aunt, whose liveliness
broke in upon it like the sound of a horn amid the stillness of a
forest. Her cheerful voice was audible even in the hall, and when she
crossed the threshold we flew to her, and the spell was broken. For she,
the only daughter, put no restraint on herself in the reserved presence
of her mother. She kissed her boisterously, asked how she was, as if
she were the mother, the other the child. Indeed, she took the liberty
sometimes of calling the old lady “Henrietta”--that was her name--or
even “Hetty.” Then, when grandmother pointed to us and exclaimed
reproachfully, “Why, Sophie!” our aunt could always disarm her with gay

Though the two were generally at a distance, their existence made itself
felt again and again either through letters or presents or by their
coming to Berlin, which always brought holidays for us.

These journeys were accomplished under difficulties. Our aunt had always
used an open carriage, and was really convinced that she would stifle in
a closed railway compartment. But as she would not forego the benefit
of rapid transit, our grandmother was obliged, even after her daughter’s
marriage, to hire an open truck for her, on which, with her faithful
maid Minna, and one of her dogs, or sometimes with her husband or
a friend as a companion, she established herself comfortably in an
armchair of her own, with various other conveniences about her. The
railway officials knew her, and no doubt shrugged their shoulders, but
the warmheartedness shining in her eyes and her unvarying cheerfulness
carried everything before them, so that her eccentricity was readily
overlooked. And she had plenty of similar caprices. I was visiting her
once in the Christmas holidays, when I was a schoolboy in the upper
class, and we had retired for the night. At one o’clock my aunt suddenly
appeared at my bedside, waked me, and told me to get up. The first snow
had fallen, and she had had the horses harnessed for us to go sleighing,
which she particularly enjoyed.

Resistance was useless, and the swift flight over the snow by moonlight
proved to be very enjoyable. Between four and five o’clock in the
morning we were at home again.

Winter brought many other amusements. I remember with particular
pleasure the Christmas fair, which now, as I learn to my regret, is no
longer held. And yet, what a source of delight it once was to children!
What rich food it offered to their minds! The Christmas trees and
pyramids at the Stechbahn, the various wares, the gingerbread and toys
in the booths, offered by no means the greatest charm. A still stronger
attraction were the boys with the humming “baboons,” the rattles and
flags, for from them purchases had always to be made, with jokes thrown
into the bargain--bad ones, which are invariably the most amusing; and
what a pleasure it was to twirl the “baboon” with one’s own little hand,
and, if the hand got cold during the process, one did not feel it, for
it seemed like midsummer with a swarm of flies buzzing about one!

But most enjoyable of all was probably the throng of people, great and
small, and all there was to hear and see among them and to answer. It
seemed as if the Christmas joy of the city was concentrated there, and
filled the not over-clear atmosphere like the pungent odour of Christmas

Put there were other things to experience as well as mere gaiety--the
pale child in the corner, with its little bare feet, holding in its
cold, red hands the six little sheep of snow-white wool on a tiny green
board; and that other yonder, with the little man made of prunes spitted
on tiny sticks.

How small and pale the child is! And how eloquently the blue eyes invite
a purchaser, for it is only with looks that the wares are extolled! I
still see them both before me! The threepenny pieces they get are to
help their starving mother to heat the attic room in those winter days
which, cold though they are, may warm the heart. Looking at them our
mother told us how hunger hurts, and how painful want and misery are to
bear, and we never left the Christmas fair without buying a few sheep
or a prune man, though all we could do with them was to give them away
again. When I wrote my fairy-tale, The Nuts, I had the Christmas fair
at Berlin in my mind’s eye, and I seemed to see the wretched little
girl who, among all the happy folk, had found nothing but cold, pain,
anguish, and a handful of nuts, and who afterward fared so happily--not,
indeed, among men, but with the most beautiful angels in heaven.

Why are the Berlin children defrauded of this bright and innocent
pleasure, and their hearts denied the practice of exercising charity?

Turning my thoughts backward, it seems to me as if almost too much
beauty and pleasure were crowded together at Christmas, richly provided
with presents as we were besides, for over and above the Christmas fair
there was Kroll’s Christmas exhibition, where clever heads and skilful
hands transformed a series of great halls, at one time into the domain
of winter, at another into the kingdom of the fairies. There was nothing
to do but look.

Imagination came to a standstill, for what could it add to these
wonders? Yet the fairyland of which Ludo and I had dreamed was more
beautiful and more real than this palpable magnificence of tin
and pasteboard; which is, perhaps, one reason why the overexcited
imagination of a city child shrinks back and tries to find in reality
what a boy brought up in the quiet of the country can conjure up before
his mind himself.

Then, too, there were delightful sights in the Gropius panorama and
Fuchs’s confectioner’s shop--in the one place entertaining things, in
the other instructive. At the panorama half the world was spread out
before us in splendid pictures, so presented and exhibited as to give
the most vivid impression of reality.

From the letters of our mother’s brothers, who were Dutch officials in
Java and Japan, as well as from books of travel which had been read to
us, we had already heard much of the wonders of the Orient; and at the
Gropius panorama the inner call that I had often seemed to hear--“Away!
to the East”--only grew the stronger. It has never been wholly silent
since, but at that time I formed the resolution to sail around the
world, or--probably from reading some book--to be a noble pirate. Nor
should I have been dissatisfied with the fate of Robinson Crusoe.
The Christmas exhibition at Fuchs’s, Unter den Linden, was merely
entertaining--Berlin jokes in pictures mainly of a political or
satirical order. Most distinctly of all I remember the sentimental lady
of rank who orders her servant to catch a fly on a tea-tray and put
it carefully out of the window. The obedient Thomas gets hold of the
insect, takes it to the window, and with the remark, “Your ladyship, it
is pouring, the poor thing might take cold,” brings it back again to the

There was plenty of such entertainment in winter, and we had our part
in much of it. Rellstab, the well-known editor of Voss’s journal, made
a clever collection of such jokes in his Christmas Wanderings. We could
read, and whatever was offered by that literary St. Nicholas and highly
respected musical critic for cultivated Berlin our mother was quite
willing we should enjoy.


On the 18th of March, the day of the fighting in the streets of Berlin,
we had been living for a year in the large suite of apartments at No. 7

Of those who inhabited the same house with us I remember only the
sculptor Streichenberg, whose studio was next to our pretty garden, and
the Beyers, a married couple. He, later a general and commander of the
troops besieging Strasburg in 1870, was at that time a first lieutenant.
She was a refined, extremely amiable, and very musical woman, who had
met our mother before, and now entered into the friendliest relations
with her.

A guest of their quiet household, a little Danish girl, one of Fran
Beyer’s relatives, shared our play in the garden, and worked with us
at the flower beds which had been placed in our charge. I remember how
perfectly charming I thought her, and that her name was Detta Lvsenor.

All the details of our intercourse with her and other new acquaintances
who played with us in the garden have vanished from my memory, for the
occurrences of that time are thrown into shadow by the public events and
political excitement around us. Even children could not remain untouched
by what was impending, for all that we saw or heard referred to it
and, in our household, views violently opposed to each other, with the
exception of extreme republicanism, were freely discussed.

The majority of our conservative acquaintances were loud in complaint,
and bewailed the king’s weakness, and the religious corruption and
hypocritical aspirations which were aroused by the honest, but romantic
and fanatical religious zeal of Frederick William IV. I must have heard
the loudest lamentations concerning this cancer of society at this time,
for they are the most deeply imprinted in my memory. Even such men as
the Gepperts, Franz Kugler, H. M. Romberg, Drake, Wilcke, and others,
with whose moderate political views I became acquainted later, used to
join us. Loyal they all were, and our mother was so strongly attached
to the house of Hohenzollern that I heard her request one of the younger
men, when he sharply declared it was time to force the king to abdicate,
either to moderate his speech or cease to visit her house.

Our mother could not prevent, however, similar and worse speeches from
coming to our ears.

A particularly deep impression was made upon us by a tall man with a big
blond beard, whose name I have forgotten, but whom we generally met at
the sculptor Streichenberg’s when he took us with him in our play
hours into his great workshop. This man appeared to be in very good
circumstances, for he always wore patent-leather boots, and a large
diamond ring on his finger; but with his vivacious, even passionate
temperament, he trampled in the dust the things I had always revered. I
hung on his lips when he talked of the rights of the people, and of
his own vocation to break the way for freedom, or when he anathematized
those who oppressed a noble nation with the odious yoke of slavery.

Catch phrases, like “hanging the last king with the guts of the last
priest,” I heard for the first time from him, and although such speeches
did not please me, they made an impression because they awakened so much
surprise, and more than once he called upon us to be true sons of our
time and not a tyrant’s bondmen. We heard similar remarks elsewhere in
a more moderate form, and from our companions at school in boyish

There were two parties there also, but besides loyalty another sentiment
flourished which would now be called chauvinism, yet which possessed
a noble influence, since it fostered in our hearts that most beautiful
flower of the young mind, enthusiasm for a great cause.

And during the history lessons on Brandenburg-Prussia our cheeks would
glow, for what German state could boast a grander, prouder history than
Prussia under the Hohenzollerns, rising by ability, faithfulness
to duty, courage, and self-sacrificing love of country from small
beginnings to the highest power?

The Liebe school had been attended only by children of good families,
while in the Schmidt school a Count Waldersee and Hoym, the son of a
capmaker and dealer in eatables, sat together on the same bench. The
most diverse tendencies were represented, and all sorts of satirical
songs and lampoons found their way to us. Such parodies as this in the
Song of Prussia we could understand very well:

       “I am a Prussian, my colours you know,
        From darkness to light they boldly go;
        But that for Freedom my fathers died,
        Is a fact which I have not yet descried.”

Nor did more delicate allusions escape us; for who had not heard, for
instance, of the Friends of Light, who played a part among the Berlin
liberals? To whose ears had not come some longing cry for freedom, and
especially freedom of the press?

And though that ever-recurring word Pressfreiheit (freedom of the press)
was altered by the wags for us boys into Fressfreiheit (liberty to stuff
yourself); though, too, it was condemned in conservative circles as a
dangerous demand, threatening the peace of the family and opening the
door to unbridled license among writers for the papers, still we had
heard the other side of the question; that the right freely to express
an opinion belonged to every citizen, and that only through the power of
free speech could the way be cleared for a better condition of things.
In short, there was no catchword of that stormy period which we ten and
twelve-year-old boys could not have interpreted at least superficially.

To me it seemed a fine thing to be able to say what one thought right,
still I could not understand why such great importance should be
attributed to freedom of the press. The father of our friend Bardua was
entitled a counsellor of the Supreme Court, but then he had also filled
the office of a censor, and what a nice, bright boy his son was!

Among our comrades was also the son of Prof. Hengstenberg, who was the
head of the pietists and Protestant zealots, whom we had heard mentioned
as the darkest of all obscurants, and his influence over the king
execrated. By the central flight of steps at the little terrace in front
of the royal palace stood the fine statues of the horse-tamers, and the
steps were called Hengstenberg (Hengste, horses, and Berg, mountain).
And this name was explained by the circumstance that whoever would
approach the king must do so by the way of “Hengstenberg.”

We knew that quip, too, and yet the son of this mischievous enemy of
progress was a particularly fine, bright boy, whom we all liked, and
whose father, when I saw him, astonished me, for he was a kindly man and
could laugh as cheerfully as anybody.

It was all very difficult to understand; and, as we had more friends
among the conservatives than among the democrats, we played usually with
the former, and troubled ourselves very little about the politics of
our friends’ fathers. There was, however, some looking askance at each
other, and cries of “Loyal Legioner!” “Pietist!” “Democrat!” “Friend of
Light!” were not wanting.

As often happens in the course of history, uncomprehended or only
half-comprehended catchwords serve as a banner around which a great
following collects.

The parties did not come to blows, probably for the sole reason that
we conservatives were by far the stronger. Yet there was a fermentation
among us, and a day came when, young as I was, I felt that those who
called the king weak and wished for a change were in the right.

In the spring of 1847 every one felt as if standing on a volcano.

When, in 1844, it was reported that Burgomaster Tschech had fired at
the king--I was then seven years old--we children shared the horror and
indignation of our mother, although in the face of such a serious event
we boys joined in the silly song which was then in everybody’s mouth,
and which began somewhat in this fashion:

       “Was there ever a man so insolent
        As Tschech, the mayor, on mischief bent?”

What did we not hear at that time about all the hopes that had been
placed on the crown-prince, and how ill he had fulfilled them as king!
How often I listened quietly in some corner while my mother discussed
such topics with gentlemen, and from the beginning of the year 1847
there was hardly a conversation in Berlin which did not sooner or later
touch upon politics and the general discontent or anxiety. But I had no
need to listen in order to hear such things. On every walk we took they
were forced upon our ears; the air was full of them, the very stones
repeated them.

Even we boys had heard of Johann Jacoby’s “Four Questions,” which
declared a constitution a necessity.

I have not forgotten the indignation called forth, even among our
acquaintances of moderate views, by Hassenpflug’s promotion; and if his
name had never come to my ears at home, the comic papers, caricatures,
and the talk everywhere would have acquainted me with the feelings
awakened among the people of Berlin by the favour he enjoyed. And added
to this were a thousand little features, anecdotes, and events which all
pointed to the universal discontent.

The wars for freedom lay far behind us. How much had been promised to
the people when the foreign foe was to be driven out, and how little had
been granted! After the July revolution of 1830, many German states had
obtained a constitution, while in Prussia not only did everything
remain in the same condition, but the shameful time of the spying by
the agitators had begun, when so many young men who had deserved well
of their country, like Ernst Moriz, Arndt, and Jahn, distinguished and
honourable scholars like Welcker, suffered severely under these odious
persecutions. One must have read the biography of the honest and
laborious Germanist Wackernagel to be able to credit the fact that that
quiet searcher after knowledge was pursued far into middle life by
the most bitter persecution and rancorous injuries, because as a
schoolboy--whether in the third or fourth class I do not know--he had
written a letter in which was set forth some new division, thought out
in his childish brain, for the united German Empire of which he dreamed.

Such men as Kamptz and Dambach kept their places by casting suspicion
upon others and condemning them, but they little dreamed when they
summoned before their execrable tribunal the insignificant student Fritz
Reuter, of Mecklenburg, how he would brand their system and their names.
Most of these youths who had been plunged into misery by such rascally
abuse of office and the shameful way in which a king naturally anything
but malignant, was misled and deceived, were either dead and gone,
or had been released from prison as mature men. What hatred must have
filled their souls for that form of government which had dared thus
to punish their pure enthusiasm for a sacred cause--the unity and
well-earned freedom of their native land! Ah, there were dangerous
forces to subdue among those grey-haired martyrs, for it was their fiery
spirit and high hearts which had brought them to ruin.

Those who had been disappointed in the results of the war for liberty,
and those who had suffered in the demagogue period, had ventured to hope
once more when the much-extolled crown-prince, Frederick William IV,
mounted the throne. What disappointment was in store for them; what new
suffering was laid upon them when, instead of the rosy dawn of freedom
which they fancied they had seen, a deeper darkness and a more reckless
oppression set in! What they had taken for larks announcing the breaking
of a brighter day turned out to be bats and similar vermin of the night.
In the state the exercise of a boundless arbitrary power; in the Church,
dark intolerance; and, in its train, slavish submission, favour-seeking,
rolling up of the eyes, and hypocrisy as means to unworthy ends, and
especially to that of speedy promotion--the deepest corruption of
all--that of the soul.

What naturally followed caused the loyalists the keenest pain, for the
injury done to the strong monarchical feeling of the Prussian people
in the person and the conduct of Frederick William IV was not to be
estimated. Only the simple heroic greatness and the paternal dignity of
an Emperor William could have repaired it.

In the year preceding the revolution there had been a bad harvest,
and frightful stories were told of famine in the weaving districts
of Silesia. Even before Virchow, in his free-spoken work on the
famine-typhus, had faithfully described the full misery of those
wretched sufferers, it had become apparent to the rulers in Berlin that
something must be done to relieve the public distress.

The king now began to realize distinctly the universal discontent, and
in order to meet it and still further demands he summoned the General

I remember distinctly how fine our mother thought the speech with which
he opened that precursor of the Prussian Chambers, and the address
showed him in fact to be an excellent orator.

To him, believing as he did with the most complete conviction in
royalty by the grace of God and in his calling by higher powers, any
relinquishing of his prerogative would seem like a betrayal of his
divine mission. The expression he uttered in the Assembly in the course
of his speech--“I and my people will serve the Lord”--came from the very
depths of his heart; and nothing could be more sincerely meant than the
remark, “From one weakness I know myself to be absolutely free: I do not
strive for vain public favour. My only effort is to do my duty to the
best of my knowledge and according to my conscience, and to deserve the
gratitude of my people, though it should be denied me.”

The last words have a foreboding sound, and prove what is indeed evident
from many other expressions--that he had begun to experience in his own
person the truth of the remark he had made when full of hope, and hailed
with joyful anticipations at his coronation--“The path of a king is full
of sorrow, unless his people stand by him with loyal heart and mind.”

His people did not do that, and it was well for them; for the path
indicated by the royal hand would have led them to darkness and to the
indignity of ever-increasing bondage, mental and temporal.

The prince himself is entitled to the deepest sympathy. He wished to do
right, and was endowed with great and noble gifts which would have done
honour to a private individual, but could not suffice for the ruler of a
powerful state in difficult times.

Hardly had the king opened the General Assembly in April, 1848, and, for
the relief of distress among the poorer classes in the capital, repealed
the town dues on corn, when the first actual evidences of discontent
broke out. The town tax was so strictly enforced at that time at all
the gates of Berlin that even hacks entering the city were stopped and
searched for provisions of meat or bread--a search which was usually
conducted in a cursory and courteous manner.

In my sister Paula’s journal I have an almost daily account of that
period, with frequent reference to political events, but it is not my
task to write a history of the Berlin revolution.

Those of my sister’s records which refer to the revolutionary period
begin with a mention of the so-called potato revolution, which occurred
ten days after the opening of the General Assembly, though it had no
connection with it.

   [Excessive prices had been asked for a peck of potatoes, which
   enraged the purchasers, who threw them into the gutter and laid
   hands on some of the market-women. The assembled crowd then
   plundered some bakers’ and butchers’ shops, and was finally
   dispersed by the military. A certain Herr Winckler is said
   to have lost his life. Many windows were broken, etc.]

This riot took place on the 21st of April, and on the 2d of May Paula
alludes to a performance at the opera-house, which Ludo and I attended.
It was the last appearance of Fran Viardot Garcia as Iphigenia, but I
fear Paula is right in saying that the great singer did her best for
an ungrateful public, for the attention of the audience was directed
chiefly to the king and queen. The latter appeared in the theatre for
the first time since a severe illness, the enthusiasm was great, and
there was no end to the cries of “Long live the king and queen!” which
were repeated between every act.

I relate the circumstance to show with what a devoted and faithful
affection the people of Berlin still clung to the royal pair. On the
other hand, their regard for the Prince of Prussia, afterward Emperor
William, was already shaken. He who alone remained firm when all about
the king were wavering, was regarded as the embodiment of military rule,
against which a violent opposition was rising.

Our mother was even then devoted to him with a reverence which bordered
upon affection, and we children with her.

We felt more familiar with him, too; than with any other members of the
ruling house, for Fraulein Lamperi, who was in a measure like one of our
own family, was always relating the most attractive stories about him
and his noble spouse, whose waiting-woman she had been.

Of Frederick William IV it was generally jokes that were told, some of
them very witty ones. We once came in contact with him in a singular

Our old cook, Frau Marx, who called herself “the Marxen,” was nearly
blind, and wished to enter an institution, for which it was necessary to
have his Majesty’s consent. Many years before, when she was living in
a count’s family, she had taught the king, as a young prince, to churn,
and on the strength of this a petition was drawn up for her by my
family. This she handed into the king’s carriage, in the palace
court-yard, and to his question who she was, she replied, “Why, I’m old
Marxen, and your Majesty is my last retreat.” This speech was repeated
to my mother by the adjutant who came to inquire about the petitioner,
and he assured her that his Majesty had been greatly amused by the old
woman’s singular choice of words, and had repeated it several times to
persons about him. Her wish was fulfilled at once.

The memory of those March days of 1848 is impressed on my soul in
ineffaceable characters. More beautiful weather I never knew. It seemed
as if May had taken the place of its stormy predecessor. From the 13th
the sun shone constantly from a cloudless sky, and on the 18th the
fruit-trees in our garden were in full bloom. Whoever was not kept in
the house by duty or sickness was eager to be out. The public gardens
were filled by afternoon, and whoever wanted to address the people had
no need to call an audience together. Whatever rancour, indignation,
discontent, and sorrow had lurked under ground now came forth, and
the buds of longing and joyful expectation hourly unfolded in greater
strength and fuller bloom.

The news of the Paris revolution, whose confirmation had reached
Berlin in the last few days of February, had caused all this growth and
blossoming like sunshine and warm rain. There was no repressing it,
and the authorities felt daily more and more that their old measures of
restraint were failing.

The accounts from Paris were accompanied by report after report from
the rest of Germany, shaking the old structure of absolutism like the
repeated shocks of a battering-ram.

Freedom of the press was not yet granted, but tongues had begun to
move freely-indeed, often without any restraint. As early as the 7th of
March, and in bad weather, too, meetings began to be held in tents. As
soon as the fine spring days came we found great crowds listening to
bearded orators, who told them of the revolution in Paris and of the
addresses to the king--how they had passed hither and thither, and
how they had been received. They had all contained very much the same
demands--freedom of the press, representatives of the people to be
chosen by free election, all religious confessions to be placed on an
equal footing in the exercise of political rights, and representation of
the people in the German Confederacy.

These demands were discussed with fiery zeal, and the royal promise,
just given, of calling together the Assembly again and issuing a law
on the press, after the Confederate Diet should have been moved to a
similar measure, was condemned in strong terms as an insufficient and
half-way procedure--a payment on account, in order to gain time.

On the 15th the particulars of the Vienna revolution and Metternich’s
flight reached Berlin; and we, too, learned the news, and heard our
mother and her friends asking anxiously, “How will this end?”

Unspeakable excitement had taken possession of young and old--at home,
in the street, and at school--for blood had already flowed in the
city. On the 13th, cavalry had dispersed a crowd in the vicinity of
the palace, and the same thing was repeated on the two following days.
Fortunately, few were injured; but rumour, ever ready to increase and
enhance the horrible desire of many fanatics to stir up the fire of
discontent, had conspired to make wounded men dead ones, and slight
injuries severe.

These exaggerations ran through the city, arousing indignation; and the
correspondents of foreign papers, knowing that readers often like best
what is most incredible, had sent the accounts to the provinces and
foreign countries.

But blood had flowed. Hatred of the soldiery, to which, however, some
among the insurgents had once been proud to belong, grew with fateful
rapidity, and was still further inflamed by those who saw in the
military the brazen wall that stood between them and the fulfillment of
their most ardent wishes.

A spark might spring the open and overcharged mine into the air; an
ill-chosen or misunderstood expression, a thoughtless act, might bring
about an explosion.

The greatest danger threatened from fresh conflicts between the army and
the people, and it was to the fear of this that various young or
elderly gentlemen owed their office of going about wherever a crowd
was assembled and urging the populace to keep the peace. They were
distinguished by a white band around the arm bearing the words,
“Commissioner of Protection,” and a white rod a foot and a half
long designed to awaken the respect accorded by the English to their
constables. We recognized many well-known men; but the Berlin populace,
called by Goethe insolent, is not easily impressed, and we saw
constables surrounded by street boys like an owl with a train of little
birds fluttering teasingly around it. Even grown persons called them
nicknames and jeered at their sticks, which they styled “cues” and

A large number of students, too, had expressed their readiness to join
this protective commission, either as constables or deputies, and had
received the wand and band at the City Hall.

How painful the exercise of their vocation was made to them it would be
difficult to describe. News from Austria and South Germany, where the
people’s cause seemed to be advancing with giant strides to the desired
goal, hourly increased the offensive strength of the excited populace.

On the afternoon of the 16th the Potsdam Platz, only a few hundred steps
from our house, was filled with shouting and listening throngs, crowded
around the sculptor Streichenberg, his blond-bearded friend, and other
violently gesticulating leaders. This multitude received constant
reenforcements from the city and through Bellevuestrasse. On the
left, at the end of the beautiful street with its rows of budding
chestnut-trees, lay “Kemperhof,” a pleasure resort where we had often
listened to the music of a band clad in green hunting costume. Many must
have come thence, for I find that on the 16th an assemblage was held
there from which grew the far more important one on the morning of the
17th, with its decisive conclusion in Kopenickerstrasse.

At this meeting, on the afternoon of the 17th, it was decided to set
on foot a peaceful manifestation of the wishes of the people, and a new
address to the king was drawn up. It was settled that on the 28th of
March, at two o’clock, thousands of citizens with the badges of the
protective commission should appear before the palace and send in a
deputation to his Majesty with a document which should clearly convey
the principal requirements of the people.

What they were to represent to the king as urgently necessary was: The
withdrawal of the military force, the organization of an armed citizen
guard, the granting of an unconditional freedom of the press, which had
been promised for a lifetime, and the calling of the General Assembly. I
shall return to the address later.


THE 17th passed so quietly that hopes of a peaceable outcome of the
fateful conflict began to awake. My own recollections confirm this.

People believed so positively that the difficulty would be adjusted,
that in the forenoon of the 18th my mother sent my eldest sister Martha
to her drawing-lesson, which was given at General Baeyer’s, in the

Ludo and I went to school, and when it was over the many joyful faces in
the street confirmed what we had heard during the school hours.

The king had granted the Constitution and the “freedom of the press.”

Crowds were collected in front of the placards which announced this
fact, but there was no need to force our way through; their contents
were read aloud at every corner and fountain.

One passer-by repeated it to another, and friend shouted to friend
across the street. “Have you heard the news?” was the almost invariable
question when people accosted one another, and at least one “Thank God!”
 was contained in every conversation. Two or three older acquaintances
whom we met charged us, in all haste, to tell our mother; but she had
heard it already, and her joy was so great that she forgot to scold us
for staying away so long. Fraulein Lamperi, on the contrary, who dined
with us, wept. She was convinced that the unfortunate king had been
forced into something which would bring ruin both to him and his
subjects. “His poor Majesty!” she sobbed in the midst of our joy.

Our mother loved the king too, but she was a daughter of the free
Netherlands; two of her brothers and sisters lived in England; and
the friends she most valued, whom she knew to be warmly and faithfully
attached to the house of Hohenzollern, thought it high time that the
Prussian people attained the majority to which that day had brought
them. Moreover, her active mind knew no rest till it had won a clear
insight into questions concerning the times and herself. So she had
reached the conviction that no peace between king and people could be
expected unless a constitution was granted. In Parliament she would have
sat on the right, but that her adopted country should have a Parliament
filled her with joyful pride.

Ludo and I were very gay. It was Saturday, and towards evening we
were going to a children’s ball given by Privy-Councillor Romberg--the
specialist for nervous diseases--for his daughter Marie, for which new
blue jackets had been made.

We were eagerly expecting them, and about three o’clock the tailor came.

Our mother was present when he tried them on, and when she remarked
that now all was well, the man shook his head, and declared that the
concessions of the forenoon had had no other object than to befool the
people; that would appear before long.

While I write, it seems as if I saw again that poor little bearer of
the first evil tidings, and heard once more the first shots which
interrupted his prophecy with eloquent confirmation.

Our mother turned pale.

The tailor folded up his cloth and hurried away. What did his words
mean, and what was the firing outside?

We strained our ears to listen. The noise seemed to grow louder and come
nearer; and, just as our mother cried, “For Heaven’s sake, Martha!”
 the cook burst into the room, exclaiming, “The row began in the

Fraulein Lamperi shrieked, seized her bonnet and cloak, and the
pompadour which she took with her everywhere, to hurry home as fast as
she could.

Our mother could think only of Martha. She had dined at the Baeyers’ and
was now perhaps on the way home. Somebody must be sent to meet her. But
of what use would be the escort of a maid; and Kurschner was gone, and
the porter not to be found!

The cook was sent in one direction, the chambermaid in another, to seek
a male escort for Martha.

And then there was Frau Lieutenant Beyer, our neighbour in the house,
whose husband was on the general staff, asking: “How is it possible?
Everything was granted! What can have happened?”

The answer was a rattle of musketry. We leaned out of the window, from
which we could see as far as Potsdamstrasse. What a rush there was
towards the gate! Three or four men dashed down the middle of the quiet
street. The tall, bearded fellow at the head we knew well. It was the
upholsterer Specht, who had often put up curtains and done similar work
for us, a good and capable workman.

But what a change! Instead of a neat little hammer, he was flourishing
an axe, and he and his companions looked as furious as if they were
going to revenge some terrible injury.

He caught sight of us, and I remember distinctly the whites of his
rolling eyes as he raised his axe higher, and shouted hoarsely, and as
if the threat was meant for us:

“They shall get it!”

Our mother and Frau Beyer had seen and heard him too, and the firing in
the direction of which the upholsterer and his companions were running
was very near.

The fight must already be raging in Leipzigerstrasse.

At last the porter came back and announced that barricades had been
built at the corner of Mauer-and Friedrichstrasse, and that a violent
conflict had broken out there and in other places between the soldiers
and the citizens. And our Martha was in Friedrichstrasse, and did not
come. We lived beyond the gate, and it was not to be expected that
fighting would break out in our neighbourhood; but back of our gardens,
in the vicinity of the Potsdam railway station, the beating of drums
was heard. The firing, however, which became more and more violent,
was louder than any other noise; and when we saw our mother wild with
anxiety, we, too, began to be alarmed for our dear, sweet Martha.

It was already dark, and still we waited in vain.

At last some one rang. Our mother hurried to the door--a thing she never

When we, too, ran into the hall, she had her arms around the child who
had incurred such danger, and we little ones kissed her also, and Martha
looked especially pretty in her happy astonishment at such a reception.

She, too, had been anxious enough while good Heinrich, General Maeyer’s
servant, who had been his faithful comrade in arms from 1813 to 1815,
brought her home through all sorts of by-ways. But they had been obliged
in various places to pass near where the fighting was going on, and the
tender-hearted seventeen-year-old girl had seen such terrible things
that she burst into tears as she described them.

For us the worst anxiety was over, and our mother recovered her
composure. It was perhaps advisable for her, a defenceless widow, to
leave the city, which might on the morrow be given over to the unbridled
will of insurgents or of soldiers intoxicated with victory. So she
determined to make all preparations for going with us to our grandmother
in Dresden.

Meanwhile the fighting in the streets seemed to have increased in
certain places to a battle, for the crash of the artillery grapeshot
was constantly intermingled with the crackling of the infantry fire, and
through it all the bells were sounding the tocsin, a wailing, warning
sound, which stirred the inmost heart.

It was a fearful din, rattling and thundering and ringing, while the sky
emulated the bloodsoaked earth and glowed in fiery red. It was said that
the royal iron foundry was in flames.

At last the hour of bedtime came, and I still remember how our mother
told us to pray for the king and those poor people who, in order to
attain something we could not understand, were in such great peril.


When we rose the next morning the firing was over. It was said that all
was quiet, and we had the well-known proclamation, “To my dear people
of Berlin.” The horrors of the past night appeared, indeed, to have been
the result of an unfortunate mistake. The king himself explained that
the two shots by the troops, which had been taken for the signal to
attack the people, were from muskets which had gone off by some unlucky
accident--“thank God, without injuring any one.”

He closed with the words: “Listen to the paternal voice of your king,
residents of my loyal and beautiful Berlin; forget what has occurred,
as I will forget it with all my heart, for the sake of the great future
which, by the blessing of God, will dawn for Prussia, and, through
Prussia, for Germany. Your affectionate queen and faithful mother, who
is very ill, joins her heart-felt and tearful entreaties to mine.”

The king also pledged his royal word that the troops would be withdrawn
as soon as the Berlin people were ready for peace and removed the

So peace seemed restored, for there had been no fighting for hours, and
we heard that the troops were already withdrawing.

Our departure for Dresden was out of the question--railway communication
had ceased. The bells which had sounded the tocsin all night with their
brazen tongues seemed, after such furious exertion, to have no strength
for summoning worshippers to church. All the houses of God were closed
that Sunday.

Our longing to get out of doors grew to impatience, which was destined
to be satisfied, for our mother had a violent headache, and we were sent
to get her usual medicine. We reached the Ring pharmacy--a little house
in the Potsdam Platz occupied by the well-known writer, Max Ring--in a
very few minutes. We performed our errand with the utmost care, gave the
medicine to the cook on our return, and hurried off into the city.

When we had left the Mauer-and Friedrichstrasse behind, our hearts
began to beat faster, and what we saw on the rest of the way through the
longest street of Berlin as far as the Linden was of such a nature that
the mere thought of it awakens in me to this day an ardent hope that I
may never witness such sights again.

Rage, hate, and destruction had celebrated the maddest orgies on our
path, and Death, with passionate vehemence, had swung his sharpest
scythe. Wild savagery and merciless destruction had blended with the
shrewdest deliberation and skillful knowledge in constructing the
bars which the German, avoiding his own good familiar word, called
barricades. An elderly gentleman who was explaining their construction,
pointed out to us the ingenuity with which some of the barricades had
been strengthened for defence on the one side, and left comparatively
weak on the other. Every trench dug where the paving was torn up had its
object, and each heap of stones its particular design.

But the ordinary spectator needed a guide to recognize this. At the
first sight, his attention was claimed by the confused medley and the
many heart-rending signs of the horrors practised by man on man.

Here was a pool of blood, there a bearded corpse; here a blood-stained
weapon, there another blackened with powder. Like a caldron where a
witch mixes all manner of strange things for a philter, each barricade
consisted of every sort of rubbish, together with objects originally
useful. All kinds of overturned vehicles, from an omnibus to a
perambulator, from a carriage to a hand-cart, were everywhere to be
found. Wardrobes, commodes, chairs, boards, laths, bookshelves, bath
tubs and washtubs, iron and wooden pipes, were piled together, and
the interstices filled with sacks of straw and rags, mattresses, and
carriage cushions. Whence came the planks yonder, if they were not
stripped from the floor of some room? Children and promenaders had sat
only yesterday on those benches and, the night before that, oil lamps
or gas flames had burned on those lamp-posts. The sign-boards on top had
invited customers into shop or inn, and the roll of carpet beneath was
perhaps to have covered some floor to-morrow. Oleander shrubs, which I
was to see later in rocky vales of Greece or Algeria, had possibly
been put out here only the day before into the spring sunshine. The
warehouses of the capital no doubt contained everything that could be
needed, no matter how or when, but Berlin seemed to me too small for all
the trash that was dragged out of the houses in that March night.

Bloody and terrible pictures rose before our minds, and perhaps there
was no need of Assessor Geppert’s calling to us sternly, “Off home with
you, boys!” to turn our feet in that direction.

So home we ran, but stopped once, for at a fountain, either in
Leipzigstrasse or Potsdamstrasse, a ball from the artillery had struck
in the wood-work, and around it a firm hand had written with chalk in
a semicircle, “TO MY DEAR PEOPLE OF BERLIN.” On the lower part of the
fountain the king’s proclamation to the citizens, with the same heading,
was posted up.

What a criticism upon it!

The address set forth that a band of miscreants, principally foreigners,
had by patent falsehood turned the affair in the Schlossplatz to the
furtherance of their evil designs, and filled the heated minds of his
dear and faithful people of Berlin with thoughts of vengeance for
blood which was supposed to have been spilled. Thus they had become the
abominable authors of actual bloodshed.

The king really believed in this “band of miscreants,” and attributed
the revolution, which he called a ‘coup monte’ (premeditated affair), to
those wretches. His letters to Bunsen are proof of it.

Among those who read his address, “To my Dear People of Berlin,” there
were many who were wiser. There had really been no need of foreign
agitators to make them take up arms.

On the morning of the 18th their rejoicing and cheering came from full
hearts, but when they saw or learned that the crowd had been fired into
on the Schlossplatz, their already heated blood boiled over; the people
so long cheated of their rights, who had been put off when half the rest
of Germany had their demands fulfilled, could bear it no longer.

I must remind myself again that I am not writing a history of the Berlin
revolution. Nor would my own youthful impressions justify me in forming
an independent opinion as to the motives of that remarkable and somewhat
incomprehensible event; but, with the assistance of friends more
intimately acquainted with the circumstances, I have of late obtained
a not wholly superficial knowledge of them, which, with my own
recollections, leads me to adopt the opinion of Heinrich von Sybel
concerning the much discussed and still unanswered question, whether the
Berlin revolution was the result of a long-prepared conspiracy or the
spontaneous outburst of enthusiasm for liberty among the citizens. He
says: “Both these views are equally well founded, for only the united
effort of the two forces could insure a possibility of victory.”

Here again the great historian has found the true solution. It was for
the interest of the Poles, the French, and other revolutionary spirits,
to bring about a bloody conflict in Berlin, and there were many of them
in the capital that spring, among whom must have been men who knew how
to build barricades and organize revolts; and it can hardly be doubted
that, at the decisive moment, they tried to enhance the vengefulness and
combativeness of the people by strong drink and fiery speeches, perhaps,
in regard to the dregs of the populace, by money. There is weighty
evidence in support of this. But it is still more certain--and, though
I was but eleven years old and brought up in a loyal atmosphere, I,
too, felt and experienced it--that before the 18th of March the general
discontent was at the highest point. There was no controlling it.

If the chief of police, Von Minutoli, asserts that he knew beforehand
the hour when the revolution was to break out, this is no special
evidence of foresight; for the first threat the citizens had ventured to
utter against the king was in the address drawn up at the sitting of the
popular assembly in Kopenickstrasse, and couched in the following terms
“If this is granted us, and granted at once, then we will guarantee a
genuine peace.” To finish the proposition with a statement of what would
occur in the opposite case, was left to his Majesty; the assembly had
simply decided that the “peaceful demonstration of the wishes of the
people” should take place on the 18th, at two o’clock, several thousand
citizens taking part in it. While the address was handed in, and until
the reply was received, the ambassadors of the people were to remain
quietly assembled in the Schlossplatz. What was to happen in case the
above-mentioned demands were not granted is nowhere set down, but there
is little doubt that many of those present intended to trust to the
fortune of arms. The address contained an ultimatum, and Brass is right
in calling it, and the meeting in which it originated, the starting
point of the revolution. Whoever had considered the matter attentively
might easily say, “On the 18th, at two o’clock, it will be decided
either so or so.” The king had come to his determination earlier than
that. Sybel puts it beyond question that he had been forced to it by the
situation in Europe, not by threats or the compulsion of a conflict in
the streets. Nevertheless it came to a street fight, for the enemies
of order were skillful enough to start a fresh conflagration with the
charred beams of the house whose fire had been put out. But all their
efforts would have been in vain had not the conduct of the Government,
and the events of the last few days, paved the way.

Among my mother’s conservative friends, and in her own mind, there was a
strong belief that the fighting in Berlin had broken out in consequence
of long-continued stirring of the people by foreign agitators; but I can
affirm that in my later life, before I began to reflect particularly
on the subject, it always seemed to me, when I recalled the time which
preceded the 18th of March, as if existing circumstances must have led
to the expectation of an outbreak at any moment.

It is difficult in these days to form an idea of the sharp divisions
which succeeded the night of the revolution in Berlin, just as one can
hardly conceive now, even in court circles, of the whole extent and
enthusiastic strength of the sentiment of Prussian loyalty at that time.
These opposite principles separated friends, estranged families long
united in love, and made themselves felt even in the Schmidt school
during the short time that we continued to go there.

Our bold excursion over the barricades was unpunished, so far as I
remember. Perhaps it was not even noticed, for our mother, in spite of
her violent headache, had to make preparations for the illumination of
our tolerably long row of windows. Not to have lighted the house would
have imperilled the window-panes. To my regret, we were not allowed to
see the illumination. I have since thought it a peculiarly amusing trick
of fate that the palace of the Russian embassy--the property of the
autocrat Nicholas--was obliged to celebrate with a brilliant display of
lights the movement for liberty in a sister country.

On Monday, the 20th, we were sent to school, but it was closed, and we
took advantage of the circumstance to get into the heart of the city.
The appearance of the town-hall peppered with balls I have never
forgotten. Most of the barricades were cleared away; instead, there were
singular inscriptions in chalk on the doors of various public buildings.

At the beginning of Leipzigstrasse, at the main entrance of the
Ministry of War, we read the words, “National Property.” Elsewhere, and
particularly at the palace of the Prince of Prussia, was “Property of
the Citizens” or “Property of the entire Nation.”

An excited throng had gathered in front of the plain and simple palace
to whose high ground-floor windows troops of loyal and grateful Germans
have often looked up with love and admiration to see the beloved
countenance of the grey-haired imperial hero. That day we stood among
the crowd and listened to the speech of a student, who addressed us
from the great balcony amid a storm of applause. Whether it was the same
honest fellow who besought the people to desist from their design of
burning the prince’s palace because the library would be imperilled,
I do not know, but the answer, “Leave the poor boys their books,” is

And it is also true, unhappily, that it was difficult to save from
destruction the house of the man whose Hohenzollern blood asserted
itself justly against the weakness of his royal brother. Through those
days of terror he was what he always had been and would remain, an
upright man and soldier, in the highest and noblest meaning of the

What we saw and heard in the palace and its courts, swarming with
citizens and students, was so low and revolting that I dislike to think
of it.

Some of the lifeless heroes were just being borne past on litters,
greeted by the wine-flushed faces of armed students and citizens. The
teachers who had overtaken us on the way recognized among them college
friends who praised the delicious vintage supplied by the palace guards.

My brother and I were also fated to see Frederick William IV. ride down
the Behrenstrasse and the Unter den Linden with a large black, red, and
yellow band around his arm.

The burial of those who had fallen during the night of the revolution
was one of the most imposing ceremonies ever witnessed in Berlin. We
boys were permitted to look at it only for a short time, yet the whole
impression of the procession, which we really ought not to have been
allowed to see, has lingered in my memory.

It was wonderful weather, as warm as summer, and the vast escort which
accompanied the two hundred coffins of the champions of freedom to
their last resting-place seemed endless. We were forbidden to go on the
platform in front of the Neuenkirche where they were placed, but the
spectacle must have produced a strange yet deeply pathetic impression.

Pastor Sydow, who represented the Protestant clergy as the Prelate
Roland did the Catholics, and the Rabbi Dr. Sachs the Jews, afterwards
told me that the multitude of coffins, adorned with the rarest flowers
and lavishly draped with black, presented an image of mournful splendour
never to be forgotten, and I can easily believe it.

This funeral remains in my memory as an endless line of coffins and
black-garbed men with banners and hats bound with crape, bearing
flowers, emblems of guilds, and trade symbols. Mounted standard bearers,
gentlemen in robes--the professors of the university--and students in
holiday attire, mingled in the motley yet solemn train.

How many tears were shed over those coffins which contained the earthly
remains of many a young life once rich in hopes and glowing with warm
enthusiasm, many a quiet heart which had throbbed joyously for man’s
noblest possession! The interment in the Friedrichshain, where four
hundred singers raised their voices, and a band of music composed of the
hautboy players of many regiments poured mighty volumes of sound
over the open graves of the dead, must have been alike dignified and

But the opposition between the contending parties was still too great,
and the demand upon the king to salute the dead had aroused such anger
in my mother’s circle, that she kept aloof from these magnificent and
in themselves perfectly justifiable funeral obsequies. It seemed almost
unendurable that the king had constrained himself to stand on the
balcony of the palace with his head bared, holding his helmet in his
hand, while the procession passed.

The effect of this act upon the loyal citizens of Berlin can scarcely be
described. I have seen men--even our humble Kurschner--weep during the
account of it by eye-witnesses.

Whoever knew Frederick William IV. also knew that neither genuine
reconciliation nor respect for the fallen champions of liberty induced
him to show this outward token of respect, which was to him the deepest

The insincerity of the sovereign’s agreement with the ideas, events, and
men of his day was evident in the reaction which appeared only too
soon. His conviction showed itself under different forms, but remained
unchanged, both in political and religious affairs.

During the interval life had assumed a new aspect. The minority had
become the majority, and many a son of a strictly conservative man was
forbidden to oppose the “red.” Only no one needed to conceal his loyalty
to the king, for at that time the democrats still shared it. A good word
for the Prince of Prussia, on the contrary, inevitably led to a brawl,
but we did not shrink from it, and, thank Heaven, we were among the
strongest boys.

This intrusion of politics into the school-room and the whole tense life
of the capital was extremely undesirable, and, if continued, could not
fail to have an injurious influence upon immature lads; so my mother
hastily decided that, instead of waiting until the next year, we should
go to Keilhau at once.

She has often said that this was the most difficult resolve of her life,
but it was also one of the best, since it removed us from the motley,
confusing impressions of the city, and the petting we received at home,
and transferred us to the surroundings most suitable for boys of our

The first of the greater divisions of my life closes with the Easter
which follows the Berlin revolution of March, 1848.

Not until I attained years of maturity did I perceive that these
conflicts, which, long after, I heard execrated in certain quarters as a
blot upon Prussian history, rather deserved the warmest gratitude of
the nation. During those beautiful spring days, no matter by what
hands--among them were the noblest and purest--were sown the seeds of
the dignity and freedom of public life which we now enjoy.

The words “March conquests” have been uttered by jeering lips, but
I think at the present time there are few among the more far-sighted
conservatives who would like to dispense with them. To me and, thank
Heaven, to the majority of Germans, life deprived of them would seem
unendurable. My mother afterward learned to share this opinion, though,
like ourselves, in whose hearts she early implanted it, she retained to
her last hour her loyalty to the king.


Keilhau! How much is comprised in that one short word!

It recalls to my memory the pure happiness of the fairest period of
boyhood, a throng of honoured, beloved, and merry figures, and hundreds
of stirring, bright, and amusing scenes in a period of life rich in
instruction and amusement, as well as the stage so lavishly endowed by
Nature on which they were performed. Jean Paul has termed melancholy the
blending of joy and pain, and it was doubtless a kindred feeling which
filled my heart in the days before my departure, and induced me to be
particularly good and obliging to every body in the house. My mother
took us once more to my father’s grave in the Dreifaltigkeits cemetery,
where I made many good resolutions. Only the best reports should reach
home from Keilhau, and I had already obtained excellent ones in Berlin.

On the evening of our departure there were numerous kisses and farewell
glances at all that was left behind; but when we were seated in the
car with my mother, rushing through the landscape adorned with the most
luxuriant spring foliage, my heart suddenly expanded, and the pleasure
of travel and delight in the many new scenes before me destroyed every
other feeling.

The first vineyard I saw at Naumburg--I had long forgotten those on the
Rhine--interested me deeply; the Rudelsburg at Kosen, the ruins of a
real ancient castle, pleased me no less because I had never heard Franz
Kugler’s song:

       “Beside the Saale’s verdant strand
        Once stood full many a castle grand,
        But roofless ruins are they all;
        The wind sweeps through from hall to hall;
        Slow drift the clouds above,”

which refers to this charming part of the Thuringian hill country. We
were soon to learn to sing it at Keilhau. Weimar was the first goal
of this journey. We had heard much of our classic poets; nay, I knew
Schiller’s Bell and some of Goethe’s poems by heart, and we had heard
them mentioned with deep reverence. Now we were to see their home, and a
strange emotion took possession of me when we entered it.

Every detail of this first journey has remained stamped on my memory.
I even know what we ordered for supper at the hotel where we spent the
night. But my mother had a severe headache, so we saw none of the sights
of Weimar except the Goethe house in the city and the other one in the
park. I cannot tell what my feelings were, they are too strongly blended
with later impressions. I only know that the latter especially seemed to
me very small. I had imagined the “Goethe House” like the palace of
the Prince of Prussia or Prince Radziwill in Wilhelmstrasse. The Grand
Duke’s palace, on the contrary, appeared aristocratic and stately. We
looked at it very closely, because it was the birthplace of the Princess
of Prussia, of whom Fraulein Lamperi had told us so much.

The next morning my mother was well again. The railroad connecting
Weimar and Rudolstadt, near which Keilhau is located, was built long
after, so we continued our journey in an open carriage and reached
Rudolstadt about noon.

After we had rested a short time, the carriage which was to take us to
Keilhau drove up.

As we were getting in, an old gentleman approached, who instantly made
a strong impression upon me. In outward appearance he bore a marked
resemblance to Wilhelm Grimm. I should have noticed him among hundreds;
for long grey locks, parted in the middle, floated around a nobly formed
head, his massive yet refined features bore the stamp of a most kindly
nature, and his eyes were the mirror of a pure, childlike soul. The rare
charm of their sunny sparkle, when his warm heart expanded to pleasure
or his keen intellect had succeeded in solving any problem, comes back
vividly to my memory as I write, and they beamed brightly enough when he
perceived our companion. They were old acquaintances, for my mother had
been to Keilhau several times on Martin’s account. She addressed him by
the name of Middendorf, and we recognized him as one of the heads of the
institute, of whom we had heard many pleasant things.

He had driven to Rudolstadt with the “old bay,” but he willingly
accepted a seat in our carriage.

We had scarcely left the street with the hotel behind us, when he began
to speak of Schiller, and pointed out the mountain which bore his name
and to which in his “Walk” he had cried:

     “Hail! oh my Mount, with radiant crimson peak.”

Then he told us of the Lengefeld sisters, whom the poet had so often met
here, and one of whom, Charlotte, afterward became his wife. All
this was done in a way which had no touch of pedagogy or of anything
specially prepared for children, yet every word was easily understood
and interested us. Besides, his voice had a deep, musical tone, to which
my ear was susceptible at an early age. He understood children of our
disposition and knew what pleased them.

In Schaale, the first village through which we passed, he said, pointing
to the stream which flowed into the Saale close by: “Look, boys, now we
are coming into our own neighbourhood, the valley of the Schaal. It owes
its name to this brook, which rises in our own meadows, and I suppose
you would like to know why our village is called Keilhau?”

While speaking, he pointed up the stream and briefly described its

We assented.

We had passed the village of Schaale. The one before us, with the
church, was called Eichfeld, and at our right was another which we could
not see, Lichtstadt. In ancient times, he told us, the mountain sides
and the bottom of the whole valley had been clothed with dense oak
forests. Then people came who wanted to till the ground. They began to
clear (lichten) these woods at Lichtstadt. This was a difficult task,
and they had used axes (Keile) for the purpose. At Eichfeld they felled
the oaks (Fiche), and carried the trunks to Schaale, where the bark
(Schale) was stripped off to make tan for the tanners on the Saale. So
the name of Lichtstadt came from the clearing of the forests, Eichfeld
from the felling of the oaks, Schaale from stripping off the bark, and
Keilhau from the hewing with axes.

This simple tale of ancient times had sprung from the Thuringian soil,
so rich in legends, and, little as it might satisfy the etymologist,
it delighted me. I believed it, and when afterward I looked down from
a height into the valley and saw the Saale, my imagination clothed the
bare or pineclad mountain slopes with huge oak forests, and beheld the
giant forms of the ancient Thuringians felling the trees with their
heavy axes.

The idea of violence which seemed to be connected with the name of
Keilhau had suddenly disappeared. It had gained meaning to me, and Herr
Middendorf had given us an excellent proof of a fundamental requirement
of Friedrich Froebel, the founder of the institution: “The external must
be spiritualized and given an inner significance.”

The same talented pedagogue had said, “Our education associates
instruction with the external world which surrounds the human being as
child and youth”; and Middendorf carried out this precept when, at
the first meeting, he questioned us about the trees and bushes by the
wayside, and when we were obliged to confess our ignorance of most of
them, he mentioned their names and described their peculiarities.

At last we reached the Keilhau plain, a bowl whose walls formed
tolerably high mountains which surrounded it on all sides except toward
Rudolstadt, where an opening permitted the Schaalbach to wind through
meadows and fields. So the village lies like an egg in a nest open in
one direction, like the beetle in the calyx of a flower which has lost
one of its leaves. Nature has girded it on three sides with protecting
walls which keep the wind from entering the valley, and to this, and the
delicious, crystal-clear water which flows from the mountains into
the pumps, its surprising healthfulness is doubtless due. During my
residence there of four and a half years there was no epidemic disease
among the boys, and on the fiftieth jubilee of the institute, in 1867,
which I attended, the statement was made that during the half century of
its existence only one pupil had died, and he had had heart disease when
his parents sent him to the school.

We must have arrived on Sunday, for we met on the road several peasants
in long blue coats, and peasant women in dark cloth cloaks with
gold-embroidered borders, and little black caps from which ribbons three
or four feet long hung down the wearers’ backs. The cloaks descended
from mother to daughter. They were very heavy, yet I afterward saw
peasant women wear them to church in summer.

At last we drove into the broad village street. At the right, opposite
to the first houses, lay a small pond called the village pool, on which
ducks and geese floated, and whose dark surface, glittering with many
hues, reflected the shepherd’s hut. After we had passed some very fine
farmhouses, we reached the “Plan,” where bright waters plashed into
a stone trough, a linden tree shaded the dancing-ground, and a pretty
house was pointed out as the schoolhouse of the village children.

A short distance farther away the church rose in the background. But
we had no time to look at it, for we were already driving up to the
institute itself, which was at the end of the village, and consisted
of two rows of houses with an open space closed at the rear by the wide
front of a large building.

The bakery, a small dwelling, and the large gymnasium were at our left;
on the right, the so-called Lower House, with the residences of the
head-masters’ families, and the school and sleeping-rooms of the smaller
pupils, whom we dubbed the “Panzen,” and among whom were boys only eight
and nine years old.

The large house before whose central door--to which a flight of stone
steps led--we stopped, was the Upper House, our future home.

Almost at the same moment we heard a loud noise inside, and an army of
boys came rushing down the steps. These were the “pupils,” and my heart
began to throb faster.

They gathered around the Rudolstadt carriage boldly enough and stared
at us. I noticed that almost all were bareheaded. Many wore their hair
falling in long locks down their backs. The few who had any coverings
used black velvet caps, such as in Berlin would be seen only at the
theatre or in an artist’s studio.

Middendorf had stepped quickly among the lads, and as they came running
up to take his hand or hang on his arm we saw how they loved him.

But we had little time for observation. Barop, the head-master, was
already hastening down the steps, welcoming my mother and ourselves with
his deep, musical tones, in a pure Westphalian dialect.


Barop’s voice sounded so sincere and cordial that it banished every
thought of fear, otherwise his appearance might have inspired boys of
our age with a certain degree of timidity, for he was a broad-shouldered
man of gigantic stature, who, like Middendorf, wore his grey hair parted
in the middle, though it was cut somewhat shorter. A pair of dark eyes
sparkled under heavy, bushy brows, which gave them the aspect of clear
springs shaded by dense thickets. They now gazed kindly at us, but later
we were to learn their irresistible power. I have said, and I still
think, that the eyes of the artist, Peter Cornelius, are the most
forceful I have ever seen, for the very genius of art gazed from them.
Those of our Barop produced no weaker influence in their way, for they
revealed scarcely less impressively the character of a man. To them,
especially, was clue the implicit obedience that every one rendered him.
When they flashed with indignation the defiance of the boldest and most
refractory quailed. But they could sparkle cheerily, too, and whoever
met his frank, kindly gaze felt honoured and uplifted.

Earnest, thoroughly natural, able, strong, reliable, rigidly just, free
from any touch of caprice, he lacked no quality demanded by his arduous
profession, and hence he whom even the youngest addressed as “Barop”
 never failed for an instant to receive the respect which was his due,
and, moreover, had from us all the voluntary gift of affection, nay, of
love. He was, I repeat, every inch a man.

When very young, the conviction that the education of German boys was
his real calling obtained so firm a hold upon his mind that he could not
be dissuaded from giving up the study of the law, in which he had made
considerable progress at Halle, and devoting himself to pedagogy.

His father, a busy lawyer, had threatened him with disinheritance if he
did not relinquish his intention of accepting the by no means brilliant
position of a teacher at Keilhau; but he remained loyal to his choice,
though his father executed his threat and cast him off. After the old
gentleman’s death his brothers and sisters voluntarily restored his
portion of the property, but, as he himself told me long after, the
quarrel with one so dear to him saddened his life for years. For the
sake of the “fidelity to one’s self” which he required from others he
had lost his father’s love, but he had obeyed a resistless inner voice,
and the genuineness of his vocation was to be brilliantly proved.

Success followed his efforts, though he assumed the management of the
Keilhau Institute under the most difficult circumstances.

Beneath its roof he had found in the niece of Friedrich Froebel a
beloved wife, peculiarly suited both to him and to her future position.
She was as little as he was big, but what energy, what tireless activity
this dainty, delicate woman possessed! To each one of us she showed
a mother’s sympathy, managed the whole great household down to the
smallest details, and certainly neglected nothing in the care of her own
sons and daughters.

A third master, the archdeacon Langethal, was one of the founders of the
institution, but had left it several years before.

As I mention him with the same warmth that I speak of Middendorf and
Barop, many readers will suspect that this portion of my reminiscences
contains a receipt for favours, and that reverence and gratitude, nay,
perhaps the fear of injuring an institution still existing, induces me
to show only the lights and cover the shadows with the mantle of love.

I will not deny that a boy from eleven to fifteen years readily
overlooks in those who occupy an almost paternal relation to him faults
which would be immediately noted by the unclouded eyes of a critical
observer; but I consider myself justified in describing what I saw in
my youth exactly as it impressed itself on my memory. I have never
perceived the smallest flaw or even a trait or act worthy of censure in
either Barop, Middendorf, or Langethal. Finally, I may say that, after
having learned in later years from abundant data willingly placed at my
disposal by Johannes Barop, our teacher’s son and the present master of
the institute, the most minute details concerning their character and
work, none of these images have sustained any material injury.

In Friedrich Froebel, the real founder of the institute, who repeatedly
lived among us for months, I have learned to know from his own works and
the comprehensive amount of literature devoted to him, a really talented
idealist, who on the one hand cannot be absolved from an amazing
contempt for or indifference to the material demands of life, and on the
other possessed a certain artless selfishness which gave him courage,
whenever he wished to promote objects undoubtedly pure and noble, to
deal arbitrarily with other lives, even where it could hardly redound to
their advantage. I shall have more to say of him later.

The source of Middendorf’s greatness in the sphere where life and his
own choice had placed him may even be imputed to him as a fault. He, the
most enthusiastic of all Froebel’s disciples, remained to his life’s
end a lovable child, in whom the powers of a rich poetic soul surpassed
those of the thoughtful, well-trained mind. He would have been
ill-adapted for any practical position, but no one could be better
suited to enter into the soul-life of young human beings, cherish and
ennoble them.

A deeper insight into the lives of Barop and Langethal taught me to
prize these men more and more.

They have all rested under the sod for decades, and though their
institute, to which I owe so much, has remained dear and precious,
and the years I spent in the pleasant Thuringian mountain valley are
numbered among the fairest in my life, I must renounce making proselytes
for the Keilhau Institute, because, when I saw its present head for the
last time, as a very young man, I heard from him, to my sincere regret,
that, since the introduction of the law of military service, he found
himself compelled to make the course of study at Rudolstadt conform to
the system of teaching in a Realschule.--[School in which the arts and
sciences as well as the languages are taught.-TR.]--He was forced to
do so in order to give his graduates the certificate for the one year’s
military service.

The classics, formerly held in such high esteem beneath its roof, must
now rank below the sciences and modern languages, which are regarded
as most important. But love for Germany and the development of German
character, which Froebel made the foundation of his method of education,
are too deeply rooted there ever to be extirpated. Both are as zealously
fostered in Keilhau now as in former years.

After a cordial greeting from Barop, we had desks assigned us in the
schoolroom, which were supplied with piles of books, writing materials,
and other necessaries. Ludo’s bed stood in the same dormitory with mine.
Both were hard enough, but this had not damped our gay spirits, and when
we were taken to the other boys we were soon playing merrily with the

The first difficulty occurred after supper, and proved to be one of the
most serious I encountered during my stay in the school.

My mother had unpacked our trunks and arranged everything in order.
Among the articles were some which were new to the boys, and special
notice was attracted by several pairs of kid gloves and a box of pomade
which belonged in our pretty leather dressing-case, a gift from my

Dandified, or, as we should now term them, “dudish” affairs, were not
allowed at Keilhau; so various witticisms were made which culminated
when a pupil of about our own age from a city on the Weser called us
Berlin pomade-pots. This vexed me, but a Berlin boy always has an answer
ready, and mine was defiant enough. The matter might have ended here had
not the same lad stroked my hair to see how Berlin pomade smelt. From a
child nothing has been more unendurable than to feel a stranger’s hand
touch me, especially on the head, and, before I was aware of it, I had
dealt my enemy a resounding slap. Of course, he instantly rushed at me,
and there would have been a violent scuffle had not the older pupils
interfered. If we wanted to do anything, we must wrestle. This suited
my antagonist, and I, too, was not averse to the contest, for I had
unusually strong arms, a well-developed chest, and had practised
wrestling in the Berlin gymnasium.

The struggle began under the direction of the older pupils, and the
grip on which I had relied did not fail. It consisted in clutching
the antagonist just above the hips. If the latter were not greatly my
superior, and I could exert my whole strength to clasp him to me, he
was lost. This time the clever trick did its duty, and my adversary was
speedily stretched on the ground. I turned my back on him, but he rose,
panting breathlessly. “It’s like a bear squeezing one.” In reply to
every question from the older boys who stood around us laughing, he
always made the same answer, “Like a bear.”

I had reason to remember this very common incident in boy life, for
it gave me the nickname used by old and young till after my departure.
Henceforward I was always called “the bear.” Last year I had the
pleasure of receiving a visit from Dr. Bareuther, a member of the
Austrian Senate and a pupil of Keilhau. We had not met for forty years,
and his first words were: “Look at me, Bear. Who am I?”

My brother had brought his nickname with him, and everybody called him
Ludo instead of Ludwig. The pretty, bright, agile lad, who also never
flinched, soon became especially popular, and my companions were also
fond of me, as I learned, when, during the last years of my stay at
the institute, they elected me captain of the first Bergwart--that is,
commander-in-chief of the whole body of pupils.

My first fight secured my position forever. We doubtless owed our
initiation on the second day into everything which was done by the
pupils, both openly and secretly, to the good impression made by Martin.
There was nothing wrong, and even where mischief was concerned I can
term it to-day “harmless.” The new boys or “foxes” were not neglected
or “hazed,” as in many other schools. Only every one, even the newly
arrived younger teachers, was obliged to submit to the “initiation.”
 This took place in winter, and consisted in being buried in the snow and
having pockets, clothing, nay, even shirts, filled with the clean but
wet mass. Yet I remember no cold caused by this rude baptism. My
mother remained several days with us, and as the weather was fine she
accompanied us to the neighbouring heights--the Kirschberg, to which,
after the peaceful cemetery of the institute was left behind, a zigzag
path led; the Kohn, at whose foot rose the Upper House; and the Steiger,
from whose base flowed the Schaalbach, and whose summit afforded a view
of a great portion of the Thuringian mountains.

We older pupils afterwards had a tall tower erected there as a monument
to Barop, and the prospect from its lofty summit, which is more that a
thousand feet high, is magnificent.

Even before the completion of this lookout, the view was one of the
most beautiful and widest far or near, and we were treated like most
new-comers. During the ascent our eyes were bandaged, and when the
handkerchief was removed a marvellous picture appeared before our
astonished gaze. In the foreground, toward the left, rose the wooded
height crowned by the stately ruins of the Blankenburg. Beyond
opened the beautiful leafy bed of the Saale, proudly dominated by the
Leuchtenburg. Before us there was scarcely any barrier to the vision;
for behind the nearer ranges of hills one chain of the wooded Thuringian
Mountains towered beyond another, and where the horizon seemed to close
the grand picture, peak after peak blended with the sky and the clouds,
and the light veil of mist floating about them seemed to merge all into
an indivisible whole.

I have gazed from this spot into the distance at every hour of the day
and season of the year. But the fairest time of all on the Steiger was
at sunset, on clear autumn days, when the scene close at hand, where
the threads of gossamer were floating, was steeped in golden light,
the distance in such exquisite tints-from crimson to the deepest violet
blue, edged with a line of light-the Saale glimmered with a silvery
lustre amid its fringe of alders, and the sun flashed on the glittering
panes of the Leuchtenburg.

We were now old enough to enjoy the magnificence of this prospect. My
young heart swelled at the sight; and if in after years my eyes could
grasp the charm of a beautiful landscape and my pen successfully
describe it, I learned the art here.

It was pleasant, too, that my mother saw all this with us, though she
must often have gone to rest very much wearied from her rambles. But
teachers and pupils vied with each other in attentions to her. She had
won all hearts. We noticed and rejoiced in it till the day came when she
left us.

She was obliged to start very early in the morning, in order to
reach Berlin the same evening. The other boys were not up, but Barop,
Middendorf, and several other teachers had risen to take leave of her.
A few more kisses, a wave of her handkerchief, and the carriage vanished
in the village. Ludo and I were alone, and I vividly remember the moment
when we suddenly began to weep and sob as bitterly as if it had been an
eternal farewell. How often one human being becomes the sun of another’s
life! And it is most frequently the mother who plays this beautiful

Yet the anguish of parting did not last very long, and whoever had
watched the boys playing ball an hour later would have heard our voices
among the merriest. Afterwards we rarely had attacks of homesickness,
there were so many new things in Keilhau, and even familiar objects
seemed changed in form and purpose.

From the city we were in every sense transferred to the woods.

True, we had grown up in the beautiful park of the Thiergarten, but
only on its edge; to live in and with Nature, “become one with her,” as
Middendorf said, we had not learned.

I once read in a novel by Jensen, as a well-attested fact, that during
an inquiry made in a charity school in the capital a considerable number
of the pupils had never seen a butterfly or a sunset. We were certainly
not to be classed among such children. But our intercourse with Nature
had been limited to formal visits which we were permitted to pay the
august lady at stated intervals. In Keilhau she became a familiar
friend, and we therefore were soon initiated into many of her secrets;
for none seemed to be withheld from our Middendorf and Barop, whom
duty and inclination alike prompted to sharpen our ears also for her

The Keilhau games and walks usually led up the mountains or into the
forest, and here the older pupils acted as teachers, but not in any
pedagogical way. Their own interest in whatever was worthy of note in
Nature was so keen that they could not help pointing it out to their
less experienced companions.

On our “picnics” from Berlin we had taken dainty mugs in order to drink
from the wells; now we learned to seek and find the springs themselves,
and how delicious the crystal fluid tastes from the hollow of the hand,
Diogenes’s drinking-cup!

Old Councillor Wellmer, in the Crede House, in Berlin, a zealous
entomologist, owned a large collection of beetles, and had carefully
impaled his pets on long slender pins in neat boxes, which filled
numerous glass cases. They lacked nothing but life. In Keilhau we found
every variety of insect in central Germany, on the bushes and in the
moss, the turf, the bark of trees, or on the flowers and blades of
grass, and they were alive and allowed us to watch them. Instead of
neatly written labels, living lips told us their names.

We had listened to the notes of the birds in the Thiergarten; but our
mother, the tutor, the placards, our nice clothing, prohibited our
following the feathered songsters into the thickets. But in Keilhau we
were allowed to pursue them to their nests. The woods were open to every
one, and nothing could injure our plain jackets and stout boots. Even
in my second year at Keilhau I could distinguish all the notes of the
numerous birds in the Thuringian forests, and, with Ludo, began the
collection of eggs whose increase afforded us so much pleasure. Our
teachers’ love for all animate creation had made them impose bounds on
the zeal of the egg-hunters, who were required always to leave one egg
in the nest, and if it contained but one not to molest it. How many
trees we climbed, what steep cliffs we scaled, through what crevices we
squeezed to add a rare egg to our collection; nay, we even risked our
limbs and necks! Life is valued so much less by the young, to whom it is
brightest, and before whom it still stretches in a long vista, than by
the old, for whom its charms are already beginning to fade, and who are
near its end.

I shall never forget the afternoon when, supplied with ropes and
poles, we went to the Owl Mountain, which originally owed its name to
Middendorf, because when he came to Keilhau he noticed that its rocky
slope served as a home for several pairs of horned owls. Since then
their numbers had increased, and for some time larger night birds had
been flying in and out of a certain crevice.

It was still the laying season, and their nests must be there. Climbing
the steep precipice was no easy task, but we succeeded, and were then
lowered from above into the crevice. At that time we set to work with
the delight of discoverers, but now I frown when I consider that those
who let first the daring Albrecht von Calm, of Brunswick, and then me
into the chasm by ropes were boys of thirteen or fourteen at the utmost.
Marbod, my companion’s brother, was one of the strongest of our number,
and we were obliged to force our way like chimney sweeps by pressing our
hands and feet against the walls of the narrow rough crevice. Yet it now
seems a miracle that the adventure resulted in no injury. Unfortunately,
we found the young birds already hatched, and were compelled to return
with our errand unperformed. But we afterward obtained such eggs, and
their form is more nearly ball-shape than that seen in those of most
other birds. We knew how the eggs of all the feathered guests of Germany
were coloured and marked, and the chest of drawers containing our
collection stood for years in my mother’s attic. When I inquired about
it a few years ago, it could not be found, and Ludo, who had helped in
gathering it, lamented its loss with me.


Dangerous enterprises were of course forbidden, but the teachers of
the institute neglected no means of training our bodies to endure
every exertion and peril; for Froebel was still alive, and the ideal of
education, for whose realization he had established the Keilhau school,
had become to his assistants and followers strong and healthy realities.
But Froebel’s purpose did not require the culture of physical strength.
His most marked postulates were the preservation and development of the
individuality of the boys entrusted to his care, and their training in
German character and German nature; for he beheld the sum of all the
traits of higher, purer manhood united in those of the true German.

Love for the heart, strength for the character, seemed to him the
highest gifts with which he could endow his pupils for life.

He sought to rear the boy to unity with himself, with God, with Nature,
and with mankind, and the way led to trust in God through religion,
trust in himself by developing the strength of mind and body, and
confidence in mankind--that is, in others, by active relations with
life and a loving interest in the past and present destinies of our
fellow-men. This required an eye and heart open to our surroundings,
sociability, and a deeper insight into history. Here Nature seems to be
forgotten. But Nature comes into the category of religion, for to him
religion means: To know and feel at one with ourselves, with God, and
with man; to be loyal to ourselves, to God, and to Nature: and to remain
in continual active, living relations with God.

The teacher must lead the pupils to men as well as to God and Nature,
and direct them from action to perception and thought. For action he
takes special degrees, capacity, skill, trustworthiness; for perception,
consciousness, insight, clearness. Only the practical and clear-sighted
man can maintain himself as a thinker, opening out as a teacher new
trains of thought, and comprehending the basis of what is already
acquired and the laws which govern it.

Froebel wishes to have the child regarded as a bud on the great tree
of life, and therefore each pupil needs to be considered individually,
developed mentally and physically, fostered and trained as a bud on the
huge tree of the human race. Even as a system of instruction, education
ought not to be a rigid plan, incapable of modification, it should be
adapted to the individuality of the child, the period in which it is
growing to maturity, and its environment. The child should be led to
feel, work, and act by its own experiences in the present and in its
home, not by the opinions of others or by fixed, prescribed rules. From
independent, carefully directed acts and knowledge, perceptions, and
thoughts, the product of this education must come forth--a man, or,
as it is elsewhere stated, a thorough German. At Keilhau he is to be
perfected, converted into a finished production without a flaw. If the
institute has fulfilled its duty to the individual, he will be:

To his native land, a brave son in the hour of peril, in the spirit of
self-sacrifice and sturdy strength.

To the family, a faithful child and a father who will secure prosperity.

To the state, an upright, honest, industrious citizen.

To the army, a clear-sighted, strong, healthy, brave soldier and leader.

To the trades, arts, and sciences, a skilled helper, an active promoter,
a worker accustomed to thorough investigation, who has grown to maturity
in close intercourse with Nature.

To Jesus Christ, a faithful disciple and brother; a loving, obedient
child of God.

To mankind, a human being according to the image of God, and not
according to that of a fashion journal.

No one is reared for the drawing-room; but where there is a drawing-room
in which mental gifts are fostered and truth finds an abode, a true
graduate of Keilhau will be an ornament. “No instruction in bowing and
tying cravats is necessary; people learn that only too quickly,” said

The right education must be a harmonious one, and must be thoroughly in
unison with the necessary phenomena and demands of human life.

Thus the Keilhau system of education must claim the whole man, his inner
as well as his outer existence. Its purpose is to watch the nature of
each individual boy, his peculiarities, traits, talents, above all, his
character, and afford to all the necessary development and culture. It
follows step by step the development of the human being, from the almost
instinctive impulse to feeling, consciousness, and will. At each one
of these steps each child is permitted to have only what he can bear,
understand, and assimilate, while at the same time it serves as a ladder
to the next higher step of development and culture. In this way
Froebel, whose own notes, collected from different sources, we are here
following, hopes to guard against a defective or misdirected education;
for what the pupil knows and can do has sprung, as it were, from his own
brain. Nothing has been learned, but developed from within. Therefore
the boy who is sent into the world will understand how to use it, and
possess the means for his own further development and perfection from
step to step.

Every human being has a talent for some calling or vocation, and
strength for its development. It is the task of the institute to
cultivate the powers which are especially requisite for the future
fulfilment of the calling appointed by Nature herself. Here, too, the
advance must be step by step. Where talent or inclination lead, every
individual will be prepared to deal with even the greatest obstacles,
and must possess even the capacity to represent externally what has
been perceived and thought--that is, to speak and write clearly and
accurately--for in this way the intellectual power of the individual
will first be made active and visible to others. We perceive that
Froebel strongly antagonizes the Roman postulate that knowledge
should be imparted to boys according to a thoroughly tested method and
succession approved by the mature human intellect, and which seem most
useful to it for later life.

The systematic method which, up to the time of Pestalozzi, prevailed in
Germany, and is again embodied in our present mode of education, seemed
to him objectionable. The Swiss reformer pointed out that the mother’s
heart had instinctively found the only correct system of instruction,
and set before the pedagogue the task of watching and cultivating the
child’s talents with maternal love and care. He utterly rejected the old
system, and Froebel stationed himself as a fellow-combatant at his side,
but went still further. This stand required a high degree of courage
at the time of the founding of Keilhau, when Hegel’s influence was
omnipotent in educational circles, for Hegel set before the school the
task of imparting culture, and forgot that it lacked the most essential
conditions; for the school can give only knowledge, while true education
demands a close relation between the person to be educated and the world
from which the school, as Hegel conceived it, is widely sundered.

Froebel recognized that the extent of the knowledge imparted to each
pupil was of less importance, and that the school could not be expected
to bestow on each individual a thoroughly completed education, but an
intellect so well trained that when the time came for him to enter into
relations with the world and higher instructors he would have at his
disposal the means to draw from both that form of culture which the
school is unable to impart. He therefore turned his back abruptly on
the old system, denied that the main object of education was to meet
the needs of afterlife, and opposed having the interests of the child
sacrificed to those of the man; for the child in his eyes is sacred, an
independent blessing bestowed upon him by God, towards whom he has the
one duty of restoring to those who confided it to him in a higher degree
of perfection, with unfolded mind and soul, and a body and character
steeled against every peril. “A child,” he says, “who knows how to do
right in his own childish sphere, will grow naturally into an upright

With regard to instruction, his view, briefly stated, is as follows: The
boy whose special talents are carefully developed, to whom we give the
power of absorbing and reproducing everything which is connected with
his talent, will know how to assimilate, by his own work in the world
and wider educational advantages, everything which will render him a
perfect and thoroughly educated man. With half the amount of preliminary
knowledge in the province of his specialty, the boy or youth dismissed
by us as a harmoniously developed man, to whom we have given the methods
requisite for the acquisition of all desirable branches of knowledge,
will accomplish more than his intellectual twin who has been trained
according to the ideas of the Romans (and, let us add, Hegel).

I think Froebel is right. If his educational principles were the common
property of mankind, we might hope for a realization of Jean Paul’s
prediction that the world would end with a child’s paradise. We enjoyed
a foretaste of this paradise in Keilhau. But when I survey our modern
gymnasia, I am forced to believe that if they should succeed in
equipping their pupils with still greater numbers of rules for the
future, the happiness of the child would be wholly sacrificed to the
interests of the man, and the life of this world would close with the
birth of overwise greybeards. I might well be tempted to devote still
more time to the educational principles of the man who, from the depths
of his full, warm heart, addressed to parents the appeal, “Come, let us
live for our children,” but it would lead me beyond the allotted limits.

Many of Froebel’s pedagogical principles undoubtedly appear at first
sight a pallid theorem, partly a matter of course, partly impracticable.
During our stay in Keilhau we never heard of these claims, concerning
which we pupils were the subject of experiment. Far less did we feel
that we were being educated according to any fixed method. We perceived
very little of any form of government. The relation between us and our
teachers was so natural and affectionate that it seemed as if no other
was possible.

Yet, when I compared our life at Keilhau with the principles previously
mentioned, I found that Barop, Middendorf, and old Langethal, as well
as the sub-teachers Bagge, Budstedt, and Schaffner, had followed them in
our education, and succeeded in applying many of those which seemed
the most difficult to carry into execution. This filled me with sincere
admiration, though I soon perceived that it could have been done only
by men in whom Froebel had transplanted his ideal, men who were no less
enthusiastic concerning their profession than he, and whose personality
predestined them to solve successfully tasks which presented
difficulties almost unconquerable by others.

Every boy was to be educated according to his peculiar temperament,
with special regard to his disposition, talents, and character. Although
there were sixty of us, this was actually done in the case of each

Thus the teachers perceived that the endowments of my brother, with whom
I had hitherto shared everything, required a totally different system of
education from mine. While I was set to studying Greek, he was released
from it and assigned to modern languages and the arts and sciences. They
considered me better suited for a life of study, him qualified for some
practical calling or a military career.

Even in the tasks allotted to each, and the opinions passed upon our
physical and mental achievements, there never was any fixed standard.
These teachers always kept in view the whole individual, and especially
his character. Thereby the parents of a Keilhau pupil were far better
informed in many respects than those of our gymnasiasts, who so often
yield to the temptation of estimating their sons’ work by the greater or
less number of errors in their Latin exercises.

It afforded me genuine pleasure to look through the Keilhau reports.
Each contained a description of character, with a criticism of the work
accomplished, partly with reference to the pupil’s capacity, partly to
the demands of the school. Some are little masterpieces of psychological

Many of those who have followed these statements will ask how the German
nature and German character can be developed in the boys.

It was thoroughly done in Keilhau.

But the solution of the problem required men like Langethal and
Middendorf, who, even in their personal appearance models of German
strength and dignity, had fought for their native land, and who were
surpassed in depth and warmth of feeling by no man.

I repeat that what Froebel termed German was really the higher traits of
human character; but nothing was more deeply imprinted on our souls than
love for our native land. Here the young voices not only extolled the
warlike deeds of the brave Prussians, but recited with equal fervor all
the songs with which true patriotism has inspired German poets. Perhaps
this delight in Germanism went too far in many respects; it fostered
hatred and scorn of everything “foreign,” and was the cause of the long
hair and cap, pike and broad shirt collar worn by many a pupil. Yet
their number was not very large, and Ludo, our most intimate friends,
and I never joined them.

Barop himself smiled at their “Teutonism” but indulged it, and it was
stimulated by some of the teachers, especially the magnificent Zeller,
so full of vigour and joy in existence. I can still see the gigantic
young Swiss, as he made the pines tremble with his “Odin, Odin, death to
the Romans!”

One of the pupils, Count zur Lippe, whose name was Hermann, was called
“Arminius,” in memory of the conqueror of Varus. But these were external

On the other hand, how vividly, during the history lesson, Langethal,
the old warrior of 1813, described the course of the conflict for

Friedrich Froebel had also pronounced esteem for manual labour to be
genuinely and originally German, and therefore each pupil was assigned
a place where he could wield spades and pickaxes, roll stones, sow, and

These occupations were intended to strengthen the body, according to
Froebel’s rules, and absorbed the greater part of the hours not devoted
to instruction.

Midway up the Dissauberg was the spacious wrestling-ground with the
shooting-stand, and in the court-yard of the institute the gymnasium
for every spare moment of the winter. There fencing was practised with
fleurets (thrusting swords), not rapiers, which Barop rightly believed
had less effect upon developing the agility of youthful bodies. Even
when boys of twelve, Ludo and I, like most of the other pupils, had our
own excellent rifles, a Christmas gift from our mother, and how quickly
our keen young eyes learned to hit the bull’s-eye! There was good
swimming in the pond of the institute, and skating was practised there
on the frozen surface of the neighbouring meadow; then we had our
coasting parties at the “Upper House” and down the long slope of the
Dissau, the climbing and rambling, the wrestling and jumping over
the backs of comrades, the ditches, hedges, and fences, the games
of prisoner’s base which no Keilhau pupil will ever forget, the
ball-playing and the various games of running for which there was always
time, although at the end of the year we had acquired a sufficient
amount of knowledge. The stiffest boy who came to Keilhau grew nimble,
the biceps of the veriest weakling enlarged, the most timid nature was
roused to courage. Indeed, here, if anywhere, it required courage to be

If Froebel and Langethal had seen in the principle of comradeship the
best furtherance of discipline, it was proved here; for we formed
one large family, and if any act really worthy of punishment, no mere
ebullition of youthful spirits, was committed by any of the pupils,
Barop summoned us all, formed us into a court of justice, and
we examined into the affair and fixed the penalty ourselves. For
dishonourable acts, expulsion from the institute; for grave offences,
confinement to the room--a punishment which pledged even us, who imposed
it, to avoid all intercourse with the culprit for a certain length of
time. For lighter misdemeanours the offender was confined to the house
or the court-yard. If trivial matters were to be censured this Areopagus
was not convened.

And we, the judges, were rigid executors of the punishment. Barop
afterwards told me that he was frequently compelled to urge us to be
more gentle. Old Froebel regarded these meetings as means for coming
into unity with life. The same purpose was served by the form of our
intercourse with one another, the pedestrian excursions, and the many
incidents related by our teachers of their own lives, especially
the historical instruction which was connected with the history of
civilization and so arranged as to seek to make us familiar not only
with the deeds of nations and bloody battles, but with the life of the
human race.

In spite of, or on account of, the court of justice I have just
mentioned, there could be no informers among us, for Barop only half
listened to the accuser, and often sent him harshly from the room
without summoning the school-mate whom he accused. Besides, we ourselves
knew how to punish the sycophant so that he took good care not to act as
tale-bearer a second time.


The wives of the teachers had even more to do with our deportment than
the dancing-master, especially Frau Barop and her husband’s sister
Frau von Born, who had settled in Keilhau on account of having her sons
educated there.

The fact that the head-master’s daughters and several girls, who were
friends or relatives of his family, shared many of our lessons, also
contributed essentially to soften the manners of the young German

I mention our “manners” especially because, as I afterwards learned,
they had been the subject of sharp differences of opinion between
Friedrich Froebel and Langethal, and because the arguments of the former
are so characteristic that I deem them worthy of record.

There could be no lack of delicacy of feeling on the part of the founder
of the kindergarten system, who had said, “If you are talking with any
one, and your child comes to ask you about anything which interests
him, break off your conversation, no matter what may be the rank of the
person who is speaking to you,” and who also directed that the child
should receive not only love but respect. The first postulate shows
that he valued the demands of the soul far above social forms. Thus it
happened that during the first years of the institute, which he then
governed himself, he was reproached with paying too little attention to
the outward forms, the “behaviour,” the manners of the boys entrusted
to his care. His characteristic answer was: “I place no value on these
forms unless they depend upon and express the inner self. Where that
is thoroughly trained for life and work, externals may be left to
themselves, and will supplement the other.” The opponent admits this,
but declares that the Keilhau method, which made no account of outward
form, may defer this “supplement” in a way disastrous to certain pupils.
Froebel’s answer is: “Certainly, a wax pear can be made much more
quickly and is just as beautiful as those on the tree, which require
a much longer time to ripen. But the wax pear is only to look at, can
barely be touched, far less could it afford refreshment to the thirsty
and the sick. It is empty--a mere nothing! The child’s nature, it is
said, resembles wax. Very well, we don’t grudge wax fruits to any one
who likes them. But nothing must be expected from them if we are ill and
thirsty; and what is to become of them when temptations and trials
come, and to whom do they not come? Our educational products must mature
slowly, but thoroughly, to genuine human beings whose inner selves will
be deficient in no respect. Let the tailor provide for the clothes.”

Froebel himself was certainly very careless in the choice of his. The
long cloth coat in which I always saw him was fashioned by the village
tailor, and the old gentleman probably liked the garment because half
a dozen children hung by the tails when he crossed the court-yard.
It needed to be durable; but the well-fitting coats worn by Barop and
Langethal were equally so, and both men believed that the good gardener
should also care for the form of the fruit he cultivates, because, when
ripe, it is more valuable if it looks well. They, too, cared nothing
for wax fruits; nay, did not even consider them because they did not
recognize them as fruit at all.

Froebel’s conversion was delayed, but after his marriage it was all the
more thorough. The choice of this intellectual and kindly natured
man, who set no value on the external forms of life, was, I might say,
“naturally” a very elegant woman, a native of Berlin, the widow of
the Kriegsrath Hofmeister. She speedily opened Froebel’s eyes to the
aesthetic and artistic element in the lives of the boys entrusted to his
care--the element to which Langethal, from the time of his entrance into
the institution, had directed his attention.

So in Keilhau, too, woman was to pave the way to greater refinement.

This had occurred long before our entrance into the institution. Froebel
did not allude to wax pears now when he saw the pupils well dressed and
courteous in manner; nay, afterwards, in establishing the kindergarten,
he praised and sought to utilize the comprehensive influence upon
humanity of “woman,” the guardian of lofty morality. Wives and mothers
owe him as great a debt of gratitude as children, and should never
forget the saying, “The mother’s heart alone is the true source of the
welfare of the child, and the salvation of humanity.” The fundamental
necessity of the hour is to prepare this soil for the noble human
blossom, and render it fit for its mission.

To meet the need mentioned in this sentence the whole labour of the
evening of his life was devoted. Amid many cares and in defiance of
strong opposition he exerted his best powers for the realization of his
ideal, finding courage to do so in the conviction uttered in the saying,
“Only through the pure hands and full hearts of wives and mothers can
the kingdom of God become a reality.”

Unfortunately, I cannot enter more comprehensively here into the details
of the kindergarten system--it is connected with Keilhau only in so far
that both were founded by the same man. Old Froebel was often visited
there by female kindergarten teachers and pedagogues who wished to learn
something of this new institute. We called the former “Schakelinen”;
the latter, according to a popular etymology, “Schakale.” The odd name
bestowed upon the female kindergarten teachers was derived, as I learned
afterwards, from no beast of prey, but from a figure in Jean Paul’s
“Levana,” endowed with beautiful gifts. Her name is Madame Jacqueline,
and she was used by the author to give expression to his own opinions of
female education. Froebel has adopted many suggestions of Jean Paul, but
the idea of the kindergarten arose from his own unhappy childhood. He
wished to make the first five years of life, which to him had been a
chain of sorrows, happy and fruitful to children--especially to those
who, like him, were motherless.

Sullen tempers, the rod, and the strictest, almost cruel, constraint
had overshadowed his childhood, and now his effort was directed towards
having the whole world of little people join joyously in his favourite
cry, “Friede, Freude, Freiheit!” (Peace, Pleasure, Liberty), which
corresponds with the motto of the Jahn gymnasium, “Frisch, fromm,
frohlich, frei.”

He also desired to utilize for public instruction the educational
talents which woman undoubtedly possesses.

As in his youth, shoulder to shoulder with Pestalozzi, he had striven to
rear growing boys in a motherly fashion to be worthy men, he now wished
to turn to account, for the benefit of the whole wide circle of younger
children, the trait of maternal solicitude which exists in every woman.
Women were to be trained for teachers, and the places where children
received their first instruction were to resemble nurseries as closely
as possible. He also desired to see the maternal tone prevail in this

He, through whose whole life had run the echo of the Saviour’s words,
“Suffer little children to come unto me,” understood the child’s nature,
and knew that its impulse to play must be used, in order to afford it
suitable future nourishment for the mind and soul.

The instruction, the activity, and the movements of the child should
be associated with the things which most interest him, and meanwhile it
should be constantly employed in some creative occupation adapted to its

If, for instance, butter was spoken of, by the help of suitable motions
the cow was milked, the milk was poured into a pan and skimmed, the
cream was churned, the butter was made into pats and finally sent to
market. Then came the payment, which required little accounts. When
the game was over, a different one followed, perhaps something which
rendered the little hands skilful by preparing fine weaving from strips
of paper; for Froebel had perceived that change brought rest.

Every kindergarten should have a small garden, to afford an opportunity
to watch the development of the plants, though only one at a time--for
instance, the bean. By watching the clouds in the sky he directed the
childish intelligence to the rivers, seas, and circulation of moisture.
In the autumn the observation of the chrysalis state of insects was
connected with that of the various stages of their existence.

In this way the child can be guided in its play to a certain creative
activity, rendered familiar with the life of Nature, the claims of the
household, the toil of the peasants, mechanics, etc., and at the same
time increase its dexterity in using its fingers and the suppleness of
its body. It learns to play, to obey, and to submit to the rules of the
school, and is protected from the contradictory orders of unreasonable
mothers and nurses.

Women and girls, too, were benefitted by the kindergarten.

Mothers, whose time, inclination, or talents, forbade them to devote
sufficient time to the child, were relieved by the kindergarten. Girls
learned, as if in a preparatory school of future wife and motherhood,
how to give the little one what it needed, and, as Froebel expresses it,
to become the mediators between Nature and mind.

Yet even this enterprise, the outcome of pure love for the most innocent
and harmless creatures, was prohibited and persecuted as perilous to
the state under Frederick William IV, during the period of the reaction
which followed the insurrection of 1848.


I was well acquainted with the three founders of our institute--Fredrich
Froebel, Middendorf, and Langethal--and the two latter were my teachers.
Froebel was decidedly “the master who planned it.”

When we came to Keilhau he was already sixty-six years old, a man of
lofty stature, with a face which seemed to be carved with a dull knife
out of brown wood.

His long nose, strong chin, and large ears, behind which the long locks,
parted in the middle, were smoothly brushed, would have rendered him
positively ugly, had not his “Come, let us live for our children,”
 beamed so invitingly in his clear eyes. People did not think whether he
was handsome or not; his features bore the impress of his intellectual
power so distinctly that the first glance revealed the presence of a
remarkable man.

Yet I must confess--and his portrait agrees with my memory--that his
face by no means suggested the idealist and man of feeling; it seemed
rather expressive of shrewdness, and to have been lined and worn by
severe conflicts concerning the most diverse interests. But his voice
and his glance were unusually winning, and his power over the heart of
the child was limitless. A few words were sufficient to win completely
the shyest boy whom he desired to attract; and thus it happened that,
even when he had been with us only a few weeks, he was never seen
crossing the court-yard without a group of the younger pupils hanging to
his coattails and clasping his hands and arms.

Usually they were persuading him to tell stories, and when he
condescended to do so, older ones flocked around him too, and they were
never disappointed. What fire, what animation the old man had retained!
We never called him anything but “Oheim.” The word “Onkel” he detested
as foreign, because it was derived from “avunculus” and “oncle.” With
the high appreciation he had of “Tante”--whom he termed, next to the
mother, the most important factor of education in the family--our
“Oheim” was probably specially agreeable to him.

He was thoroughly a self-made man. The son of a pastor in Oberweissbach,
in Thuringia, he had had a dreary childhood; for his mother died
young, and he soon had a step-mother, who treated him with the utmost
tenderness until her own children were born. Then an indescribably sad
time began for the neglected boy, whose dreamy temperament vexed even
his own father. Yet in this solitude his love for Nature awoke. He
studied plants, animals, minerals; and while his young heart vainly
longed for love, he would have gladly displayed affection himself, if
his timidity would have permitted him to do so. His family, seeing him
prefer to dissect the bones of some animal rather than to talk with his
parents, probably considered him a very unlovable child when they sent
him, in his tenth year, to school in the city of Ilm.

He was received into the home of the pastor, his uncle Hoffman, whose
mother-in-law, who kept the house, treated him in the most cordial
manner, and helped him to conquer the diffidence acquired during the
solitude of the first years of his childhood. This excellent woman
first made him familiar with the maternal feminine solicitude, closer
observation of which afterwards led him, as well as Pestalozzi, to a
reform of the system of educating youth.

In his sixteenth year he went to a forester for instruction, but did
not remain long. Meantime he had gained some mathematical knowledge,
and devoted himself to surveying. By this and similar work he
earned a living, until, at the end of seven years, he went to
Frankfort-on-the-Main to learn the rudiments of building. There Fate
brought him into contact with the pedagogue Gruner, a follower of
Pestalozzi’s method, and this experienced man, after their first
conversation, exclaimed: “You must become a schoolmaster!”

I have often noticed in life that a word at the right time and place has
sufficed to give the destiny of a human being a different turn, and the
remark of the Frankfort educator fell into Froebel’s soul like a spark.
He now saw his real profession clearly and distinctly before him.

The restless years of wandering, during which, unloved and scarcely
heeded, he had been thrust from one place to another, had awakened in
his warm heart a longing to keep others from the same fate. He, who
had been guided by no kind hand and felt miserable and at variance with
himself, had long been ceaselessly troubled by the problem of how the
young human plant could be trained to harmony with itself and to sturdy
industry. Gruner showed him that others were already devoting their best
powers to solve it, and offered him an opportunity to try his ability in
his model school.

Froebel joyfully accepted this offer, cast aside every other thought,
and, with the enthusiasm peculiar to him, threw himself into the new
calling in a manner which led Gruner to praise the “fire and life” he
understood how to awaken in his pupils. He also left it to Froebel to
arrange the plan of instruction which the Frankfort Senate wanted
for the “model school,” and succeeded in keeping him two years in his

When a certain Frau von Holzhausen was looking for a man who would have
the ability to lead her spoiled sons into the right path, and Froebel
had been recommended, he separated from Gruner and performed his task
with rare fidelity and a skill bordering upon genius. The children, who
were physically puny, recovered under his care, and the grateful mother
made him their private tutor from 1807 till 1810. He chose Verdun, where
Pestalozzi was then living, as his place of residence, and made himself
thoroughly familiar with his method of education. As a whole, he could
agree with him; but, as has already been mentioned, in some respects he
went further than the Swiss reformer. He himself called these years his
“university course as a pedagogue,” but they also furnished him with the
means to continue the studies in natural history which he had commenced
in Jena. He had laid aside for this purpose part of his salary as tutor,
and was permitted, from 1810 to 1812, to complete in Gottingen his
astronomical and mineralogical studies. Yet the wish to try his powers
as a pedagogue never deserted him; and when, in 1812, the position of
teacher in the Plamann Institute in Berlin was offered him, he accepted
it. During his leisure hours he devoted himself to gymnastic exercises,
and even late in life his eyes sparkled when he spoke of his friend, old
Jahn, and the political elevation of Prussia.

When the summons “To my People” called the German youth to war, Froebel
had already entered his thirty-first year, but this did not prevent his
resigning his office and being one of the first to take up arms. He
went to the field with the Lutzow Jagers, and soon after made the
acquaintance among his comrades of the theological students Langethal
and Middendorf. When, after the Peace of Paris, the young friends
parted, they vowed eternal fidelity, and each solemnly promised to obey
the other’s summons, should it ever come. As soon as Froebel took off
the dark uniform of the black Jagers he received a position as curator
of the museum of mineralogy in the Berlin University, which he filled
so admirably that the position of Professor of Mineralogy was offered
to him from Sweden. But he declined, for another vocation summoned him
which duty and inclination forbade him to refuse.

His brother, a pastor in the Thuringian village of Griesheim on the Ilm,
died, leaving three sons who needed an instructor. The widow wished her
brother-in-law Friedrich to fill this office, and another brother, a
farmer in Osterode, wanted his two boys to join the trio. When Froebel,
in the spring of 1817, resigned his position, his friend Langethal
begged him to take his brother Eduard as another pupil, and thus
Pestalozzi’s enthusiastic disciple and comrade found his dearest wish
fulfilled. He was now the head of his own school for boys, and these
first six pupils--as he hoped with the confidence in the star of success
peculiar to so many men of genius--must soon increase to twenty. Some of
these boys were specially gifted: one became the scholar and politician
Julius Froebel, who belonged to the Frankfort Parliament of 1848, and
another the Jena Professor of Botany, Eduard Langethal.

The new principal of the school could not teach alone, but he only
needed to remind his old army comrade, Middendorf, of his promise,
to induce him to interrupt his studies in Berlin, which were nearly
completed, and join him. He also had his eye on Langethal, if his hope
should be fulfilled. He knew what a treasure he would possess for his
object in this rare man.

There was great joy in the little Griesheim circle, and the Thuringian
(Froebel) did not regret for a moment that he had resigned his secure
position; but the Westphalian (Middendorf) saw here the realization of
the ideal which Froebel’s kindling words had impressed upon his soul
beside many a watch-fire.

The character of the two men is admirably described in the following
passage from a letter of “the oldest pupil”:

“Both had seen much of the serious side of life, and returned from the
war with the higher inspiration which is hallowed by deep religious
feeling. The idea of devoting their powers with self-denial and
sacrifice to the service of their native land had become a fixed
resolution; the devious paths which so many men entered were far from
their thoughts. The youth, the young generation of their native land,
were alone worthy of their efforts. They meant to train them to a
harmonious development of mind and body; and upon these young people
their pure spirit of patriotism exerted a vast influence. When we recall
the mighty power which Froebel could exercise at pleasure over his
fellowmen, and especially over children, we shall deem it natural that a
child suddenly transported into this circle could forget its past.”

When I entered it, though at that time it was much modified and
established on firm foundations, I met with a similar experience. It
was not only the open air, the forest, the life in Nature which so
captivated new arrivals at Keilhau, but the moral earnestness and the
ideal aspiration which consecrated and ennobled life. Then, too, there
was that “nerve-strengthening” patriotism which pervaded everything,
filling the place of the superficial philanthropy of the Basedow system
of education.

But Froebel’s influence was soon to draw, as if by magnetic power, the
man who had formed an alliance with him amid blood and steel, and who
was destined to lend the right solidity to the newly erected structure
of the institute--I mean Heinrich Langethal, the most beloved and
influential of my teachers, who stood beside Froebel’s inspiring genius
and Middendorf’s lovable warmth of feeling as the character, and at the
same time the fully developed and trained intellect, whose guidance was
so necessary to the institute.

The life of this rare teacher can be followed step by step from the
first years of his childhood in his autobiography and many other
documents, but I can only attempt here to sketch in broad outlines the
character of the man whose influence upon my whole inner life has been,
up to the present hour, a decisive one.

The recollection of him makes me inclined to agree with the opinion to
which a noble lady sought to convert me--namely, that our lives are far
more frequently directed into a certain channel by the influence of
an unusual personality than by events, experiences, or individual

Langethal was my teacher for several years. When I knew him he was
totally blind, and his eyes, which are said to have flashed so brightly
and boldly on the foe in war, and gazed so winningly into the faces of
friends in time of peace, had lost their lustre. But his noble features
seemed transfigured by the cheerful earnestness which is peculiar to the
old man, who, even though only with the eye of the mind, looks back upon
a well-spent, worthy life, and who does not fear death, because he knows
that God who leads all to the goal allotted by Nature destined him also
for no other. His tall figure could vie with Barop’s, and his musical
voice was unusually deep. It possessed a resistless power when, excited
himself, he desired to fill our young souls with his own enthusiasm. The
blind old man, who had nothing more to command and direct, moved through
our merry, noisy life like a silent admonition to good and noble things.
Outside of the lessons he never raised his voice for orders or censure,
yet we obediently followed his signs. To be allowed to lead him was
an honor and pleasure. He made us acquainted with Homer, and taught us
ancient and modern history. To this day I rejoice that not one of us
ever thought of using ‘pons asinorum,’ or copied passage, though he was
perfectly sightless, and we were obliged to translate to him and learn
by heart whole sections of the Iliad. To have done so would have seemed
as shameful as the pillage of an unguarded sanctuary or the abuse of a
wounded hero.

And he certainly was one!

We knew this from his comrades in the war and his stories of 1813, which
were at once so vivid and so modest.

When he explained Homer or taught ancient history a special fervor
animated him; for he was one of the chosen few whose eyes were opened by
destiny to the full beauty and sublimity of ancient Greece.

I have listened at the university to many a famous interpreter of the
Hellenic and Roman poets, and many a great historian, but not one of
them ever gave me so distinct an impression of living with the ancients
as Heinrich Langethal. There was something akin to them in his pure,
lofty soul, ever thirsting for truth and beauty, and, besides, he had
graduated from the school of a most renowned teacher.

The outward aspect of the tall old man was eminently aristocratic, yet
his birthplace was the house of a plain though prosperous mechanic. He
was born at Erfurt, in 1792. When very young his father, a man unusually
sensible and well-informed for his station in life, entrusted him with
the education of a younger brother, the one who, as I have mentioned,
afterwards became a professor at Jena, and the boy’s progress was so
rapid that other parents had requested to have their sons share the
hours of instruction.

After completing his studies at the grammar-school he wanted to go to
Berlin, for, though the once famous university still existed in Erfurt,
it had greatly deteriorated. His description of it is half lamentable,
half amusing, for at that time it was attended by thirty students, for
whom seventy professors were employed. Nevertheless, there were many
obstacles to be surmounted ere he could obtain permission to attend
the Berlin University; for the law required every native of Erfurt, who
intended afterwards to aspire to any office, to study at least two
years in his native city--at that time French. But, in defiance of all
hindrances, he found his way to Berlin, and in 1811 was entered in the
university just established there as the first student from Erfurt. He
wished to devote himself to theology, and Neander, De Wette, Marheineke,
Schleiermacher, etc., must have exerted a great power of attraction over
a young man who desired to pursue that study.

At the latter’s lectures he became acquainted with Middendorf. At
first he obtained little from either. Schleiermacher seemed to him
too temporizing and obscure. “He makes veils.” He thought the young
Westphalian, at their first meeting, merely “a nice fellow.” But in
time he learned to understand the great theologian, and the “favourite
teacher” noticed him and took him into his house.

But first Fichte, and then Friedrich August Wolf, attracted him far
more powerfully than Schleiermacher. Whenever he spoke of Wolf his calm
features glowed and his blind eyes seemed to sparkle. He owed all that
was best in him to the great investigator, who sharpened his pupil’s
appreciation of the exhaustless store of lofty ideas and the magic of
beauty contained in classic antiquity, and had he been allowed to follow
his own inclination, he would have turned his back on theology, to
devote all his energies to the pursuit of philology and archaeology.

The Homeric question which Wolf had propounded in connection with
Goethe, and which at that time stirred the whole learned world, had also
moved Langethal so deeply that, even when an old man, he enjoyed nothing
more than to speak of it to us and make us familiar with the pros and
cons which rendered him an upholder of his revered teacher. He had been
allowed to attend the lectures on the first four books of the Iliad,
and--I have living witnesses of the fact--he knew them all verse by
verse, and corrected us when we read or recited them as if he had the
copy in his hand.

True, he refreshed his naturally excellent memory by having them all
read aloud. I shall never forget his joyous mirth as he listened to my
delivery of Wolf’s translation of Aristophanes’s Acharnians; but I was
pleased that he selected me to supply the dear blind eyes. Whenever he
called me for this purpose he already had the book in the side pocket
of his long coat, and when, beckoning significantly, he cried, “Come,
Bear,” I knew what was before me, and would have gladly resigned the
most enjoyable game, though he sometimes had books read which were by
no means easy for me to understand. I was then fourteen or fifteen years

Need I say that it was my intercourse with this man which implanted in
my heart the love of ancient days that has accompanied me throughout my

The elevation of the Prussian nation led Langethal also from the
university to the war. Rumor first brought to Berlin the tidings of
the destruction of the great army on the icy plains of Russia; then
its remnants, starving, worn, ragged, appeared in the capital; and the
street-boys, who not long before had been forced by the French soldiers
to clean their boots, now with little generosity--they were only
“street-boys”--shouted sneeringly, “Say, mounseer, want your boots

Then came the news of the convention of York, and at last the irresolute
king put an end to the doubts and delays which probably stirred the
blood of every one who is familiar with Droysen’s classic “Life of
Field-Marshal York.” From Breslau came the summons “To my People,”
 which, like a warm spring wind, melted the ice and woke in the hearts of
the German youth a matchless budding and blossoming.

The snow-drops which bloomed during those March days of 1813 ushered
in the long-desired day of freedom, and the call “To arms!” found the
loudest echo in the hearts of the students. It stirred the young, yet
even in those days circumspect Langethal, too, and showed him his
duty But difficulties confronted him; for Pastor Ritschel, a native of
Erfurt, to whom he confided his intention, warned him not to write to
his father. Erfurt, his own birthplace, was still under French rule,
and were he to communicate his plan in writing and the letter should be
opened in the “black room,” with other suspicious mail matter, it might
cost the life of the man whose son was preparing to commit high-treason
by fighting against the ruler of his country--Napoleon, the Emperor of

“Where will you get the uniform, if your father won’t help you, and
you want to join the black Jagers?” asked the pastor, and received the

“The cape of my cloak will supply the trousers. I can have a red collar
put on my cloak, my coat can be dyed black and turned into a uniform,
and I have a hanger.”

“That’s right!” cried the worthy minister, and gave his young friend ten

Middendorf, too, reported to the Lutzow Jagers at once, and so did the
son of Professor Bellermann, and their mutual friend Bauer, spite of his
delicate health which seemed to unfit him for any exertion.

They set off on the 11th of April, and while the spring was budding
alike in the outside world and in young breasts, a new flower of
friendship expanded in the hearts of these three champions of the same
sacred cause; for Langethal and Middendorf found their Froebel. This was
in Dresden, and the league formed there was never to be dissolved. They
kept their eyes fixed steadfastly on the ideals of youth, until in old
age the sight of all three failed. Part of the blessings which were
promised to the nation when they set forth to battle they were permitted
to see seven lustra later, in 1848, but they did not live to experience
the realization of their fairest youthful dream, the union of Germany.

I must deny myself the pleasure of describing the battles and the
marches of the Lutzow corps, which extended to Aachen and Oudenarde; but
will mention here that Langethal rose to the rank of sergeant, and had
to perform the duties of a first lieutenant; and that, towards the end
of the campaign, Middendorf was sent with Lieutenant Reil to induce
Blucher to receive the corps in his vanguard. The old commander
gratified their wish; they had proved their fitness for the post when
they won the victory at the Gohrde, where two thousand Frenchmen were
killed and as many more taken prisoners. The sight of the battlefield
had seemed unendurable to the gentle nature of Middendorf he had formed
a poetical idea of the campaign as an expedition against the hereditary
foe. Now that he had confronted the bloodstained face of war with all
its horrors, he fell into a state of melancholy from which he could
scarcely rouse himself.

After this battle the three friends were quartered in Castle Gohrde,
and there enjoyed a delightful season of rest after months of severe
hardships. Their corps had been used as the extreme vanguard against
Davoust’s force, which was thrice their superior in numbers, and in
consequence they were subjected to great fatigues. They had almost
forgotten how it seemed to sleep in a bed and eat at a table. One night
march had followed another. They had often seized their food from the
kettles and eaten it at the next stopping-place, but all was cheerfully
done; the light-heartedness of youth did not vanish from their
enthusiastic hearts. There was even no lack of intellectual aliment, for
a little field-library had been established by the exchange of books.
Langethal told us of his night’s rest in a ditch, which was to entail
disastrous consequences. Utterly exhausted, sleep overpowered him in the
midst of a pouring rain, and when he awoke he discovered that he was up
to his neck in water. His damp bed--the ditch--had gradually filled, but
the sleep was so profound that even the rising moisture had not roused
him. The very next morning he was attacked with a disease of the eyes,
to which he attributed his subsequent blindness.

On the 26th of August there was a prospect of improvement in the
condition of the corps. Davoust had sent forty wagons of provisions
to Hamburg, and the men were ordered to capture them. The attack was
successful, but at what a price! Theodor Korner, the noble young poet
whose songs will commemorate the deeds of the Lutzow corps so long as
German men and boys sing his “Thou Sword at my Side,” or raise their
voices in the refrain of the Lutzow Jagers’ song:

“Do you ask the name of yon reckless band? ‘Tis Lutzow’s black troopers
dashing swift through the land!”

Langethal first saw the body of the author of “Lyre and Sword” and
“Zriny” under an oak at Wobbelin; but he was to see it once more under
quite different circumstances. He has mentioned it in his autobiography,
and I have heard him describe several times his visit to the corpse of
Theodor Korner.

He had been quartered in Wobbelin, and shared his room with an Oberjager
von Behrenhorst, son of the postmaster-general in Dessau, who had taken
part in the battle of Jena as a young lieutenant and returned home with
a darkened spirit.

At the summons “To my People,” he had enlisted at once as a private
soldier in the Lutzow corps, where he rose rapidly to the rank of
Oberjager. During the war he had often met Langethal and Middendorf;
but the quiet, reserved man, prematurely grave for his years, attached
himself so closely to Korner that he needed no other friend.

After the death of the poet on the 26th of August, 1813, he moved
silently about as though completely crushed. On the night which followed
the 27th he invited his room-mate Langethal to go with him to the body
of his friend. Both went first to the village church, where the dead
Jagers lay in two long black rows. A solemn stillness pervaded the
little house of God, which had become during this night the abode of
death, and the nocturnal visitors gazed silently at the pallid, rigid
features of one lifeless young form after another, but without finding
him whom they sought.

During this mute review of corpses it seemed to Langethal as if Death
were singing a deep, heartrending choral, and he longed to pray for
these young, crushed human blossoms; but his companion led the way into
the guard’s little room. There lay the poet, “the radiance of an angel
on his face,” though his body bore many traces of the fury of the
battle. Deeply moved, Langethal stood gazing down upon the form of the
man who had died for his native land, while Behrenhorst knelt on the
floor beside him, silently giving himself up to the anguish of his soul.
He remained in this attitude a long time, then suddenly started up,
threw his arms upward, and exclaimed, “Korner, I’ll follow you!”

With these words Behrenhorst darted out of the little room into the
darkness; and a few weeks after he, too, had fallen for the sacred cause
of his native land.

They had seen another beloved comrade perish in the battle of Gohrde, a
handsome young man of delicate figure and an unusually reserved manner.

Middendorf, with whom he--his name was Prohaska--had been on more
intimate terms than the others, once asked him, when he timidly avoided
the girls and women who cast kindly glances at him, if his heart never
beat faster, and received the answer, “I have but one love to give, and
that belongs to our native land.”

While the battle was raging, Middendorf was fighting close beside his
comrade. When the enemy fired a volley the others stooped, but Prohaska
stood erect, exclaiming, when he was warned, “No bowing! I’ll make no
obeisance to the French!”

A few minutes after, the brave soldier, stricken by a bullet, fell
on the greensward. His friends bore him off the field, and
Prohaska--Eleonore Prohaska--proved to be a girl!

While in Castle Gohrde, Froebel talked with his friends about his
favourite plan, which he had already had a view in Gottingen, of
establishing a school for boys, and while developing his educational
ideal to them and at the same time mentioning that he had passed his
thirtieth birthday, and alluding to the postponement of his plan by the
war, he exclaimed, to explain why he had taken up arms:

“How can I train boys whose devotion I claim, unless I have proved by my
own deeds how a man should show devotion to the general welfare?”

These words made a deep impression upon the two friends, and increased
Middendorf’s enthusiastic reverence for the older comrade, whose
experiences and ideas had opened a new world to him.

The Peace of Paris, and the enrolment of the Lutzow corps in the line,
brought the trio back to Berlin to civil life.

There also each frequently sought the others, until, in the spring
of 1817, Froebel resigned the permanent position in the Bureau of
Mineralogy in order to establish his institute.

Middendorf had been bribed by the saying of his admired friend that he
“had found the unity of life.” It gave the young philosopher food for
thought, and, because he felt that he had vainly sought this unity and
was dissatisfied, he hoped to secure it through the society of the
man who had become everything to him His wish was fulfilled, for as an
educator he grew as it were into his own motto, “Lucid, genuine, and
true to life.”

Middendorf gave up little when he followed Froebel.

The case was different with Langethal. He had entered as a tutor the
Bendemann household at Charlottenburg, where he found a second home. He
taught with brilliant success children richly gifted in mind and heart,
whose love he won. It was “a glorious family” which permitted him to
share its rich social life, and in whose highly gifted circle he
could be sure of finding warm sympathy in his intellectual interests.
Protected from all external anxieties, he had under their roof ample
leisure for industrious labour and also for intercourse with his own

In July, 1817, he passed the last examination with the greatest
distinction, receiving the “very good,” rarely bestowed; and a brilliant
career lay before him.

Directly after this success three pulpits were offered to him, but he
accepted neither, because he longed for rest and quiet occupation.

The summons from Froebel to devote himself to his infant institute,
where Langethal had placed his younger brother, also reached him. The
little school moved on St. John’s Day, 1817, from Griesheim to Keilhau,
where the widow of Pastor Froebel had been offered a larger farm. The
place which she and her children’s teacher found was wonderfully adapted
to Froebel’s purpose, and seemed to promise great advantages both to the
pupils and to the institute. There was much building and arranging to
be accomplished, but means to do so were obtained, and the first pupil
described very amusingly the entrance into the new home, the furnishing,
the discovery of all the beauties and advantages which we found as
an old possession in Keilhau, and the endeavour, so characteristic of
Middendorf, to adapt even the less attractive points to his own poetic

Only the hours of instruction fared badly, and Froebel felt that he
needed a man of fully developed strength in order to give the proper
foundation to the instruction of the boys who were entrusted to his
care. He knew a man of this stamp in the student F. A. Wolfs, whose
talent for teaching had been admirably proved in the Bendemann family.

“Langethal,” as the first pupil describes him, was at that time a very
handsome man of five-and-twenty years. His brow was grave, but his
features expressed kindness of heart, gentleness, and benevolence. The
dignity of his whole bearing was enhanced by the sonorous tones of his
voice--he retained them until old age--and his whole manner revealed
manly firmness. Middendorf was more pleasing to women, Langethal to men.
Middendorf attracted those who saw, Langethal those who heard him, and
the confidence he inspired was even more lasting than that aroused by

What marvel that Froebel made every effort to win this rare power for
the young institute? But Langethal declined, to the great vexation of
Middendorf. Diesterweg called the latter “a St. John,” but our dear,
blind teacher added, “And Froebel was his Christus.”

The enthusiastic young Westphalian, who had once believed he saw in
this man every masculine virtue, and whose life appeared emblematical,
patiently accepted everything, and considered every one a “renegade” who
had ever followed Froebel and did not bow implicitly to his will. So he
was angered by Langethal’s refusal. The latter had been offered, with
brilliant prospects for the present and still fairer ones for the
future, a position as a tutor in Silesia, a place which secured him the
rest he desired, combined with occupation suited to his tastes. He was
to share the labour of teaching with another instructor, who was to take
charge of the exact sciences, with which he was less familiar, and he
was also permitted to teach his brother with the young Counts Stolberg.

He accepted, but before going to Silesia he wished to visit his
Keilhau friends and take his brother away with him. He did so, and the
“diplomacy” with which Froebel succeeded in changing the decision of the
resolute young man and gaining him over to his own interests, is
really remarkable. It won for the infant institute in the person of
Langethal--if the expression is allowable--the backbone.

Froebel had sent Middendorf to meet his friend, and the latter, on the
way, told him of the happiness which he had found in his new home and
occupation. Then they entered Keilhau, and the splendid landscape which
surrounds it needs no praise.

Froebel received his former comrade with the utmost cordiality, and the
sight of the robust, healthy, merry boys who were lying on the floor
that evening, building forts and castles with the wooden blocks which
Froebel had had made for them according to his own plan, excited the
keenest interest. He had come to take his brother away; but when he saw
him, among other happy companions of his own age, complete the finest
structure of all--a Gothic cathedral--it seemed almost wrong to tear the
child from this circle.

He gazed sadly at his brother when he came to bid him “good-night,” and
then remained alone with Froebel. The latter was less talkative than
usual, waiting for his friend to tell him of the future which awaited
him in Silesia. When he heard that a second tutor was to relieve
Langethal of half his work, he exclaimed, with the greatest anxiety:

“You do not know him, and yet intend to finish a work of education with
him? What great chances you are hazarding!”

The next morning Froebel asked his friend what goal in life he had set
before him, and Langethal replied:

“Like the apostle, I would fain proclaim the gospel to all men according
to the best of my powers, in order to bring them into close communion
with the Redeemer.”

Froebel answered, thoughtfully:

“If you desire that, you must, like the apostles, know men. You must
be able to enter into the life of every one--here a peasant, there a
mechanic. If you can not, do not hope for success; your influence will
not extend far.”

How wise and convincing the words sounded! And Froebel touched the
sensitive spot in the young minister, who was thoroughly imbued with
the sacred beauty of his life-task, yet certainly knew the Gospels,
his classic authors, and apostolic fathers much better than he did the

He thoughtfully followed Froebel, who, with Middendorf and the boys, led
him up the Steiger, the mountain whose summit afforded the magnificent
view I have described. It was the hour when the setting sun pours its
most exquisite light over the mountains and valleys. The heart of the
young clergyman, tortured by anxious doubts, swelled at the sight of
this magnificence, and Froebel, seeing what was passing in his mind,

“Come, comrade, let us have one of our old war-songs.”

The musical “black Jager” of yore willingly assented; and how clearly
and enthusiastically the chorus of boyish voices chimed in!

When it died away, the older man passed his arm around his friend’s
shoulders, and, pointing to the beautiful region lying before them in
the sunset glow, exclaimed:

“Why seek so far away what is close at hand? A work is established
here which must be built by the hand of God! Implicit devotion and
self-sacrifice are needed.”

While speaking, he gazed steadfastly into his friend’s tearful eyes, as
if he had found his true object in life, and when he held out his hand
Langethal clasped it--he could not help it.

That very day a letter to the Counts Stolberg informed them that they
must seek another tutor for their sons, and Froebel and Keilhau could
congratulate themselves on having gained their Langethal.

The management of the school was henceforward in the hands of a man of
character, while the extensive knowledge and the excellent method of a
well-trained scholar had been obtained for the educational department.
The new institute now prospered rapidly. The renown of the fresh,
healthful life and the able tuition of the pupils spread far beyond
the limits of Thuringia. The material difficulties with which the
head-master had had to struggle after the erection of the large new
buildings were also removed when Froebel’s prosperous brother in
Osterode decided to take part in the work and move to Keilhau. He
understood farming, and, by purchasing more land and woodlands,
transformed the peasant holding into a considerable estate.

When Froebel’s restless spirit drew him to Switzerland to undertake new
educational enterprises, and some one was needed who could direct the
business management, Barop, the steadfast man of whom I have already
spoken, was secured. Deeply esteemed and sincerely beloved, he managed
the institute during the time that we three brothers were pupils
there. He had found many things within to arrange on a more practical
foundation, many without to correct: for the long locks of most of
the pupils; the circumstance that three Lutzen Jagers, one of whom had
delivered the oration at a students’ political meeting, had established
the school; that Barop had been persecuted as a demagogue on account
of his connection with a students’ political society; and, finally,
Froebel’s relations with Switzerland and the liberal educational
methods of the school, had roused the suspicions of the Berlin
demagogue-hunters, and therefore demagogic tendencies, from which in
reality it had always held aloof, were attributed to the institute.

Yes, we were free, in so far that everything which could restrict or
retard our physical and mental development was kept away from us, and
our teachers might call themselves so because, with virile energy, they
had understood how to protect the institute from every injurious and
narrowing outside influence. The smallest and the largest pupil was
free, for he was permitted to be wholly and entirely his natural self,
so long as he kept within the limits imposed by the existing laws. But
license was nowhere more sternly prohibited than at Keilhau; and the
deep religious feeling of its head-masters--Barop, Langethal, and
Middendorf--ought to have taught the suspicious spies in Berlin that the
command, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” would never
be violated here.

The time I spent in Keilhau was during the period of the worst reaction,
and I now know that our teachers would have sat on the Left in the
Prussian Landtag; yet we never heard a disrespectful word spoken of
Frederick William IV, and we were instructed to show the utmost respect
to the prince of the little country of Rudolstadt to which Keilhau
belonged. Barop, spite of his liberal tendencies, was highly esteemed by
this petty sovereign, decorated with an order, and raised to the rank of
Councillor of Education. From a hundred isolated recollections and words
which have lingered in my memory I have gathered that our teachers
were liberals in a very moderate way, yet they were certainly guilty of
“demagogic aspirations” in so far as that they desired for their native
land only what we, thank Heaven, now possess its unity, and a popular
representation, by a free election of all its states, in a German
Parliament. What enthusiasm for the Emperor William, Bismarck, and Von
Moltke, Langethal, Middendorf, and Barop would have inspired in our
hearts had they been permitted to witness the great events of 1870 and

Besides, politics were kept from us, and this had become known in wider
circles when we entered the institute, for most of the pupils belonged
to loyal families. Many were sons of the higher officials, officers,
and landed proprietors; and as long locks had long since become the
exception, and the Keilhau pupils were as well mannered as possible,
many noblemen, among them chamberlains and other court officials,
decided to send their boys to the institute.

The great manufacturers and merchants who placed their sons in the
institute were also not men favourable to revolution, and many of our
comrades became officers in the German army. Others are able scholars,
clergymen, and members of Parliament; others again government officials,
who fill high positions; and others still are at the head of large
industrial or mercantile enterprises. I have not heard of a single
individual who has gone to ruin, and of very many who have accomplished
things really worthy of note. But wherever I have met an old pupil of
Keilhau, I have found in him the same love for the institute, have seen
his eyes sparkle more brightly when we talked of Langethal, Middendorf,
and Barop. Not one has turned out a sneak or a hypocrite.

The present institution is said to be an admirable one; but the
“Realschule” of Keilhau, which has been forced to abandon its former
humanistic foundation, can scarcely train to so great a variety of
callings the boys now entrusted to its care.


The little country of Rudolstadt in which Keilhau lies had had its
revolution, though it was but a small and bloodless one. True, the
insurrection had nothing to do with human beings, but involved the
destruction of living creatures. Greater liberty in hunting was

This might seem a trivial matter, yet it was of the utmost importance to
both disputants. The wide forests of the country had hitherto been
the hunting-grounds of the prince, and not a gun could be fired there
without his permission. To give up these “happy hunting-grounds” was
a severe demand upon the eager sportsman who occupied the Rudolstadt
throne, and the rustic population would gladly have spared him had it
been possible.

But the game in Rudolstadt had become a veritable torment, which
destroyed the husbandmen’s hopes of harvests. The peasant, to save his
fields from the stags and does which broke into them in herds at sunset,
tried to keep them out by means of clappers and bad odours. I have seen
and smelled the so-called “Frenchman’s oil” with which the posts were
smeared, that its really diabolical odour--I don’t know from what
horrors it was compounded--might preserve the crops. The ornament of
the forests had become the object of the keenest hate, and as soon
as--shortly before we entered Keilhau--hunting was freely permitted, the
peasants gave full vent to their rage, set off for the woods with the
old muskets they had kept hidden in the garrets, or other still
more primitive weapons, and shot or struck down all the game they
encountered. Roast venison was cheap for weeks on Rudolstadt tables, and
the pupils had many an unexpected pleasure.

The hunting exploits of the older scholars were only learned by us
younger ones as secrets, and did not reach the teachers’ ears until long

But the woods furnished other pleasures besides those enjoyed by the
sportsman. Every ramble through the forest enriched our knowledge of
plants and animals, and I soon knew the different varieties of stones
also; yet we did not suspect that this knowledge was imparted according
to a certain system. We were taught as it were by stealth, and how many
pleasant, delicious things attracted us to the class-rooms on the wooded

Vegetation was very abundant in the richly watered mountain valley. Our
favourite spring was the Schaalbach at the foot of the Steiger,--[We
pupils bought it of the peasant who owned it and gave it to
Barop.]--because there was a fowling-floor connected with it, where
I spent many a pleasant evening. It could be used only after
breeding-time, and consisted of a hut built of boughs where the
birdcatcher lodged. Flowing water rippled over the little wooden rods
on which the feathered denizens of the woods alighted to quench their
thirst before going to sleep. When some of them--frequently six at a
time--had settled on the perches in the trough, it was drawn into the
but by a rope, a net was spread over the water and there was nothing
more to do except take the captives out.

The name of the director of this amusement was Merbod. He could imitate
the voices of all the birds, and was a merry, versatile fellow, who knew
how to do a thousand things, and of whom we boys were very fond.

The peasant Bredernitz often took us to his crow-hut, which was a hole
in the ground covered with boughs and pieces of turf, where the hunters
lay concealed. The owl, which lured the crows and other birds of prey,
was fastened on a perch, and when they flew up, often in large flocks,
to tease the old cross-patch which sat blinking angrily, they were shot
down from loop-holes which had been left in the hut. The hawks which
prey upon doves and hares, the crows and magpies, can thus easily be

We had learned to use our guns in the playground. The utmost caution was
enforced, and although, as I have already remarked, we handled our own
guns when we were only lads of twelve years old, I can not recall a
single accident which occurred.

Once, during the summer, there was a Schutzenfest, in which a large
wooden eagle was shot from the pole. Whoever brought down the last
splinter became king. This honour once fell to my share, and I was
permitted to choose a queen. I crowned Marie Breimann, a pretty, slender
young girl from Brunswick, whose Greek profile and thick silken hair had
captivated my fancy. She and Adelheid Barop, the head-master’s daughter,
were taught in our classes, but Marie attracted me more strongly than
the diligent Keilhau lassies with their beautiful black eyes and
the other two blooming and graceful Westphalian girls who were also
schoolmates. But the girls occupied a very small place in our lives.
They could neither wrestle, shoot, nor climb, so we gave them little
thought, and anything like actual flirtation was unknown--we had so many
better things in our heads. Wrestling and other sports threw everything
else into the shade. Pretty Marie, however, probably suspected which
of my school-mates I liked best, and up to the time of my leaving the
institute I allowed no other goddess to rival her. But there were plenty
of amusements at Keilhau besides bird-shooting.

I will mention the principal ones which came during the year, for to
describe them in regular order would be impossible.

Of the longer walks which we took in the spring and summer the most
beautiful was the one leading through Blankenburg to the entrance of the
Schwarzathal, and thence through the lofty, majestically formed group
of cliffs at whose foot the clear, swift Schwarza flows, dashing and
foaming, to Schwarzburg.

How clearly our songs echoed from the granite walls of the river valley,
and how lively it always was at “The Stag,” whose landlord possessed a
certain power of attraction to us boys in his own person; for, as the
stoutest man in Thuringia, he was a feast for the eyes! His jollity
equalled his corpulence, and how merrily he used to jest with us lads!

Of the shorter expeditions I will mention only the two we took most
frequently, which led us in less than an hour to Blankenburg or
Greifenstein, a large ruin, many parts of which were in tolerable
preservation. It had been the home of Count Gunther von Schwarzburg, who
paid with his life for the honour of wearing the German imperial crown a
few short months.

We also enjoyed being sent to the little town of Blankenburg on errands,
for it was the home of our drawing-master, the artist Unger, one of
those original characters whom we rarely meet now. When we knew him, the
handsome, broad-shouldered man, with his thick red beard, looked as
one might imagine Odin. Summer and winter his dress was a grey woollen
jacket, into which a short pipe was thrust, and around his hips a broad
leather belt, from which hung a bag containing his drawing materials.
He cared nothing for public opinion, and, as an independent bachelor,
desired nothing except “to be let alone,” for he professed the utmost
contempt for the corrupt brood yclept “mankind.” He never came to our
entertainments, probably because he would be obliged to wear something
in place of his woollen jacket, and because he avoided women, whom
he called “the roots of all evil.” I still remember how once, after
emptying the vials of his wrath upon mankind, he said, in reply to the
question whether he included Barop among the iniquitous brood, “Why, of
course not; he doesn’t belong to it!”

There was no lack of opportunity to visit him, for a great many persons
employed to work for the school lived in Blankenburg, and we were known
to be carefully watched there.

I remember two memorable expeditions to the little town. Once my brother
burned his arm terribly during a puppet-show by the explosion of some
powder provided for the toy cannon.

The poor fellow suffered so severely that I could not restrain my tears,
and though it was dark, and snow lay on the mountains, off I went to
Blankenburg to get the old surgeon, calling to some of my school-mates
at the door to tell them of my destination. It was no easy matter to
wade through the snow; but, fortunately, the stars gave me sufficient
light to keep in the right path as I dashed down the mountain to
Blankenburg. How often I plunged into ditches filled with snow and
slid down short descents I don’t know; but as I write these lines I can
vividly remember the relief with which I at last trod the pavement of
the little town. Old Wetzel was at home, and a carriage soon conveyed us
over the only road to the institute. I was not punished. Barop only laid
his hand on my head, and said, “I am glad you are back again, Bear.”

Another trip to Blankenburg entailed results far more serious--nay,
almost cost me my life.

I was then fifteen, and one Sunday afternoon I went with Barop’s
permission to visit the Hamburgers, but on condition that I should
return by nine o’clock at latest.

Time, however, slipped by in pleasant conversation until a later hour,
and as thunder-clouds were rising my host tried to keep me overnight.
But I thought this would not be allowable, and, armed with an umbrella,
I set off along the road, with which I was perfectly familiar.

But the storm soon burst, and it grew so dark that, except when the
lightning flashed, I could not see my hand before my face. Yet on I
went, though wondering that the path along which I groped my way led
upward, until the lightning showed me that, by mistake, I had taken the
road to Greifenstein. I turned back, and while feeling my way through
the gloom the earth seemed to vanish under my feet, and I plunged
headlong into a viewless gulf--not through empty space, however, but a
wet, tangled mass which beat against my face, until at last there was a
jerk which shook me from head to foot.

I no longer fell, but I heard above me the sound of something tearing,
and the thought darted through my mind that I was hanging by
my trousers. Groping around, I found vine-leaves, branches, and
lattice-work, to which I clung, and tearing away with my foot the cloth
which had caught on the end of a lath, I again brought my head where
it should be, and discovered that I was hanging on a vine-clad wall. A
flash of lightning showed me the ground not very far below and, by the
help of the espalier and the vines I at last stood in a garden.

Almost by a miracle I escaped with a few scratches; but when I
afterwards went to look at the scene of this disaster cold chills ran
down my back, for half the distance whence I plunged into the garden
would have been enough to break my neck.

Our games were similar to those which lads of the same age play now, but
there were some additional ones that could only take place in a wooded
mountain valley like Keilhau; such, for instance, were our Indian
games, which engrossed us at the time when we were pleased with Cooper’s
“Leather-Stocking,” but I need not describe them.

When I was one of the older pupils a party of us surprised some
“Panzen”--as we called the younger ones--one hot afternoon engaged in
a very singular game of their own invention. They had undressed to the
skin in the midst of the thickest woods and were performing Paradise
and the Fall of Man, as they had probably just been taught in their
religious lesson. For the expulsion of Adam and our universal mother
Eve, the angel--in this case there were two of them--used, instead of
the flaming sword, stout hazel rods, with which they performed their
part of warders so overzealously that a quarrel followed, which we older
ones stopped.

Thus many bands of pupils invented games of their own, but, thank
Heaven, rarely devised such absurdities. Our later Homeric battles any
teacher would have witnessed with pleasure. Froebel would have greeted
them as signs of creative imagination and “individual life” in the boys.


Wholly unlike these, genuinely and solely a product of Keilhau, was
the great battle-game which we called Bergwacht, one of my brightest
memories of those years.

Long preparations were needed, and these, too, were delightful.

On the wooded plain at the summit of the Kolm, a mountain which belonged
mainly to the institute, war was waged during the summer every Saturday
evening until far into the night, whenever the weather was fine, which
does not happen too often in Thuringia.

The whole body of pupils was divided into three, afterwards into four
sections, each of which had its own citadel. After two had declared
war against two others, the battle raged until one party captured the
strongholds of the other. This was done as soon as a combatant had set
foot on the hearth of a hostile fortress.

The battle itself was fought with stakes blunted at the tops. Every one
touched by the weapon of an enemy must declare himself a prisoner. To
admit this, whenever it happened, was a point of honour.

In order to keep all the combatants in action, a fourth division was
added soon after our arrival, and of course it was necessary to build a
strong hold like the others. This consisted of a hut with a stone roof,
in which fifteen or twenty boys could easily find room and rest, a
strong wall which protected us up to our foreheads, and surrounded the
front of the citadel in a semicircle, as well as a large altar-like
hearth which rose in the midst of the semicircular space surrounded by
the wall.

We built this fortress ourselves, except that our teacher of
handicrafts, the sapper Sabum, sometimes gave us a hint. The first thing
was to mark out the plan, then with the aid of levers pry the rocks out
of the fields, and by means of a two-wheeled cart convey them to the
site chosen, fit them neatly together, stuff the interstices with moss,
and finally put on a roof made of pine logs which we felled ourselves,
earth, moss, and branches.

How quickly we learned to use the plummet, take levels, hew the stone,
wield the axes! And what a delight it was when the work was finished
and we saw our own building! Perhaps we might not have accomplished it
without the sapper, but every boy believed that if he were cast, like
Robinson Crusoe, on a desert island, he could build a hut of his own.

As soon as this citadel was completed, preparations for the impending
battle were made. The walls and encircling walls of all were prepared,
and we were drilled in the use of the poles. This, too, afforded us the
utmost pleasure. Touching the head of an enemy was strictly prohibited;
yet many a slight wound was given while fighting in the gloom of the

Each of the four Bergwachts had its leader. The captain of the first
was director of the whole game, and instead of a lance wore a rapier. I
considered it a great honour when this dignity was conferred on me. One
of its consequences was that my portrait was sketched by “Old Unger” in
the so-called “Bergwacht Book,” which contained the likenesses of all my

During the summer months all eyes, even as early as Thursday, were
watching the weather. When Saturday evening proved pleasant and Barop
had given his consent, there was great rejoicing in the institute, and
the morning hours must have yielded the teachers little satisfaction.

Directly after dinner everybody seized his pole and the other
“Bergwacht” equipments. The alliances were formed under the captain’s
guidance. We will say that the contest was to begin with the first and
third Bergwacht pitted against the second and fourth, and be followed by
another, with the first and second against the third and fourth.

We assembled in the court-yard just before sunset. Barop made a little
speech, exhorting us to fight steadily, and especially to observe
all the rules and yield ourselves captives as soon as an enemy’s pole
touched us. He never neglected on these occasions to admonish us that,
should our native land ever need the armed aid of her sons, we should
march to battle as joyously as we now did to the Bergwacht, which was to
train us to skill in her defence.

Then the procession set off in good order, four or six pupils harnessing
themselves voluntarily to the cart in which the kegs of beer were
dragged up the Kolm. Off we went, singing merrily, and at the top the
women were waiting for us with a lunch. Then the warriors scattered, the
fire was lighted on every hearth, the plan of battle was discussed, some
were sent out to reconnoitre, others kept to defend the citadel.

At last the conflict began. Could I ever forget the scenes in the
forest! No Indian tribe on the war-path ever strained every sense more
keenly to watch, surround, and surprise the foe. And the hand-to-hand
fray! What delight it was to burst from the shelter of the thicket and
touch with our poles two, three, or four of the surprised enemies ere
they thought of defence! And what self-denial it required when--spite
of the most skilful parry--we felt the touch of the pole, to confess it,
and be led off as a prisoner!

Voices and shouts echoed through the woods, and the glare of five fires
pierced the darkness--five--for flames were also blazing where the women
were cooking the supper. But the light was brightest, the shouts of the
combatants were loudest, in the vicinity of the forts. The effort of the
besiegers was to spy out unguarded places, and occupy the attention of
the garrison so that a comrade might leap over the wall and set his foot
on the hearth. The object of the garrison was to prevent this.

What was that? An exulting cry rang through the night air. A warrior had
succeeded in penetrating the hostile citadel untouched and setting his
foot on the hearth!

Two or three times we enjoyed the delight of battle; and when towards
midnight it closed, we threw ourselves-glowing from the strife and
blackened by the smoke of the hearth-fires-down on the greensward around
the women’s fire, where boiled eggs and other good things were served,
and meanwhile the mugs of foaming beer were passed around the circle.
One patriotic song after another was sung, and at last each Bergwacht
withdrew to its citadel and lay down on the moss to sleep under the
sheltering roof. Two sentinels marched up and down, relieved every half
hour until the early dawn of the summer Sunday brightened the eastern

Then “Huup!”--the Keilhau shout which summoned us back to the
institute-rang out, and a hymn, the march back, a bath in the pond, and
finally the most delicious rest, if good luck permitted, on the heaps
of hay which had not been gathered in. On the Sunday following the
Bergwacht we were not required to attend church, where we should merely
have gone to sleep. Barop, though usually very strict in the observance
of religious duties, never demanded anything for the sake of mere

And the bed of my own planning! It consisted of wood and stones, and
was covered with a thick layer of moss, raised at the head in a slanting
direction. It looked like other beds, but the place where it stood
requires some description, for it was a Keilhau specialty, a favour
bestowed by our teachers on the pupils.

Midway up the slope of the Kolm where our citadels stood, on the side
facing the institute, each boy had a piece of ground where he might
build, dig, or plant, as he chose. They descended from one to another:
Ludo’s and mine had come down from Martin and another pupil who left
the school at the same time. But I was not satisfied with what my
predecessors had created. I spared the beautiful vine which twined
around a fir-tree, but in the place of a flower-bed and a bench which
I found there Ludo and I built a hearth, and for myself the bed already
mentioned, which my brother of course was permitted to occupy with me.

How many hours I have spent on its soft cushions, reading or dreaming or
imagining things! If I could only remember them as they hovered before
me, what epics and tales I could write!

No doubt we ought to be grateful to God for this as well as for so many
other blessings; but why are we permitted to be young only once in our
lives, only once to be borne aloft on the wings of a tireless power of
imagination, so easily satisfied with ourselves, so full of love, faith,
and hope, so open to every joy and so blind to every care and doubt, and
everything which threatens to cloud and extinguish the sunlight in the

Dear bed in my plot of ground at Keilhau, you ought, in accordance with
a remark of Barop, to cause me serious self-examination, for he said,
probably with no thought of my mossy couch, “From the way in which the
pupils use their plots of ground and the things they place in them, I
can form a very correct opinion of their dispositions and tastes.” But
you, beloved couch, should have the best place in my garden if you could
restore me but for one half hour the dreams which visited me on your
grey-green pillows, when I was a lad of fourteen or fifteen.

I have passed over the Rudolstadt Schutzenfest, its music, its
merry-go-round, and the capital sausages cooked in the open air, and
have intentionally omitted many other delightful things. I cannot help
wondering now where we found time for all these summer pleasures.

True, with the exception of a few days at Whitsuntide, we had no
vacation from Easter until the first of September. But even in August
one thought, one joyous anticipation, filled every heart. The annual
autumn excursion was coming!

After we were divided into travelling parties and had ascertained which
teacher was to accompany us--a matter that seemed very important--we
diligently practised the most beautiful songs; and on many an evening
Barop or Middendorf told us of the places through which we were to pass,
their history, and the legends which were associated with them. They
were aided in this by one of the sub-teachers, Bagge, a poetically
gifted young clergyman, who possessed great personal beauty and a heart
capable of entering into the intellectual life of the boys who were
entrusted to his care.

He instructed us in the German language and literature. Possibly because
he thought that he discovered in me a talent for poetic expression, he
showed me unusual favor, even read his own verses aloud to me, and set
me special tasks in verse-writing, which he criticised with me when
I had finished. The first long poem I wrote of my own impulse was a
description of the wonderful forms assumed by the stalactite formations
in the Sophie Cave in Switzerland, which we had visited. Unfortunately,
the book containing it is lost, but I remember the following lines,
referring to the industrious sprites which I imagined as the sculptors
of the wondrous shapes:

  “Priestly robes and a high altar the sprites created here,
   And in the rock-hewn cauldron poured the holy water clear,
   Within whose depths reflected, by the torches’ flickering rays,
   Beneath the surface glimmering my own face met my gaze;
   And when I thus beheld it, so small it seemed to me,
   That yonder stone-carved giant looked on with mocking glee.
   Ay, laugh, if that’s your pleasure, Goliath huge and old,
   I soon shall fare forth singing, you still your place must hold.”

Another sub-teacher was also a favourite travelling-companion. His name
was Schaffner, and he, too, with his thick, black beard, was a handsome
man. To those pupils who, like my brother Ludo, were pursuing the study
of the sciences, he, the mathematician of the institute, must have been
an unusually clear and competent teacher. I was under his charge only a
short time, and his branch of knowledge was unfortunately my weak point.
Shortly before my departure he married a younger sister of Barop’s wife,
and established an educational institution very similar to Keilhau at
Gumperda, at Schwarza in Thuringia.

Herr Vodoz, our French teacher, a cheery, vigorous Swiss, with a perfect
forest of curls on his head, was also one of the most popular guides;
and so was Dr. Budstedt, who gave instruction in the classics. He was
not a handsome man, but he deserved the name of “anima candida.” He used
to storm at the slightest occasion, but he was quickly appeased again.
As a teacher I think he did his full duty, but I no longer remember
anything about his methods.

The travelling party which Barop accompanied were very proud of the
honour. Middendorf’s age permitted him to go only with the youngest
pupils, who made the shortest trips.

These excursions led the little boys into the Thuringian Forest, the
Hartz Mountains, Saxony and Bohemia, Nuremberg and Wurzburg, and the
older ones by way of Baireuth and Regensburg to Ulm. The large boys in
the first travelling party, which was usually headed by Barop himself,
extended their journey as far as Switzerland.

I visited in after-years nearly all the places to which we went at that
time, and some, with which important events in my life were associated,
I shall mention later. It would not be easy to reproduce from memory the
first impressions received without mingling with them more recent ones.

Thus, I well remember how Nuremberg affected me and how much it pleased
me. I express this in my description of the journey; but in the author
of Gred, who often sought this delightful city, and made himself
familiar with life there in the days of its mediaval prosperity, these
childish impressions became something wholly new. And yet they are
inseparable from the conception and contents of the Nuremberg novel.

My mother kept the old books containing the accounts of these
excursions, which occupied from two to three weeks, and they possessed
a certain interest for me, principally because they proved how skilfully
our teachers understood how to carry out Froebel’s principles on these
occasions. Our records of travel also explain in detail what this
educator meant by the words “unity with life”; for our attention was
directed not only to beautiful views or magnificent works of art
and architecture, but to noteworthy public institutions or great
manufactories. Our teachers took the utmost care that we should
understand what we saw.

The cultivation of the fields, the building of the peasants’ huts, the
national costumes, were all brought under our notice, thus making us
familiar with life outside of the school, and opening our eyes to things
concerning which the pupil of an ordinary model grammar-school rarely
inquires, yet which are of great importance to the world to which we

Our material life was sensibly arranged. During the rest at noon a
cold lunch was served, and an abundant hot meal was not enjoyed until

In the large cities we dined at good hotels at the table d’hote, and--as
in Dresden, Prague, and Coburg--were taken to the theatre.

But we often spent the night in the villages, and then chairs were
turned upside down, loose straw was spread on the backs and over the
floor, and, wrapped in the shawl which almost every boy carried buckled
to his knapsack, we slept, only half undressed, as comfortably as in the
softest bed.

While walking we usually sung songs, among them very nonsensical ones,
if only we could keep step well to their time. Often one of the teachers
told us a story. Schaffner and Bagge could do this best, but we often
met other pedestrians with whom we entered into conversation. How
delightful is the memory of these tramps! Progress on foot is slow, but
not only do we see ten times better than from a carriage or the window
of a car, but we hear and learn something while talking with the
mechanics, citizens, and peasants who are going the same way, or the
landlords, bar-maids, and table companions we meet in the taverns,
whose guests live according to the custom of the country instead of the
international pattern of our great hotels.

As a young married man, I always anticipated as the greatest future
happiness taking pedestrian tours with my sons like the Keilhau ones;
but Fate ordained otherwise.

On our return to the institute we were received with great rejoicing;
and how much the different parties, now united, had to tell one another!

Study recommenced on the first of October, and during the leisure days
before that time the village church festival was celebrated under the
village linden, with plenty of cakes, and a dance of the peasants, in
which we older ones took part. But we were obliged to devote several
hours of every day to describing our journey for our relatives at
home. Each one filled a large book, which was to be neatly written. The
exercise afforded better practice in describing personal experiences
than a dozen essays which had been previously read with the teacher.


Autumn had come, and this season of the year, which afterwards was to
be the most fraught with suffering, at that time seemed perhaps the
pleasantest; for none afforded a better opportunity for wrestling and
playing. It brought delicious fruit, and never was the fire lighted
more frequently on the hearth in the plots of ground assigned to the
pupils--baking and boiling were pleasant during the cool afternoons.

No month seemed to us so cheery as October. During its course the apples
and pears were gathered, and an old privilege allowed the pupils “to
glean”--that is, to claim the fruit left on the trees. This tested the
keenness of our young eyes, but it sometimes happened that we confounded
trees still untouched with those which had been harvested. “Nitimur
in vetitum semper cupimusque negata,”--[The forbidden charms, and the
unexpected lures us.]--is an excellent saying of Ovid, whose truth, when
he tested it in person, was the cause of his exile. It sometimes brought
us into conflict with the owners of the trees, and it was only natural
that “Froebel’s youngsters” often excited the peasants’ ire.

Gellert, it is true, has sung:

          “Enjoy what the Lord has granted,
          Grieve not for aught withheld.”

but the popular saying is, “Forbidden fruit tastes sweetest,” and the
proverb was right in regard to us Keilhau boys.

Whatever fruit is meant in the story related in Genesis of the fall of
man, none could make it clearer to German children than the apple. The
Keilhau ones were kept in a cellar, and through the opening we thrust a
pole to which the blade of a rapier was fastened. This sometimes brought
us up four or five apples at once, which hung on the blade like the
flock of ducks that Baron Munchausen’s musket pierced with the ramrod.

We were all honest boys, yet not one, not even the sons of the heads
of the institute, ever thought of blaming or checking the zest for this
appropriation of other people’s property.

The apple and morality must stand in a very peculiar relation to each

Scarcely was the last fruit gathered, when other pleasures greeted us.

The 18th of October, the anniversary of the battle of Leipsic, was
celebrated in Thuringia by kindling bonfires on the highest mountains,
but ours was always the largest and brightest far and wide. While the
flames soared heavenward, we enthusiastically sang patriotic songs. The
old Lutzow Jagers, who had fought for the freedom of Germany, led the
chorus and gazed with tearful eyes at the boys whom they were rearing
for the future supporters and champions of their native land.

Then winter came.

Snow and ice usually appeared in our mountain valley in the latter half
of November. We welcomed them, for winter brought coasting parties down
the mountains, skating, snow-balling, the clumsy snow-man, and that most
active of mortals, the dancing-master, who not only instructed us in
the art of Terpsichore, but also gave us rules of decorum which were an
abomination to Uncle Froebel.

An opportunity to put them into practice was close at hand, for the 29th
of November was Barop’s birthday, which was celebrated by a little dance
after the play.

Those who took part in the performance were excused from study for
several days before, for with the sapper’s help we built the stage, and
even painted the scenes. The piece was rehearsed till it was absolutely

I took an active part in all these matters during my entire residence at
the institute, and we three Ebers brothers had the reputation of being
among the best actors, though Martin far surpassed us. We had invented
another variety of theatrical performances which we often enjoyed on
winter evenings after supper, unless one of the teachers read aloud
to us, or we boys performed the classic dramas. While I was one of
the younger pupils, we used the large and complete puppet-show which
belonged to the institute; but afterwards we preferred to act ourselves,
and arranged the performance according to a plan of our own.

One of us who had seen a play during the vacation at home told the
others the plot. The whole was divided into scenes, and each character
was assigned to some representative who was left to personate it
according to his own conception, choosing the words and gestures which
he deemed most appropriate.

I enjoyed nothing more than these performances; and my mother, who
witnessed several of them during one of her visits, afterwards said
that it was surprising how well we had managed the affair and acted our

For a long time I was the moving spirit in this play, and we had no
lack of talented mimes, personators of sentimental heroes, and droll
comedians. The women’s parts, of course, were also taken by boys. Ludo
made a wonderfully pretty girl. I was sometimes one thing, sometimes
another, but almost always stage manager.

These merry improvisations were certainly well fitted to strengthen
the creative power and activity of our intellects. There was no lack of
admirable stage properties, for the large wardrobe of the institute was
at our disposal whenever we wanted to act, which was at least once
a week during the whole winter, except in the Advent season, when
everything was obliged to yield to the demand of the approaching
Christmas festival. Then we were all busy in making presents for our
relatives. The younger ones manufactured various cardboard trifles; the
older pupils, as embryo cabinet-makers, all sorts of pretty and useful
things, especially boxes.

Unluckily, I did not excel as a cabinet-maker, though I managed to
finish tolerable boxes; but my mother had two made by the more skilful
hands of Ludo, which were provided with locks and hinges, so neatly
finished, veneered, and polished that many a trained cabinet-maker’s
apprentice could have done no better. It was one of Froebel’s
principles--as I have already mentioned--to follow the “German taste for
manual labor,” and have us work with spades and pickaxes (in our plots
of ground), and with squares, chisels, and saws (in the pasteboard and
carving lessons).

A clever elderly man, the sapper, or Sabuim, already mentioned--I think
I never heard his real name--instructed us in the trades of the book
binder and cabinet-maker. He was said to have served under Napoleon as
a sapper, and afterwards settled in our neighbourhood, and found
occupation in Keilhau. He was skilful in all kinds of manual labour,
and an excellent teacher. The nearer Christmas came the busier were the
workshops; and while usually there was no noise, they now resounded with
Christmas songs, among which:

     “Up, up, my lads! why do ye sleep so long?
     The night has passed, and day begins to dawn”;

or our Berlin one:

     “Something will happen to-morrow, my children,”

were most frequently heard.

Christmas thoughts filled our hearts and minds. Christmas at home had
been so delightful that the first year I felt troubled by the idea that
the festival must be celebrated away from my mother and without her. But
after we had shared the Keilhau holiday, and what preceded and followed
it, we could not decide which was the most enjoyable.

Once our mother was present, though the cause of her coming was not
exactly a joyous one. About a week before the Christmas of my third year
at Keilhau I went to the hayloft at dusk, and while scuffling with a
companion the hay slipped with us and we both fell to the barn-floor.
My school-mate sustained an internal injury, while I escaped with the
fracture of two bones, fortunately only of the left arm. The severe
suffering which has darkened so large a portion of my life has been
attributed to this fracture, but the idea is probably incorrect;
otherwise the consequences would have appeared earlier.

At first the arm was very painful; yet the thought of having lost the
Christmas pleasures was almost worse. But the experience that the days
from which we expect least often afford us most happiness was again
verified. Barop had thought it his duty to inform my mother of this
serious accident, and two or three days later she arrived. Though I
could not play out of doors with the others, there was enough to enjoy
in the house with her and some of my comrades.

Every incident of that Christmas has remained in my memory, and, though
Fate should grant me many more years of life, I would never forget them.
First came the suspense and excitement when the wagon from Rudolstadt
filled with boxes drove into the court-yard, and then the watching for
those which might be meant for us.

On Christmas eve, when at home the bell summoned us to the
Christmas-tree the delight of anticipation reached its climax, and
expressed itself in song, in gayer talk, and now and then some harmless

Then we went to bed, with the firm resolve of waking early; but the
sleep of youth is sounder than any resolution, and suddenly unwonted
sounds roused us, perhaps from the dreams of the manger at Bethlehem and
the radiant Christmas-tree.

Was it the voice of the angels which appeared to the shepherds? The
melody was a Christmas choral played by the Rudolstadt band, which had
been summoned to waken us thus pleasantly.

Never did we leave our beds more quickly than in the darkness of that
early morning, illuminated as usual only by a tallow dip. Rarely was the
process of washing more speedily accomplished--in winter we were often
obliged to break a crust of ice which had formed over the water; but
this time haste was useless, for no one was admitted into the great hall
before the signal was given. At last it sounded, and when we had pressed
through the wide-open doors, what splendours greeted our enraptured eyes
and ears!

The whole room was most elaborately decorated with garlands of
pine. Wherever the light entered the windows we saw transparencies
representing biblical Christmas scenes. Christmas-trees--splendid firs
of stately height and size, which two days before were the ornaments of
the forest-glittered in the light of the candles, which was reflected
from the ruddy cheeks of the apples and the gilded and silvered
nuts. Meanwhile the air, “O night so calm, so holy!” floated from the
instruments of the musicians.

Scarcely had we taken our places when a chorus of many voices singing
the angel’s greeting, “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth,”
 recalled to our happy hearts the sacredness of the morning. Violins and
horns blended with the voices; then, before even the most excited could
feel the least emotion of impatience, the music ceased. Barop stepped
forward, and in the deep, earnest tones peculiar to him exclaimed, “Now
see what pleasures the love of your friends has prepared for you!”

The devout, ennobling feelings which had inspired every heart were
scattered to the four winds; we dispersed like a flock of doves
threatened by a hawk, and the search for the places marked by a label

One had already seen his name; a near-sighted fellow went searching from
table to table; and here and there one boy called to another to point
out what his sharp eyes had detected. On every table stood a Stolle, the
Saxon Christmas bread called in Keilhau Schuttchen, and a large plate of
nuts and cakes, the gift of the institute. Beside these, either on the
tables or the floor, were the boxes from home. They were already opened,
but the unpacking was left to us--a wise thing; for what pleasure it
afforded us to take out the various gifts, unwrap them, admire, examine,
and show them to others!

Those were happy days, for we saw only joyous faces, and our own hearts
had room for no other feelings than the heaven-born sisters Love, Joy,
and Gratitude.

We entered with fresh zeal upon the season of work which followed. It
was the hardest of the twelve months, for it carried us to Easter, the
close of the school year, and was interrupted only by the carnival with
its merry masquerade.

All sorts of examinations closed the term of instruction. On Palm Sunday
the confirmation services took place, which were attended by the parents
of many of the pupils, and in which the whole institute shared.

Then came the vacation. It lasted three weeks, and was the only time we
were allowed to return home. And what varied pleasures awaited us there!
Martha, whom we left a young lady of seventeen, remained unaltered in
her charming, gentle grace, but Paula changed every year. One Easter we
found the plump school-girl transformed into a slender young lady. The
next vacation she had been confirmed, wore long dresses, had lost
every trace of boyishness, even rarely showed any touch of her former

She did not care to go to the theatre, of which Martha was very fond,
unless serious dramas were performed. We, on the contrary, liked farces.
I still remember a political quip which was frequently repeated at the
Konigstadt Theatre, and whose point was a jeer at the aspirations of the
revolution: “Property is theft, or a Dream of a Red Republican.”

We were in the midst of the reaction and those who had fought at the
barricades on the 18th of March applauded when the couplet was sung, of
which I remember these lines:

          “Ah! what bliss is the aspiration
          To dangle from a lamp-post
          As a martyr for the nation!”

During these vacations politics was naturally a matter of utter
indifference to us, and toward their close we usually paid a visit to my
grandmother and aunt in Dresden.

So the years passed till Easter (1852) came, and with it our
confirmation and my separation from Ludo, who was to follow a different
career. We had double instruction in confirmation, first with the
village boys from the pastor of Eichfeld, and afterwards from Middendorf
at the institute.

Unfortunately, I have entirely forgotten what the Eichfeld clergyman
taught us, but Middendorf’s lessons made all the deeper impression.

He led us through life to God and the Saviour, and thence back again to

How often, after one of these lessons, silence reigned, and teachers and
pupils rose from their seats with tearful eyes!

Afterwards I learned from a book which had been kept that what he gave
us had been drawn chiefly from the rich experiences of his own life
and the Gospels, supplemented by the writings of his favourite teacher,
Schleiermacher. By contemplation, the consideration of the universe with
the soul rather than with the mind, we should enter into close relations
with God and become conscious of our dependence upon him, and this
consciousness Middendorf with his teacher Schleiermacher called

But the old Lutzow Jager, who in the year 1813 had taken up arms at the
Berlin University, had also sat at the feet of Fichte, and therefore
crowned his system by declaring, like the latter, that religion was
not feeling but perception. Whoever attained this, arrived at a clear
understanding of his own ego (Middendorf’s mental understanding of
life), perfect harmony with himself and the true sanctification of his
soul. This man who, according to our Middendorf, is the really religious
human being, will be in harmony with God and Nature, and find an answer
to the highest of all questions.

Froebel’s declaration that he had found “the unity of life,” which had
brought Middendorf to Keilhau, probably referred to Fichte. The phrase
had doubtless frequently been used by them in conversations about this
philosopher, and neither needed an explanation, since Fichte’s opinions
were familiar to both.

We candidates for confirmation at that time knew the Berlin philosopher
only by name, and sentences like “unity with one’s self,” “to grasp and
fulfil,” “inward purity of life,” etc., which every one who was taught
by Middendorf must remember, at first seemed perplexing; but our
teacher, who considered it of the utmost importance to be understood,
and whose purpose was not to give us mere words, but to enrich our
souls with possessions that would last all our lives, did not cease his
explanations until even the least gifted understood their real meaning.

This natural, childlike old man never lectured; he was only a pedagogue
in the sense of the ancients--that is, a guide of boys. Though precepts
tinctured by philosophy mingled with his teachings, they only served as
points of departure for statements which came to him from the soul and
found their way to it.

He possessed a comprehensive knowledge of the religions of all nations,
and described each with equal love and an endeavour to show us all their
merits. I remember how warmly he praised Confucius’s command not to love
our fellow-men but to respect them, and how sensible and beautiful it
seemed to me, too, in those days. He lingered longest on Buddhism; and
it surprises me now to discover how well, with the aids then at his
command, he understood the touching charity of Buddha and the deep
wisdom and grandeur of his doctrine.

But he showed us the other religions mainly to place Christianity and
its renewing and redeeming power in a brighter light. The former served,
as it were, for a foil to the picture of our Saviour’s religion and
character, which he desired to imprint upon the soul. Whether he
succeeded in bringing us into complete “unity” with the personality of
Christ, to which he stood in such close relations, is doubtful, but he
certainly taught us to understand and love him; and this love, though I
have also listened to the views of those who attribute the creation and
life of the world to mechanical causes, and believe the Deity to be a
product of the human intellect, has never grown cold up to the present

The code of ethics which Middendorf taught was very simple. His motto,
as I have said, was, “True, pure, and upright in life.” He might have
added, “and with a heart full of love”; for this was what distinguished
him from so many, what made him a Christian in the most beautiful sense
of the word, and he neglected nothing to render our young hearts an
abiding-place for this love.

Of course, our mother came to attend our confirmation, which first took
place with the peasant boys--who all wore sprigs of lavender in
their button-holes--in the village church at Eichfeld, and then, with
Middendorf officiating, in the hall of the institute at Keilhau.

Few boys ever approached the communion-table for the first time in a
more devout mood, or with hearts more open to all good things, than did
we two brothers that day on our mother’s right and left hand.

No matter how much I may have erred, Middendorf’s teachings and counsels
have not been wholly lost in any stage of my career.

After the confirmation I went away with my mother and Ludo for the
vacation, and three weeks later I returned to the institute without my

I missed him everywhere. His greater discretion had kept me from many
a folly, and my need of loving some one found satisfaction in him.
Besides, his mere presence was a perpetual reminder of my mother.

Keilhau was no longer what it had been. New scenes always seem desirable
to young people, and for the first time I longed to go away, though I
knew nothing of my destination except that it would be a gymnasium.

Yet I loved the institute and its teachers, though I did not realize
until later how great was my debt of gratitude. Here, and by them, the
foundation of my whole future life was laid, and if I sometimes felt it
reel under my feet, the Froebel method was not in fault.

The institute could not dismiss us as finished men; the desired “unity
with life” can be attained only upon its stage--the world--in the
motley throng of fellow-men, but minds and bodies were carefully trained
according to their individual peculiarities, and I might consider myself
capable of receiving higher lessons. True, my character was not yet
steeled sufficiently to resist every temptation, but I no longer need
fear the danger of crossing the barrier which Froebel set for men
“worthy” in his sense.

My acquirements were deficient in many respects what the French term
“justesse d’esprit” had to a certain degree become mine, as in the case
of every Keilhau boy, through our system of education.

Though I could not boast of “being one with Nature,” we had formed
a friendly alliance, and I learned by my own experience the truth of
Goethe’s words, that it was the only book which offers valuable contents
on every page.

I was not yet familiar with life, but I had learned to look about with
open eyes.

I had not become a master in any handicraft, but I had learned
with paste-pot and knife, saw, plane, and chisel--nay, even axe and
handspike--what manual labour meant and how to use my hands.

I had by no means attained to union with God, but I had acquired the
ability and desire to recognize his government in Nature as well as in
life; for Middendorf had understood how to lead us into a genuine
filial relation with him and awaken in our young hearts love for him
who kindles in the hearts of men the pure flame of love for their

The Greek words which Langethal wrote in my album, and which mean “Be
truthful in love,” were beginning to be as natural to me as abhorrence
of cowardice and falsehood had long been.

Love for our native land was imprinted indelibly on my soul, and lives
there joyously, ready to sacrifice for the freedom and greatness of
Germany even what I hold dearest.


It was hard for me to leave Keilhau, but our trip to Rudolstadt, to
which my dearest companions accompanied me, was merry enough. With
Barop’s permission we had a banquet in the peasant tavern there, whose
cost was defrayed by the kreutzers which had been paid as fines for
offences against table rules. At one of these tables where we larger
boys sat, only French was spoken; at another only the purest German; and
we had ourselves made the rule that whoever used a word of his native
tongue at one, or a foreign one at the other, should be fined a

How merry were these banquets, at which usually several teachers were
welcome guests!

One of the greatest advantages of Keilhau was that our whole lives, and
even our pleasures, were pure enough not to shun a teacher’s eyes. And
yet we were true, genuine boys, whose overplus of strength found vent
not only in play, but all sorts of foolish tricks.

A smile still hovers around my lips when I think of the frozen snow-man
on whose head we put a black cap and then placed in one of the younger
teacher’s rooms to personate a ghost, and the difficulty we had
in transporting the monster, or when I remember our pranks in the

I believe I am mentioning these cheerful things here to give myself a
brief respite, for the portion of my life which followed is the one I
least desire to describe.

Rousseau says that man’s education is completed by art, Nature, and
circumstances. The first two factors had had their effect upon me, and
I was now to learn for the first time to reckon independently with the
last; hitherto they had been watched and influenced in my favour by
others. This had been done not only by masters of the art of pedagogy,
but by their no less powerful co-educators, my companions, among whom
there was not a single corrupt, ill-disposed boy. I was now to learn
what circumstances I should find in my new relations, and in what way
they would prove teachers to me.

I was to be placed at school in Kottbus, at that time still a little
manufacturing town in the Mark. My mother did not venture to keep me in
Berlin during the critical years now approaching. Kottbus was not far
away, and knowing that I was backward in the science that Dr. Boltze,
the mathematician, taught, she gave him the preference over the heads of
the other boarding-schools in the Mark.

I was not reluctant to undertake the hard work, yet I felt like a colt
which is led from the pastures to the stable.

A visit to my grandmother in Dresden, and many pleasures which I was
permitted to share with my brothers and sisters, seemed to me like the
respite before execution.

My mother accompanied me to my new school, and I can not describe the
gloomy impression made by the little manufacturing town on the flat
plains of the Mark, which at that time certainly possessed nothing that
could charm a boy born in Berlin and educated in a beautiful mountain

In front of Dr. Boltze’s house we found the man to whose care I was to
be entrusted. At that time he was probably scarcely forty years old,
short in stature and very erect, with a shrewd face whose features
indicated an iron sternness of character, an impression heightened by
the thick, bushy brows which met above his nose.

He himself said that people in Pomerania believed that men with such
eyebrows stood in close relations to Satan. Once, while on his way in a
boat from Greifswald to the island of Rugen, the superstitious sailors
were on the point of throwing him overboard because they attributed
their peril to him as the child of the devil, yet, he added--and he was
a thoroughly truthful man--the power which these strange eyebrows gave
him over others, and especially over men of humble station, induced them
to release him.

But after we had learned what a jovial, indulgent comrade was hidden
behind the iron tyrant who gazed so threateningly at us from the black
eyes beneath the bushy brows, our timidity vanished, and at last we
found it easy enough to induce him to change a resolute “No” into a
yielding “Yes.”

His wife, on the contrary, was precisely his opposite, for she wielded
the sceptre in the household with absolute sway, though so fragile a
creature that it seemed as if a breath would blow her away. No one could
have been a more energetic housekeeper. She was as active an assistant
to her husband with her pen as with her tongue. Most of my reports are
in her writing. Besides this, one pretty, healthy child after another
was born, and she allowed herself but a brief time for convalescence.
I was the godfather of one of these babies, an honour shared by my
school-mate, Von Lobenstein. The baptismal ceremony was performed in the
Boltze house. The father and we were each to write a name on a slip of
paper and lay it beside the font. We had selected the oddest ones we
could think of, and when the pastor picked up the slips he read Gerhard
and Habakkuk. Thanks to the care and wisdom of his excellent mother, the
boy throve admirably in spite of his cognomen, and I heard to my great
pleasure that he has become an able man.

This boyish prank is characteristic of our relations. If we did not go
too far, Frau Boltze always took our part, and understood how to smooth
her husband’s frowning brow quickly enough. Besides, it was a real
pleasure to be on good terms with her, for, as the daughter of a
prominent official, she had had an excellent education, and her quick
wit did honour to her native city, Berlin.

Had Dr. Boltze performed his office of tutor with more energy, it would
have been better for us; but in other respects I can say of him nothing
but good.

The inventions he made in mechanics, I have been told by experts, were
very important for the times and deserved greater success. Among them
was a coach moved by electricity.

My mother and I were cordially welcomed by this couple, on conversing
with whom my first feeling of constraint vanished.

The examination next morning almost placed me higher than I expected,
for the head-master who heard me translate at first thought me prepared
for the first class; but Pro-Rector Braune, who examined me in Latin
grammar, said that I was fitted only for the second.

When I left the examination hall I was introduced by Dr. Boltze to one
of my future school-fellows in the person of an elegant young gentleman
who had just alighted from a carriage and was patting the necks of the
horses which he had driven himself.

I had supposed him to be a lieutenant in civilian’s dress, for his
dark mustache, small whiskers, and the military cut of his hair,
which already began to be somewhat thin, made me add a lustrum to his
twenty-one years.

After my new tutor had left us this strange school-fellow entered into
conversation with me very graciously, and after telling me many things
about the school and its management which seemed incredible, he passed
on to the pupils, among whom were some “nice fellows,” and mentioned a
number of names, principally of noble families whose bearers had come
here to obtain the graduation certificate, the key without which so many
doors are closed in Prussia.

Then he proceeded to describe marvels which I was afterwards to witness,
but which at that time I did not know whether I ought to consider
delightful or quite the contrary.

Of course, I kept my doubts to myself and joined in when he laughed; but
my heart was heavy. Could I avoid these companions? Yet I had come to
be industrious, prepare quickly for the university, and give my mother

Poor woman! She had made such careful inquiries before sending me here;
and what a dangerous soil for a precocious boy just entering the years
of youth was this manufacturing town and an institution so badly managed
as the Kottbus School! I had come hither full of beautiful ideals and
animated by the best intentions; but the very first day made me suspect
how many obstacles I should encounter; though I did not yet imagine the
perils which lay in my companion’s words. All the young gentlemen who
had been drawn hither by the examination were sons of good families,
but the part which these pupils, and I with them, played in society, at
balls, and in all the amusements of the cultivated circle in the town
was so prominent, the views of life and habits which they brought with
them so completely contradicted the idea which every sensible person has
of a grammar-school boy, that their presence could not fail to injure
the school.

Of course, all this could not remain permanently concealed from the
higher authorities. The old head-master was suddenly retired, and one
of the best educators summoned in his place man who quickly succeeded
in making the decaying Kottbus School one of the most excellent in all
Prussia. I had the misfortune of being for more than two years a pupil
under the government of the first head-master, and the good luck
of spending nearly the same length of time under the charge of his

My mother was satisfied with the result of the examination, and the next
afternoon she drove with me to our relatives at Komptendorf. Frau
von Berndt, the youngest daughter of our beloved kinsman, Moritz von
Oppenfeld, united to the elegance of a woman reared in a large city the
cordiality of the mistress of a country home. Her husband won the entire
confidence of every one who met the gaze of his honest blue eyes. He
had given up the legal profession to take charge of his somewhat
impoverished paternal estate, and soon transformed it into one of the
most productive in the whole neighbourhood.

He was pleased that I, a city boy, knew so much about field and forest,
so at my very first visit he invited me to repeat it often.

The next morning I took leave of my mother, and my school life began. In
many points I was in advance of the other pupils in the second class,
in others behind them; but this troubled me very little--school seemed a
necessary evil. My real life commenced after its close, and here also
my natural cheerfulness ruled my whole nature. The town offered me few
attractions, but the country was full of pleasures. Unfortunately,
I could not go to Komptendorf as often as I wished, for it was a two
hours’ walk, and horses and carriages were not always at my disposal.
Yet many a Saturday found me there, enjoying the delight of chatting
with my kind hostess about home news and other pleasant things, or
reading aloud to her.

Even in the second year of my stay at Kottbus I went to every dance
given on the estates in the neighbourhood and visited many a delightful
home in the town. Then there were long walks--sometimes with Dr. Boltze
and my school-mates, sometimes with friends, and often alone.

We frequently took a Sunday walk, which often began on Saturday
afternoon, usually with merry companions and in the society of our stern
master, who, gayer than the youngest of us, needed our care rather
than we his. In this way I visited the beautiful Muskau, and still more
frequently the lovely woodlands of the Spree, a richly watered region
intersected by numerous arms of the river and countless canals, resting
as quietly under dense masses of foliage as a child asleep at noontide
beneath the shadow of a tree.

The alders and willows, lindens and oaks, which grow along the banks,
are superb; flocks of birds fly twittering and calling from one bush
and branch to another; but all human intercourse is carried on, as in
Venice, by boats which glide noiselessly to and fro.

Whoever desires a faithful and minute picture of this singular region,
which reminded me of many scenes in Holland and many of Hobbema’s
paintings, should read The Goddess of Noon. It contains a number of
descriptions whose truth and vividness are matchless.

Every trip into the woodlands of the Spree offered an abundance of
beautiful and pleasurable experiences, but I remember with still greater
enjoyment my leafy nooks on the river-bank.


Although the events of my school-days at Kottbus long since blended
together in my memory, my life there is divided into two sharply defined
portions. The latter commences with Professor Tzschirner’s appointment
and the reform in the school.

From the first day of the latter’s government I can recall what was
taught us in the class and how it influenced me, while I have entirely
forgotten what occurred during the interim. This seems strange; for,
while Langethal’s, Middendorf’s, and Barop’s instruction, which I
received when so much younger, remains vividly impressed on my memory,
and it is the same with Tzschirner’s lessons, the knowledge I acquired
between my fifteenth and seventeenth year is effaced as completely as
though I had passed a sponge over the slate of my memory. A chasm
yawns between these periods of instruction, and I cannot ascribe this
circumstance entirely to the amusements which withdrew my thoughts from
study; for they continued under Tzschirner’s rule, though with some
restrictions. I wish I could believe that everything which befel me then
had remained entirely without influence on my inner life.

A demon--I can find no other name--urged me to all sorts of follies,
many of which I still remember with pleasure, and, thank Heaven, not a
single one which a strict teacher--supposing that he had not forgotten
how to put himself into the place of a youth--would seriously censure.
The effervescing spirits which did not find vent in such pranks obtained
expression in a different form.

I had begun to write, and every strong emotion was uttered in verses,
which I showed to the companions from whom I could expect sympathy. My
school-mates were very unlike. Among the young gentlemen who paid a high
price to attend the school not a single one had been really industrious
and accomplished anything. But neither did any one of the few lads whose
fathers were peasants, or who belonged to the lower ranks, stand at
the head of his class. They were very diligent, but success rarely
corresponded with the amount of labour employed. The well-educated
but by no means wealthy middle class supplied the school with its best

The evolution of the human soul is a strange thing. The period during
which, in my overflowing mirth, I played all sorts of wild pranks, and
at school worked earnestly for one teacher only, often found me toiling
late at night for hours with burning head over a profound creation--I
called it The Poem of the World--in which I tried to represent the
origin of cosmic and human life.

Many other verses, from a sonnet to the beautiful ears of a pretty
cousin to the commencement of the tragedy of Panthea and Abradatus, were
written at that time; but I owe The Poem of the World special gratitude,
for it kept me from many a folly, and often held me for weeks at my desk
during the evening hours which many of my comrades spent in the tavern.
Besides, it attracted the new head-master’s attention to my poetical
tastes, for a number of verses had been left by mistake in an
exercise-book. He read them, and asked to see the rest. But I could not
fulfil the wish, for they contained many things which could not fail
to offend him; so I gave him only a few of the tamest passages, and can
still see him smile in his peculiar way as he read them in my presence.
He said something about “decided talent,” and when preparations for the
celebration of the birthday of King Frederick William IV were made he
gave me the task of composing an original poem. I gladly accepted it.
Writing was a great pleasure, and though my productions at school were
far too irregular for me to call them good, I was certainly the best


Before passing on to other subjects, I must devote a few words to the
remodelling of the school and its new head.

At the end of my first term in the first class we learned that we
were to have a new teacher, and one who would rule with a rod of iron.
Terrible stories of his Draconian severity were in circulation, and
his first address gave us reason to fear the worst, for the tall man of
forty in the professor’s chair was very imposing in his appearance.
His smoothly shaven upper lip and brown whiskers, his erect bearing and
energetic manner, reminded one of an English parliamentary leader, but
his words sounded almost menacing. He said that an entirely new house
must be erected. We and the teachers must help him. To the obedient he
would be a good friend; but to the refractory, no matter what might
be their position, he would----What followed made many of us nudge one
another, and the young men who attended the school merely for the
sake of the examination left it in a body. Many a teacher even changed

This reorganizer, Professor Tzschirner, had formerly been principal of
the Magdalen Gymnasium at Breslau. In energy and authoritative manner he
resembled Barop, but he was also an eminent scholar and a thorough man
of the world. The authorities in Berlin made an excellent choice, and we
members of the first class soon perceived that he not only meant kindly
by us, but that we had obtained in him a teacher far superior to any we
had possessed before. He required a great deal, but he was a good
friend to every one who did his duty. His kindly intention and inspiring
influence made themselves felt in our lives; for he invited to his house
the members of the first class whom he desired to influence, and his
charming, highly educated wife helped him entertain us, so that we
preferred an evening there to almost any other amusements. Study began
to charm us, and I can only repeat that he seemed to recall Langethal’s
method and awaken many things which the latter had given me, and which,
as it were, had fallen asleep during the interval. He again aroused in
my soul the love for the ancients, and his interpretations of Horace or
Sophocles were of great service to me in after-years.

Nor did he by any means forget grammar, but in explaining the classics
he always laid most stress upon the contents, and every lesson of
his was a clever archaeological, aesthetic, and historical lecture. I
listened to none more instructive at the university. Philological and
linguistic details which were not suited for the senior pupils who
were being fitted for other callings than those of the philologist were
omitted. But he insisted upon grammatical correctness, and never lost
sight of his maxim, “The school should teach its pupils to do thoroughly
whatever they do at all.”

He urged us especially to think for ourselves, and to express our ideas
clearly and attractively, not only in writing but verbally.

It seemed as though a spring breeze had melted the snow from the land,
such bourgeoning and blossoming appeared throughout the school.

Creative work was done by fits and starts. If the demon seized upon me,
I raved about for a time as before, but I did my duty for the principal.
I not only honoured but loved him, and censure from his lips would have
been unbearable.

The poem which I was to read on the king’s birthday has been preserved,
and as I glanced over it recently I could not help smiling.

It was to describe the life of Henry the Fowler, and refer to the
reigning king, Frederick William IV. The praise of my hero had come from
my heart, so the poem found favour, and in circles so wide that the most
prominent man in the neighbourhood, Prince Puckler-Muskau, sent for my

I was perfectly aware that they did not represent my best work, but what
father does not find something to admire in his child? So I copied them
neatly, and gave them to Billy, the dwarf, the prince’s factotum. A
short time after, while I was walking with some friends in Branitz Park,
the prince summoned me, and greeted me with the exclamation, “You are a

These four words haunted me a long while; nay, at times they even echo
in my memory now. I had heard a hundred anecdotes of this prince, which
could not fail to charm a youth of my disposition. When a young officer
of the Garde-du-Corps in Dresden, after having been intentionally
omitted from the invitations to a court-ball, he hired all the public
conveyances in the city, thus compelling most of the gentlemen and
ladies who were invited either to wade through the snow or forego the

When the war of 1813 began he entered the service of “the liberators,”
 as the Russians were then called, and at the head of his regiment
challenged the colonel of a French one to a duel, and seriously wounded

It was apparently natural to Prince Puckler to live according to his
own pleasure, undisturbed by the opinions of his fellow-men, and this
pleasure urged him to pursue a different course in almost every phase of
life. I said “apparently,” because, although he scorned the censure of
the people, he never lost sight of it. From a child his intense vanity
was almost a passion, and unfortunately this constant looking about him,
the necessity of being seen, prevented him from properly developing an
intellect capable of far higher things; yet there was nothing petty in
his character.

His highest merit, however, was the energy with which he understood
how to maintain his independence in the most difficult circumstances in
which life placed him. To one department of activity, especially, that
of gardening, he devoted his whole powers. His parks can vie with the
finest pleasure-grounds of all countries.

At the time I first met him he was sixty-nine years old, but looked much
younger, except when he sometimes appeared with his hair powdered until
it was snow-white. His figure was tall and finely proportioned,
and though a sarcastic smile sometimes hovered around his lips, the
expression of his face was very kindly. His eyes, which I remember as
blue, were somewhat peculiar. When he wished to please, they sparkled
with a warm--I might almost say tender-light, which must have made many
a young heart throb faster. Yet I think he loved himself too much to
give his whole affection to any one.

A great man has always seemed to me the greatest of created things, and
though Prince Puckler can scarcely be numbered among the great men of
mankind, he was undoubtedly the greatest among those who surrounded
him at Branitz. In me, the youth of nineteen, he awakened admiration,
interest, and curiosity, and his “You are a poet” sometimes strengthened
my courage, sometimes disheartened me. My boyish ambitions in those days
had but one purpose, and that was the vocation of a poet.

I was still ignorant that the Muse kisses only those who have won her
love by the greatest sufferings. Life as yet seemed a festal hall, and
as the bird flies from bough to bough wherever a red berry tempts him,
my heart was attracted by every pair of bright eyes which glanced kindly
at me. When I entered upon my last term, my Leporello list was long
enough, and contained pictures from many different classes. But my hour,
too, seemed on the point of striking, for when I went home in my last
Christmas vacation I thought myself really in love with the charming
daughter of the pleasant widow of a landed proprietor. Nay, though only
nineteen, I even considered whether I should not unite her destiny with
mine, and formally ask her hand. My father had offered himself to my
mother at the same age.

In Kottbus I was treated with the respect due to a man, but at home I
was still “the boy,” and the youngest of us three “little ones.” Ludo,
as a lieutenant, had a position in society, while I was yet a schoolboy.
Amid these surroundings I realized how hasty and premature my intention
had been.

Only four of us came to keep Christmas at home, for Martha now lived
in Dresden as the wife of Lieutenant Baron Curt von Brandenstein,
the nephew of our Aunt Sophie’s husband. Her wedding ceremony in the
cathedral was, of course, performed by the court-chaplain Strauss.

My grandmother had died, but my Aunt Sophie still lived in Dresden, and
spent her summers in Blasewitz. Her hospitable house always afforded an
atmosphere very stimulating to intellectual life, so I spent more time
there than in my mother’s more quiet residence at Pillnitz.

I had usually passed part of the long--or, as it was called, the
“dog-day”--vacation in or near Dresden, but I also took pleasant
pedestrian tours in Bohemia, and after my promotion to the senior class,
through the Black Forest.

It was a delightful excursion! Yet I can never recall it without a
tinge of sadness, for my two companions, a talented young artist named
Rothermund, and a law student called Forster, both died young. We
had met in a railway carriage between Frankfort and Heidelberg and
determined to take the tour together, and never did the Black Forest,
with its mountains and valleys, dark forests and green meadows, clear
streams and pleasant villages, seem to me more beautiful. But still
fairer days were in store after parting from my friends.

I went to Rippoldsau, where a beloved niece of my mother with her
charming daughter Betsy expected me. Here in the excellent Gohring
hotel I found a delightful party, which only lacked young gentlemen.
My arrival added a pair of feet which never tired of dancing, and every
evening our elders were obliged to entreat and command in order to put
an end to our sport. The mornings were occupied in walks through the
superb forests around Rippoldsau, and the afternoons in bowling, playing
graces, and running races. I speedily lost my susceptible heart to a
charming young lady named Leontine, who permitted me to be her Knight,
and I fancied myself very unjustly treated when, soon after our
separation, I received her betrothal cards.

The Easter and Christmas vacations I usually spent in Berlin with
my mother, where I was allowed to attend entertainments given by
our friends, at which I met many distinguished persons, among others
Alexander von Humboldt.

Of political life in the capital at that time there is nothing agreeable
to be said. I was always reminded of the state of affairs immediately
after my arrival; for during the first years of my school life at
Kottbus no one was permitted to enter the city without a paper proving
identity, which was demanded by constables at the exits of railway
stations or in the yards of post-houses. Once, when I had nothing to
show except my report, I was admitted, it is true, but a policeman was
sent with me to my mother’s house to ascertain that the boy of seventeen
was really the person he assumed to be, and not a criminal dangerous to
the state.

The beautiful aspirations of the Reichstag in Paulskirche were baffled,
the constitution of the empire had become a noble historical monument
which only a chosen few still remembered. The king, who had had
the opportunity to place himself at the head of united Germany, had
preferred to suppress the freedom of his native land rather than to
promote its unity. Yet we need not lament his refusal. Blood shed
together in mutual enthusiasm is a better cement than the decree of any

The ruling powers at that time saw in the constitution only a cage whose
bars prevented them from dealing a decisive blow, but whatever they
could reach through the openings they tore and injured as far as lay
in their power. The words “reactionary” and “liberal” had become catch
terms which severed families and divided friends.

At Komptendorf, and almost everywhere in the country, there was scarcely
any one except Conservatives. Herr von Berndt had driven into the city
to the election. Pastor Albin, the clergyman of his village, voted for
the Liberal candidate. When the pastor asked the former, who was just
getting into his carriage, to take him home, the usually courteous,
obliging gentleman, who was driving, exclaimed, “If you don’t vote with
me you don’t ride with me,” and, touching the spirited bays, dashed off,
leaving the pastor behind.

Dr. Boltze was a “Liberal,” and had to endure many a rebuff because his
views were known to the ministry. Our religious instruction might serve
as a mirror of the opinions which were pleasing to the minister. It had
made the man who imparted it superintendent when comparatively young.
The term “mob marriage” for “civil marriage” originated with him, and it
ought certainly to be inscribed in the Golden Book above.

He was a fiery zealot, who sought to induce us to share his wrath and
scorn when he condemned Bauer, David Strauss, and Lessing.

When discussing the facts of ecclesiastical history, he understood
how to rouse us to the utmost, for he was a talented man and a clever
speaker, but no word of appeal to the heart, no exhortation to love and
peace, ever crossed his lips.

The vacations were the only time which I spent with my mother. I ceased
to think of her in everything I did, as was the case in Keilhau. But
after I had been with her for a while, the charm of her personality
again mastered my soul, her love rekindled mine, and I longed to open my
whole heart to her and tell her everything which interested me. She was
the only person to whom I read my Poem of the World, as far as it was
completed. She listened with joyful astonishment, and praised several
passages which she thought beautiful. Then she warned me not to devote
too much time to such things at present, but kissed and petted me in a
way too charming to describe. During the next few days her eyes rested
on me with an expression I had always longed to see. I felt that she
regarded me as a man, and she afterwards confessed how great her hopes
were at that time, especially as Professor Tzschirner had encouraged her
to cherish them.


After returning to Kottbus from the Christmas vacation I plunged
headlong into work, and as I exerted all my powers I made rapid

Thus January passed away, and I was so industrious that I often studied
until long after midnight. I had not even gone to the theatre, though
I had heard that the Von Hoxar Company was unusually good. The leading
lady, especially, was described as a miracle of beauty and remarkably
talented. This excited my curiosity, and when a school-mate who had made
the stage manager’s acquaintance told us that he would be glad to have
us appear at the next performance of The Robbers, I of course promised
to be present.

We went through our parts admirably, and no one in the crowded house
suspected the identity of the chorus of robbers who sang with so much
freshness and vivacity.

I was deeply interested in what was passing on the stage, and, concealed
at the wings, I witnessed the greater part of the play.

Rarely has so charming an Amalie adorned the boards as the
eighteen-year-old actress, who, an actor’s child, had already been
several years on the stage.

The consequence of this visit to the theatre was that, instead of
studying historical dates, as I had intended, I took out Panthea and
Abradatus, and on that night and every succeeding one, as soon as I had
finished my work for the manager, I added new five-foot iambics to the
tragedy, whose material I drew from Xenophon.

Whenever the company played I went to the theatre, where I saw the
charming Clara in comedy parts, and found that all the praises I
had heard of her fell short of the truth. Yet I did not seek her
acquaintance. The examination was close at hand, and it scarcely entered
my mind to approach the actress. But the Fates had undertaken to act as
mediators and make me the hero of a romance which ended so speedily, and
in a manner which, though disagreeable, was so far from tragical, that
if I desired to weave the story of my own life into a novel I should be
ashamed to use the extensive apparatus employed by Destiny.

Rather more than a week had passed since the last performance of The
Robbers, when one day, late in the afternoon, the streets were filled
with uproar. A fire had broken out, and as soon as Professor Braune’s
lesson was over I joined the human flood. The boiler in the Kubisch
cloth factory had burst, a part of the huge building near it was in
flames, and a large portion of the walls had fallen.

When, with several school-mates, I reached the scene of the disaster,
the fire had already been mastered, but many hands were striving to
remove the rubbish and save the workmen buried underneath. I eagerly
lent my aid.

Meanwhile it had grown dark, and we were obliged to work by the light of
lanterns. Several men, fortunately all living, had been brought out, and
we thought that the task of rescue was completed, when the rumour spread
that some girls employed in one of the lower rooms were still missing.

It was necessary to enter, but the smoke and dust which filled the air
seemed to preclude this, and, besides, a high wall above the cleared
space in the building threatened to fall. An architect who had directed
with great skill the removal of the debris was standing close beside me
and gave orders to tear down the wall, whose fall would cost more lives.

Just at that moment I distinctly heard an inexpressibly mournful cry
of pain. A narrow shouldered, sickly-looking man, who spite of his very
plain clothing, seemed to belong to the better classes, heard it too,
and the word “Horrible!” in tones of the warmest sympathy escaped his
lips. Then he bent over the black smoking space, and I did the same.

The cry was repeated still louder than before, my neighbour and I looked
at each other, and I heard him whisper, “Shall we?”

In an instant I had flung off my coat, put my handkerchief over my
mouth, and let myself down into the smoking pit, where I pressed forward
through a stifling mixture of lime and particles of sand.

The groans and cries of the wounded guided me and my companion, who had
instantly followed, and at last two female figures appeared amid the
smoke and dust on which the lanterns, held above, cast flickering rays
of light.

One was lying prostrate, the other, kneeling, leaned against the wall.
We seized the first one, and staggered towards the spot where the
lanterns glimmered, and loud shouts greeted us.

Our example had induced others to leap down too.

As soon as we were released from our burden we returned for the second
victim. My companion now carried a lantern. The woman was no longer
kneeling, but lay face downward several paces nearer to the narrow
passage choked with stones and lime dust which separated her from
us. She had fainted while trying to follow. I seized her feet, and we
staggered on, but ere we could leave the passage which led into the
larger room I heard a loud rattling and thundering above, and the next
instant something struck my head and everything reeled around me. Yet I
did not drop the blue yarn stockings, but tottered on with them into the
large open space, where I fell on my knees.

Still I must have retained my consciousness, for loud shouts and
cries reached my ears. Then came a moment with which few in life can
compare--the one when I again inhaled draughts of the pure air of

I now felt that my hair was stained with blood, which had flowed from a
wound in my head, but I had no time to think of it, for people crowded
around me saying all sorts of pleasant things. The architect, Winzer,
was most cordial of all. His words, “I approve of such foolhardiness,
Herr Ebers,” echoed in my ears long afterwards.

A beam had fallen on my head, but my thick hair had broken the force of
the blow, and the wound in a few days began to heal.

My companion in peril was at my side, and as my blood-stained face
looked as if my injuries were serious he invited me to his house,
which was close by the scene of the accident. On the way we introduced
ourselves to each other. His name was Hering, and he was the prompter
at the theatre. When the doctor who had been sent to me had finished his
task of sewing up the wound and left us, an elderly woman entered, whose
rank in life was somewhat difficult to determine. She wore gay flowers
in her bonnet, and a cloak made of silk and velvet, but her yellow face
was scarcely that of a “lady.” She came to get a part for her daughter;
it was one of the prompter’s duties to copy the parts for the various

But who was this daughter?

Fraulein Clara, the fair Amalie of The Robbers, the lovely leading lady
of the theatre.

My daughter has an autograph of Andersen containing the words, “Life is
the fairest fairy tale.”

Ay, our lives are often like fairy tales.

The Scheherezade “Fate” had found the bridge to lead the student to
the actress, and the means employed were of no less magnitude than
a conflagration, the rescue of a life, and a wound, as well as the
somewhat improbable combined action of a student and a prompter. True,
more simple methods would scarcely have brought the youth with the
examination in his head and a pretty girl in his heart to seek the
acquaintanceship of the fair actress.

Fate urged me swiftly on; for Clara’s mother was an enthusiastic woman,
who in her youth had herself been an ornament of the stage, and I can
still hear her exclamation, “My dear young sir, every German girl ought
to kiss that wound!”

I can see her indignantly forbid the prompter to tie his gay
handkerchief over the injury and draw a clean one from her own velvet
bag to bind my forehead. Boltze and my school-mates greeted me very
warmly. Director Tzschirner said something very similar to Herr Winzer’s

And so matters would have remained, and in a few weeks, after passing
the examination, I should have returned to my happy mother, had not a
perverse Fate willed otherwise.

This time a bit of linen was the instrument used to lead me into the
path allotted, for when the wound healed and the handkerchief which
Clara’s mother had tied round it came back from the wash, I was
uncertain whether to return it in person or send it by a messenger with
a few words of thanks. I determined on the latter course; but when, that
same evening, I saw Clara looking so pretty as the youthful Richelieu,
I cast aside my first resolve, and the next day at dusk went to call on
the mother of the charming actress. I should scarcely have ventured
to do so in broad daylight, for Herr Ebeling, our zealous religious
instructor, lived directly opposite.

The danger, however, merely gave the venture an added zest and, ere
I was aware of it I was standing in the large and pretty sitting-room
occupied by the mother and daughter.

It was a disappointment not to meet the latter, yet I felt a certain
sense of relief. Fate intended to let me escape the storm uninjured,
for my heart had been by no means calm since I mounted the narrow stairs
leading to the apartments of the fair actress. But just as I was taking
leave the pavement echoed with the noise of hoofs and the rattle of
wheels. Prince Puckler’s coupe stopped in front of the house and the
young girl descended the steps.

She entered the room laughing merrily, but when she saw me she became
graver, and looked at her mother in surprise.

A brief explanation, the cry, “Oh, you are the man who was hurt!” and
then the proof that the room did not owe its neat appearance to her, for
her cloak flew one way, her hat another, and her gloves a third. After
this disrobing she stood before me in the costume of the youthful
Richelieu, so bewitchingly charming, so gay and bright, that I could not
restrain my delight.

She had come from old Prince Puckler, who, as he never visited the
theatre in the city, wished to see her in the costume whose beauty had
been so much praised. The vigorous, gay old gentleman had charmed her,
and she declared that she liked him far better than any of the young
men. But as she knew little of his former life and works, I told her of
his foolish pranks and chivalrous deeds.

It seemed as if her presence increased my powers of description, and
when I at last took leave she exclaimed: “You’ll come again, won’t you?
After one has finished one’s part, it’s the best time to talk.”

Did I wait to be asked a second time? Oh, no! Even had I not been the
“foolhardy Ebers,” I should have accepted her invitation. The very next
evening I was in the pleasant sitting-room, and whenever I could
slip away after supper I went to the girl, whom I loved more and more
ardently. Sometimes I repeated poems of my own, sometimes she recited
and acted passages from her best parts, amid continual jesting and
laughter. My visits seemed like so many delightful festivals, and
Clara’s mother took care that they were not so long as to weary her
treasure. She often fell asleep while we were reading and talking,
but usually she sent me away before midnight with “There’s another day
coming to-morrow.” Long before my first visit to the young actress I had
arranged a way of getting into the house at any time, and Dr. Boltze
had no suspicion of my expeditions, since on my return I strove the more
zealously to fulfil all my school duties.

This sounds scarcely credible, yet it is strictly true, for from a child
up to the present time I have always succeeded, spite of interruptions
of every kind, in devoting myself to the occupation in which I was
engaged. Loud noises in an adjoining room, or even tolerably severe
physical pain, will not prevent my working on as soon as the subject
so masters me as to throw the external world and my own body into the
background. Only when the suffering becomes very intense, the whole
being must of necessity yield to it.

During the hours of the night which followed these evening visits
I often succeeded in working earnestly for two or three hours in
preparation for the examination. During my recitations, however,
weariness asserted itself, and even more strongly the new feeling which
had obtained complete mastery over me. Here I could not shake off the
delightful memories of these evenings because I did not strive to battle
with them.

I am not without talent for drawing, and even at that time it was an
easy matter to reproduce anything which had caught my eye, not only
distinctly, but sometimes attractively and with a certain degree of
fidelity to nature. So my note-book was filled with figures which amazed
me when I saw them afterwards, for my excited imagination had filled
page after page with a perfect Witch’s Sabbath of compositions, in which
the oddest scrolls and throngs of genii blended with flowers, buds,
and all sorts of emblems of love twined around initial letters or
the picture of the person who had captured my heart at a time so

I owe the suggestion of some verses which were written at that time
to the memory of a dream. I was on the back of a swan, which bore me
through the air, and on another swan flying at my side sat Clara. Our
hands were clasped. It was delightful until I bent to kiss her; then
the swan I rode melted into mist, and I plunged headlong down, falling,
falling, until I woke.

I had this dream on the Friday before the beginning of the week in which
the first examination was to take place; and it is worthy of mention,
for it was fulfilled.

True, I needed no prophetic vision to inform me that this time of
happiness was drawing to a close. I had long known that the company was
to remove from Kottbus to Guben, but I hoped that the separation would
be followed by a speedy meeting.

It was certainly fortunate that she was going, yet the parting was hard
to bear; for the evening hours I had spent with her in innocent mirth
and the interchange of all that was best in our hearts and minds were
filled with exquisite enjoyment. The fact that our intercourse was in a
certain sense forbidden fruit merely doubled its charm.

How cautiously I had glided along in the shadows of the houses, how
anxiously I had watched the light in the minister’s study opposite, when
I went home!

True, he would have seen nothing wrong or even unseemly, save perhaps
the kiss which Clara gave me the last time she lighted me down stairs,
yet that would have been enough to shut me out of the examination. Ah!
yes, it was fortunate that she was going.

March had come, the sun shone brightly, the air was as warm as in May,
and I had carried the mother and daughter some violets which I had
gathered myself. Suddenly I thought how delightful it would be to drive
with Clara in an open carriage through the spring beauty of the country.
The next day was Sunday. If I went with them and spent the night in
Guben I could reach home in time the next day. I need only tell Dr.
Boltze I was going to Komptendorf, and order the carriage, to transform
the dear girl’s departure into a holiday.

Again Fate interfered with the course of this story; for on my way to
school that sunny Saturday morning I met Clara’s mother, and at sight
of her the wish merged into a resolve. I followed her into the shop she
entered and explained my plan. She thought it would be delightful, and
promised to wait for me at a certain place outside of the city.

The plan was carried out. I found them at the appointed spot, my darling
as fresh as a rose. If love and joy had any substantial weight, the
horses would have found it a hard matter to drag the vehicle swiftly on.

But at the first toll-house, while the toll-keeper was changing some
money, I experienced the envy of the gods which hitherto I had known
only in Schiller’s ballad. A pedestrian passed--the teacher whom I had
offended by playing all sorts of pranks during his French lesson. Not
one of the others disliked me.

He spoke to me, but I pretended not to understand, hastily took the
change from the toll-keeper, and, raising my hat, shouted, “Drive on!”

This highly virtuous gentleman scorned the young actress, and as, on
account of my companions, he had not returned my greeting, Clara flashed
into comical wrath, which stifled in its germ my thought of leaving the
carriage and going on foot to Komptendorf, where Dr. Boltze believed me
to be.

Clara rewarded my courageous persistence by special gaiety, and when we
had reached Guben, taken supper with some other members of the company,
and spent the evening in merriment, danger and all the ills which the
future might bring were forgotten.

The next morning I breakfasted with Clara and her mother, and in bidding
them good-bye added “Till we meet again,” for the way to Berlin was
through Guben, where the railroad began.

The carriage which had brought us there took me back to Kottbus. Several
members of the company entered it and went part of the way, returning on
foot. When they left me twilight was gathering, but the happiness I had
just enjoyed shone radiantly around me, and I lived over for the second
time all the delights I had experienced.

But the nearer I approached Kottbus the more frequently arose the
fear that the French teacher might make our meeting the cause of
an accusation. He had already complained of me for very trivial
delinquencies and would hardly let this pass. And yet he might.

Was it a crime to drive with a young girl of stainless reputation under
her mother’s oversight? No. I had done nothing wrong, except to say that
I was going to Komptendorf--and that offence concerned only Dr. Boltze,
to whom I had made the false statement.

At last I fell asleep, until the wheels rattled on the pavement of the
city streets. Was my dream concerning the swan to be fulfilled?

I entered the house early. Dr. Boltze was waiting for me, and his wife’s
troubled face betrayed what had happened even more plainly than her
husband’s frown.

The French teacher had instantly informed my tutor where and with whom
he had met me, and urged him to ascertain whether I had really gone to
Komptendorf. Then he went to Clara’s former residence, questioned the
landlady and her servant, and finally interrogated the livery-stable

The mass of evidence thus gathered proved that I had paid the actress
numerous visits, and always at dusk. My dream seemed fulfilled, but
after I had told Dr. Boltze and his wife the whole truth a quiet talk
followed. The former did not give up the cause as lost, though he did
not spare reproaches, while his wife’s wrath was directed against the
informer rather than the offence committed by her favourite.

After a restless night I went to Professor Tzschirner and told him
everything, without palliation or concealment. He censured my frivolity
and lack of consideration for my position in life, but every word,
every feature of his expressive face showed that he grieved for what had
happened, and would have gladly punished it leniently. In after years
he told me so. Promising to make every effort to save me from exclusion
from the examination in the conference which he was to call at the close
of the afternoon session, he dismissed me--and he kept his word.

I know this, for I succeeded in hearing the discussion. The porter of
the gymnasium was the father of the boy whom my friend Lebenstein and I
kept to clean our boots, etc. He was a conscientious, incorruptible
man, but the peculiar circumstances of the case led him to yield to my
entreaties and admit me to a room next to the one where the conference
was held. I am grateful to him still, for it is due to this kindness
that I can think without resentment of those whose severity robbed me of
six months of my life.

This conference taught me how warm a friend I possessed in Professor
Tzschirner, and showed that Professor Braune was kindly disposed.
I remember how my heart overflowed with gratitude when Professor
Tzschirner sketched my character, extolled my rescue of life at the
Kubisch factory, and eloquently urged them to remember their own youth
and judge what had happened impartially. I should have belied my nature
had I not availed myself of the chain of circumstances which brought
me into association with the actress to make the acquaintance of so
charming a creature.

To my joyful surprise Herr Ebeling agreed with him, and spoke so
pleasantly of me and of Clara, concerning whom he had inquired, that I
began to hope he was on my side.

Unfortunately, the end of his speech destroyed all the prospects held
out in the beginning.

Space forbids further description of the discussion. The majority, spite
of the passionate hostility of the informer, voted not to expel me, but
to exclude me from the examination this time, and advise me to leave the
school. If, however, I preferred to remain, I should be permitted to do

At the close of the session I was standing in the square in front of the
school when Professor Tzschirner approached, and I asked his permission
to leave school that very day. A smile of satisfaction flitted over his
manly, intellectual face, and he granted my request at once.

So my Kottbus school-days ended, and, unfortunately, in a way unlike
what I had hoped. When I said farewell to Professor Tzschirner and his
wife I could not restrain my tears. His eyes, too, were dim, and he
repeated to me what I had already heard him say in the conference, and
wrote the same thing to my mother in a letter explaining my departure
from the school. The report which he sent with it contains not a single
word to indicate a compulsory withdrawal or the advice to leave it.

When I had stopped at Guben and said goodbye to Clara my dream was
literally fulfilled. Our delightful intercourse had come to a sudden
end. Fortunately, I was the only sufferer, for to my great joy I heard
a few months after that she had made a successful debut at the Dresden
court theatre.

I was, of course, less joyfully received in Berlin than usual, but the
letters from Professor Tzschirner and Frau Boltze put what had occurred
in the right light to my mother--nay, when she saw how I grieved over
my separation from the young girl whose charms still filled my heart and
mind, her displeasure was transformed into compassion. She also saw
how difficult it was for me to meet the friends and guardian who had
expected me to return as a graduate, and drew her darling, whom for the
first time she called her “poor boy,” still closer to her heart.

Then we consulted about the future, and it was decided that I should
graduate from the gymnasium of beautiful Quedlinburg. Professor
Schmidt’s house was warmly recommended, and was chosen for my home.

I set out for my new abode full of the best resolutions. But at
Magdeburg I saw in a show window a particularly tasteful bonnet trimmed
with lilies of the valley and moss-rose buds. The sight brought Clara’s
face framed in it vividly be fore my eyes, and drew me into the shop. It
was a Paris pattern-hat and very expensive, but I spent the larger part
of my pocket-money in purchasing it and ordered it to be sent to the
girl whose image still filled my whole soul. Hitherto I had given her
nothing except a small locket and a great many flowers.


The atmosphere of Quedlinburg was far different from that of the Mark
factory town of Kottbus. How fresh, how healthful, how stimulating to
industry and out-door exercise it was!

Everything in the senior class was just as it should be.

In Kottbus the pupils addressed each other formally. There were at the
utmost, I think, not more than half a dozen with whom I was on terms of
intimacy. In Quedlinburg a beautiful relation of comradeship united all
the members of the school. During study hours we were serious, but in
the intervals we were merry enough.

Its head, Professor Richter, the learned editor of the fragments of
Sappho, did not equal Tzschirner in keenness of intellect and bewitching
powers of description, yet we gladly followed the worthy man’s

Many a leisure day and hour we spent in the beautiful Hartz Mountains.
But, best of all, was my home in Quedlinburg, the house of my tutor,
Professor Adalbert Schmidt, an admirable man of forty, who seemed
extremely gentle and yielding, but when necessary could be very
peremptory, and allowed those under his charge to make no trespass on
his authority.

His wife was a model of amiable, almost timid womanliness. Her
sister-in-law, the widow of a magistrate, Frau Pauline Schmidt, shared
the care of the pupils and the beautiful, large garden; while her
pretty, bright young sons and daughters increased the charm of the

How pleasant were the evenings we spent in the family circle! We read,
talked, played, and Frau Pauline Schmidt was a ready listener when ever
I felt disposed to communicate to any one what I had written.

Among my school friends were some who listened to my writings and showed
me their own essays. My favorite was Carl Hey, grandson of Wilhelm
Hey, who understood child nature so well, and wrote the pretty verses
accompanying the illustrations in the Speckter Fables, named for the
artist, a book still popular with little German boys and girls. I was
also warmly attached to the enthusiastic Hubotter, who, under the name
of “Otter,” afterwards became the ornament of many of the larger German
theatres. Lindenbein, Brosin, the talented Gosrau, and the no less
gifted Schwalbe, were also dear friends.

At first I had felt much older than my companions, and I really had
seen more of life; but I soon perceived that they were splendid, lovable
fellows. My wounded heart speedily healed, and the better my physical
and mental condition became the more my demon stirred within me. It was
no merit of mine if I was not dubbed “the foolhardy Ebers” here also.
The summer in Quedlinburg was a delightful season of mingled work and
pleasure. An Easter journey through the Hartz with some gay companions,
which included an ascent of the Brocken--already once climbed from
Keilhau--is among my most delightful memories.

Like the Thuringian Mountains, the Hartz are also wreathed with a
garland of legends and historical memories. Some of its fairest blossoms
are in the immediate vicinity of Quedlinburg. These and the delight in
nature with which I here renewed my old bond tempted more than one of us
to write, and very different poems, deeper and with more true feeling,
than those produced in Kottbus. A poetic atmosphere from the Hercynian
woods and the monuments of ancient days surrounded our lives. It was
delightful to dream under the rustling beeches of the neighbouring
forest; and in the church with its ancient graves and the crypt of St.
Wiperti Cloister, the oldest specimen of Christian art in that region,
we were filled with reverence for the days of old.

The life of the great Henry, which I had celebrated in verse at Kottbus,
became a reality to me here; and what a powerful influence a visit to
the ancient cloister exerted on our young souls! The nearest relatives
of mighty sovereigns had dwelt as abbesses within its walls. But two
generations ago Anna Amalie, the hapless sister of Frederick the Great,
died while holding this office.

A strange and lasting impression was wrought upon me by a corpse and
a picture in this convent. Both were in a subterranean chamber which
possessed the property of preserving animal bodies from corruption. In
this room was the body of Countess Aurora von Konigsmark, famed as the
most beautiful woman of her time. After a youth spent in splendour she
had retired to the cloister as superior, and there she now lay unveiled,
rigid, and yellow, although every feature had retained the form it had
in death. Beside the body hung her portrait, taken at the time when a
smile on her lips, a glance from her eyes, was enough to fire the heart
of the coldest man.

A terrible antithesis!

Here the portrait of the blooming, beautiful husk of a soul exulting in
haughty arrogance; yonder that husk itself, transformed by the hand of
death into a rigid, colourless caricature, a mummy without embalming.

Art, too, had a place in Quedlinburg. I still remember with pleasure
Steuerwald’s beautiful winter landscapes, into which he so cleverly
introduced the mediaeval ruins of the Hartz region.

Thus, Quedlinburg was well suited to arouse poetic feelings in young
hearts, steep the soul with love for the beautiful, time-honoured
region, and yet fill it with the desire to make distant lands its own.
Every one knows that this was Klopstock’s birthplace; but the greatest
geographer of all ages, Karl Ritter, whose mighty mind grasped the whole
universe as if it were the precincts of his home, also first saw the
light of the world here.

Gutsmuths, the founder of the gymnastic system, Bosse, the present
Minister of Public Worship and Instruction, and Julius Wolff, are
children of Quedlinburg and pupils of its gymnasium.

The long vacation came between the written and verbal examinations,
and as I had learned privately that my work had been sufficiently
satisfactory, my mother gave me permission to go to the Black Forest, to
which pleasant memories attracted me. But my friend Hey had seen nothing
of the world, so I chose a goal more easily attained, and took him with
me to the Rhine. I went home by the way of Gottingen, and what I
saw there of the Saxonia corps filled me with such enthusiasm that I
resolved to wear the blue, white, and blue ribbon.

The oral was also successfully examination passed, and I returned to
my mother, who received me at Hosterwitz with open arms. The resolve
to devote myself to the study of law and to commence in Gottingen was
formed, and received her approval.

For what reason I preferred the legal profession it would be hard
to say. Neither mental bias nor interest gained by any searching
examination of the science to which I wished to devote myself, turned
the scale. I actually gave less thought to my profession and my whole
mental and external life than I should have bestowed upon the choice of
a residence.

In the ideal school, as I imagine it, the pupils of the senior class
should be briefly made acquainted with what each one of the principal
professions offers and requires from its members. The principal of the
institution should also aid by his counsel the choice of the young
men with whose talents and tastes long intercourse had rendered him

   [It should never contain more than seventy pupils. Barop, when I
   met him after I attained my maturity, named sixty as the largest
   number which permitted the teacher to know and treat individually
   the boys confided to his care. He would never receive more at

Of course I imagine this man not only a teacher but an educator,
familiar not alone with the school exercises, but with the mental
and physical characteristics of those who are to graduate from the

Had not the heads of the Keilhau Institute lost their pupils so young,
they would undoubtedly have succeeded in guiding the majority to the
right profession.


The weeks following my graduation were as ill suited as possible to the
decision of any serious question.

After a gay journey through Bohemia which ended in venerable Prague,
I divided my time between Hosterwitz, Blasewitz, and Dresden. In the
latter city I met among other persons, principally old friends, the son
of my uncle Brandenstein, an Austrian lieutenant on leave of absence. I
spent many a pleasant evening with him and his comrades, who were also
on leave. These young gentlemen considered the Italians, against whom
they fought, as rebels, while a cousin of my uncle, then Colonel von
Brandenstein, but afterwards promoted in the Franco-Austrian war in 1859
and 1866 to the rank of master of ordnance, held a totally different
opinion. This clever, warmhearted soldier understood the Italians and
their struggle for unity and freedom, and judged them so justly and
therefore favorably, that he often aroused the courteous opposition of
his younger comrades. I did not neglect old friends, however, and when I
did not go to the theatre in the evening I ended the day with my aunt
at Blasewitz. But, on my mother’s account, I was never long absent
from Hosterwitz. I enjoyed being with her so much. We drove and walked
together, and discussed everything the past had brought and the future

Yet I longed for academic freedom, and especially to sit at the feet of
an Ernst Curtius, and be initiated by Waitz into the methodical study of

The evening before my departure my mother drove with me to Blasewitz,
where there was an elegant entertainment at which the lyric poet Julius
Hammer, the author of “Look Around You and Look Within You,” who was
to become a dear friend of mine, extolled in enthusiastic verse the
delights of student liberty and the noble sisters Learning and Poesy.

The glowing words echoed in my heart and mind after I had torn myself
from the arms of my mother and of the woman who, next to her, was
dearest to me on earth, my aunt, and was travelling toward my goal. If
ever the feeling that I was born to good fortune took possession of me,
it was during that journey.

I did not know what weariness meant, and when, on reaching Gottingen, I
learned that the students’ coffee-house was still closed and that no one
would arrive for three or four days, I went to Cassel to visit the royal
garden in Wilhelmshohe.

At the station I saw a gentleman who looked intently at me. His face,
too, seemed familiar. I mentioned my name, and the next instant he had
embraced and kissed me. Two Keilhau friends had met, and, with sunshine
alike in our hearts and in the blue sky, we set off together to see
everything of note in beautiful Cassel.

When it was time to part, Von Born told me so eagerly how many of our
old school-mates were now living in Westphalia, and how delightful it
would be to see them, that I yielded and went with him to the birthplace
of Barop and Middendorf. The hours flew like one long revel, and my
exuberant spirits made my old school-mates, who, engaged in business
enterprises, were beginning to look life solemnly in the face, feel as
if the carefree Keilhau days had returned. On going back to Gottingen, I
still had to wait a few days for the real commencement of the term, but
I was received at the station by the “Saxons,” donned the blue cap, and
engaged pleasant lodgings--though the least adapted to serious study
in the “Schonhutte,” a house in Weenderstrasse whose second story was
occupied by our corps room.

My expectations of the life with young men of congenial tastes were
completely fulfilled. Most of them belonged to the nobility, but the
beloved “blue, white, and blue” removed all distinctions of birth.

By far the most talented of its members was Count (now Prince) Otto von
Stolberg-Wernegerode, who was afterwards to hold so high a position in
the service of the Prussian Government.

Among the other scions of royal families were the hereditary Prince
Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt and his brother Henry. Both were vivacious,
agreeable young men, who entered eagerly into all the enjoyments of
student and corps life. The older brother, who died as Grand Duke,
continued his friendship for me while sovereign of his country. I was
afterwards indebted to him for the pleasure of making the acquaintance
of his wife Alice, one of the most remarkable women whom I have ever
met.--[Princess Alice of England, the daughter of Queen Victoria.-TR.]

Oh, what delightful hours we spent in the corps room, singing
and revelling, in excursions through the beautiful scenes in the
neighbourhood, and on the fencing ground, testing our strength and
skill, man to man! Every morning we woke to fresh pleasures, and every
evening closed a spring festal day, radiant with the sunlight of liberty
and the magic of friendship.

Our dinner was eaten together at the “Krone” with the most jovial of
hosts, old Betmann, whose card bore the pictures of a bed and a man.
Then came coffee, drunk at the museum or at some restaurant outside
of the city, riding, or a duel, or there was some excursion, or the
entertainment of a fellow-student from some other university, and
finally the tavern.

Many an evening also found me with some friends at the Schuttenhof,
where the young Philistines danced with the little burgher girls and
pretty dressmakers. They were all, however, of unsullied reputation, and
how merrily I swung them around till the music ceased! These innocent
amusements could scarcely have injured my robust frame, yet when some
unusual misfortune happens it is a trait of human nature to seek its
first germ in the past. I, too, scanned the period immediately preceding
my illness, but reached the conclusion that it was due to acute colds,
the first of which ran into a very violent fever.

Had the result been otherwise I certainly should not have permitted my
sons to enjoy to the utmost the happy period which in my case was too
soon interrupted.

True, the hours of the night which I devoted to study could scarcely
have been beneficial to my nervous system; for when, with burning head
and full of excitement, I returned from the tavern which was closed, by
rule, at eleven--from the “Schuttenhof,” or some ball or entertainment,
I never went to rest; that was the time I gave the intellect its due.
Legal studies were pursued during the hours of the night only at the
commencement of my stay in Gottingen, for I rarely attended the lectures
for which I had entered my name, though the brevity of the Roman
definitions of law, with which Ribbentropp’s lectures had made me
familiar, afforded me much pleasure. Unfortunately, I could not attend
the lectures of Ernst Curtius, who had just been summoned to Gottingen,
on account of the hours at which they were given. My wish to join
Waitz’s classes was also unfulfilled, but I went to those of the
philosopher Lotze, and they opened a new world to me. I was also one of
the most eager of Professor Unger’s hearers.

Probably his “History of Art” would have attracted me for its own sake,
but I must confess that at first his charming little daughter was the
sole magnet which drew me to his lectures; for on account of displaying
the pictures he delivered them at his own house.

Unfortunately, I rarely met the fair Julie, but, to make amends, I found
through her father the way to that province of investigation to which my
after-life was to be devoted.

In several lessons he discussed subtly and vividly the art of the
Egyptians, mentioning Champollion’s deciphering of the hieroglyphics.

This great intellectual achievement awakened my deepest interest. I went
at once to the library, and Unger selected the books which seemed best
adapted to give me further instruction.

I returned with Champollion’s Grammaire Hieroglyphique, Lepsius’s
Lettre a Rosellini, and unfortunately with some misleading writings by

How often afterward, returning in the evening from some entertainment, I
have buried myself in the grammar and tried to write hieroglyphics.

True, I strove still more frequently and persistently to follow the
philosopher Lotze.

Obedient to a powerful instinct, my untrained intellect had sought to
read the souls of men. Now I learned through Lotze to recognize the body
as the instrument to which the emotions of the soul, the harmonies and
discords of the mental and emotional life, owe their origin.

I intended later to devote myself earnestly to the study of
physiology, for without it Lotze could be but half understood; and from
physiologists emanated the conflict which at that time so deeply stirred
the learned world.

In Gottingen especially the air seemed, as it were, filled with
physiological and other questions of the natural sciences.

In that time of the most sorrowful reaction the political condition of
Germany was so wretched that any discussion concerning it was gladly
avoided. I do not remember having attended a single debate on that topic
in the circles of the students with which I was nearly connected.

But the great question “Materialism or Antimaterialism” still agitated
the Georgia Augusta, in whose province the conflict had assumed still
sharper forms, owing to Rudolf Wagner’s speech during the convention of
the Guttingen naturalists three years prior to my entrance.

Carl Vogt’s “Science and Bigotry” exerted a powerful influence, owing to
the sarcastic tone in which the author attacked his calmer adversary.
In the honest conviction of profound knowledge, the clever, vigorous
champion of materialism endeavoured to brand the opponents of his dogmas
with the stigma of absurdity, and those who flattered themselves with
the belief that they belonged to the ranks of the “strong-minded”
 followed his standard.

Hegel’s influence was broken, Schelling’s idealism had been thrust
aside. The solid, easily accessible fare of the materialists was
especially relished by those educated in the natural sciences, and
Vogt’s maxim, that thought stands in a similar relation to the brain as
the gall to the liver and the excretions of the other organs, met
with the greater approval the more confidently and wittily it was
promulgated. The philosopher could not help asserting that the nature of
the soul could be disclosed neither by the scalpel nor the microscope;
yet the discoveries of the naturalist, which had led to the perception
of the relation existing between the psychical and material life seemed
to give the most honest, among whom Carl Vogt held the first rank; a
right to uphold their dogmas.

Materialism versus Antimaterialism was the subject under discussion
in the learned circles of Germany. Nay, I remember scarcely any other
powerful wave of the intellect visible during this period of stagnation.

Philosophy could not fail to be filled with pity and disapproval to
see the independent existence of the soul, as it were, authoritatively
reaffirmed by a purely empirical science, and also brought into the
field all the defensive forces at her command. But throngs flocked to
the camp of Materialism, for the trumpets of her leaders had a clearer,
more confident sound than the lower and less readily understood opposing
cries of the philosophers.

Vogt’s wrath was directed with special keenness against my teacher,
Lotze. These topics were rarely discussed at the tavern or among the
members of the corps. I first heard them made the subject of an animated
exchange of thought in the Dirichlet household, where Professor
Baum emerged from his aristocratic composure to denounce vehemently
materialism and its apostles. Of course I endeavoured to gain
information about things which so strongly moved intellectual men, and
read in addition to Lotze’s books the polemical writings which were at
that time in everybody’s hands.

Vogt’s caustic style charmed me, but it was not due solely to the
religious convictions which I had brought from my home and from Keilhau
that I perceived that here a sharp sword was swung by a strong arm to
cut water. The wounds it dealt would not bleed, for they were inflicted
upon a body against which it had as little power as Satan against the

When, before I became acquainted with Feuerbach, I flung my books aside,
wearied or angered, I often seized in the middle of the night my monster
Poem of the World, my tragedy of Panthea and Abradatus, or some other
poetical work, and did not retire till the wick of the lamp burned out
at three in the morning.

When I think how much time and earnest labour were lavished on that
poem, I regret having yielded to the hasty impulse to destroy it.

I have never since ventured to undertake anything on so grand a scale.
I could repeat only a few lines of the verses it contained; but the
plan of the whole work, as I rounded it in Gottingen and Hosterwitz, I
remember perfectly, and I think, if only for the sake of its peculiarity
and as the mirror of a portion of my intellectual life at that time, its
main outlines deserve reproduction here.

I made Power and Matter, which I imagined as a formless element; the
basis of all existence. These two had been cast forth by the divine
Ruler of a world incomprehensible to human intelligence, in which the
present is a moment, space a bubble, as out of harmony with the mighty
conditions and purposes of his realm. But this supreme Ruler offered to
create for them a world suited to their lower plane of existence. Power
I imagined a man, Matter a woman. They were hostile to each other,
for he despised his quiet, inert companion, she feared her restless,
unyielding partner; yet the power of the ruler of the higher world
forced them to wed.

From their loveless union sprang the earth, the stars-in short, all
inorganic life.

When the latter showed its relation to the father, Power, by the
impetuous rush of the stars through space, by terrible eruptions, etc.,
the mother, Matter, was alarmed, and as, to soothe them, she drew into
her embrace the flaming spheres, which dashed each other to pieces
in their mad career, and restrained the fiercest, her chill heart was
warmed by her children’s fire.

Thus, as it were, raised to a higher condition, she longed for less
unruly children, and her husband, Power, who, though he would have
gladly cast her off, was bound to her by a thousand ties, took pity upon
her, because her listlessness and coldness were transformed to warmth
and motion, and another child sprang from their union, love.

But she seemed to have been born to misery, and wandered mournfully
about, weeping and lamenting because she lacked an object for which to
labour. True, she drew from the flaming, smoking bodies which she kissed
a soft, beneficent light, she induced some to give up their former
impetuosity and respect the course of others, and plants and trees
sprang from the earth where her lips touched it, yet her longing to
receive something which would be in harmony with her own nature remained

But she was a lovely child and the darling of her father, whom, by her
entreaties, she persuaded to animate with his own nature the shapes
which she created in sport, those of the animals.

From this time there were living creatures moved by Power and Love.
But again they brought trouble to the mother; for they were stirred
by fierce passions, under whose influence they attacked and rent each
other. But Love did not cease to form new shapes until she attained the
most beautiful, the human form.

Yet human beings were stirred by the same feelings as the animals, and
Love’s longing for something in which she could find comfort remained
unsatisfied, till, repelled by her savage father and her listless
mother, she flung herself in despair from a rock. But being immortal,
she did not perish.

Her blood sprinkled the earth, and from her wounds exhaled an exquisite
fragrance, which rose higher and higher till it reached the realm whence
came her parents; and its supreme ruler took pity on the exile’s child,
and from the blood of Love grew at his sign a lily, from which arose,
radiant in white garments, Intellect, which the Most High had breathed
into the flower.

He came from that higher world to ours, but only a vague memory of his
former home was permitted, lest he should compare his present abode with
the old one and scorn it.

As soon as he met Love he was attracted towards her, and she ardently
accepted his suit; yet the first embrace chilled her, and her fervour
startled and repelled him. So, each fearing the other’s tenderness,
they shunned each other, though an invincible charm constantly drew them

Love continued to yearn for him even after she had sundered the bond;
but he often yielded to the longing for his higher home, of whose
splendours he retained a memory, and soared upward. Yet whenever he drew
near he was driven back to the other.

There he directed sometimes with Love, sometimes alone, the life of
everything in the universe, or in unison with her animated men with his

He did this sometimes willingly, sometimes reluctantly, with greater or
less strength, according to the nearness he had attained to his heavenly
home; but when he had succeeded in reaching its circle of light, he
returned wonderfully invigorated. Then whoever Love and he joined in
animating with their breath became an artist.

There was also a thoroughly comic figure and one with many humorous
touches. Intellect’s page, Instinct, who had risen from the lily with
him, was a comical fellow. When he tried to follow his master’s flight
he fell after the first few strokes of his wings, and usually among
nettles. Only when some base advantage was to be gained on earth did
this servant succeed better than his master. The mother, Matter, whom
for the sake of the verse I called by her Greek name Hyle, was
also invested with a shade of comedy as a dissatisfied wife and the
mother-in-law of Intellect.

In regard to the whole Poem of the World I will observe that, up to the
time I finished the last line, I had never studied the kindred systems
of the Neo-Platonics or the Gnostics.

The verses which described the moment when Matter drew her fiery
children to her heart and thus warmed it, another passage in which men
who were destitute of intellect sought to destroy themselves and
Love resolved to sacrifice her own life, and, lastly, the song where
Intellect rises from the lily, besides many others, were worthy, in my
opinion, of being preserved.

What first diverted my attention from the work was, as has been
mentioned, the study of Feuerbach, to which I had been induced by a
letter from the geographer Karl Andree. I eagerly seized his books,
first choosing his “Axioms of the Philosophy of the Future,” and
afterwards devoured everything he had written which the library
contained. And at that time I was grateful to my friend the geographer
for his advice. True, Feuerbach seemed to me to shatter many things
which from a child I had held sacred; yet I thought I discovered behind
the falling masonry the image of eternal truth.

The veil which I afterwards saw spread over so many things in
Feuerbach’s writings at that time produced the same influence upon me
as the mist whence rise here the towers, yonder the battlements of a
castle. It might be large or small; the grey mist which forbids the eye
from definitely measuring its height and width by no means prevents the
traveller, who knows that a powerful lord possesses the citadel, from
believing it to be as large and well guarded as the power of its ruler
would imply.

True, I was not sufficiently mature for the study of this great thinker,
whom I afterwards saw endanger other unripe minds. As a disciple of this
master there were many things to be destroyed which from childhood
had become interlaced by a thousand roots and fibres with my whole
intellectual organism, and such operations are not effected without

What I learned while seeking after truth during those night hours ought
to have taught me the connection between mind and body; yet I was never
farther from perceiving it. A sharp division had taken place in my
nature. By night, in arduous conflict, I led a strange mental life,
known to myself alone; by day all this was forgotten, unless--and how
rarely this happened--some conversation recalled it.

From my first step out of doors I belonged to life, to the corps, to
pleasure. What was individual existence, mortality, or the eternal life
of the soul! Minerva’s bird is an owl. Like it, these learned questions
belonged to the night. They should cast no shadow on the brightness of
my day. When I met the first friend in the blue cap no one need have
sung our corps song, “Away with cares and crotchets!”

At no time had the exuberant joy in mere existence stirred more strongly
within me. My whole nature was filled with the longing to utilize and
enjoy this brief earthly life which Feuerbach had proved was to end with

          Better an hour’s mad revel,
          E’en a kiss from a Moenad’s lip,
          Than a year of timid doubting,
          Daring only to taste and sip,

were the closing lines of a song which I composed at this time.

So my old wantonness unfolded its wings, but it was not to remain always

My mother had gone to Holland with Paula just before Advent, and as I
could not spend my next vacation at home, she promised to furnish me
with means to take a trip through the great German Hanse cities.

In Bremen I was most cordially received in the family of Mohr, a member
of my corps, in whose circle I spent some delightful hours, and also an
evening never to be forgotten in the famous old Rathskeller.

But I wished to see the harbour of the great commercial city, and the
ships which ploughed the ocean to those distant lands for which I had
often longed.

Since I had shot my first hare in Komptendorf and brought down my
first partridge from the air, the love of sport had never slumbered;
I gratified it whenever I could, and intended to take a boat from
Bremerhaven and go as near as possible to the sea, where I could shoot
the cormorants and the bald-headed eagles which hunters on the seashore
class among the most precious booty.

In Bremerhaven an architect whose acquaintance I had made on the way
became my cicerone, and showed me all the sights of the small but very
quaint port. I had expected to find the bustle on shore greater, but
what a throng of ships and boats, masts and smoke-stacks I saw!

My guide showed me the last lighthouse which had been built, and took me
on board of a mail steamer which was about to sail to America.

I was deeply interested in all this, but my companion promised to
show me things still more remarkable if I would give up my shooting

Unfortunately, I insisted upon my plan, and the next morning sailed in
a pouring rain through a dense mist to the mouth of the Weser and out
to sea. But, instead of pleasure and booty, I gained on this expedition
nothing but discomfort and drenching, which resulted in a violent cold.

What I witnessed and experienced in my journey back to Cuttingen is
scarcely worth mentioning. The only enjoyable hours were spent at the
theatre in Hanover, where I saw Niemann in Templar and Jewess, and for
the first time witnessed the thoroughly studied yet perfectly natural
impersonations of Marie Seebach. I also remember with much pleasure the
royal riding-school in charge of General Meyer. Never have I seen the
strength of noble chargers controlled and guided with so much firmness,
ease, and grace as by the hand of this officer, the best horseman in


The state of health in which, still with a slight fever recurring every
afternoon, I returned to Gottingen was by no means cheering.

Besides, I was obliged at once to undergo the five days’ imprisonment
to which I had been justly sentenced for reckless shooting across the

During the day I read, besides some very trashy novels, several by Jean
Paul, with most of which I had become familiar while a school-boy in the
first class.

They had given me so much pleasure that I was vexed with the
indifference with which some of my friends laid the works of the great
humorist aside.

There were rarely any conversations on the more serious scientific
subjects among the members of the corps, though it did not lack talented
young men, and some of the older ones were industrious.

Nothing, perhaps, lends the life of the corps a greater charm than the
affectionate intercourse which unites individuals.

I was always sure of finding sympathizers for everything that touched my

With regard to the results of my nocturnal labour the case was very
different. If any one else had “bored” me at the tavern about his views
of Feuerbach and Lotze, I should undoubtedly have stopped him with
Goethe’s “Ergo bibamus.”

There was one person in Gottingen, however, Herbert Pernice, from whom
I might expect full sympathy. Though only five years my senior, he was
already enrolled among the teachers of the legal faculty. The vigour
and keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge were as
amazing as his corpulence.

One evening I had met him at the Krone and left the table at which he
presided in a very enthusiastic state of mind; for while emptying I
know not how many bottles of Rhine wine he directed the conversation
apparently unconsciously.

Each of his statements seemed to strike the nail on the head.

The next day, to my great delight, I met him again at Professor Baum’s.
He had retreated from the ladies, whom he always avoided, and as we
were alone in the room I soon succeeded in turning the conversation upon
Feuerbach, for I fairly longed to have another person’s opinion of him.
Besides, I was certain of hearing the philosopher criticised by the
conservative antimaterialistic Pernice in an original manner--that is,
if he knew him at all. True, I might have spared myself the doubt; for
into what domain of humanistic knowledge had not this highly talented
man entered!

Feuerbach was thoroughly familiar to him, but he condemned his
philosophy with pitiless severity, and opposed with keen wit and
sharp dialectics his reasons for denying the immortality of the soul,
inveighing especially against the phrase and idea “philosophy of
religion” as an absurdity which genuine philosophy ought not to permit
because it dealt only with thought, while religion concerned faith,
whose seat is not in the head, the sacred fount of all philosophy, but
the heart, the warm abode of religion and faith. Then he advised me
to read Bacon, study Kant, Plato, and the other ancient
philosophers--Lotze, too, if I desired--and when I had them all by
heart, take up the lesser lights, and even then be in no hurry to read
Feuerbach and his wild theology.

I met and conversed with him again whenever I could, and he availed
himself of the confidence he inspired to arouse my enthusiasm for the
study of jurisprudence. So I am indebted to Pernice for many benefits.
In one respect only my reverence for him entailed a certain peril.

He knew what I was doing, but instead of warning me of the danger
which threatened me from toiling at night after such exciting days, he
approved my course and described episodes of his own periods of study.

One of the three essays for which he received prizes had been written
to compel his father to retract the “stupid fellow” with which he had
insulted him. At that time he had sat over his books day and night for
weeks, and, thank Heaven, did not suffer from it.

His colossal frame really did seem immovable, and I deemed mine, though
much slighter, capable of nearly equal endurance. It required severe
exertions to weary me, and my mind possessed the capacity to devote
itself to strenuous labour directly after the gayest amusements, and
there was no lack of such “pastimes” either in Gottingen or just beyond
its limits.

Among the latter was an excursion to Cassel which was associated with an
adventure whose singular course impressed it firmly on my memory.

When we arrived, chilled by the railway journey, an acquaintance of the
friend who accompanied me ordered rum and water for us, and we laughed
and jested with the landlord’s pretty daughters, who brought it to us.

As it had been snowing heavily and the sleighing was excellent, we
determined to return directly after dinner, and drive as far as Munden.
Of course the merry girls would be welcome companions, and we did not
find it very difficult to persuade them to go part of the way with us.

So we hired two sleighs to convey us to a village distant about an
hour’s ride, from which we were to send them back in one, while my
friend and I pursued our journey in the other.

After a lively dinner with our friends they joined us.

The snow-storm, which had ceased for several hours, began again, growing
more and more violent as we drove on. I never saw such masses of the
largest flakes, and just outside the village where the girls were to
turn back the horses could barely force their way through the white mass
which transformed the whole landscape into a single snowy coverlet.

The clouds seemed inexhaustible, and when the time for departure came
the driver declared that it would be impossible to go back to Cassel.

The girls, who, exhilarated by the swift movement through the cold,
bracing air, had entered into our merriment, grew more and more anxious.
Our well-meant efforts to comfort them were rejected; they were angry
with us for placing them in such an unpleasant position.

The lamps were lighted when I thought of taking the landlady into our
confidence and asking her to care for the poor frightened children. She
was a kind, sensible woman, and though she at first exclaimed over their
heedlessness, she addressed them with maternal tenderness and showed
them to the room they were to occupy.

They came down again at supper reassured, and we ate the rustic meal
together very merrily. One of them wrote a letter to her father, saying
that they had been detained by the snow at the house of an acquaintance,
and a messenger set off with it at sunrise, but we were told that the
road would not be passable before noon.

Yet, gay as our companions were at breakfast, the thought of
entertaining them longer seemed irksome, and as the church bells were
ringing some one proposed that we should go.

A path had been shovelled, and we were soon seated in the country
church. The pastor, a fine-looking man of middle age, entered, and
though I no longer remember his text, I recollect perfectly that he
spoke of the temptations which threaten to lure us from the right paths
and the means of resisting them.

One of the most effectual, he said, was the remembrance of those to whom
we owe love and respect. I thought of my mother and blind old Langethal,
of Tzschirner, and of Herbert Pernice, and, dissatisfied with myself,
resolved to do in the future not only what was seemly, but what the duty
of entering more deeply into the science which I had chosen required.

The childish faith which Feuerbach’s teachings had threatened to destroy
seemed to gaze loyally at me with my mother’s eyes. I felt that Pernice
was right--it was the warm heart, not the cool head, which should deal
with these matters, and I left the church, which I had entered merely to
shorten an hour, feeling as if released from a burden.

Our return home was pleasant, and I began to attend the law lectures at
Gottingen with tolerable regularity.

I was as full of life, and, when occasion offered, as reckless, as ever,
though a strange symptom began to make itself unpleasantly felt. It
appeared only after severe exertion in walking, fencing, or dancing, and
consisted of a peculiar, tender feeling in the soles of my feet, which I
attributed to some fault of the shoemaker, and troubled myself the less
about it because it vanished soon after I came in.

But the family of Professor Baum, the famous surgeon, where I was very
intimate, had thought ever since my return from the Christmas vacation
that I did not look well.

With Marianne, the second daughter of this hospitable household, a
beautiful girl of remarkably brilliant mind, I had formed so intimate,
almost fraternal, a friendship, that both she and her warm-hearted
mother called me “Cousin Schorge.”

Frau Dirichlet, the wife of the great mathematician, the sister of Felix
Mendelssohn Bartholdy, in whose social and musical home I spent hours of
pleasure which will never be forgotten, also expressed her anxiety about
my loss of flesh. When a girl she had often met my mother, and at my
first visit she won my affection by her eager praise of that beloved
woman’s charms.

As the whole family were extremely musical they could afford themselves
and their friends a great deal of enjoyment. I have never heard Joachim
play so entrancingly as to her accompaniment. At a performance in her
own house, where the choruses from Cherubini’s Water-Carrier were given,
she herself had rehearsed the music with those who were to take part,
and to hear her play on the piano was a treat.

This lady, a remarkable woman in every respect, who gave me many tokens
of maternal affection, insisted on the right to warn me. She did this by
reminding me, with delicate feminine tact, of my mother when she heard
of a wager which I now remember with grave disapproval. This was to
empty an immense number of bottles of the heavy Wurzburg Stein wine and
yet remain perfectly sober. My opponent, who belonged to the Brunswick
Corps, lost, but as soon after I was attacked by illness, though not in
consequence of this folly, which had occurred about a fortnight before,
he could not give the breakfast which I had won. But he fulfilled his
obligation; for when, several lustra later, I visited his native city of
Hamburg as a Leipsic professor, to deliver an address before the Society
of Art and Science, he arranged a splendid banquet, at which I met
several old Gottingen friends.

The term was nearly over when an entertainment was given to the corps
by one of its aristocratic members. It was a very gay affair. A band of
music played, and we students danced with one another. I was one of the
last to depart, long after midnight, and on looking for my overcoat I
could not find it. One of the guests had mistaken it for his, and
the young gentleman’s servant had carried his own home. This was
unfortunate, for mine contained my door-key.

Heated by dancing, in a dress-coat, with a thin white necktie, I went
out into the night air. It was cold, and, violently as I pounded on the
door of the Schonhutte, no one opened it. At last I thought of pounding
on the gutter-spout, which I did till I roused the landlord. But I had
been at least fifteen minutes in the street, and was fairly numbed. The
landlord was obliged to open the room and light my lamp, because I could
not use my fingers.

If I had been intoxicated, which I do not believe, the cold would have
sobered me, for what happened is as distinct as if it had occurred

I undressed, went to bed, and when I was roused by a strange burning
sensation in my throat I felt so weak that I could scarcely lift my
arm. There was a peculiar taste of blood in my mouth, and as I moved
I touched something moist. But my exhaustion was so great that I fell
asleep again, and the dream which followed was so delightful that I did
not forget it. Perhaps the distinctness of my recollection is due to my
making it the subject of a poem, which I still possess. It seemed as
if I were lying in an endless field of poppies, with the notes of music
echoing around me. Never did I have a more blissful vision.

The awakening was all the more terrible. Only a few hours could have
passed since I went to rest. Dawn was just appearing, and I rang for the
old maid-servant who waited on me. An hour later Geheimrath Baum stood
beside my bed.

The heavy tax made upon my physical powers by exposure to the night air
had caused a severe haemorrhage. The excellent physician who took charge
of my case said positively that my lungs were sound, and the attack was
due to the bursting of a blood-vessel. I was to avoid sitting upright
in bed, to receive no visitors, and have ice applied. I believed myself
destined to an early death, but the departure from life caused me no
fear; nay, I felt so weary that I desired nothing but eternal sleep.
Only I wanted to see my mother again.

Then let my end come!

I was in the mood to write, and either the day after the haemorrhage or
the next one I composed the following verses:

     A field of poppies swaying to and fro,
     Their blossoms scarlet as fresh blood,
     I see, While o’er me, radiant in the noontide glow,
     The sky, blue as corn-flowers, arches free.

     Low music echoes through the breezes warm;
     The violet lends the poppy her sweet breath;
     The song of nightingales is heard, a swarm
     Of butterflies flit hov’ring o’er the heath.

     While thus I lie, wrapped in a morning dream,
     Half waking, half asleep, ‘mid poppies red,
     A fresh breeze cools my burning cheeks; a gleam
     Of light shines in the East. Hath the night sped?

     Then upward from an opening bud hath flown
     A poppy leaf toward the azure sky,
     But close beside it, from a flower full-blown,
     The scattered petals on the brown earth lie.

     The leaflet flutters, a fair sight to view,
     By the fresh matin breezes heavenward borne,
     The faded poppy falls, the fields anew
     To fertilize, which grateful thanks return.

     Starting from slumber round my room I gaze
     My hand of my own life-blood bears the stain;
     I am the poppy-leaf, with the first rays
     Of morning snatched away from earth’s domain.

     Not mine the fate the world’s dark ways to wend,
     And perish, wearied, at the goal of life;
     Still glad and blooming, I leave every friend;
     The game is lost--but with what joys ‘twas rife!

I cannot express how these verses relieved my heart; and when on the
third day I again felt comparatively well I tried to believe that I
should soon recover, enjoy the pleasures of corps life, though with some
caution, and devote myself seriously to the study of jurisprudence under
Pernice’s direction.

The physician gave his permission for a speedy return, but his assurance
that there was no immediate danger if I was careful did not afford me
unmixed pleasure. For my mother’s sake and my own I desired to live, but
the rules he prescribed before my departure were so contradictory to
my nature that they seemed unbearably cruel. They restricted every
movement. He feared the haemorrhage far less than the tender feeling in
the soles of my feet and other small symptoms of the commencement of a
chronic disease.

Middendorf had taught us to recognize God’s guidance in Nature and our
own lives, and how often I succeeded in doing so! But when I examined
myself and my condition closely it seemed as if what had befallen me was
the result of a malicious or blind chance.

Never before or since have I felt so crushed and destitute of support
as during those days, and in this mood I left the city where the spring
days of life had bloomed so richly for me, and returned home to my
mother. She had learned what had occurred, but the physician had assured
her that with my vigorous constitution I should regain my health if I
followed his directions.


The period which now followed was the most terrible of my whole life.
Even the faithful love that surrounded me could do little to relieve it.

Medicines did not avail, and I had not yet found the arcanum which
afterwards so greatly benefitted my suffering soul.

The props which my mother and Middendorf had bestowed upon me when a boy
had fallen; and the feeling of convalescence, which gives the invalid’s
life a sense of bliss the healthy person rarely knows, could not aid me,
for the disease increased with wonderful speed.

When autumn came I was so much worse that Geheimrath von Ammon, a
learned and experienced physician, recalled his advice that my mother
and I should spend the winter in the south. The journey would have been
fatal. The correctness of his judgment was proved by the short trip to
Berlin which I took with my mother, aided by my brother Martin, who was
then a physician studying with the famous clinical doctor Schonlein. It
was attended with cruel suffering and the most injurious results, but
it was necessary for me to return to my comfortable winter quarters. Our
old friend and family physician, who had come to Hosterwitz in September
to visit me, wished to have me near him, and in those days there was
probably no one who deserved more confidence; for Heinrich Moritz
Romberg was considered the most distinguished pathologist in nervous
diseases in Germany, and his works on his own specialty are still

In what a condition I entered the home which I had left so strong and
full of youthful vigour! And Berlin did not receive me kindly; for the
first months I spent there brought days of suffering with fever in the
afternoon, and nights whose condition was no less torturing than pain.

But our physician had been present at my birth, he was my godfather, and
as kind as if I were his son. He did everything in his power to relieve
me, but the remedies he used were not much easier to bear than many a
torturing disease. And hardest of all, I was ordered to keep perfectly
still in bed. What a prospect! But when I had once resolved to follow
the doctor’s advice, I controlled with the utmost care every movement
of my body. I, who had so often wished to fly, lay like my own corpse. I
did not move, for I did not want to die, and intended to use every means
in my power to defer the end. Death, which after the haemorrhage had
appeared as the beautiful winged boy who is so easily mistaken for the
god of love--Death, who had incited me to write saucy, defiant verses
about him, now confronted me as a hollow-eyed, hideous skeleton.

In the guise of the most appalling figure among the apocalyptic riders
of Cornelius, who had used me when a child for the model of a laughing
angel, he seemed to be stretching his hand toward me from his emaciated
steed. The poppy leaf was not to flutter toward the sky, but to wither
in the dust.

Once, several weeks after our return home, I saw the eyes of my mother,
who rarely wept, reddened with tears after a conversation with Dr.
Romberg. When I asked my friend and physician if he would advise me to
make my will, he said that it could do no harm.

Soon after Hans Geppert, who meanwhile had become a notary, arrived with
two witnesses, odd-looking fellows who belonged to the working class,
and I made my will in due form. The certainty that when I was no more
what I possessed would be divided as I wished was a ray of light in this
gloomy time.

No one knows the solemnity of Death save the person whom his cold hand
has touched, and I felt it for weeks upon my heart.

What days and nights these were!

Yet in the presence of the open grave from which I shrank something took
place which deeply moved my whole nature, gave it a new direction, led
me to self-examination, and thence to a knowledge of my own character
which revealed many surprising and unpleasing things. But I also felt
that it was not yet too late to bring the good and evil traits, partly
hereditary, partly acquired, into harmony with one another and render
them of use to the same higher objects.

Yes, if I were permitted time to do so!

I had learned how quickly and unexpectedly the hour strikes which puts
an end to all struggle towards a goal.

Besides, I now knew what would protect me from a relapse into the old
careless waste of strength, what could aid me to do my utmost, for the
mother’s heart had again found the son’s, fully and completely.

I had been forced to become as helpless as a child in order again to lay
my head upon her breast and belong to her as completely as during the
first years of life. During the long nights when fever robbed me of
sleep she sat beside my bed, holding my hands in hers.

At last one came which contained hours of the most intense suffering,
and in its course she asked, “Can you still pray?” The answer, which
came from my inmost heart, was, “When you are with me, and with you,

We remained silent a long time, and whenever impatience, suffering,
and faintness threatened to overpower me, I found, like Antaeus when he
touched the earth that had given him birth, new strength in my mother’s

My old life seemed henceforward to lie far behind me.

I did not take up Feuerbach’s writings again; his way could never again
have been mine. In my suffering it had become evident from what an Eden
he turns away and into what a wilderness he leads. But I still value
this thinker as an honest, virile, and brilliantly gifted seeker after

I also laid aside the other philosophers whose works I had been

I never resumed Lotze, though later, with two other students, I attended
Trendelenburg’s difficult course, and tried to comprehend Kant’s

I first became familiar with Schopenhauer in Jena.

On the other hand, I again devoted many leisure hours to Egyptological

I felt that these studies suited my powers and would satisfy me.
Everything which had formerly withheld me from the pursuits of learning
now seemed worthless. It was as if I stood in a new relation to all
things. Even the one to my mother had undergone a transformation. I
realized for the first time what I possessed in her, how wrong I had
been, and what I owed to her. One day during this period I remembered my
Poem of the World, and instantly had the box brought in which I kept it
among German favours, little pink notes, and similar trophies.

For the first time I perceived, in examining the fruits of the labour of
so many days and nights, the vast disproportion between the magnitude of
the subject and my untrained powers. One passage seemed faulty, another
so overstrained and inadequate, that I flung it angrily back among the
rest. At the same time I thought that the verses I had addressed to
various beauties and the answers which I had received ought not to be
seen by other eyes. I was alone with the servant, a bright fire was
blazing in the stove, and, obedient to a hasty impulse, I told him to
throw the whole contents of the box into the fire.

When the last fragment was consumed to ashes I uttered a sigh of relief.

Unfortunately, the flames also destroyed the greater part of my youthful
poems. Even the completed acts of my tragedy had been overtaken by
destruction, like the heroes of Panthea and Abradatus.

If I had formerly obeyed the physician’s order to lie motionless, I
followed it after the first signs of convalescence so rigidly that even
the experienced Dr. Romberg admitted that he had not given me credit
for so much self-control. Toward the end of the winter my former
cheerfulness returned, and with it I also learned to use the arcanum
I have formerly mentioned, which makes even the most bitter things
enjoyable and lends them a taste of sweetness. I might term it “the
practice of gratitude.” Without intending it, I acquired the art of
thankfulness by training my eyes to perceive the smallest trifle which
gave cause for it. And this recognition of even the least favour of
Fortune filled the rude wintry days with so much sunshine, that when
children of my own were given me my first effort was to train them to
gratitude, and especially to an appreciation of trifles.

The motto ‘Carpe diem,’ which I had found in my father’s Horace and had
engraved upon my seal ring, unexpectedly gained a new significance by
no longer translating it “enjoy,” but “use the day,” till the time came
when the two meanings seemed identical.


Firmly as I had resolved to follow the counsel of Horace, and dear as
earnest labour was becoming, I still lacked method, a fixed goal towards
which to move with firm tread in the seclusion to which my sufferings
still condemned me.

I had relinquished the study of the law. It seemed more than doubtful
whether my health would ever permit me to devote myself to a practical
profession or an academic career, and my interest in jurisprudence was
too slight to have it allure me to make it the subject of theoretical

Egyptology, on the contrary, not only attracted me but permitted me to
devote my whole strength to it so far as my health would allow. True,
Champollion, the founder of this science, termed it “a beautiful
dowerless maiden,” but I could venture to woo her, and felt grateful
that, in choosing my profession, I could follow my inclination without
being forced to consider pecuniary advantages.

The province of labour was found, but with each step forward the
conviction of my utter lack of preparation for the new science grew

Just then the kind heart of Wilhelm Grimm’s wife brought her to me with
some delicious fruit syrup made by her own hands. When I told her what
I was doing and expressed a wish to have a guide in my science, she
promised to tell “the men” at home, and within a few days after his
sister-in-law’s visit Jacob was sitting with me.

He inquired with friendly interest how my attention had been called
to Egyptology, what progress I had made, and what other sciences I was

After my reply he shook his venerable head with its long grey locks, and
said, smiling:

“You have been putting the cart before the horse. But that’s the way
with young specialists. They want to become masters in the workshops of
their sciences as a shoemaker learns to fashion boots. Other things are
of small importance to them; and yet the special discipline first gains
value in connection with the rest or the wider province of the allied
sciences. Your deciphering of hieroglyphics can only make you a
dragoman, and you must become a scholar in the higher sense, a real and
thorough one. The first step is to lay the linguistic foundation.”

This was said with the engaging yet impressively earnest frankness
characteristic of him. He himself had never investigated Egyptian
matters closely, and therefore did not seek to direct my course
minutely, but advised me, in general, never to forget that the special
science was nothing save a single chord, which could only produce its
full melody with those that belonged to the same lute.

Lepsius had a broader view than most of those engaged in so narrow a
field of study. He would speak of me to him.

The next Thursday Lepsius called on me. I know this because that day was
reserved for his subsequent visits.

After learning what progress I had made by my own industry, he told me
what to do next, and lastly promised to come again.

He had inquired about my previous education, and urged me to study
philology, archaeology, and at least one Semitic language. Later he
voluntarily informed me how much he, who had pursued philological,
archaeological, Sanscrit, and Germanistic studies, had been impeded
in his youth by having neglected the Semitic languages, which are more
nearly allied to the Egyptian. It would be necessary also for me to
understand English and Italian, since many things which the Egyptologist
ought to know were published in these languages, as well as in French.
Lastly he advised me to obtain some insight into Sanscrit, which was the
point of departure for all linguistic studies.

His requirements raised mountain after mountain in my path, but the
thought of being compelled to scale these heights not only did not repel
me, but seemed extremely attractive. I felt as if my strength increased
with the magnitude and multiplicity of the tasks imposed, and, full
of joyous excitement, I told Lepsius that I was ready to fulfil his
requirements in every detail.

We now discussed in what sequence and manner I should go to work, and to
this day I admire the composure, penetration, and lucidity with which he
sketched a plan of study that covered years.

I have reason to be grateful to this great scholar for the introduction
to my special science, but still more for the wisdom with which he
pointed out the direction of my studies. Like Jacob Grimm, he compelled
me, as an Egyptologist, to remain in connection with the kindred

Later my own experience was to teach me the correctness of his assertion
that it would be a mistake to commence by studying so restricted a
science as Egyptology.

My pupils can bear witness that during my long period of teaching I
always strove to urge students who intended to devote themselves to
Egyptology first to strengthen the foundations, without which the
special structure lacks support.

Lepsius’s plan of instruction provided that I should follow these
principles from the beginning. The task I had to perform was a great
and difficult one. How infinitely easier it was for those whom I had the
privilege of introducing to this science! The lecture-rooms of famous
teachers stood open to them, while my physical condition kept me for
weeks from the university; and how scanty were the aids to which the
student could turn! Yet the zeal--nay, the enthusiasm--with which
I devoted myself to the study was so great that it conquered every

   [I had no dictionary and no grammar for the hieroglyphic language
   save Champollion’s. No Stern had treated Coptic in a really
   scientific manner. I was obliged to learn it according to Tuki,
   Peyron, Tattam, and Steinthal-Schwarze. For the hieratic there was
   no aid save my own industry and the lists I had myself compiled from
   the scanty texts then at the disposal of the student. Lepsius had
   never devoted much time to them. Brugsch’s demotic grammar had
   appeared, but its use was rendered very difficult by the lack of
   conformity between the type and the actual signs.]

When I recall the amount of knowledge I mastered in a few terms it seems
incredible; yet my labour was interrupted every summer by a sojourn at
the springs--once three months, and never for a less period than six
weeks. True, I was never wholly idle while using the waters, but, on
the other hand, I was obliged to consider the danger that in winter
constantly threatened my health. All night-work was strictly forbidden
and, if I sat too long over my books by day, my mother reminded me of my
promise to the doctor, and I was obliged to stop.

During the first years I worked almost exclusively at home, for I was
permitted to go out only in very pleasant weather.

Dr. Romberg had wisely considered my reluctance to interrupt my studies
by a residence in the south, because he deemed life in a well-ordered
household more beneficial to sufferers from spinal diseases than a
warmer climate, when leaving home, as in my case, threatened to disturb
the patient’s peace of mind.

For three winters I had been denied visiting the university, the museum,
and the libraries. On the fourth I was permitted to begin, and now,
with mature judgment and thorough previous preparation, I attended the
academic lectures, and profited by the treasures of knowledge and rich
collections of the capital.

After my return from Wildbad Lepsius continued his Thursday visits, and
during the succeeding winters still remained my guide, even when I had
also placed myself, in the department of the ancient Egyptian languages,
under the instruction of Heinrich Brugsch.

At school, of course, I had not thought of studying Hebrew. Now I took
private lessons in that language, to which I devoted several hours
daily. I had learned to read Sanscrit and to translate easy passages in
the chrestomathy, and devoted myself with special zeal to the study of
the Latin grammar and prosody. Professor Julius Geppert, the brother of
our most intimate family friend, was my teacher for four terms.

The syntax of the classic languages, which had been my weak point as
a school-boy, now aroused the deepest interest, and I was grateful to
Lepsius for having so earnestly insisted upon my pursuing philology. I
soon felt the warmest appreciation of the Roman comedies, which served
as the foundation of these studies. What sound wit, what keenness of
observation, what a happy gift of invention, the old comic writers had
at their disposal! I took them up again a few years ago, after reading
with genuine pleasure in Otto Ribbeck’s masterpiece, The History of
Roman Poetry, the portions devoted to Plautus and Terence.

The types of character found in these comedies strengthened my
conviction that the motives of human actions and the mental and
emotional peculiarities of civilized men in every age always have been
and always will be the same.

With what pleasure, when again permitted to go out in the evening,
I witnessed the performances of Plautus’s pieces given by Professor
Geppert’s pupils!

The refreshed and enlarged knowledge of school Latin was of great
service in writing, and afterwards discussing, a Latin dissertation. I
devoted perhaps a still larger share of my time to Greek, and, as the
fruit of these studies, still possess many translations from Anacreon,
Sappho, and numerous fragments from the Bergk collection of Greek
lyrics, but, with the exception of those introduced into my novels, none
have been printed.

During my leisure hours translating afforded me special pleasure. An
exact rendering of difficult English authors soon made Shakespeare’s
language in both prose and poetry as intelligible as German or French.

After mastering the rules of grammar, I needed no teacher except my
mother. When I had conquered the first difficulties I took up Tennyson’s
Idyls of the King, and at last succeeded in translating two of these
beautiful poems in the metre of the original.

My success with Enid I think was very tolerable. The manuscript still
lies in my desk unpublished.

As I was now engaged in studying the languages I easily learned to read
Italian, Spanish, and Dutch books.

In view of this experience, which is not wholly personal, I have
wondered whether the instruction of boys might not be shortened to
give them more outdoor exercise. In how brief a time the pupils, as men
studying for their own benefit, not the teacher’s, would acquire many
things! Besides the languages, I studied, at first exclusively under
Lepsius’s thoroughly admirable instruction, ancient history and

Later I owed most to Gerhard, Droysen, Friederichs, and August Bockh.

A kind fate afterwards brought me into personal relations with the
latter, whose lectures on the Athenian financial system were the finest
and the most instructive I have ever heard. What clearness, what
depth of learning, what a subtle sense of humour this splendid old man
possessed! I attended his lectures in 1863, and how exquisite were the
allusions to the by no means satisfactory political conditions of the
times with which he spiced them. I also became sincerely attached to
Friederichs, and it made me happy to be able to requite him in some
small degree in Egypt for the kindness and unselfishness he had shown me
in Berlin.

Bopp’s lectures, where I tried to increase my meagre knowledge of
Sanscrit, I attended, unfortunately, only a few hours.

The lectures of the African traveller Heinrich Earth supplied rich
sources of material, but whoever expected to hear bewitching narratives
from him would have been disappointed. Even in more intimate intercourse
he rarely warmed up sufficiently to let others share the rich treasure
of his knowledge and experience. It seemed as if, during his lonely life
in Africa, he had lost the necessity of exchanging thoughts with his
fellow-men. During this late period Heinrich Brugsch developed in the
linguistic department of Egyptology what I had gained from Lepsius and
by my own industry, and I gladly term myself his pupil.

I have cause to be grateful for the fresh and helpful way in which this
great and tireless investigator gave me a private lecture; but Lepsius
had opened the door of our science, and though he could carry me only
to a certain stage in the grammar of the ancient Egyptians, in other
departments I owe him more than any other of my intellectual guides.
I am most indebted to him for the direction to use historical and
archaeological authorities critically, and his correction of the tasks
he set me; but our conversations on archaeological subjects have also
been of the greatest interest.

After his death I tried to return in some small degree what his
unselfish kindness had bestowed by accepting the invitation to become
his biographer. In “Richard Lepsius,” I describe reverently but without
deviating one step from the truth, this wonderful scholar, who was a
faithful and always affectionate friend.

I can scarcely believe it possible that the dignified man, with the
grave, stern, clear-cut, scholarly face and snow-white hair, was but
forty-five years old when he began to direct my studies; for, spite of
his erect bearing and alert, movements, he seemed to me at that time a
venerable old man. There was something in the aristocratic reserve of
his nature and the cool, penetrating sharpness of his criticism,
which is usually found only in men of more mature years. I should have
supposed him incapable of any heedless word, any warm emotion, until
I afterwards met him under his own roof and enjoyed the warm-hearted
cheerfulness of the father of the family and the graciousness of the

It certainly was not the cool, calculating reason, but the heart, which
had urged him to devote so many hours of his precious time to the young
follower of his science.

Heinrich Brugsch, my second teacher, was far superior to Lepsius as
a decipherer and investigator of the various stages of the ancient
Egyptian languages. Two natures more totally unlike can scarcely be

Brugsch was a man of impulse, who maintained his cheerfulness even when
life showed him its serious side. Then, as now, he devoted himself with
tireless energy to hard work. In this respect he resembled Lepsius, with
whom he had other traits in common-first, a keen sense of order in the
collection and arrangement of the abundant store of scientific material
at his disposal; and, secondly, the circumstance that Alexander von
Humboldt had smoothed the beginning of the career of investigation for
both. The attention of this great scholar and influential man had been
attracted by Brugsch’s first Egyptological works, which he had commenced
before he left school, and his keen eye recognized their value as
well as the genius of their author. As soon as he began to win renown
Humboldt extended his powerful protection to him, and induced his
friend, the king, to afford him means for continuing his education in
Paris and for a journey to Europe.

Though it was Bunsen who first induced Lepsius to devote himself to
Egyptology, that he might systematize the science and prune with the
knife of philological and historical criticism the shoots which grew
so wildly after Champollion’s death, Humboldt had opened the paths to
learning which in Paris were closed to the foreigner.

Finally, it was the great naturalist who had lent the aid of his
powerful influence with Frederick William IV to the enterprise supported
by Bunsen of an expedition to Egypt under the direction of Lepsius. But
for the help of the most influential man of his day it would have been
difficult--nay, perhaps impossible--to obtain for themselves and
German investigation the position which, thanks to their labour, it now

I had the privilege of meeting Alexander von Humboldt at a small dinner
party, and his image is vividly imprinted on my memory. He was at that
time far beyond the span of life usually allotted to man, and what
I heard him say was hardly worth retaining, for it related to the
pleasures of the table, ladies’ toilettes, court gossip, etc. When he
afterwards gave me his hand I noticed the numerous blue veins which
covered it like a network. It was not until later that I learned how
many important enterprises that delicate hand had aided.

Heinrich Brugsch is still pursuing with fresh creative power the
profession of Egyptological research. The noble, simple-hearted woman
who was so proud of her son’s increasing renown, his mother, died long
ago. She modestly admired his greatness, yet his shrewdness, capacity
for work, and happy nature were a heritage from her.

Heinrich Brugsch’s instruction extended beyond the actual period of

With the commencement of convalescence and the purposeful industry which
then began, a time of happiness dawned for me. The mental calmness felt
by every one who, secluded from the tumult of the world, as I was at
that time, devotes himself to the faithful fulfilment of duty, rendered
it comparatively easy for me to accommodate myself patiently to a
condition which a short time before would have seemed insupportable.

True, I was forced to dispense with the companionship of gay associates
of my own age. At first many members of my old corps, who were studying
in Berlin, sought me, but gradually their places were filled by other

The dearest of these was Dr. Adolf Baeyer, son of the General. He is
now one of the leaders in his chosen science, chemistry, and is Justus
Liebig’s successor in the Munich University.

My second friend was a young Pole who devoted himself eagerly to
Egyptology, and whom Lepsius had introduced as a professional comrade.
He called me Georg and I him Mieczy (his name was Mieczyslaw).

So, during those hard winters, I did not lack friendship. But they also
wove into my life something else which lends their memory a melancholy

The second daughter of my mother’s Belgian niece, who had married in
Berlin the architect Fritz Hitzig, afterwards President of the Academy
of Arts, was named Eugenie and nicknamed “Nenny.”

If ever any woman fulfilled the demands of the fairy tale, “White
as snow and black as ebony,” it was she. Only the “red as blood” was
lacking, for usually but a faint roseate hue tinged her cheeks. Her
large blue eyes had an innocent, dreamy, half-melancholy expression,
which I was not the only person who found unspeakably charming.
Afterwards it seemed to me, in recalling her look, that she beheld the
fair boy Death, whose lowered torch she was so soon to follow.

About the time that I returned to Berlin seriously ill she had just left
boarding-school, and it is difficult to describe the impression she made
when I saw her for the first time; yet I found in the opening rose all
that had lent the bud so great a charm.

I am not writing a romance, and shall not permit the heart to beautify
or transfigure the image memory retains, yet I can assert that
Nenny lacked nothing which art and poesy attribute to the women who
allegorically personate the magic of Nature or the fairest emotions and
ideals of the human soul. In this guise poet, sculptor, or artist might
have represented Imagination, the Fairy Tale, Lyric Poetry, the Dream,
or Compassion.

The wealth of raven hair, the delicate lines of the profile, the scarlet
lips, the pearly teeth, the large, long-lashed blue eyes, whose colour
formed a startling contrast to the dark hair, the slender little hands
and dainty feet, united to form a beauty whose equal Nature rarely
produces. And this fair body contained a tender, loving, pure, childlike
heart, which longed for higher gifts than human life can bestow.

Thus she appeared before me like an apparition from a world opened
only to the poet. She came often, for she loved my mother, and rarely
approached my couch without a flower, a picture which pleased her, or a
book containing a poem which she valued.

When she entered I felt as if happiness came with her. Doubtless my eyes
betrayed this distinctly enough, though I forced my lips to silence; for
what love had she, before whom life was opening like a path through
a blooming garden, to bestow on the invalid cousin who was probably
destined to an early death, and certainly to many a year of illness? At
our first meeting I felt that I loved her, but for that very reason I
desired to conceal it.

I had grown modest. It was enough for me to gaze at her, hear her dear
voice, and sometimes--she was my cousin--clasp her little hand.

Science was now the object of my devotion. My intellect, passion, and
fire were all hers. A kind fortune seemed to send me Nenny in order to
bestow a gift also upon the heart, the soul, the sense of beauty.

This state of affairs could not last; for no duty commanded her to share
the conflict raging within me, and a day came when I learned from her
own lips that she loved me, that her heart had been mine when she was
a little school-girl, that during my illness she had never wearied of
praying for me, and had wept all night long when the physician told her
mother of the danger in which I stood.

This confession sounded like angel voices. It made me infinitely happy,
yet I had strength to entreat Nenny to treasure this blissful hour with
me as the fairest jewel of our lives, and then help me to fulfil the
duty of parting from her.

But she took a different view of the future. It was enough for her to
know that my heart was hers. If I died young, she would follow me.

And now the devout child, who firmly believed in a meeting after death
face to face, permitted me a glimpse of the wondrous world in which she
hoped to have her portion after the end here.

I listened in astonishment, with sincere emotion. This was the faith
which moved mountains, which brings heaven itself to earth.

Afterwards I again beheld the eyes with which, gazing into vacancy, she
tried to conjure up before my soul these visions of hope from the realm
of her fairest dreams--they were those of Raphael’s Saint Cecilia in
Bologna and Munich. I also saw them long after Nenny’s death in one of
Murillo’s Madonnas in Seville, and even now they rise distinctly before
my memory.

To disturb this childish faith or check the imagination winged by this
devout enthusiasm would have seemed to me actually criminal. And I
was young. Even the suffering I had endured had neither silenced the
yearning voice of my heart nor cooled the warmth of my blood. I, who
had believed that the garden of love was forever closed against me, was
beloved by the most beautiful girl, who was even dearer to me than life,
and with new hope, which Nenny’s faith in God’s goodness bedewed with
warm spring rain, I enjoyed this happiness.

Yet conscience could not be silenced. The warning voice of my mother, to
whom I had opened my heart, sharpened the admonitions of mine; and when
Wildbad brought me only relief, by no means complete recovery, I left
the decision to the physician. It was strongly adverse. Under the most
favourable circumstances years must pass ere I should be justified in
binding any woman’s fate to mine.

So this beginning of a beautiful and serious love story became a swiftly
passing dream. Its course had been happy, but the end dealt my heart
a blow which healed very slowly. It opened afresh when in her parents’
house, where during my convalescence I was a frequent guest, I myself
advised her to marry a young land-owner, who eagerly wooed her. She
became his wife, but only a year later entered that other world which
she had regarded as her true home even while here. Her beloved image
occupies the most sacred place in the shrine of my memory.

I denied myself the pleasure of introducing her character in one of my
novels, for I felt that if I should succeed in limning it faithfully the
modern reader would be justified in considering her an impossible figure
for our days. She would perhaps have suited a fairy tale; and when I
created Bianca in The Elixir I gave her Nenny’s form. The gratitude
which I owe her will accompany me to my life’s end, for it was she who
brought to my sick-room the blue sky, sunlight, and the thousand gifts
of a blooming Garden of Eden.


While I spent the winters in my mother’s house in industrious work and
pleasant social life, the summers took me out of the city into the
open air. I always went first with my faithful nurse and companion to
Wildbad; the remainder of the warm season I spent on the Elbe, sometimes
with my mother, sometimes with my aunt.

I used the Wildbad springs in all seventeen times. For two summers,
aided by a servant, I descended from a wheel-chair into the warm water;
in the third I could dispense with assistance; and from the fourth
for several lustra I moved unchecked with a steady step. After a long
interval, owing to a severe relapse of the apparently conquered disease,
I returned to them.

The Wurtemberg Wildbad is one of the oldest cures in Germany. The legend
of the Count Mirtemberg, who discovered its healing powers by seeing
a wild boar go down to the warm spring to wash its wound, has been
rendered familiar by Uhland to every German. Ulrich von Hutten also used
it. It rises in a Black Forest valley inclosed by stately mountains, a
little stream, the Enz, crystal clear, and abounding in trout.

The small town on both banks of the river expands, ere the Enz loses
itself in the leafage, into the Kurplatz, where one stately building of
lightred sandstone adjoins another. The little white church stands at
the left. But the foil, the background for everything, is the beautiful
foliage, which is as beneficial to the eyes as are the springs to the
suffering body. This fountain of health has special qualities. The
Swabian says, “just right, like Wildbad.” It gushes just the right
degree of heat for the bath from the gravelly sand. After bathing
early in the morning I rested an hour, and when I rose obeyed any other
directions of the physician in charge of the watering-place.

The remainder of the day, if the weather was pleasant, I spent out of
doors, usually in the grounds under the leafy trees and groups of shrubs
on the shore of the Enz. On the bank of the clear little stream stood
a wooden arbour, where the murmur of the waves rippling over the mossy
granite blocks invited dreams and meditation. During my whole sojourn
in Wildbad I always passed several hours a day here. During my period
of instruction I was busied with grammatical studies in ancient Egyptian
text or archaeological works. In after years, instead of Minerva, I
summoned the muse and committed to paper the thoughts and images which
had been created in my mind at home. I wrote here the greater portion of
An Egyptian Princess, and afterwards many a chapter of Uarda, Homo Sum,
and other novels.

I was rarely interrupted, for the report had spread that I wished to
be alone while at work; yet even the first year I did not lack

Even during our first stay at Wildbad, which, with the Hirsau
interruption, lasted more than three months, my mother had formed
an intimate friendship with Frau von Burckhardt, in which I too was
included. The lady possessed rare tact in harmonizing the very diverse
elements which her husband, the physician in charge, brought to her.
Every one felt at ease in her house and found congenial society there.
So it happened that for a long time the Villa Burckhardt was the
rendezvous of the most eminent persons who sought the healing influence
of the Wildbad spring. Next to this, it was the Burckhardts who
constantly drew us back to the Enz.

Were I to number the persons whom I met here and whose acquaintanceship
I consider a benefit, the list would be a long one. Some I shall mention
later. The first years we saw most frequently the song-writer Silcher,
from Tubingen, Justus von Liebig, the Munich zoologist von Siebold, the
Belgian artist Louis Gallait, the author Moritz Hartmann, Gervinus, and,
lastly, the wife of the Stuttgart publisher Eduard Hallberger, and the
never-to-be-forgotten Frau Puricelli and her daughter Jenny.

Silcher, an unusually attractive old man, joined us frequently. No other
composer’s songs found their way so surely to the hearts of the people.
Many, as “I know not what it means,” “I must go hence to-morrow,” are
supposed to be folk-songs. It was a real pleasure to hear him sing them
in our little circle in his weak old voice. He was then seventy, but his
freshness and vivacity made him appear younger. The chivalrous courtesy
he showed to all ladies was wonderfully winning.

Justus Liebig’s manners were no less attractive, but in him genuine
amiability was united to the elegance of the man of the world who had
long been one of the most distinguished scholars of his day. He must
have been remarkably handsome in his youth, and though at that time past
fifty, the delicate outlines of his profile were wholly unmarred.

Conversation with him was always profitable and the ease with which he
made subjects farthest from his own sphere of investigation--chemistry
perfectly clear was unique in its way. Unfortunately, I have been denied
any deeper insight into the science which he so greatly advanced, but
I still remember how thoroughly I understood him when he explained some
results of agricultural chemistry. He eagerly endeavoured to dissuade
the gentlemen of his acquaintance from smoking after dinner, which he
had found by experiment to be injurious.

For several weeks we played whist with him every evening, for Liebig,
like so many other scholars, regarded card-playing as the best
recreation after severe tension of the mind. During the pauses and the
supper which interrupted the game, he told us many things of former
times. Once he even spoke of his youth and the days which determined his
destiny. The following event seems to me especially worth recording.

When a young and wholly unknown student he had gone to Paris to bring
his discovery of fulminic acid to the notice of the Academy. On one of
the famous Tuesdays he had waited vainly for the introduction of his
work, and at the close of the session he rose sadly to leave the hall,
when an elderly academician in whose hand he thought he had seen his
treatise addressed a few words to him concerning his discovery in very
fluent French and invited him to dine the following Thursday. Then the
stranger suddenly disappeared, and Liebig, with the painful feeling of
being considered a very uncivil fellow, was obliged to let the Thursday
pass without accepting the invitation so important to him. But on
Saturday some one knocked at the door of his modest little room and
introduced himself as Alexander von Humboldt’s valet. He had been told
to spare no trouble in the search, for the absence of his inexperienced
countryman from the dinner which would have enabled him to make the
acquaintance of the leaders of his science in Paris had not only been
noticed by Humboldt, but had filled him with anxiety. When Liebig went
that very day to his kind patron he was received at first with gay
jests, afterwards with the kindest sympathy.

The great naturalist had read his paper and perceived the writer’s
future promise. He at once made him acquainted with Gay Lussac, the
famous Parisian chemist, and Liebig was thus placed on the road to the
lofty position which he was afterwards to occupy in all the departments
of science.

The Munich zoologist von Siebold we first knew intimately years after. I
shall have more to say of him later, and also of the historian Gervinus,
who, behind apparently repellant arrogance, concealed the noblest human

After the first treatment, which occupied six weeks, the physician
ordered an intermission of the baths. I was to leave Wildbad to
strengthen in the pure air of the Black Forest the health I had gained.
On the Enz we had been in the midst of society. The new residence was to
afford me an opportunity to lead a lonely, quiet life with my mother and
my books, which latter, however, were only to be used in moderation.

Shortly before our departure we had taken a longer drive with our new
friends Fran Puricelli and her daughter Jenny to the Hirsau cloister.

The daughter specially attracted me. She was pretty, well educated,
and possessed so much independence and keenness of mind that this alone
would have sufficed to render her remarkable.

Afterwards I often thought simultaneously of her and Nenny, yet they
were totally unlike in character, having nothing in common save their
steadfast faith and the power of looking with happy confidence beyond
this life into death.

The devout Protestant had created a religion of her own, in which
everything that she loved and which she found beautiful and sacred had a

Jenny’s imagination was no less vivid, but she used it merely to behold
in the form most congenial to her nature and sense of beauty what faith
commanded her to accept. For Jenny the Church had already devised and
arranged what Nenny’s poetic soul created. The Protestant had succeeded
in blending Father and Son into one in order to pray to love itself.
The Catholic, besides the Holy Trinity, had made the Virgin Mother the
embodiment of the feeling dearest to her girlish heart and bestowed on
her the form of the person whom she loved best on earth, and regarded as
the personification of everything good and beautiful. This was her older
sister Fanny, who had married a few years before a cousin of the same

When she at last appeared I was surprised, for I had never met a woman
who combined with such rare beauty and queenly dignity so much winning
amiability. Nothing could be more touching than the manner in which this
admired, brilliant woman of the world devoted herself to the sick girl.

This lady was present during our conversations, which often turned upon
religious questions.

At first I had avoided the subject, but the young girl constantly
returned to it, and I soon perceived that I must summon all my energies
to hold my ground against her subtle dialectics. Once when I expressed
my scruples to her sister, she answered, smiling: “Don’t be uneasy on
that score; Jenny’s armour is strong, but she has sharp arrows in her

And so indeed it proved.

She felt so sure of her own convictions that she might investigate
without peril the views of those who held a different belief, and beheld
in me, as it were, the embodiment of this opportunity, so she gave me no
peace until I had explained the meaning of the words pantheism, atheism,
materialism, etc.

At first I was very cautious, but when I perceived that the opinions
of the doubters and deniers merely inspired her with pity, I spoke more

Her soul was like a polished plate of metal on which a picture is
etched. This, her belief, remained uninjured. Whatever else might be
reflected from the mirror-like surface soon vanished, leaving no trace.

The young girl died shortly after our separation the following year. She
had grown very dear to my heart. Her beloved image appears to me most
frequently as she looked in the days when she was suffering, with thick,
fair hair falling in silken masses on her white dress, but amid keen
physical pain the love of pleasure natural to youth still lingered. She
went with me--both in wheel-chairs--to a ball at the Kursaal, and
looked so pretty in an airy, white dress which her mother and sister had
arranged for their darling, that I should have longed to dance with her
had not this pleasure been denied me.

Hirsau had first been suggested as a resting-place, but it was doubtful
whether we should find what we needed there. If not, the carriage was
to convey us to beautiful, quiet Herrenalb, between Wildbad and

But we found what we sought, the most suitable house possible, whose
landlady proved to have been trained as a cook in a Frankfort hotel.

The lodgings we engaged were among the most “romantic” I have ever
occupied, for our landlord’s house was built in the ruins of the
monastery just beside the old refectory. The windows of one room looked
out upon the cloisters and the Virgin’s chapel, the only part of the
once stately building spared by the French in 1692.

A venerable abode of intellectual life was destroyed with this
monastery, founded by a Count von Calw early in the ninth century. The
tower which has been preserved is one of the oldest and most interesting
works of Romanesque architecture in Germany.

A quieter spot cannot be imagined, for I was the first who sought
recreation here. Surrounded by memories of olden days, and absolutely
undisturbed, I could create admirably. But one cannot remain permanently
secluded from mankind.

First came the Herr Kameralverwalter, whose stately residence stood near
the monastery, and in his wife’s name invited us to use their pretty

This gentleman’s title threw his name so far into the shade that I had
known the pleasant couple five weeks before I found it was Belfinger.

We also made the acquaintance of our host, Herr Meyer. Strange and
varied were the paths along which Fate had led this man. As a rich
bachelor he had welcomed guests to his ever-open house with salvos of
artillery, and hence was still called Cannon Meyer, though, after having
squandered his patrimony, he remained absent from his home for many
years. His career in America was one of perpetual vicissitudes and
full of adventures. Afore than once he barely escaped death. At last,
conquered by homesickness, he returned to the Black Forest, and with a
good, industrious wife.

His house in the monastery suited his longing for rest; he obtained a
position in the morocco factory in the valley below, which afforded him
a support, and his daughters provided for his physical comfort.

The big, broad-shouldered man with the huge mustache and deep, bass
voice looked like some grey-haired knight whose giant arm could have
dealt that Swabian stroke which cleft the foe from skull to saddle,
and yet at that time he was occupied from morning until night in the
delicate work splitting the calf skin from whose thin surfaces, when
divided into two portions, fine morocco is made.

We also met the family of Herr Zahn, in whose factory this leather was
manufactured; and when in the East I saw red, yellow, and green slippers
on the feet of so many Moslems, I could not help thinking of the shady
Black Forest.

Sometimes we drove to the little neighbouring town of Calw, where we
were most kindly received. The mornings were uninterrupted, and my work
was very successful. Afternoon sometimes brought visitors from Wildbad,
among whom was the artist Gallait, who with his wife and two young
daughters had come to use the water of the springs. His paintings,
“Egmont in Prison,” “The Beheaded Counts Egmont and Horn,” and many
others, had aroused the utmost admiration. Praise and honours of all
kinds had consequently been lavished upon him. This had brought him to
the Spree, and he had often been a welcome guest in our home.

Like Menzel, Cornelius, Alma Tadema, and Meissonier, he was small in
stature, but the features of his well-formed face were anything but
insignificant. His whole person was distinguished by something I might
term “neatness.” Without any touch of dudishness he gave the impression
of having “just stepped out of a bandbox.” From the white cravat which
he always wore, to the little red ribbon of the order in his buttonhole,
everything about him was faultless.

Madame Gallait, a Parisian by birth, was the very embodiment of the
French woman in the most charming sense of the word, and the bond
which united her to her husband seemed enduring and as if woven by the
cheeriest gods of love. Unfortunately, it did not last.

After leaving Hirsau, we again met the Gallaits in Wildbad and spent
some delightful days with them. The Von Burckhardts, Fran Henrietta
Hallberger, the wife of the Stuttgart publisher, the Puricellis,
ourselves, and later the author Moritz Hartmann, were the only persons
with whom they associated. We always met every afternoon at a certain
place in the grounds, where we talked or some one read aloud. On these
occasions, at Gallait’s suggestion, everybody who was so disposed
sketched. My portrait, which he drew for my mother at that time in
black and red pencils, is now in my wife’s possession. I also took
my sketch-book, for he had seen the school volume I had filled with
arabesques just before leaving Keilhau, and I still remember the
‘merveilleux and incroyable, inoui, and insense’ which he lavished on
the certainly extravagant creatures of my love-sick imagination.

During these exercises in drawing he related many incidents of his own
life, and never was he more interesting than while describing his first

He was the son of a poor widow in the little Belgian town of Tournay.
While a school-boy he greatly enjoyed drawing, and an able teacher
perceived his talent.

Once he saw in the newspaper an Antwerp competition for a prize. A
certain subject--if I am not mistaken, Moses drawing water from the rock
in the wilderness--was to be executed with pencil or charcoal. He went
to work also, though with his defective training he had not the least
hope of success. When he sent off the finished drawing he avoided
taking his mother into his confidence in order to protect her from

On the day the prize was to be awarded the wish to see the work of the
successful competitor drew him to Antwerp, and what was his surprise, on
entering the hall, to hear his own name proclaimed as the victor’s!

His mother supported herself and him by a little business in soap. To
increase her delight he had changed the gold paid to him into shining
five franc pieces. His pockets almost burst under the weight, but there
was no end to the rejoicing when he flung one handful of silver coins
after another on the little counter and told how he had obtained them.

No one who heard him relate this story could help liking him.

Another distinguished visitor at Hirsau was Prince Puckler Muskau.
He had heard that his young Kottbus acquaintance had begun to devote
himself to Egyptology. This interested the old man, who, as a special
favourite of Mohammed Ali, had spent delightful days on the Nile and
made all sorts of plans for Egypt. Besides, he was personally acquainted
with the great founders of my science, Thomas Young and Francois
Champollion, and had obtained an insight into deciphering the
hieroglyphics. He knew all the results of the investigations, and
expressed an opinion concerning them. Without having entered deeply into
details he often hit the nail on the head. I doubt whether he had ever
held in his hand a book on these subjects, but he had listened to the
answers given by others to his skilful questions with the same keen
attention that he bestowed on mine, and the gift of comprehension
peculiar to him enabled him to rapidly shape what he heard into a
distinctly outlined picture. Therefore he must have seemed to laymen
a very compendium of science, yet he never used this faculty to dazzle
others or give himself the appearance of erudition.

“Man cannot be God,” he wrote--I am quoting from a letter received the
day after his visit--“yet ‘to be like unto God’ need not remain a mere
theological phrase to the aspirant. Omniscience is certainly one of the
noblest attributes of the Most High, and the nearer man approaches it
the more surely he gains at least the shadow of a quality to which he
cannot aspire.”

Finally he discussed his gardening work in the park at Branitz, and I
regret having noted only the main outlines of what he said, for it
was as interesting as it was admirable. I can only cite the following
sentence from a letter addressed to Blasewitz: “What was I to do? A
prince without a country, like myself, wishes at least to be ruler in
one domain, and that I am, as creator of a park. The subjects over whom
I reign obey me better than the Russians, who still retain a trace of
free will, submit to their Czar. My trees and bushes obey only me and
the eternal laws implanted in their nature, and which I know. Should
they swerve from them even a finger’s breadth they would no longer be
themselves. It is pleasant to reign over such subjects, and I would
rather be a despot over vegetable organisms than a constitutional
king and executor of the will of the ‘images of God,’ as men call the
sovereign people.”

He talked most delightfully of the Viceroy of Egypt, Mohammed Ali, and
described the plan which he had laid before this brilliant ruler of
arranging a park around the temple on the island of Philae, and creating
on the eastern bank of the hill beneath shady trees, opposite to the
beautiful island of Isis, a sanitarium especially for consumptives; and
whoever has seen this lovely spot will feel tempted to predict great
prosperity for such an enterprise. My mother had heard the prince
indulge in paradoxical assertions in gay society, and the earnestness
which he now showed led her to remark that she had never seen two
natures so radically unlike united in one individual. Had she been able
to follow his career in life she would have recovered a third, fourth,
and fifth.

These visits brought life and change into our quiet existence, and when
four weeks later my brother Ludo joined us he was delighted with the
improvement in my appearance, and I myself felt the benefit which my
paralyzed muscles had received from the baths and the seclusion.

The second season at Wildbad, thanks to the increased intimacy with the
friends whose acquaintance we had made there, was even more enjoyable
than the first.

Frau Hallberger was a very beautiful young woman. Her husband, who was
to become my dearest friend, was detained in Stuttgart by business. She
was unfortunately obliged to use the waters of the springs medicinally,
and many an hour was clouded by mental and physical discomfort.

Yet the vivacity of her intellect, her rare familiarity with all the
newest literature, and her unusually keen appreciation of everything
which was beautiful in nature stimulated and charmed us. I have never
seen any one seek flowers in the field and forest so eagerly, and
she made them into beautiful bouquets, which Louis Gallait called
“bewitching flower madrigals.”

Moritz Hartmann had not fully recovered from the severe illness which
nearly caused his death while he was a reporter in the Crimean War. His
father-in-law, Herr Rodiger, accompanied him and watched him with the
most touching solicitude. My mother soon became sincerely attached to
the author, who possessed every quality to win a woman’s heart. He had
been considered the handsomest member of the Frankfort Parliament, and
no one could have helped gazing with pleasure at the faultless symmetry
of his features. He also possessed an unusually musical voice. Gallait
said that he first thought German a language pleasing to the ear when he
heard it from Hartmann’s lips.

These qualities soon won the heart of Frau Puricelli, who had at first
been very averse to making his acquaintance. The devout, conservative
lady had heard enough of his religious and political views to consider
him detestable. But after Hartmann had talked and read aloud to her and
her daughter in his charming way, she said to me, “What vexes me is that
in my old age I can’t help liking such a red Democrat.”

During that summer was formed the bond of friendship which, to his
life’s premature end, united me to Moritz Hartmann, and led to a
correspondence which afforded me the greater pleasure the more certain
I became that he understood me. We met again in Wildbad the second and
third summers, and with what pleasure I remember our conversations in
the stillness of the shady woods! But we also shared a noisy amusement,
that of pistol practice, to which we daily devoted an hour. I was
obliged to fire from a wheel-chair, yet, like Hartmann, I could boast
of many a good shot; but the skill of Herr Rodiger, the author’s
father-in-law, was really wonderful. Though his hand trembled constantly
from an attack of palsy, I don’t know now how many times he pierced the
centre of the ace of hearts.

It was Hartmann, too, who constantly urged me to write. With all due
regard for science, he said he could not admit its right to prison
poesy when the latter showed so strong an impulse towards expression. I
secretly admitted the truth of his remark, but whenever I yielded to the
impulse to write I felt as if I were being disloyal to the mistress to
whom I had devoted all my physical and mental powers.

The conflict which for a long time stirred my whole soul began. I could
say much more of the first years I spent at Wildbad, but up to the fifth
season they bore too much resemblance to one another to be described in

A more brilliant summer than that of 1860 the quiet valley of the Enz
will hardly witness again, for during that season the invalid widow of
the Czar Nicholas of Russia came to the springs with a numerous suite,
and her presence attracted many other crowned heads--the King of
Prussia, afterwards the Emperor William I, her royal brother; her
beautiful daughter, Queen Olga of Wurtemberg, who, when she walked
through the grounds with her greyhound, called to mind the haughty
Artemis; the Queen of Bavaria--But I will not enumerate all the royal
personages who visited the Czarina, and whose presence gave the little
town in the Black Forest an atmosphere of life and brilliancy. Not a day
passed without affording some special feast for the eyes.

The Czarina admired beauty, and therefore among her attendants were
many, ladies who possessed unusual attractions. When they were seated
in a group on the steps of the hotel the picture was one never to be
forgotten. A still more striking spectacle was afforded by a voyage made
on the Enz by the ladies of the Czarina’s court, attired in airy summer
dresses and adorned with a lavish abundance of flowers. From the shore
gentlemen flung them blossoms as they were borne swiftly down the
mountain stream. I, too, had obtained some roses, intended especially
for Princess Marie von Leuchtenberg, of whom the Czarina’s physician,
Dr. Karel, whose acquaintance we made at the Burckhardts, had told so
many charming anecdotes that we could not help admiring her.

We also met a very beautiful Countess Keller, one of the Czarina’s
attendants, and I can still see distinctly the brilliant scene of her

Wildbad was not then connected with the rest of the world by the
railroad. The countess sat in an open victoria amid the countless gifts
of flowers which had been lavished upon her as farewell presents. Count
Wilhorsky, in the name of the Czarina, offered an exquisitely beautiful
bouquet. As she received it, she exclaimed, “Think of me at nine
o’clock,” and the latter, with his hand on his heart, answered with a
low bow, “Why, Countess, we shall think of you all day long.”

At the same instant the postillion raised his long whip, the four
bays started, a group of ladies and gentlemen, headed by the master of
ceremonies, waved their handkerchiefs, and it seemed as if Flora herself
was setting forth to bless the earth with flowers.

For a long time I imagined that during the first summer spent there I
lived only for my health, my scientific studies, and from 1861 my novel
An Egyptian Princess, to which I devoted several hours each day; but
how much I learned from intercourse with so great a variety of persons,
among whom were some whom a modest scholar is rarely permitted to know,
I first realized afterwards. I allude here merely to the leaders of the
aristocracy of the second empire, whose acquaintance I made through the
son of my distinguished Parisian instructor, Vicomte de Rouge.


The remainder of the summer I spent half with my mother, half with my
aunt, and pursued the same course during the subsequent years, until
from 1862 I remained longer in Berlin, engaged in study, and began my
scientific journeys.

There were few important events either in the family circle or in
politics, except the accession to the throne of King William of Prussia
and the Franco-Austrian war of 1859. In Berlin the “new era” awakened
many fair and justifiable hopes; a fresher current stirred the dull,
placid waters of political life.

The battles of Magenta and Solferino (June 4 and 24, 1859) had caused
great excitement in the household of my aunt, who loved me as if I were
her own son, and whose husband was also warmly attached to me. They felt
the utmost displeasure in regard to the course of Prussia, and it was
hard for me to approve of it, since Austria seemed a part of Germany,
and I was very fond of my uncle’s three nearest relatives, who were all
in the Austrian service.

The future was to show the disadvantage of listening to the voice of the
heart in political affairs. Should we have a German empire, and would
there be a united Italy, if Austria in alliance with Prussia had fought
in 1859 at Solferino and Magenta and conquered the French?

At Hosterwitz I became more intimately acquainted with the lyric poet,
Julius Hammer. The Kammergerichtrath-Gottheiner, a highly educated man,
lived there with his daughter Marie, whose exquisite singing at the
villa of her hospitable sister-in-law so charmed my heart. Through them
I met many distinguished men-President von Kirchmann, the architect
Nikolai, the author of Psyche, Privy Councillor Carus, the writer
Charles Duboc (Waldmuller) with his beautiful gifted wife, and many

Many a Berlin acquaintance, too, I met again at Hosterwitz, among them
the preacher Sydow and Lothar Bucher.

To the friendship of this remarkable man, whom I knew just at the time
he was associated with Bismarck, I owe many hours of enjoyment. Many
will find it hardly compatible with the reserved, quiet manner of the
astute, cool politician, that during a slight illness of my mother
he read Fritz Reuter’s novels aloud to her--he spoke Plattdeutsch
admirably--as dutifully as a son.

So there was no lack of entertainment during leisure hours, but the
lion’s share of my time was devoted to work.

The same state of affairs existed during my stay with my aunt, who
occupied a summer residence on the estate of Privy-Councillor von
Adelsson, which was divided into building lots long ago, but at that
time was the scene of the gayest social life in both residences.

The owner and his wife were on the most intimate terms with my
relatives, and their daughter Lina seemed to me the fairest of all the
flowers in the Adelsson garden. If ever a girl could be compared to a
violet it was she. I knew her from childhood to maidenhood, and rejoiced
when I saw her wed in young Count Uexkyll-Guldenbrand a life companion
worthy of her.

There were many other charming girls, too, and my aunt, besides old
friends, entertained the leaders of literary life in Dresden.

Gutzkow surpassed them all in acuteness and subtlety of intellect, but
the bluntness of his manner repelled me.

On the other hand, I sincerely enjoyed the thoughtful eloquence of
Berthold Auerbach, who understood how to invest with poetic charm not
only great and noble subjects, but trivial ones gathered from the dust.
If I am permitted to record the memories of my later life, I shall
have more to say of him. It was he who induced me to give to my first
romance, which I had intended to call Nitetis, the title An Egyptian

The stars of the admirable Dresden stage also found their way to my

One day I was permitted to listen to the singing of Emmy La Gruas, and
the next to the peerless Schroder-Devrient. Every conversation with
the cultured physician Geheimerath von Ammon was instructive and
fascinating; while Rudolf von Reibisch, the most intimate friend of the
family, whose great talents would have rendered him capable of really
grand achievements in various departments of art, examined our skulls
as a phrenologist or read aloud his last drama. Here, too, I met Major
Serre, the bold projector of the great lottery whose brilliant success
called into being and insured the prosperity of the Schiller Institute,
the source of so much good.

This simple-hearted yet energetic man taught me how genuine enthusiasm
and the devotion of a whole personality to a cause can win victory
under the most difficult circumstances. True, his clever wife shared
her husband’s enthusiasm, and both understood how to attract the right
advisers. I afterwards met at their beautiful estate, Maxen, among many
distinguished people, the Danish author Andersen, a man of insignificant
personal appearance, but one who, if he considered it worth while and
was interested in the subject, could carry his listeners resistlessly
with him. Then his talk sparkled with clever, vivid, striking, peculiar
metaphors, and when one brilliant description of remarkable experiences
and scenes followed another he swiftly won the hearts of the women
who had overlooked him, and it seemed to the men as if some fiend were
aiding him.

During the first years of my convalescence I could enjoy nothing save
what came or was brought to me. But the cheerful patience with which I
appeared to bear my sufferings, perhaps also the gratitude and eagerness
with which I received everything, attracted most of the men and women
for whom I really cared.

If there was an entertaining conversation, arrangements were always made
that I should enjoy it, at least as a listener. The affection of these
kind people never wearied in lightening the burden which had been laid
upon me. So, during this whole sad period I was rarely utterly wretched,
often joyous and happy, though sometimes the victim to the keenest
spiritual anguish.

During the hours of rest which must follow labour, and when tortured at
night by the various painful feelings and conditions connected even
with convalescence from disease, my restrictions rose before me as
a specially heavy misfortune. My whole being rebelled against my
sufferings, and--why should I conceal it?--burning tears drenched my
pillows after many a happy day. At the time I was obliged to part from
Nenny this often happened. Goethe’s “He who never mournful nights” I
learned to understand in the years when the beaker of life foams most
impetuously for others. But I had learned from my mother to bear my
sorest griefs alone, and my natural cheerfulness aided me to win the
victory in the strife against the powers of melancholy. I found it most
easy to master every painful emotion by recalling the many things for
which I had cause to be grateful, and sometimes an hour of the fiercest
struggle and deepest grief closed with the conviction that I was more
blessed than many thousands of my fellow-mortals, and still a “favourite
of Fortune.” The same feeling steeled my patience and helped to keep
hope green and sustain my pleasure in existence when, long after, a
return of the same disease, accompanied with severe suffering, which I
had been spared in youth, snatched me from earnest, beloved, and, I may
assume, successful labour.

The younger generation may be told once more how effective a consolation
man possesses--no matter what troubles may oppress him--in gratitude.
The search for everything which might be worthy of thankfulness
undoubtedly leads to that connection with God which is religion.

When I went to Berlin in winter, harder work, many friends, and
especially my Polish fellow-student, Mieczyslaw helped me bear my burden

He was well, free, highly gifted, keenly interested in science, and
made rapid progress. Though secure from all external cares, a worm was
gnawing at his heart which gave him no rest night or day--the misery of
his native land and his family, and the passionate longing to avenge
it on the oppressor of the nation. His father had sacrificed the larger
portion of his great fortune to the cause of Poland, and, succumbing to
the most cruel persecutions, urged his sons, in their turn, to sacrifice
everything for their native land. They were ready except one brother,
who wielded his sword in the service of the oppressor, and thus became
to the others a dreaded and despised enemy.

Mieczyslaw remained in Berlin raging against himself because, an
intellectual epicurean, he was enjoying Oriental studies instead of
following in the footsteps of his father, his brothers, and most of his
relatives at home.

My ideas of the heroes of Polish liberty had been formed from Heinrich
Heine’s Noble Pole, and I met my companion with a certain feeling of
distrust. Far from pressing upon me the thoughts which moved him so
deeply, it was long ere he permitted the first glimpse into his soul.
But when the ice was once broken, the flood of emotion poured forth with
elementary power, and his sincerity was sealed by his blood. He fell
armed on the soil of his home at the time when I was most gratefully
rejoicing in the signs of returning health--the year 1863. I was his
only friend in Berlin, but I was warmly attached to him, and shall
remember him to my life’s end.

The last winter of imprisonment also saw me industriously at work. I had
already, with Mieczyslaw, devoted myself eagerly to the history of the
ancient East, and Lepsius especially approved these studies. The list of
the kings which I compiled at that time, from the most remote sources to
the Sassanida, won the commendation of A. von Gutschmid, the most able
investigator in this department. These researches led me also to
Persia and the other Asiatic countries. Egypt, of course, remained
the principal province of my work. The study of the kings from the
twenty-sixth dynasty--that is, the one with which the independence of
the Pharaohs ended and the rule of the Persians under Cambyses began
in the valley of the Nile--occupied me a long time. I used the material
thus acquired afterward for my habilitation essay, but the impulse
natural to me of imparting my intellectual gains to others had induced
me to utilize it in a special way. The material I had collected appeared
in my judgment exactly suited for a history of the time that Egypt fell
into the power of Persia. Jacob Burckhardt’s Constantine the Great was
to serve for my model. I intended to lay most stress upon the state of
civilization, the intellectual and religious life, art, and science
in Egypt, Greece, Persia, Phoenicia, etc., and after most carefully
planning the arrangement I began to write with the utmost zeal.

   [I still have the unfinished manuscript; but the farther I advanced
   the stronger became the conviction, now refuted by Eduard Meyer,
   that it would not yet be possible to write a final history of that
   period which would stand the test of criticism.]

While thus engaged, the land of the Pharaohs, the Persian court, Greece
in the time of the Pisistratidae and Polycrates grew more and more
distinct before my mental vision. Herodotus’s narrative of the false
princess sent by Pharaoh Amasis to Cambyses as a wife, and who became
the innocent cause of the war through which the kingdom of the Pharaohs
lost its independence, would not bear criticism, but it was certainly
usable material for a dramatic or epic poem. And this material gave me
no peace.

Yes, something might certainly be done with it. I soon mastered it
completely, but gradually the relation changed and it mastered me,
gave me no rest, and forced me to try upon it the poetic power so long
condemned to rest.

When I set to work I was not permitted to leave the house in the
evening. Was it disloyal to science if I dedicated to poesy the hours
which others called leisure time? The question was put to the inner
judge in such a way that he could not fail to say “No.” I also tried
successfully to convince myself that I merely essayed to write this tale
to make the material I had gathered “live,” and bring the persons and
conditions of the period whose history I wished to write as near to me
as if I were conversing with them and dwelling in their midst. How
often I repeated to myself this well-founded apology, but in truth every
instinct of my nature impelled me to write, and at this very time Moritz
Hartmann was also urging me in his letters, while Mieczyslaw and others,
even my mother, encouraged me.

I began because I could not help it, and probably scarcely any work
ever stood more clearly arranged, down to the smallest detail, in its
creator’s imagination, than the Egyptian Princess in mine when I took
up my pen. Only the first volume originally contained much more Egyptian
material, and the third I lengthened beyond my primary intention. Many
notes of that time I was unwilling to leave unused and, though the
details are not uninteresting, their abundance certainly impairs the
effect of the whole.

As for the characters, most of them were familiar.

How many of my mother’s traits the beautiful, dignified Rhodopis
possessed! King Amasis was Frederick William IV, the Greek Phanes
resembled President Seiffart. Nitetis, too, I knew. I had often jested
with Atossa, and Sappho was a combination of my charming Frankfort
cousin Betsy, with whom I spent such delightful days in Rippoldsau,
and lovely Lina von Adelsson. Like the characters in the works of the
greatest of writers--I mean Goethe--not one of mine was wholly invented,
but neither was any an accurate portrait of the model.

I by no means concealed from myself the difficulties with which I had
to contend or the doubts the critics would express, but this troubled me
very little. I was writing the book only for myself and my mother, who
liked to hear every chapter read as it was finished. I often thought
that this novel might perhaps share the fate of my Poem of the World,
and find its way into the fire.

No matter. The greatest success could afford me no higher pleasure than
the creative labour. Those were happy evenings when, wholly lifted
out of myself, I lived in a totally different world, and, like a god,
directed the destinies of the persons who were my creatures. The love
scenes between Bartja and Sappho I did not invent; they came to me.
When, with brow damp with perspiration, I committed the first one to
paper in a single evening, I found the next morning, to my surprise,
that only a few touches were needed to convert it into a poem in

This was scarcely permissible in a novel. But the scene pleased my
mother, and when I again brought the lovers together in the warm
stillness of the Egyptian night, and perceived that the flood of iambics
was once more sweeping me along, I gave free course to the creative
spirit and the pen, and the next morning the result was the same.

I then took Julius Hammer into my confidence, and he thought that I had
given expression to the overflowing emotion of two loving young hearts
in a very felicitous and charming way.

While my friends were enjoying themselves in ball-rooms or exciting
society, Fate still condemned me to careful seclusion in my mother’s
house. But when I was devoting myself to the creation of my Nitetis, I
envied no man, scarcely even a god.

So this novel approached completion. It had not deprived me of an
hour of actual working time, yet the doubt whether I had done right
to venture on this side flight into fairer and better lands during my
journey through the department of serious study was rarely silent.

At the beginning of the third volume I ventured to move more freely.

Yet when I went to Lepsius, the most earnest of my teachers, to show him
the finished manuscript, I felt very anxious. I had not said even a
word in allusion to what I was doing in the evening hours, and the
three volumes of my large manuscript were received by him in a way that
warranted the worst fears. He even asked how I, whom he had believed to
be a serious worker, had been tempted into such “side issues.”

This was easy to explain, and when he had heard me to the end he said:
“I might have thought of that. You sometimes need a cup of Lethe water.
But now let such things alone, and don’t compromise your reputation as a
scientist by such extravagances.”

Yet he kept the manuscript and promised to look at the curiosity.

He did more. He read it through to the last letter, and when, a
fortnight later; he asked me at his house to remain after the others
had left, he looked pleased, and confessed that he had found something
entirely different from what he expected. The book was a scholarly work,
and also a fascinating romance.

Then he expressed some doubts concerning the space I had devoted to the
Egyptians in my first arrangement. Their nature was too reserved and
typical to hold the interest of the unscientific reader. According to
his view, I should do well to limit to Egyptian soil what I had gained
by investigation, and to make Grecian life, which was familiar to us
moderns as the foundation of our aesthetic perceptions, more prominent.
The advice was good, and, keeping it in view, I began to subject the
whole romance to a thorough revision.

Before going to Wildbad in the summer of 1863 I had a serious
conversation with my teacher and friend. Hitherto, he said, he had
avoided any discussion of my future; but now that I was so decidedly
convalescing, he must tell me that even the most industrious work as
a “private scholar,” as people termed it, would not satisfy me. I was
fitted for an academic career, and he advised me to keep it in view. As
I had already thought of this myself, I eagerly assented, and my mother
was delighted with my resolution.

How we met in Wildbad my never-to-be-forgotten friend the Stuttgart
publisher, Eduard von Hallberger; how he laid hands upon my Egyptian
Princess; and how the fate of this book and its author led through joy
and sorrow, pleasure and pain, I hope, ere my last hour strikes, to
communicate to my family and the friends my life and writings have

When I left Berlin, so far recovered that I could again move freely, I
was a mature man. The period of development lay behind me. Though
the education of an aspiring man ends only with his last breath, the
commencement of my labours as a teacher outwardly closed mine, and an
important goal in life lay before me. A cruel period of probation, rich
in suffering and deprivations, had made the once careless youth familiar
with the serious side of existence, and taught him to control himself.

After once recognizing that progress in the department of investigation
in which I intended to guide others demanded the devotion of all
my powers, I succeeded in silencing the ceaseless longing for fresh
creations of romance. The completion of a second long novel would have
imperilled the unity with myself which I was striving to attain, and
which had been represented to me by the noblest of my instructors as
my highest goal in life. So I remained steadfast, although the great
success of my first work rendered it very difficult. Temptations of
every kind, even in the form of brilliant offers from the most prominent
German publishers, assailed me, but I resisted, until at the end of half
a lifetime I could venture to say that I was approaching my goal, and
that it was now time to grant the muse what I had so long denied. Thus,
that portion of my nature which was probably originally the stronger was
permitted to have its life. During long days of suffering romance was
again a kind and powerful comforter.

Severe suffering had not succeeded in stifling the cheerful spirit of
the boy and the youth; it did not desert me in manhood. When the sky of
my life was darkened by the blackest clouds it appeared amid the gloom
like a radiant star announcing brighter days; and if I were to name the
powers by whose aid I have again and again dispelled even the heaviest
clouds which threatened to overshadow my happiness in existence, they
must be called gratitude, earnest work, and the motto of blind old
Langethal, “Love united with the strife for truth.”



     A word at the right time and place
     Appreciation of trifles
     Carpe diem
     Child is naturally egotistical
     Child cannot distinguish between what is amusing and what is sad
     Coach moved by electricity
     Confucius’s command not to love our fellow-men but to respect
     Deserve the gratitude of my people, though it should be denied
     Do thoroughly whatever they do at all
     Full as an egg
     Half-comprehended catchwords serve as a banner
     Hanging the last king with the guts of the last priest
     Hollow of the hand, Diogenes’s drinking-cup
     How effective a consolation man possesses in gratitude
     I approve of such foolhardiness
     I plead with voice and pen in behalf of fairy tales
     Life is valued so much less by the young
     Life is the fairest fairy tale (Anderson)
     Loved himself too much to give his whole affection to any one
     Men studying for their own benefit, not the teacher’s
     Nobody was allowed to be perfectly idle
     Phrase and idea “philosophy of religion” as an absurdity
     Readers often like best what is most incredible
     Required courage to be cowardly
     Scorned the censure of the people, he never lost sight of it
     Smell most powerful of all the senses in awakening memory
     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
     What father does not find something to admire in his child
     When you want to strike me again, mother, please take off


     A noble mind can never swim with the stream
     A first impression is often a final one
     A small joy makes us to forget our heavy griefs
     A live dog is better than a dead king
     A well-to-do man always gets a higher price than a poor one
     A subdued tone generally provokes an equally subdued answer
     A dirty road serves when it makes for the goal
     A knot can often be untied by daylight
     A school where people learned modesty
     A word at the right time and place
     A mere nothing in one man’s life, to another may be great
     A debtor, says the proverb, is half a prisoner
     A kind word hath far more power than an angry one
     A blustering word often does good service
     Abandon to the young the things we ourselves used most to enjoy
     Abandoned women (required by law to help put out the fires)
     Absence of suffering is not happiness
     Abuse not those who have outwitted thee
     Action trod on the heels of resolve
     Age is inquisitive
     Age when usually even bad liquor tastes of honey
     Aimless life of pleasure
     Air of a professional guide
     All I did was right in her eyes
     All things were alike to me
     Always more good things in a poor family which was once rich
     Among fools one must be a fool
     An admirer of the lovely color of his blue bruises
     Ancient custom, to have her ears cut off
     And what is great--and what is small
     Apis the progeny of a virgin cow and a moonbeam
     Appreciation of trifles
     Ardently they desire that which transcends sense
     Arrogant wave of the hand, and in an instructive tone
     Art ceases when ugliness begins
     As every word came straight from her heart
     Asenath, the wife of Joseph, had been an Egyptian
     Ask for what is feasible
     Aspect obnoxious to the gaze will pour water on the fire
     Assigned sixty years as the limit of a happy life
     At my age we count it gain not to be disappointed
     At my age every year must be accepted as an undeserved gift
     Attain a lofty height from which to look down upon others
     Avoid excessive joy as well as complaining grief
     Avoid all useless anxiety
     Be not merciful unto him who is a liar or a rebel
     Be happy while it is yet time
     Be cautious how they are compassionate
     Bearers of ill ride faster than the messengers of weal
     Before you serve me up so bitter a meal (the truth)
     Before learning to obey, he was permitted to command
     Begun to enjoy the sound of his own voice
     Behold, the puny Child of Man
     Between two stools a man falls to the ground
     Beware lest Satan find thee idle!
     Blessings go as quickly as they come
     Blind tenderness which knows no reason
     Blossom of the thorny wreath of sorrow
     Brief “eternity” of national covenants
     Brought imagination to bear on my pastimes
     But what do you men care for the suffering you inflict on others
     Buy indugence for sins to be committed in the future
     By nature she is not and by circumstances is compelled to be
     Call everything that is beyond your comprehension a miracle
     Called his daughter to wash his feet
     Cambyses had been spoiled from his earliest infancy
     Camels, which were rarely seen in Egypt
     Can such love be wrong?
     Canal to connect the Nile with the Red Sea
     Cannot understand how trifles can make me so happy
     Caress or a spank from you--each at the proper time
     Carpe diem
     Cast my warning to the winds, pity will also fly away with it
     Cast off their disease as a serpent casts its skin
     Cast off all care; be mindful only of pleasure
     Catholic, but his stomach desired to be Protestant (Erasmus)
     Caught the infection and had to laugh whether she would or no
     Cautious inquiry saves recantation
     Child is naturally egotistical
     Child cannot distinguish between what is amusing and what is sad
     Childhood already lies behind me, and youth will soon follow
     Choose between too great or too small a recompense
     Christian hypocrites who pretend to hate life and love death
     Christianity had ceased to be the creed of the poor
     Clothes the ugly truth as with a pleasing garment
     Coach moved by electricity
     Colored cakes in the shape of beasts
     Comparing their own fair lot with the evil lot of others
     Confess I would rather provoke a lioness than a woman
     Confucius’s command not to love our fellow-men but to respect
     Contempt had become too deep for hate
     Corpse to be torn in pieces by dogs and vultures
     Couple seemed to get on so perfectly well without them
     Creed which views life as a short pilgrimage to the grave
     Curiosity is a woman’s vice
     Death is so long and life so short
     Death itself sometimes floats ‘twixt cup and lip’
     Debts, but all anxiety concerning them is left to the creditors
     Deceit is deceit
     Deem every hour that he was permitted to breathe as a gift
     Deficient are as guilty in their eyes as the idle
     Desert is a wonderful physician for a sick soul
     Deserve the gratitude of my people, though it should be denied
     Desire to seek and find a power outside us
     Despair and extravagant gayety ruled her nature by turns
     Devoid of occupation, envy easily becomes hatred
     Did the ancients know anything of love
     Do not spoil the future for the sake of the present
     Do thoroughly whatever they do at all
     Does happiness consist then in possession
     Dread which the ancients had of the envy of the gods
     Dried merry-thought bone of a fowl
     Drink of the joys of life thankfully, and in moderation
     Drinking is also an art, and the Germans are masters of it
     Easy to understand what we like to hear
     Enjoy the present day
     Epicurus, who believed that with death all things ended
     Eros mocks all human efforts to resist or confine him
     Especial gift to listen keenly and question discreetly
     Ever creep in where true love hath found a nest--(jealousy)
     Every misfortune brings its fellow with it
     Everything that exists moves onward to destruction and decay
     Evolution and annihilation
     Exceptional people are destined to be unhappy in this world
     Exhibit one’s happiness in the streets, and conceal one’s misery
     Eyes kind and frank, without tricks of glance
     Eyes are much more eloquent than all the tongues in the world
     Facts are differently reflected in different minds
     Fairest dreams of childhood were surpassed
     Faith and knowledge are things apart
     False praise, he says, weighs more heavily than disgrace
     Flattery is a key to the heart
     Flee from hate as the soul’s worst foe
     Folly to fret over what cannot be undone
     For fear of the toothache, had his sound teeth drawn
     For the sake of those eyes you forgot all else
     For the errors of the wise the remedy is reparation, not regret
     For what will not custom excuse and sanctify?
     Forbidden the folly of spoiling the present by remorse
     Force which had compelled every one to do as his neighbors
     Forty or fifty, when most women only begin to be wicked
     From Epicurus to Aristippus, is but a short step
     Fruits and pies and sweetmeats for the little ones at home
     Full as an egg
     Galenus--What I like is bad for me, what I loathe is wholesome
     Gave them a claim on your person and also on your sorrows
     Germans are ever proud of a man who is able to drink deep
     Go down into the grave before us (Our children)
     Golden chariot drawn by tamed lions
     Good advice is more frequently unheeded than followed
     Great happiness, and mingled therefor with bitter sorrow
     Greeks have not the same reverence for truth
     Grief is grief, and this new sorrow does not change the old one
     Had laid aside what we call nerves
     Half-comprehended catchwords serve as a banner
     Hanging the last king with the guts of the last priest
     Happiness has nothing to do with our outward circumstances
     Happiness is only the threshold to misery
     Happiness should be found in making others happy
     Harder it is to win a thing the higher its value becomes
     Hast thou a wounded heart? touch it seldom
     Hat is the sign of liberty, and the free man keeps his hat on
     Hate, though never sated, can yet be gratified
     Hatred and love are the opposite ends of the same rod
     Hatred for all that hinders the growth of light
     Hatred between man and man
     Have not yet learned not to be astonished
     Have never been fain to set my heart on one only maid
     Have lived to feel such profound contempt for the world
     He may talk about the soul--what he is after is the girl
     He who kills a cat is punished (for murder)
     He who looks for faith must give faith
     He is clever and knows everything, but how silly he looks now
     He was steadfast in everything, even anger
     He only longed to be hopeful once more, to enjoy the present
     He who is to govern well must begin by learning to obey
     He was made to be plundered
     He is the best host, who allows his guests the most freedom
     He has the gift of being easily consoled
     He who wholly abjures folly is a fool
     He out of the battle can easily boast of being unconquered
     He spoke with pompous exaggeration
     Held in too slight esteem to be able to offer an affront
     Her white cat was playing at her feet
     Her eyes were like open windows
     Here the new custom of tobacco-smoking was practised
     His sole effort had seemed to be to interfere with no one
     Hold pleasure to be the highest good
     Hollow of the hand, Diogenes’s drinking-cup
     Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto
     Honest anger affords a certain degree of enjoyment
     Hopeful soul clings to delay as the harbinger of deliverance
     How easy it is to give wounds, and how hard it is to heal
     How could they find so much pleasure in such folly
     How tender is thy severity
     How effective a consolation man possesses in gratitude
     Human sacrifices, which had been introduced by the Phoenicians
     Human beings hate the man who shows kindness to their enemies
     I am human, nothing that is human can I regard as alien to me
     I approve of such foolhardiness
     I plead with voice and pen in behalf of fairy tales
     I must either rest or begin upon something new
     I cannot... Say rather: I will not
     I know that I am of use
     I have never deviated from the exact truth even in jest
     I was not swift to anger, nor a liar, nor a violent ruler
     I do not like to enquire about our fate beyond the grave
     Idleness had long since grown to be the occupation of his life
     If you want to catch mice you must waste bacon
     If one only knew who it is all for
     If it were right we should not want to hide ourselves
     If speech be silver, silence then is gold!
     Ill-judgment to pronounce a thing impossible
     Impartial looker-on sees clearer than the player
     In order to find himself for once in good company--(Solitude)
     In whom some good quality or other may not be discovered
     In those days men wept, as well as women
     In this immense temple man seemed a dwarf in his own eyes
     In our country it needs more courage to be a coward
     In war the fathers live to mourn for their slain sons
     Inn, was to be found about every eighteen miles
     Inquisitive eyes are intrusive company
     Introduced a regular system of taxation-Darius
     It is not seeing, it is seeking that is delightful
     It was such a comfort once more to obey an order
     It is not by enthusiasm but by tactics that we defeat a foe
     It is the passionate wish that gives rise to the belief
     Jealousy has a thousand eyes
     Judge only by appearances, and never enquire into the causes
     Kisra called wine the soap of sorrow
     Know how to honor beauty; and prove it by taking many wives
     Last Day we shall be called to account for every word we utter
     Laugh at him with friendly mockery, such as hurts no man
     Laughing before sunrise causes tears at evening
     Learn early to pass lightly over little things
     Learn to obey, that later you may know how to command
     Life is not a banquet
     Life is a function, a ministry, a duty
     Life is the fairest fairy tale (Anderson)
     Life is valued so much less by the young
     Life had fulfilled its pledges
     Like the cackle of hens, which is peculiar to Eastern women
     Like a clock that points to one hour while it strikes another
     Love has two faces: tender devotion and bitter aversion
     Love means suffering--those who love drag a chain with them
     Love which is able and ready to endure all things
     Love laughs at locksmiths
     Love is at once the easiest and the most difficult
     Love overlooks the ravages of years and has a good memory
     Loved himself too much to give his whole affection to any one
     Lovers delighted in nature then as now
     Lovers are the most unteachable of pupils
     Maid who gives hope to a suitor though she has no mind to hear
     Man, in short, could be sure of nothing
     Man works with all his might for no one but himself
     Man is the measure of all things
     Man has nothing harder to endure than uncertainty
     Many creditors are so many allies
     Many a one would rather be feared than remain unheeded
     Marred their best joy in life by over-hasty ire
     May they avoid the rocks on which I have bruised my feet
     Medicines work harm as often as good
     Men studying for their own benefit, not the teacher’s
     Men folks thought more about me than I deemed convenient
     Mirrors were not allowed in the convent
     Misfortune too great for tears
     Misfortunes commonly come in couples yoked like oxen
     Misfortunes never come singly
     Money is a pass-key that turns any lock
     More to the purpose to think of the future than of the past
     Mosquito-tower with which nearly every house was provided
     Most ready to be angry with those to whom we have been unjust
     Multitude who, like the gnats, fly towards every thing brilliant
     Museum of Alexandria and the Library
     Must take care not to poison the fishes with it
     Must--that word is a ploughshare which suits only loose soil
     Natural impulse which moves all old women to favor lovers
     Nature is sufficient for us
     Never speaks a word too much or too little
     Never so clever as when we have to find excuses for our own sins
     Never to be astonished at anything
     No judgment is so hard as that dealt by a slave to slaves
     No man is more than man, and many men are less
     No man was allowed to ask anything of the gods for himself
     No good excepting that from which we expect the worst
     No, she was not created to grow old
     No happiness will thrive on bread and water
     No one we learn to hate more easily, than the benefactor
     No man gains profit by any experience other than his own
     No false comfort, no cloaking of the truth
     No one so self-confident and insolent as just such an idiot
     No virtue which can be owned like a house or a steed
     Nobody was allowed to be perfectly idle
     None of us really know anything rightly
     Not yet fairly come to the end of yesterday
     Nothing in life is either great or small
     Nothing is perfectly certain in this world
     Nothing permanent but change
     Nothing so certain as that nothing is certain
     Nothing is more dangerous to love, than a comfortable assurance
     Numbers are the only certain things
     Observe a due proportion in all things
     Obstacles existed only to be removed
     Obstinacy--which he liked to call firm determination
     Of two evils it is wise to choose the lesser
     Often happens that apparent superiority does us damage
     Old women grow like men, and old men grow like women
     Old age no longer forgets; it is youth that has a short memory
     Olympics--The first was fixed 776 B.C.
     Omnipotent God, who had preferred his race above all others
     On with a new love when he had left the third bridge behind him
     Once laughed at a misfortune, its sting loses its point
     One falsehood usually entails another
     One of those women who will not bear to be withstood
     One should give nothing up for lost excepting the dead
     One hand washes the other
     One must enjoy the time while it is here
     One who stood in the sun must need cast a shadow on other folks
     One Head, instead of three, ruled the Church
     Only the choice between lying and silence
     Only two remedies for heart-sickness:--hope and patience
     Ordered his feet to be washed and his head anointed
     Our thinkers are no heroes, and our heroes are no sages
     Overbusy friends are more damaging than intelligent enemies
     Overlooks his own fault in his feeling of the judge’s injustice
     Ovid, ‘We praise the ancients’
     Pain is the inseparable companion of love
     Papyrus Ebers
     Patronizing friendliness
     Pays better to provide for people’s bodies than for their brains
     People who have nothing to do always lack time
     People see what they want to see
     Perish all those who do not think as we do
     Philosophers who wrote of the vanity of writers
     Phrase and idea “philosophy of religion” as an absurdity
     Pilgrimage to the grave, and death as the only true life
     Pious axioms to be repeated by the physician, while compounding
     Pleasant sensation of being a woman, like any other woman
     Possess little and require nothing
     Pray for me, a miserable man--for I was a man
     Precepts and lessons which only a mother can give
     Prefer deeds to words
     Preferred a winding path to a straight one
     Prepare sorrow when we come into the world
     Prepared for the worst; then you are armed against failure
     Pretended to see nothing in the old woman’s taunts
     Priests that they should instruct the people to be obedient
     Priests: in order to curb the unruly conduct of the populace
     Principle of over-estimating the strength of our opponents
     Provide yourself with a self-devised ruler
     Rapture and anguish--who can lay down the border line
     Readers often like best what is most incredible
     Reason is a feeble weapon in contending with a woman
     Refreshed by the whip of one of the horsemen
     Regard the utterances and mandates of age as wisdom
     Regular messenger and carrier-dove service had been established
     Remember, a lie and your death are one and the same
     Repeated the exclamation: “Too late!” and again, “Too late!”
      Repos ailleurs
     Repugnance for the old laws began to take root in his heart
     Required courage to be cowardly
     Resistance always brings out a man’s best powers
     Retreat behind the high-sounding words “justice and law”
      Robes cut as to leave the right breast uncovered
     Romantic love, as we know it, a result of Christianity
     Rules of life given by one man to another are useless
     Scarcely be able to use so large a sum--Then abuse it
     Scorned the censure of the people, he never lost sight of it
     Sea-port was connected with Medina by a pigeon-post
     Seditious words are like sparks, which are borne by the wind
     See facts as they are and treat them like figures in a sum
     Seems most charming at the time we are obliged to resign it
     Self-interest and egoism which drive him into the cave
     Sent for a second interpreter
     Shadow which must ever fall where there is light
     Shadow of the candlestick caught her eye before the light
     She would not purchase a few more years of valueless life
     Shipwrecked on the cliffs of ‘better’ and ‘best’
     Should I be a man, if I forgot vengeance?
     Shuns the downward glance of compassion
     Sing their libels on women (Greek Philosophers)
     Sky as bare of cloud as the rocks are of shrubs and herbs
     Sleep avoided them both, and each knew that the other was awake
     Smell most powerful of all the senses in awakening memory
     So long as we are able to hope and wish
     So long as we do not think ourselves wretched, we are not so
     So hard is it to forego the right of hating
     Some caution is needed even in giving a warning
     Soul which ceases to regard death as a misfortune finds peace
     Speaking ill of others is their greatest delight
     Spoilt to begin with by their mothers, and then all the women
     Standing still is retrograding
     Strongest of all educational powers--sorrow and love
     Successes, like misfortunes, never come singly
     Take heed lest pride degenerate into vainglory
     Talk of the wolf and you see his tail
     Temples would be empty if mortals had nothing left to wish for
     Temples of the old gods were used as quarries
     Tender and uncouth natural sounds, which no language knows
     That tears were the best portion of all human life
     The heart must not be filled by another’s image
     The blessing of those who are more than they seem
     The past belongs to the dead; only fools count upon the future
     The priests are my opponents, my masters
     The carp served on Christmas eve in every Berlin family
     The gods cast envious glances at the happiness of mortals
     The past must stand; it is like a scar
     The man who avoids his kind and lives in solitude
     The beautiful past is all he has to live upon
     The altar where truth is mocked at
     The older one grows the quicker the hours hurry away
     The shirt is closer than the coat
     The beginning of things is not more attractive
     The mother of foresight looks backwards
     The greatness he had gained he overlooked
     The dressing and undressing of the holy images
     The god Amor is the best schoolmaster
     The not over-strong thread of my good patience
     The man within him, and not on the circumstances without
     The scholar’s ears are at his back: when he is flogged
     The best enjoyment in creating is had in anticipation
     The experienced love to signify their superiority
     Then hate came; but it did not last long
     There is no ‘never,’ no surely
     There are no gods, and whoever bows makes himself a slave
     There is nothing better than death, for it is peace
     They who will, can
     They praise their butchers more than their benefactors
     They keep an account in their heart and not in their head
     They get ahead of us, and yet--I would not change with them
     Thin-skinned, like all up-starts in authority
     Think of his wife, not with affection only, but with pride
     Those are not my real friends who tell me I am beautiful
     Those who will not listen must feel
     Those two little words ‘wish’ and ‘ought’
     Those whom we fear, says my uncle, we cannot love
     Thou canst say in words what we can only feel
     Though thou lose all thou deemest thy happiness
     Thought that the insane were possessed by demons
     Time is clever in the healing art
     Title must not be a bill of fare
     To pray is better than to bathe
     To govern the world one must have less need of sleep
     To know half is less endurable than to know nothing
     To her it was not a belief but a certainty
     To the child death is only slumber
     To expect gratitude is folly
     To the mines meant to be doomed to a slow, torturing death
     To whom the emotion of sorrow affords a mournful pleasure
     To whom fortune gives once, it gives by bushels
     To-morrow could give them nothing better than to-day
     To be happy, one must forget what cannot be altered
     Tone of patronizing instruction assumed by the better informed
     Trifling incident gains importance when undue emphasis is laid
     Trouble does not enhance beauty
     True host puts an end to the banquet
     Trustfulness is so dear, so essential to me
     Two griefs always belong to one joy
     Unjust to injure and rob the child for the benefit of the man
     Until neither knew which was the giver and which the receiver
     Unwise to try to make a man happy by force
     Use their physical helplessness as a defence
     Use words instead of swords, traps instead of lances
     Usually found the worst wine in the taverns with showy signs
     Vagabond knaves had already been put to the torture
     Very hard to imagine nothingness
     Virtues are punished in this world
     Voice of the senses, which drew them together, will soon be mute
     Wait, child! What is life but waiting?
     Waiting is the merchant’s wisdom
     Wakefulness may prolong the little term of life
     War is a perversion of nature
     We live for life, not for death
     We quarrel with no one more readily than with the benefactor
     We each and all are waiting
     We’ve talked a good deal of love with our eyes already
     Welcome a small evil when it barred the way to a greater one
     Were we not one and all born fools
     Wet inside, he can bear a great deal of moisture without
     What had formerly afforded me pleasure now seemed shallow
     What changes so quickly as joy and sorrow
     What are we all but puny children?
     What father does not find something to admire in his child
     Whatever a man would do himself, he thinks others are capable of
     When love has once taken firm hold of a man in riper years
     When a friend refuses to share in joys
     When men-children deem maids to be weak and unfit for true sport
     When hate and revenge speak, gratitude shrinks timidly
     When you want to strike me again, mother, please take off
     Whether the form of our benevolence does more good or mischief
     Whether man were the best or the worst of created beings
     Whether the historical romance is ever justifiable
     Who watches for his neighbour’s faults has a hundred sharp eyes
     Who can point out the road that another will take
     Who can be freer than he who needs nothing
     Who only puts on his armor when he is threatened
     Who does not struggle ward, falls back
     Who gives great gifts, expects great gifts again
     Who do all they are able and enjoy as much as they can get
     Who can take pleasure in always seeing a gloomy face?
     Who can prop another’s house when his own is falling
     Who can hope to win love that gives none
     Whoever condemns, feels himself superior
     Whoever will not hear, must feel
     Wide world between the purpose and the deed
     Wise men hold fast by the ever young present
     Without heeding the opinion of mortals
     Woman who might win the love of a highly-gifted soul (Pays for it)
     Woman’s disapproving words were blown away by the wind
     Woman’s hair is long, but her wit is short
     Women are indeed the rock ahead in this young fellow’s life
     Wonder we leave for the most part to children and fools
     Words that sounded kindly, but with a cold, unloving heart
     Wrath has two eyes--one blind, the other keener than a falcon’s
     Ye play with eternity as if it were but a passing moment
     Years are the foe of beauty
     You have a habit of only looking backwards
     Young Greek girls pass their sad childhood in close rooms
     Youth should be modest, and he was assertive
     Youth calls ‘much,’ what seems to older people ‘little’
     Zeus does not hear the vows of lovers
     Zeus pays no heed to lovers’ oaths

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