It will be observed that while Lucinda was called by its author a “novel,” it hardly deserves that name. There is no story, no development of a plot. The book consists of disconnected glimpses in the form of letters, disquisitions, rhapsodies, conversations, etc., each with a more or less suggestive heading. Two of these sections—one cannot call them chapters—are omitted in the translation, namely, “Allegory of Impudence” and, “Apprenticeship of Manhood.”
By FRIEDRICH SCHLEGEL
Smiling with emotion Petrarch opens the collection of his immortal romanzas with a prefatory survey. The clever Boccaccio talks with flattering courtesy to all women, both at the beginning and at the end of his opulent book. The great Cervantes too, an old man in agony, but still genial and full of delicate wit, drapes the motley spectacle of his lifelike writings with the costly tapestry of a preface, which in itself is a beautiful and romantic painting.
Uproot a stately plant from its fertile, maternal soil, and there will still cling lovingly to it much that can seem superfluous only to a niggard.
But what shall my spirit bestow upon its offspring, which, like its parent, is as poor in poesy as it is rich in love?
Just one word, a parting trope: It is not alone the royal eagle who may despise the croaking of the raven; the swan, too, is proud and takes no note of it. Nothing concerns him except to keep clean the sheen of his white pinions. He thinks only of nestling against Leda’s bosom without hurting her, and of breathing forth into song everything that is mortal within him.
[Illustration: #THE CREATION# From the Painting by Moritz von Schwind]
JULIUS TO LUCINDA
Human beings and what they want and do, seemed to me, when I thought of it, like gray, motionless figures; but in the holy solitude all around me everything was light and color. A fresh, warm breath of life and love fanned me, rustling and stirring in all the branches of the verdant grove. I gazed and enjoyed it all, the rich green, the white blossoms and the golden fruit. And in my mind’s eye I saw, too, in many forms, my one and only Beloved, now as a little girl, now as a young lady in the full bloom and energy of love and womanhood, and now as a dignified mother with her demure babe in her arms. I breathed the spring and I saw clearly all about me everlasting youth. Smiling I said to myself: “Even if this world is not the best and most useful of places, it is certainly the most beautiful.”