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|Table of Contents|
|Start of eBook||1|
|Title: International Weekly Miscellany, Vol. 1, No. 2, July 8, 1850||1|
|INTERNATIONAL WEEKLY MISCELLANY||1|
Release Date: July 21, 2004 [EBook #12975]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** Start of this project gutenberg EBOOK international Weekly ***
Produced by Cornell University, Joshua Hutchinson, William Flis and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
Of Literature, Art, and Science.
* * * * *
Vol. I. New York, July 8, 1850. No. 2.
* * * * *
[Illustration: Studies of the town.]
The lorgnette, the cleverest book of its kind (we were about to write, since the days of Addison, but to avoid possible disagreement say)—since Irving and Paulding gave us Salmagundi, is still coming before us at agreeable intervals, and will soon be issued in a brace of volumes illustrated by Darley. The Author keeps his promises, given in the following paragraphs some time ago:
“It would be very idle to pretend, my dear Fritz, that in printing my letters, I had not some hope of doing the public a trifling service. There are errors which need only to be mentioned, to be frowned upon; and there are virtues, which an approving word, even of a stranger, will encourage. Both of these objects belong to my plan; yet my strictures shall not be personal, or invidious. It will be easy, surely, to carry with me the sympathies of all sensible people, in a little harmless ridicule of the foibles of the day, without citing personal instance; and it will be vastly easier, in such Babylon as ours, to designate a virtue, without naming its possessor! Still, you know me too well, to believe that I shall be frightened out of free, or even caustic remark, by any critique of the papers, or by any dignified frown of the literary coteries of the city.... This lorgnette of mine will range very much as my whim directs. In morals, it will aim to be correct; in religion, to be respectful; in literature, modest; in the arts, attentive; in fashion, observing; in society, free; in narrative, to be honest; in advice, to be sound; in satire, to be hearty; and in general character, whatever may be the critical opinions of the small litterateurs, or the hints of fashionable patrons, to be only—itself.”
* * * * *
TENNYSON’S new poem.
The popularity of Tennyson, in this country as well as in England, is greater than that of any other contemporary who writes verses in our language. We by no means agree to the justness of the common apprehension in this case. We think Bryant is a greater poet, and we might refer to others, at home and abroad, whom it delights us more to read. But it is unquestionable that Tennyson is the favorite of the hour, and every new composition of his will therefore be looked for with the most lively interest. His last work, just reprinted by Ticknor, Reed & fields, of Boston, is thus described in the London Spectator of June 8th:
“Although only these words appear on the title-page of this volume of poetry, it is well known to be from the pen of Alfred Tennyson. It is also known that the inscription
refers to Mr. Arthur Hallam, a son of the historian. It may be gleaned from the book, that the deceased was betrothed to a sister of Tennyson, while the friendship on the poet’s part has ’passed the love of women.’ Feeling, especially in one whose vocation it is to express sentiments, is not, indeed, always to be measured by composition; since the earnest artist turns everything to account, and when his theme is mournful it is his cue to make it as mournful as he can: but when a thought continually mingles with casual observation, or incident of daily life, or larger event that strikes attention, as though the memory of the past were ever coloring the present, and that over a period of seventeen years, it must be regarded as a singular instance of enduring friendship, as it has shown itself in a very singular literary form. There is nothing like it that we remember, except the sonnets of Petrarch; for books of sportive and ludicrous conceits are not to be received into the same category.
“The volume consists of one hundred and twenty-nine separate poems, numbered but not named, and which in the absence of a more specific designation may be called occasional; for though they generally bear a reference to the leading subject, In Memoriam, yet they are not connected with sufficient closeness to form a continuous piece. There is also an invocatory introduction, and a closing marriage poem, written on the wedding of one of the writer’s sisters, which, strange as it may seem, serves again to introduce the memory of the departed. The intervening poems are as various as a miscellaneous collection; but the remembrance of the dead ever mingles with the thought of the living. His birth-day, his death-day, the festive rejoicings of Christmastide and the New Year, recall him; the scenes in which he was a companion, the house where he was a welcome guest, the season when the lawyer’s vacation gave him leisure for a long visit, revive him to the mind. The Danube, on whose banks he died—the Severn, by whose banks he appears to have been buried—nay, the points of the compass—are associated with him. Sometimes the association is slighter still; and in a few pieces the allusion is so distant that it would not have been perceived without the clew. Such is the following (one of several poems) on the New Year.
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
“The following is of more direct bearing on the theme, and is moreover one of those charming pieces of domestic painting in which Tennyson excels.
Witch-elms that counterchange the floor
Of this flat lawn with dusk and bright;
And thou, with all thy breadth and height
Of foliage, towering sycamore;
How often, hither wandering down,
My Arthur found your shadows fair.
And shook to all the liberal air
The dust and din and steam of town:
He brought an eye for all he saw;
He mixt in all our simple sports;
They pleased him, fresh from brawling courts
And dusky purlieus of the law.
O joy to him in this retreat,
Immantled in ambrosial dark,
To drink the cooler air, and mark
The landscape winking through the heat:
O sound to rout the brood of cares,
The sweep of scythe in morning dew,
The gust that round the garden flew,
And tumbled half the mellowing pears!
O bliss, when all in circle drawn
About him, heart and ear were fed
To hear him, as he lay and read
The Tuscan poets on the lawn:
Or in the all-golden afternoon
A guest, or happy sister, sung,
Or here she brought the harp and flung
A ballad to the brightening moon:
Nor less it pleased in livelier moods,
Beyond the bounding hill to stray.
And break the livelong summer day
With banquet in the distant woods;
Whereat we glanced from theme to theme,
Discuss’d the books to love or hate,
Or touch’d the changes of the state,
Or threaded some Socratic dream;
But if I praised the busy town,
He loved to rail against it still,
For ‘ground’ in yonder social mill
We rub each other’s angles down.
‘And merge,’ he said, ’in
form and loss
The picturesque of man and man.’
We talk’d: the stream beneath us ran,
The wine-flask lying couch’d in moss,
Or cool’d within the glooming wave;
And last, returning from afar,
Before the crimson-circled star
Had fallen into her father’s grave.
And brushing ankle-deep in flowers,
We heard behind the woodbine vail
The milk that bubbled in the pail,
And buzzings of the honeyed hours.
“The volume is pervaded by a religious feeling, and an ardent aspiration for the advancement of society,—as may be gathered from our first quotation. These two sentiments impart elevation, faith, and resignation; so that memory, thought, and a chastened tenderness, generally predominate over deep grief. The grave character of the theme forbids much indulgence in conceits such as Tennyson sometimes falls into, and the execution is more finished than his volumes always are: there are very few prosaic lines, and few instances of that excess of naturalness which degenerates into the mawkish. The nature of the plan—which, after all, is substantially though not in form a set of sonnets on a single theme—is favorable to those pictures of common landscape and of daily life, redeemed from triviality by genial feeling and a perception of the lurking beautiful, which are the author’s distinguishing characteristic. The scheme, too, enables him appropriately to indulge in theological and metaphysical reflections; where he is not quite so excellent. Many of the pieces taken singly are happy examples of Tennyson, though not perhaps the very happiest. As a whole, there is inevitably something of sameness in the work, and the subject is unequal to its long expansion; yet its nature is such, there is so much of looseness in the plan, that it might have been doubled or trebled without incongruity. It is one of those books which depend upon individual will and feeling, rather than upon a broad subject founded in nature and tractable by the largest laws of art. Hence, though not irrespective of laws, such works depend upon instinctive felicity—felicity in the choice of topics and the mode of execution, felicity both in doing and in leaving undone: this high and perfect excellence, perhaps, In Memoriam has not reached, though omission and revision might lead very close to it.”
[Footnote 1: In Memoriam. By Alfred Tennyson. 1 vol. 12mo. Boston: Ticknor, Reed & Fields. 1850.]
* * * * *
Etherization.—A writer in the Medical Times says, “The day, perhaps, may not be far off, when we shall be able to suspend the sensibility of the nervous chords, without acting on the center of the nervous system, just as we are enabled to suspend circulation in an artery without acting on the heart.”
* * * * *
One of the most delightful books of the season will be The Autobiography of LEIGH HUNT, which is being reprinted by Harper & Brothers, and will very soon be given to the American public in an edition of suitable elegance. The last great race of poets and literary men, observes a writer in the London Standard, is now rapidly vanishing from the scene: of the splendid constellation, in the midst of which Campbell, Scott, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, Southey, Crabbe, and Byron, were conspicuous, how few remain! Moore (rapidly declining), Rogers (upward of eighty), Professor Wilson, Montgomery, and Leigh Hunt, are nearly all. It is fitting that we prize these few, as the remnants of a magnificent group, which cannot be expected very soon to be repeated.
Leigh Hunt has, for nearly half a century, occupied a prominent place in the public eye, as a politician of a peculiarly bold and decided stamp, when boldness was necessary for the utterance of the truth; and as a poet and prose-writer of a singularly-genial and amiable character. As the chief founder and critic of the Examiner, he would doubtless occupy a high place in literary history, but as the author of “Rimini” he is entitled to a more enduring and enviable fame. This will always stand at the head of his works: but his “Indicator,” his “London Journal,” his “Jar of Honey,” and others, abound with the illustrations of a most imaginative and cordial spirit.
We are glad to possess a good autobiography of Leigh Hunt. It is the first we have from a long list of celebrated men; and no one could give us such correct, discerning, and delightful insights into their usual life and true characters. Hazlitt, Lamb, Shelley, Keats, Byron, and a crowd of others become familiar to us in these pages. It was in the Examiner that the first compositions of Shelley and Keats were introduced to the British public; and the friendship which Mr. Hunt maintained with those poets, till their deaths, casts a sunshine over that portion of his life, which is peculiarly charming.
Perhaps the two points of this Autobiography which will most attract the attention of the reader are the author’s imprisonment for a libel on the Prince Regent, and his visit to Italy. In that imprisonment of two years, he was visited by Byron, Moore, Brougham, Bentham, and several other eminent men. In the journey to Italy, which was undertaken in order to cooeperate with Byron and Shelley in bringing out of the “Liberal,” Hunt had the misfortune to be deprived of Shelley’s friendship, by death, immediately on his arrival; and of the friendship of Byron, through incompatibilities of taste, and the jealous officiousness of Byron’s friends, amongst whom Moore bore a prominent part. Mr. Hunt published a volume on the subject soon after his return to England, which occasioned him a great deal of ill-will. To this publication he now refers with expressions of much regret, and with the calmness which has been produced by time. But it cannot be denied that he endured most mortifying and irritating provocations, which never could have taken place had Shelley lived. We are glad that he has had an opportunity of leaving a generous and forgiving record of this remarkable portion of his life; and certainly nothing can be more delightful than his present account of it:—
“The greatest comfort I experienced,” he says, “in Italy was living in the same neighborhood, and thinking, as I went about, of Boccaccio. Boccaccio’s father had a house at Maiano, supposed to have been situated at the Fiesolan extremity of the hamlet. That merry-hearted writer was so fond of the place that he has not only laid the two scenes of the ‘Decameron’ on each side of it, with the valley which his company resorted to in the middle, but has made the two little streams which embrace Maiano, the Affrico and the Mensola, the hero and the heroine of his ‘Nimphale Fiesolano.’ The scene of another of his works is on the banks of the Margnone, a river a little distant; and the ‘Decameron’ is full of the neighboring villages. Out of the windows of one side of our house we saw the turret of the Villa Gherardi, to which, according to his biographers, his ‘joyous company’ resorted in the first instance. A house belonging to the Macchiavelli was near, a little to the left; and farther to the left, among the blue hills, was the white village, Settignano, where Michael Angelo was born. The house is still in possession of the family. From our windows on the other side we saw, close to us, the Fiesole of antiquity and of Milton, the site of the Boccaccio-house before mentioned; still closer, the Decameron’s Valley of Ladies at our feet; and we looked over toward the quarter of the Mignone and of a house of Dante, and in the distance beheld the mountains of Pistria. Lastly, from the terrace in front, Florence lay clear and cathedraled before us, with the scene of Redi’s Bacchus rising on the other side of it, and the villa of Arcetri, famous for Galileo. Hazlitt, who came to see me there, beheld the scene around us with the admiration natural to a lover of old folios and great names, and confessed, in the language of Burns, that it was a sight to enrich the eyes.
“My daily walk was to Fiesole, through a path skirted with wild myrtle and cyclamen; and I stopped at the door of the Doccia, and sate on the pretty melancholy platform behind it, reading, or looking down to Florence.”
This is all very charming, yet hear what the author says further:—
“Some people, when they return from Italy, say it has no wood, and some a great deal. The fact is, that many parts of it, Tuscany included, has no wood to speak of: it wants larger trees interspersed with the small ones, in the manner of our hedge-row elms. A tree of a reasonable height is a god-send. The olives are low and hazy-looking, like dry sallows. You have plenty of these; but to an Englishman, looking from a height, they appear little better than brushwood. Then there are no meadows, no proper green fields in June; nothing of that luxurious combination of green and russet, of grass, wild flowers, and woods, over which a lover of nature can stroll for hours, with a foot as fresh as the stag’s; unmixed with chalk-dust,
Page 7and an eternal public path, and able to lie down, if he will, and sleep in clover. In short—saving, alas! a finer sky and a drier atmosphere—we have the best part of Italy in books; and this we can enjoy in England. Give me Tuscany in Middlesex or Berkshire, and the Valley of Ladies between Jack Straw’s Castle and Harrow.... To me, Italy had a certain hard taste in the mouth: its mountains were too bare, its outlines too sharp, its lanes too stony, its voices too loud, its long summer too dusty. I longed to bathe myself in the grassy balm of my native fields.”
As a whole these volumes are full of interest and variety. They introduce us to numerous famous people, and leave us with a most agreeable impression of their author.
* * * * *
Thomas L. Kane, of Philadelphia, distinguished himself very honorably a year or two ago by the vindication of the Mormons against calumnies to which they had been subjected in the Western States, and by appeals for their relief from the sufferings induced by unlooked-for exposure in their exodus to California. We are indebted to him for an interesting discourse upon the subject, delivered before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He concludes this performance with the following observations, which we believe to be altogether just. Mr. Kane is a man of sagacity and integrity, and his opportunities for the formation of a wise opinion upon this subject were such as very few have possessed:
“I have gone over the work I assigned myself when I accepted your Committee’s invitation, as fully as I could do without trespassing too largely upon your courteous patience. But I should do wrong to conclude my lecture without declaring in succinct and definite terms, the opinions I have formed and entertain of the Mormon people. The libels, of which they have been made the subject, make this a simple act of justice. Perhaps, too, my opinion, even with those who know me as you do, will better answer its end following after the narrative I have given.
“I have spoken to you of a people; whose industry had made them rich, and gathered around them all the comforts, and not a few of the luxuries of refined life; expelled by lawless force into the wilderness; seeking an untried home far away from the scenes which their previous life had endeared to them; moving onward, destitute, hunger-sickened, and sinking with disease; bearing along with them their wives and children, the aged, and the poor, and the decrepid; renewing daily on their march, the offices of devotion, the ties of family, and friendship, and charity; sharing necessities, and braving dangers together, cheerful in the midst of want and trial, and persevering until they triumphed. I have told, or tried to tell you, of men, who when menaced by famine, and in the midst of pestilence, with every energy taxed
Page 8by the urgency of the hour, were building roads and bridges, laying out villages, and planting cornfields, for the stranger who might come after them, their kinsman only by a common humanity, and peradventure a common suffering,—of men, who have renewed their prosperity in the homes they have founded in the desert,—and who, in their new built city, walled round by mountains like a fortress, are extending pious hospitalities to the destitute emigrants from our frontier lines,—of men who, far removed from the restraints of law, obeyed it from choice, or found in the recesses of their religion, something not inconsistent with human laws, but far more controlling; and who are now soliciting from the government of the United States, not indemnity,—for the appeal would be hopeless, and they know it—not protection, for they now have no need of it,—but that identity of political institutions and that community of laws with the rest of us, which was confessedly their birthright when they were driven beyond our borders.
“I said I would give you the opinion I formed of the Mormons: you may deduce it for yourselves from these facts. But I will add that I have not yet heard the single charge against them as a community, against their habitual purity of life, their integrity of dealing, their toleration of religious differences in opinion, their regard for the laws, or their devotion to the constitutional government under which we live, that I do not from my own observation, or the testimony of others, know to be unfounded.”
* * * * *
* * * * *
The bride’s reverie.
By Mrs. M.E. Hewitt.
Lonely to-night, oh, loved one! is our
And lone and wearily hath gone the day;
For thou, whose presence like a flood is swelling
With joy my life-tide—thou art far away.
And wearily for me will go the morrow,
While for thy voice, thy smile, I vainly yearn;
Oh, from fond thought some comfort I will borrow,
To wile away the hours till thou return!
I will remember that first, sweet revealing
Wherewith thy love o’er my tranced being stole;
I, like the Pythoness enraptured, feeling
The god divine pervading all my soul.
I will remember each fond aspiration
In secret milled with thy cherished name,
Till from thy lips, in wildering modulation,
Those words of ecstasy “I love thee!” came.
And I will think of all our blest communing,
And all thy low-breathed words of tenderness;
Thy voice to me its melody attuning
Till every tone seemed fraught with a caress.
And feel thee near me, while in thought
The treasured memories thou alone dost share
Hark! with hushed breath and pulses wildly beating
I hear thy footstep bounding o’er the stair!
And I no longer to my heart am telling
The weary weight of loneliness it bore;
For thou, whose love makes heaven within our dwelling,
Thou art returned, and all is joy once more.
* * * * *
To ——. By Mrs. R.B.K.
Oh how I loved thee! how I blessed the
When first thy lips, wak’ning my trusting heart,
Like some soft southern gale upon a flower,
Into a blooming hope, murmured “we ne’er will part.”
Never to part! alas! the lingering sound
Thro’ the sad echoes of pale Memory’s cave,
Startles once more the hope my young soul found,
Into bright hues, but, only for the grave ...
Must we then part! ah, till this heavy
Fraught with the leaden weight of sorrowing years,
I could have stemmed grief’s tide like some light shower,
Where shows a rainbow hope to quell all idle fears.
But the dim phantoms of o’er shadowed
Gleaming thro’ gathering mists that cloud my heart,
Lend but a transient ray, those fragile treasures—
And heavier darkness falls to gloom the thought “We part!”
June 22, 1850.
* * * * *
Rambles in the Peninsula.
Grenada, May 26, 1850.
My Dear Friend—My companion, Mr. Ronalds, left this morning in the diligence for Madrid, and I am, therefore, for the first time since I have been in Europe alone—the only citizen of the United States at present in this ancient Moorish city: alone, I may almost say, in the midst of paradise. Yet the beauties of nature will not compensate for the solitude of the heart, which is continually yearning after sympathy; we wish for something beyond the pleasures of the eye, and I would that you were with me. I would take you up to me Alhambra, and descant to you for hours upon its perfections and its romantic history. To me this wondrous pile has become familiar; I have seen it at all hours of the day, and have visited it in the enchantment of moonlight; and never will pass from my memory the pleasant hours I have spent within its sacred precincts; I shall remember them and those who shared them with me—forever. A few days since we made up a party and rode out to the famous town of Santa Fe, in the delightful Vega, about eight miles away. We were all dressed in the gay costume of Andalusia, and presented, as you may imagine, a picturesque appearance; my companions were lively fellows, and we had a great deal of sport on the way. Santa Fe is now a dilapidated place, but its associations make it well deserving a visit. It was built by Ferdinand, during the memorable siege of Grenada; it was here that Boabdil signed the capitulation
The walks and gardens of Grenada are exceedingly beautiful. The principal promenade is called (and very appropriately) El Salon. It is of considerable extent—about eighty feet in width, with regular lines of lofty elms on either side, the bending branches of which nearly meet in an arch overhead. At both extremities of this charming avenue is a large and handsome fountain of ever-flowing water. The ground of the walk is hard—slightly curved; and as smooth and clean as the floor of a ball-room, where convenient seats of stone, tastefully arranged beneath the shade of the spreading trees, seem to invite one to meditation and repose. Outside of this lovely promenade, are blooming gardens, teeming with roses and other flowers, which fill the air with fragrance, while through them on one side runs the river Darre, and on the other the Xenie—gentle streams, whose waters unite their melodious rippling to the chorus of nightingales, ever singing above their pleasant banks. But description is tiresome, especially when one is attempting to present something beyond his power, so I shall not fatigue you with it any longer: besides, a worthy English curate, now my only companion in this wretched hotel, is boring me so incessantly with conversation that I find it difficult to collect any thoughts to put on paper. I wish he was already in heaven, as, surely, he well deserves to be.
It was my intention to have gone from this place to Almeria on horseback, but as R. has left for Madrid, I shall return to Malaga, probably, in the diligence to-night. It leaves at 12 o’clock, under an escort of six cavalry, which on this road is indispensably necessary. From Malaga I shall take steamer for Valencia and Barcelona, and according to my present calculations, will reach Paris about the first of June next. F—— wants me to go to Italy—I do not know exactly what course to take, as traveling in Italy during the summer season is not considered healthy. I should like to remain in France a month or so, in order to improve myself in their language: as for Spanish, I speak it with fluency and ease already, and it is certainly one of the most beautiful languages in the world.
Yours, JOHN E. WARREN.
* * * * *
THE SUMMER NIGHT.
We are in the midst of July—in the midst of summer—of the most genial and pure-aired summer that we have had for years. How beautifully RICHTER, translated by our Longfellow, of kindred genius, describes the holy time! “The summer alone might elevate us. God what a season! In sooth, I often know not whether to stay in the city, or go forth into the fields, so alike is it everywhere and beautiful. If we go outside the city gate, the very beggars gladden our hearts, for they are no longer cold; and the post-boys who can pass the whole night on horseback, and the shepherds asleep in the open air. We need no gloomy house. We make a chamber out of every bush, and therefore have my good industrious bees before us, and the most gorgeous butterflies. In the gardens on the hills sit schoolboys, and in the open air look out words in the dictionary. On account of the game-laws there is no shooting now, and every thing in bush and furrow, and on green branches, can enjoy itself right heartily and safely. In all directions come travelers along the roads; they have their carriages for the most part thrown back—the horses have branches stuck in their saddles, and the drivers roses in their mouths. The shadows of the clouds go trailing along,—the birds fly between them up and down, and journeymen mechanics wander cheerily on with their bundles, and want no work. Even when it rains we love to stand out of doors, and breathe in the quickening influence, and the wet does the herdsman harm no more. And is it night, so sit we only in a cooler shadow, from which we plainly discern the daylight on the northern horizon and on the sweet warm stars of heaven. Wheresoever I look, there do I find my beloved blue on the flax in blossoms, on the corn-flowers, and the godlike endless heaven into which I would fain spring as into a stream. And now, if we turn homeward again, we find indeed but fresh delight. The street is a true nursery, for in the evening after supper, the little ones, though they have but a few clothes upon them, are again let out into the open air, and not driven under the bed-quilt as in winter. We sup by daylight, and hardly know where the candlesticks are. In the bed-chamber the windows are open day and night, and likewise most of the doors, without danger. The oldest women stand by the window without a chill, and sew. Flowers lie about everywhere—by the ink-stand—on the lawyer’s papers—on the justice’s table, and the tradesman’s counter. The children make a great noise, and one hears bowling of ninepin alleys half the night through our walks up and down the street; and talks aloud, and sees the stars shoot in the high heaven. The foreign musicians, who wend their way homeward toward midnight, go fiddling along the street to their quarters, and the whole neighborhood runs to the window. The extra posts arrive later, and the horses neigh. One lies by the noise in the window and droops asleep. The post-horns awake him and the whole starry heaven hath spread itself open. O God! what a joyous life on this little earth.”
* * * * *
Emma is from the German, and signifies a nurse; Caroline, from the Latin—noble minded; George, from the Greek-a farmer; Martha, from Hebrew—bitterness; the beautiful and common Mary is Hebrew, and means a drop of salt water—a tear; Sophia, from Greek—wisdom; Susan, from Hebrew—a lily; Thomas, from Hebrew—a twin; and Robert, from German—famous in council.
* * * * *
AUTHORS AND BOOKS.
* * * * *
Mr. James and Copyright.—It appears that the visit of Mr. G.P.R. James, with which we are presently to be honored, is not, after all, solely for the “gratification of the natural curiosity” of the author of the book with so many titles, as some time ago he advised one of his correspondents here. The London News observes incidentally: “The long-vexed question of an international copyright with our transatlantic cousins shows symptoms of rising to a speedy crisis. Up to a recent period the Yankees had all the advantage of the defective state of the law. They could steal freely from our literary richness; whereas, not only had they little of their own to be robbed of, but their handful of authors took very good care to secure English publishers, and, therefore, English copyrights, for their works. This defense, however, a recent law decision has wrested from the Coopers and Irvings of the States; so that English booksellers have now a perfect right to treat American authors as American booksellers have long been in the habit of serving English authors. And there is something just in this lex talionis. If Dickens, may be reprinted and sold for a shilling in New York, why may not Cooper be reprinted and sold for a shilling in London? At all events, the reprisal system will possibly incline our Yankee neighbors to listen to reason, and to favor the embassy which Mr. James, the novelist, is to undertake to the States, with a view of making preliminary arrangements for a full and satisfactory code directed against all future international literary free-booting.”
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Albert Smith and “Protection.”—The Spectator, misled by a statement in the Morning Post, to the effect that a Mr. Albert Smith was present, by invitation, at a Protectionist meeting at Wallingford, made some caustic remarks on the supposed adhesion of the witty novelist to the cause of dear bread. The latter, astounded thereby, sends the Spectator a note, in which he says:
“The Sphinx, at which you pleasantly affirm I came home laughing from Egypt, never propounded a darker puzzle to any of its victims than you have to me. From last week’s Spectator I learn, for the first time, that I was at a Protection meeting at Wallingford on some particular day, and that I wept at the prices of 1845. Allow me to assure you that I never was at Wallingford in my life: nor, indeed, did I ever attend a public meeting anywhere. I have not the slightest notion what the prices—I presume of corn—were in 1845; and I should never think of expressing an opinion, in any way, upon politics, except against that school which abuses respectability and philanthropizes mischievous rift-raff.”
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R.H. Stoddard is preparing for the press of Ticknor, Reed & Fields, a collection of his Poems, to include most of those he has contributed to the periodicals since the appearance of his “Footprints,” two years ago. The book will be welcomed by the lovers of genuine poetry. Mr. Stoddard is a young man of unquestionable genius, and we have been pleased to observe that there is a decided improvement from time to time in his compositions, indicating the industry and wise direction of his studies, in refinement of taste, elegance of finish, and a rapid and vigorous expansion of his imagination. His masterpiece, thus far, is The Castle in the Air, fitly praised by our neighbor of the Albion, as one of the finest productions of the present time. We do not know of any poet at home or abroad to whose fame it would not have added new luster. In the July number of the Knickerbocker we find the following “Dirge,” which is not unworthy of him:
There’s a new grave in the old church-yard,
Another mound in the snow;
And a maid whose soul was whiter far,
Sleeps in her shroud below.
The winds of March are piping loud,
And the snow comes down for hours;
But by-and-by the April rains
Will bring the sweet May flowers.
The sweet May flowers will cover her grave
Made green by the April rain;
But blight will lie on our memories.
And our tears will fall in vain!
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Inedited Correspondence of Goethe and Schiller.—By many friends of German literature it will be remembered that Goethe, during his life, carefully preserved a particular portion of his papers and letters, which he in 1827 transferred to the government of Weimar, on the condition that the box in which they were contained should not be opened until the present year. The 17th of May was the date fixed upon, and in accordance with the will of the deceased poet, his heirs and those of his brother poet Schiller were on that day judicially summoned to Weimar to witness the opening of the case. Of Schiller’s descendants there were present on the occasion, his eldest son and eldest daughter, and the widow of Ernst von Schiller. Goethe was represented by his daughter-in-law and his two grandsons, Wolfgang and Walther, who came from Vienna, their present place of residence, for the purpose. Schiller’s eldest son is chief inspector of forests in Wurtemberg. Madame de Junot and Frau von Goethe were also present. The box on being opened was found to contain a full correspondence between Schiller and Goethe, ready arranged for the press. A codicil in Goethe’s will provides for their publication. Most of the letters, all of Schiller’s in fact, are autograph.
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The Countess Ossoli, (Margaret Fuller,) we learn from the Tribune, will be in New York about the 20th of the present month. Her work on Italy will be given to the press immediately after her arrival.
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Dr. Hoefer against Dr. Layard.—Dr. Hoefer, a well-known savant in France and Germany, has astonished the Parisians by the publication of a work in which he boldly denies the authenticity of the ruins of Nineveh. Even admitting, he says, that the ruins of Nineveh remain, it is impossible that they can be in the place which Dr. Layard has explored; and, moreover, the Assyrian-like sculptures and inscriptions found in the supposed Nineveh, were the work of a later, and a different people, who had the affectation of imitating Assyrian taste.
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Both Rogers and Wilson, it is said, have declined the laureateship. Referring to the office, the Daily News has a very prosy simile: “A dog, of any sense or self-respect, with a tin-kettle tied to his tail, acutely feels the misery and degradation of the music he is compelled to make. What the tin-kettle is to the dog, the yearly Ode is to the muse. The board, if you please, but not the annoyance and irritation of the jangle.”
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Mr. George H. Boker is at present engaged in preparing for the stage his new play of “The Betrothal.” A correspondent who has seen it in manuscript, and for whose critical opinion we have a very high respect, pronounces it superior, both in action, combination and development of character, and general management of the plot, to any of his previous dramatic writings. It will probably be brought out next fall, not only in this city and Philadelphia, but in London, where his tragedy of “Calaynos” had such a successful run. We believe Mr. Boker will yet demonstrate that the art of dramatic writing is not lost, nor likely to be while we retain the language of Shakspeare, Jonson and Fletcher.
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Bayard Taylor will deliver the poem before the societies of Harvard College on the 18th inst. Among his predecessors have been Charles Sprague, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Edward Everett, W.C. Bryant, George Bancroft, Frederick H. Hedge, and some dozen others of the first rank in letters.
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John G. Whittier, we are sorry to learn, has been for some time in ill health. He is living quietly upon his farm in Haverhill, on the Merrimack.
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Browning’s “Christmas-Eve.”—With great peculiarity and eccentricity, Mr. Browning is a genuine poet. Whether eccentricity is inseparable from genius we shall leave it to others to determine. Mr. Turner’s peculiarities have admirers, and some persons affect to discover merits in Mr. Carlyle’s German style. Mr. Browning’s poetic powers raise him almost above ordinary trammels, but it has been justly remarked of him, that transcendentalism delivered in doggerel verse has throughout the effect of a discord.”
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FROM THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS.
GEN. ANDRE SANTA CRUZ.
This valiant soldier has lately arrived in London as Minister Plenipotentiary from the Republic of Bolivia to the English Court. He before visited Europe in the character of exile, but his misfortune is in a measure repaid by the importance and dignity of his present position.
General Andre Santa Cruz was born in 1794, at La Paz, the capital of one of the provinces of Bolivia, and is a direct descendant, through his mother, from the Incas of Peru. He began his military career immediately upon quitting college, in the Spanish army, wherein he attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He joined the liberating army in 1820, when Peru proclaimed her independence, and by his valor and tactics, largely contributed to maintain the proclamation. In 1821, as a reward for his services, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel, and in conjunction with General Sucre, assisted to raise the standard of liberty in the State of Ecuador. It was in the course of this campaign that the battle of Pichincha was fought in which Santa Cruz distinguished himself at the head of the advanced guard. These services attracted the attention of General Bolivar, and won for him the rank of General of Brigade. He was next engaged with General Bolivar in the celebrated campaigns of Xemiu and Ayacucho, which closed the wars of independence, in 1824.
The achievements of General Santa Cruz in the course of these campaigns were rewarded by the dignity of Grand Marshal of Peru, and the government of the departments of Chuquisaca and La Paz. His sagacious administration in his latter capacity marked him out as the fittest Governor of Peru, to which high post he was quickly nominated by his admirer and friend General Bolivar. The national records of this period bear ample testimony to the enlightened policy and the systematic prudence with which General Santa Cruz presided over the destinies of Peru. He retired from his post in 1827, in consequence of the defection of part of the army from his staunch friend Bolivar, and accepted the comparatively insignificant appointment of Minister Plenipotentiary to the Governments of Chili and Buenos Ayres. In 1829, a serious rebellion, that threatened irretrievable disasters, having broken out in the Republic of Bolivia, the friends of order appealed to their old friend General Santa Cruz as being the only man capable of re-establishing public tranquillity. His firmness and mercy had the rapid effect of calming the excited spirits of the rebels; and as soon as public confidence was restored, he placed the financial affairs of the country on a firm footing, and in conjunction with wise counselors, drew up the civil and penal codes, which were published within the period of his discretional government. In 1831, the National Congress elected him Constitutional President of Bolivia and Captain-General of the national forces; and, moreover, confirmed the clause in the will of General Bolivar, which bequeathed the medal of honor to him. His occupation of the Presidential chair, to which he was reelected in 1835, was marked by unusual commercial and financial prosperity, and the yearly revenue always exceeded the annual expenditure. He paid great attention, also, to the diffusion of knowledge.
Peru, harassed and divided by internal dissension, turned, as his native country had turned in the hour of trouble, to General Santa Cruz. It was proposed to form a confederation of the two republics. This proposition was carried out and solemnly ratified in 1835; whereupon the Peruvians, under the protection of their former chief magistrate, laid down arms, and prepared to enjoy the blessings of peace. The Confederation was confirmed by a convocation of the Congresses of Cicuani, Huawra, and Tapacari, in 1836, and General Santa Cruz was named “Protector of the Confederation.” In his capacity of Protector, the General made a triumphant entry into Lima, in 1837, where the deliberations of a General Congress of the Confederation were at once opened, and the constitution of the Confederation was determined upon. The Protector’s liberal policy had secured the sympathy and esteem of all enlightened nations, gave an impetus to native enterprise and industry, and above all, restored the credit of Peru by acknowledging and liquidating the English liabilities. This prosperous state of things was suddenly checked by the appearance of a hostile Chilian fleet, which seized upon the fleet of the Confederation in the port of Callao, without any previous declaration of war, and by the landing of a Chilian expedition on the Intermedios, accompanied by a handful of Peruvians who were hostile to the Confederation. This expedition was soon subdued by the skill of General Santa Cruz, who exacted from it the treaty of Paucaupata, and then allowed free egress from the territory of the Confederation. This generosity on the part of the Protector was met by treachery on the part of Chili, directly her army was once more on Chilian ground. At this time the Government of Buenos Ayres made an unsuccessful attack upon the Confederation. The enemies without having been successfully repulsed, the prosperous condition of the Confederation continued, till General Orbegoso, one of the founders of the Confederation, rebelled, and enlisted the troops under his command in his Cause. This internal rebellion afforded a fresh and favorable opportunity for renewed hostility from without, and the result was that within a short space of time Chilian troops occupied Lima. On the appearance of General Santa Cruz, however, the foes were compelled to evacuate and re-embark. Defeated in this direction, the Chilian troops directed their course to the northern provinces, where Orbegoso’s rebel band were collected. Gen. Santa Cruz, in the ardor of his determination to rid the territory of the Confederation from this treacherous foe, undertook a march of two hundred leagues, under the severity of which many of his troops sank, and the result of which was his defeat at Yungay, by the rebel forces. The defection of Generals Ballivian and Velasco, who commanded two powerful divisions of the army of the Confederation, made this disaster irretrievable. General Santa Cruz was obliged to retire to Guayaquil, whence he subsequently betook himself with his family to Europe. He has lately been accredited by his native country Minister Plenipotentiary in London and Paris.
There are few public men who have held so many important public trusts with such universal popularity. The liberality of the General’s views, his sagacity in council, and above all, the purity of his patriotism and the unselfish nature of his administrations, are claims upon the gratitude of South America that will command wider recognition in times to come even than they obtain at the present time.
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THE CELL OF THE BEE.—Hive-bees not only differ from wasps in building their comb with material secreted by themselves, but they also differ in the mode in which they construct their cells. All the wasps which I have hitherto described have their tiers of cells single: now, the honeycomb is invariably double. And, moreover, whilst all these wasps and hornets arrange their cells horizontally, the bee arranges its comb vertically.
I think it needless to enter into very minute descriptions of the honeycomb, as all my readers are doubtless perfectly familiar with its appearance. Each cell, like that made by the wasp, is hexagonal, and the cells are put together in a manner which secures the greatest strength for the least possible material. Kirby and Spence state that “Maraldi found that the great angles were generally 10 degrees 28 minutes, and the smaller ones 70 degrees 32 minutes: and M Koenig, an eminent mathematician, calculated that they ought to be 109 degrees 26 minutes, and 70 degrees 34 minutes, to obtain the greatest strength with any given amount of material.” Lord Brougham states that he has discovered that the bee is right and the mathematician was wrong, and that other mathematicians with whom he has communicated agree with him, and have detected the source of the error.—Instinct and Reason.
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DISASTERS of life, like convulsions of the earth, lay bare the primary strata of human nature: they expose to us elements we might forget, or suppose to be transmuted by the alchemy of civilization. In this respect they are, like those geological expositions, useful lessons and mementoes to the lawmaker.
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The hadj, or pilgrim-caravan, pursues its route principally by night, and by torchlight. Moving about four o’clock in the afternoon, it travels without stopping till an hour or two after the sun is above the horizon. The extent and luxury of those pilgrimages, in ancient times especially, almost exceed belief. Haroun, of Arabian Nights’ celebrity, performed the pilgrimage no less than nine times, and with a grandeur becoming the commander of the faithful. The caravan of the mother of the last of the Abassides numbered one hundred and twenty thousand camels. Nine hundred camels were employed merely in bearing the wardrobe of one of the caliphs, and others carried snow with them to cool their sherbet. Nor was
The departure of such an array, with its thousands of camels glittering in every variety of trappings, some with two brass field-pieces each,—others with bells and streamers,—others, again, with kettle-drummers,—others, covered with purple velvet, with men walking by their sides playing on flutes and flageolets,—some glittering with neck ornaments and silver-studded bridles, variegated with colored beads, and with nodding plumes of ostrich feathers on their foreheads—to say nothing of the noble, gigantic, sacred camel, decked with cloth of gold and silk, his bridle studded with jewels and gold, led by two sheiks in green, with the ark or chapel containing the Koran written in letters of gold,—forms a dazzling contrast to the spectacle it not unfrequently presents before its mission is fulfilled. Numbers of these gaily caparisoned creatures drop and die miserably, and when the pilgrimage leaves Mecca the air is too often tainted with the effluvia reeking from the bodies of the camels that have sunk under the exhausting fatigue of the march. After he had passed the Akaba, near the head of the Red Sea, the whitened bones of the dead camels were the land-marks which guided the pilgrim through the sand-wastes, as he was led on by the alternate hope and disappointment of the mirage, or “serab,” as the Arabs term it. Burckhardt describes this phenomenon as seen by him when they were surrounded during a whole day’s march by phantom lakes. The color was of the purest assure,—so clear, that the shadows of the mountains which bordered the horizon were reflected with extreme precision; and the delusion of its being a sheet of water was thus rendered perfect. He had often seen the mirage in Syria and Egypt: there he always found it of a whitish color, like morning mist, seldom lying steadily on the plain, almost continually vibrating; but in the case above described the appearance was very different, and bore the most complete resemblance to water. This exact similitude the traveler attributes to the great dryness of the air and earth in the desert where he beheld it. There, too the appearance of water approached much nearer than in Syria and Egypt, being often not more than two hundred paces from the beholders, whereas he had never seen it before at a distance of less than half-a-mile.—Fraser, June.
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Letter from the Duke Of Wellington.—A short time since, (says the Court Journal,) the rector of a parish in one of the midland counties, having obtained subscriptions toward the restoration of his church, still found himself unable to meet all the claims which the outlay had occasioned. To supply the deficiency, he wrote to many persons of wealth and eminence, politely soliciting their aid. The following is a copy of the reply which he received to the application made to his Grace:
“F.M. the Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Mr. ——. As Mr. —— feels that his letter needs apology, the Duke will say no more on that subject; but he must add, that as there is not a church, chapel, glebe-house, school, or even a pagoda, built from the north to the south pole or within the utmost limits of the earth, to which he (the Duke of Wellington) is not called upon to contribute, the Duke is surprised that Mr. ——, having already raised L7,500 toward the restoration of his church, should make application to the Duke, who has nothing to say either to —— or to ——shire.”
Immediately upon the receipt of this, the reverend gentleman was offered five guineas for the autograph, which he readily accepted, entering the amount in his subscription-list as the Duke of Wellington’s contribution to the fund.
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Mr. Richard J. Wyatt, an eminent English sculptor, died at Rome on the 29th of May, after a few days’ illness, and was buried in the Protestant burial-ground. The hearse was followed by the British Consul, the American Charge d’Affairs, and about fifty friends and artists of all nations. Mr. Wyatt went to Rome in 1822, and worked for Mr. Gibson. After a few years he commenced his career, in which he has been so successful. It is said that he has executed commissions to the extent of L20,000 sterling. He was in the fifty-seventh year of his age.
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FROM FRASER’S MAGAZINE.
THE DOM OF DANTZIC.
FOUNDED ON FACT.
“Dumiger, my own Dumiger, you desired me not to disturb you this night: but you surely cannot know how late it is. I am lonely and weary, and could not resist coming to you; there is a long line of pale light behind the Artimshof, it must be the day breaking; yes, there, the old worn-out clock is striking five, and you are worn out, Dumiger, so leave your work to sleep;” and the young girl blushed deeply as she spoke.
The light in the apartment had burnt out unperceived by Dumiger; but although pale and thin was the streak of morning’s dawn, it was sufficient to show that in that room was standing a form, beautiful from its fullness and ripeness. She who addressed the man who was sitting at the table was a bride but nine days since, and absorbing indeed must have been the pursuit which kept him from her side. She had thrown a shawl loosely over her shoulders, which fell in many folds down to her bare feet; her hair, of that singular thickness which all nations admire, but which the Germans alone as a nation possess, was coiled around her small and classic head; there was on her cheek that soft bloom which is called into existence by love alone, and which makes the pulses of youth beat quickly as it gazes. Nothing was wanting to complete her excellence—neither that refinement which poets love to dwell on sometimes to the prejudice of other qualities, nor that perfection of feature, the admiration of which is the first characteristic of early passion; and yet, notwithstanding, when she placed her hand upon her husband’s shoulder the touch did not arouse him from his reverie. His forehead was pressed by both his hands as if to restrain the pulsations of the temples; implements of all description lay around him; small wheels, and springs of different constructions, segments of circles, and various sections bore evidence to the deep nature of his studies, and to the exertion which merited repose. The girl sighed as she looked at the surrounding chaos; she took one hand gently and unresistingly on his part from his face, and pressed it to her own. While she gazed fondly upon the pale; wan countenance which it had concealed, it seemed, alas! to dawn slowly upon her that this confused heap of material was but an indication of ideas equally disturbed, and energies as broken. To whom had she wedded herself? To a man whose whole soul was absorbed in one idea, and that an idea which evidently separated him from her, which created a gulf between them, that not fame, nor power, nor boundless wealth, could ever fill up, for that gulf is fathomless—the gulf of ambition, for which ambition barters, as in this instance, its enjoyment—manhood too often its truth—and old age its repose. Yes, she had linked her destiny to such a man, and now she felt the full import of the vow she had made, of the pledge she had taken. She had done so wittingly, knowingly, with consideration; but not until that moment had the full force of her position burst upon her.
“Dumiger,” she again whispered in the small, still voice of love; bending her lips to his hand at the same time,—“Dumiger!”
There was silence, for he slept.
But slowly, as though by a secret sympathy, he awoke to consciousness: he looked wildly around the room, and then turned a keen, earnest gaze on the form near him.
“Marguerite, my love,” he said gently, and then he put his arm around her waist, and pressed his lips to hers, “you promised me, Marguerite, that you would let me toil through this night.”
“So I did, Dumiger,” she replied; “but I felt nervous and wretched; I could not sleep: besides, look out, the night is already passed, it is quite morning, and very chilly too,” she said, as she drew her shawl closer round her bosom.
“Yes, you will catch cold, my darling. Leave me.”
“And you, Dumiger, will you remain here, poring over these volumes, and torturing your brains? I am sure, that you will succeed far more easily (for I never doubt your success, but lament the price you will have to pay for it), you will succeed far better by giving yourself more rest, and working by day instead of night; your cheek is quite pale. Dumiger: now, in your boyhood, you have lines marked on your forehead which in others are the result of pain and toil. Your eyes have lost—”
She was about to add, “their brightness,” when as though a sudden ray of light had flashed through them, they gleamed with even more than their wonted intelligence.
“Marguerite, Marguerite,” he exclaimed, clasping her in his arms, “you know not what you are saying. Look here!” and he rose hurriedly from his seat and drew her toward the window; “do you see that star in the east, how bright it is, that you can even distinguish the ray it sheds from the gray light which breaks from behind those masses of clouds? By that light I tell you I shall succeed in my most extravagant expectations. How many anxious nights I have waited for that star! Until I saw it I had no hope—now, my hope can scarcely find expression. I am grateful to Thee, O Providence, for this revelation, for the accomplishment of all my wishes;” and he bowed his head as though in adoration, and almost sank on his knees.
Marguerite looked at him as if she dreaded that his brain was turned. Dumiger interpreted that look; for what look is there that love cannot interpret?
“No, Marguerite, I am not mad, believe me. This toil has not yet turned my brain, though it might indeed have done so, for it is sad and hard to labor night after night in pursuit of an object so distant and yet so prized. You ask me why I labor through the night? Foolish child! why you must know that the clock for which the city has offered so extravagant a prize, and to obtain which, not I alone, but so many others are wasting their health and squandering their youth—you must know that this clock is not only to tell the hour of the day, and the month of the year, but to contain within its works the secret of the movements of the heavenly bodies;—that to obtain this prize they must read the wonders of the skies, and penetrate its mysteries. It is a wild and fearful study, Marguerite—a study, the pursuit of which is not calculated by the hands on the dial-plate. Even now I marvel at the audacity of the men who proposed such a design, and the boldness of those who, like myself, have undertaken to fulfill it. You cannot imagine, Marguerite, how such contemplations remove one from the world in which we live. Until I knew you, Marguerite, I cared for and thought of nothing else.”
“And even now, Dumiger, is this not the case?” said she, with a gentle smile.
“No, to your love I owe all, Marguerite,” he answered. “It seemed to purify my feelings, to elevate my mind to the height of this vast argument—until I knew you there was a link wanting in my life. When I used to ponder on the marvelous love of the Infinite, which could work out this wondrous system, and give man the faculty and the desire of comprehending it, I felt that the mind contained capacities long concealed from its owner; I felt that even in this world there must be at some time a perfect revelation of perfect love to man, beyond that love of nature which is to be derived from the study of this world’s natural laws and those of the lights which rule it. I was then unsatisfied, Marguerite, for there was a void in my heart which nothing could fill up; and I remember once meeting with a passage in a favorite author which said, that whosoever had a faculty or sensation unemployed could not be happy. I was in that situation; but strange to say, absorbing as the passion of love is, when I once understood this great mystery I was better able to devote all my energies to science. I had often heard it said, that a pure and holy affection is the purest and surest source of energy and greatness—until I knew you, Marguerite, I gave no credit to the saying.”
“And this star, Dumiger, which is growing fainter and fainter?”
“It was the one evidence wanting to prove the accuracy of my calculations. Look here, Marguerite,” and he rose from the table with weak and faltering steps, and drew back a curtain which was drawn across a corner of the small room. There she saw a small clock of exquisite manufacture, a complicated mass of machinery—so complicated that it would have looked like fabled labor to have even put it into motion, or regulated it when in motion. “Look here,” continued Dumiger, “here is the result of two years’ toil. I have already adapted these works to each other: it is, as you may perceive, a representation of the heavenly bodies; but I could not satisfy myself that my own calculations were correct until I saw this star which I expected to rise as it has risen this morning. Now, Marguerite, my best beloved, you have seen it burning brightly in that spot of the heavens, it is a pledge of our future love and of my great success—I accept it with humility and gratitude. Yes, now. Marguerite, I will retire with you; a great fact has been accomplished. If labor is virtuous, if to exercise the faculties be a part of the discipline of life, then, even if I die now, I have not lived unworthily, and my labor has not been wholly in vain. What think you, my Marguerite?”
She looked her answer in those dark, speaking, lustrous eyes. The greatness of his mind had passed to hers; the mysterious sympathy of kindred souls united them. She was proud of him; and her eyes flashed lightning, and her cheek flushed deeply, as she replied—
“I can forgive you now, Dumiger, all your neglect, in the hope of seeing you famous and honored by all your fellow-townsmen.”
“Ay, Marguerite,” replied Dumiger, “there it is; it is fame for itself I care for—to be great, powerful and wealthy, is a matter of but small importance. One can live without rank, without power, without wealth, and perhaps be all the happier for wanting them. This little room, small and ill-furnished though it be, contains in it as much happiness as any one heart can enjoy. If we have everything we desire, what care I in how small a compass they may be expressed? For instance, I would not yield one of your kisses, Marguerite, for all the palace of the Grand Master can offer. Some of my friends have richer abodes, but what matter? Where did Van Eyck, who immortalized himself by that one painting, known throughout Europe as the Dantzic picture, reside? Why, in one of those wretched buildings, ill supported by props and pillars, near the Grime Thor, but which his fellow-townsmen are at this moment prouder of than they are of the Artimshof or the Stockthurm. How did Andreas Stock live? In obscurity and penury, without one smile of good fortune to gild the darkness of existence. But do you suppose that these men were unhappy? Oh no, Marguerite, to make everything in nature beautiful there is but one element in nature essential, and that is light. To make everything in the heart rejoice there is but one sensation essential, it is love. How think you, Marguerite?”
Her only reply was a long, long kiss.
And they retired to rest as the bells of the city chimed in the merry morning, arousing in that city its slumbering passions, fears, loves, difficulties, and perils, which had been for long hours buried in sleep. But amid the various sounds which began to echo through the streets, there was one wanting to give evidence that the dawn, of a great town was breaking. No clock worthy of the noble Dom, imitated by Ritter of Strasburg from St. Sophia, arrested the attention of those who were starting forth on their several pilgrimages of toil or joy: none had yet been wrought worthy of the mighty majestic pile which overshadowed the free city, and reared its towers lofty as the great League to whose wealth it owed its origin. To construct such a clock was the object for which Dumiger labored; and not he alone, but hundreds of skilled workmen, toiled anxiously through the long autumn nights, for the citizens of Dantzic loved that glorious fane whose lofty towers looked upon their birth, and beneath whose shadow the noblest of their freemen were buried. To connect their names with that great monument, seemed to them to be an object well worthy of the noblest and oldest commercial houses. Two years had been allowed for the undertaking, and the time for deciding the prize was drawing near; and amongst all who toiled to win it, none more zealously labored in the work than Dumiger Lichtnau, known to history as Dumiger of Dantzic.
If it be a grateful sight to behold the young and happy when all life is bright before them, when the soil which they tread on is covered with flowers, and the only murmurs which they hear are the murmurs of soft breezes, and the only sighs are sighs of passion; not less beautiful is it to see the young linked together in love, struggling with adversity; to see two beings whose sole object in life it is to alleviate the daily toil of each other; to whom every effort of self-denial through the object of its exercise becomes a blessing; to whom the future is full of promise, because exertion gives confidence, and self-confidence is the source of all hope. There is something very touching in the sight of those whom the world deserts, or to whose interests the world is at best indifferent, arousing all their energies to battle with adverse circumstances. Then every little addition to the daily comforts is prized, as the result of independence and of honorable exertion—in a word, as the reward of labor: every holiday arrives fraught not merely with enjoyment, but with blessing. To such there are sources of happiness, which the gay, the wealthy, the children of life’s sun know nothing of, but which in their noonday career of splendor and greatness they might well stop to envy.
On such an existence Marguerite had entered. Hers was a simple history, told in few words, but connected with long previous chapters of passions and regrets; for she was the child of love, begotten in tears, and brought up in one of those admirable foundling establishments which prevail in Germany, and are at once the incentives to love and the protection of its offspring. She left it a year previously to the period when we are writing, to enter a family of distinction as a humble friend and teacher. There Dumiger chanced to meet her. When first he met he loved; and like all men of earnest purpose, he loved with no common passion. The family were of that kind so frequently met with in society—affecting great consideration for those whom fate has placed beneath them, but expressing consideration in such terms as made it almost an offense, and proving their vanity in the very manner in which they affected humility. She at once accepted Dumiger, though some months elapsed before it was possible for them to marry. At last, by dint of great exertion, they laid aside sufficient money to commence the world with. Dumiger had the small apartment, within whose narrow limits his mind expanded to the contemplation of the vast field of inquiry on which he presumed to enter, and he transported Marguerite to her new home; there to indulge in imaginations of love, boundless and visionary, as his were of ambition.
The day following that which we have described there was a great annual fete at Dantzic. The free city for the time donned its freest and most joyous manners; it was one of those days in which honest burghers, and most especially honest burghermasters, delight, because they are then enabled to put on their greatness with their broadcloths; and every flag and inscription in the streets is a tribute to their past, and an incentive to their renewed exertions. Fortunately the day rose in more than ordinary brightness; the Mottlaw and the Radaw, two streams which flow through the center of Dantzic, reflected the variegated masses of colors worn by those who thronged their banks; Commerce had for that day deserted the lofty mart and still loftier warehouse to muse by the side of the river which bore her richest freights; processions from the neighboring villages marched with music at their head into the city, bearing the devices of their various trades, and when the crowd separated to let them pass, the captains of companies and humbler officials drew themselves up as they traversed the rude, ill-fashioned pavement of the picturesque and antique gabled city. It was the fete of the patron saints of the town,—strange evidence of a future state, even among those who reflect but little; for there as ever all men turn alike to some mysterious guardian for protection, and like this city are consecrated to some faith. In the midst of these happy groups, which were collected at every corner and filled every gasthof, moved Dumiger and Marguerite, most blessed and happy where all looked smiling and contented. Marguerite was the envy of all brides, and of those who wished to become so; and there was not a young burgher of distinction who had not at some time or another looked upon her with admiring gaze, and followed her to the palace in which she dwelt, and loitered under her window,—where, however, the thin slight curtain was rarely if ever drawn aside to satisfy the vanity of the gazer or to kindle her own. She was of a very admirable beauty, as perfect as is commonly found in nature, which fancy can at will outwork,—tall, of excellent symmetry, with a clear, noble brow, the proudest type of Nature’s glory. There were few in town who did not know her at all events, from reputation, and that reputation was spotless. Of Dumiger’s appearance we cannot say as much: he would have been decidedly plain but for the indications of genius which his countenance afforded. His forehead was marked with the lines of patient and anxious thought; but these evidences, if they did not serve to please the gazer, at least commanded his respect. He was somewhat bent by premature exertion; the hair, even at that early age, was thin and scanty on the temples; his step was slightly enfeebled by want of proper exercise. Altogether he was a very remarkable man from the intellectual power which every lineament expressed; yet altogether he was scarcely such a person as would have been considered likely to awaken a strong passion in a young girl like Marguerite. For it is too true that, to use the expression of a writer of that age, il avait l’air d’un ame qui avait recontre par hasard un corps et qui s’en tirait comme il pouvait.
And yet—so strange a being is woman!—desirous like the Hindoo wife to sacrifice herself on whatever altar she raises in her heart, Marguerite, in order to marry Dumiger, had refused the greatest offers,—amongst others, no less a person than the son of that house into which she had been received. But irrespective of the affection which she felt for Dumiger, she was in her nature proud and haughty, and she would not have consented, even under other and less favorable circumstances, to have entered where she was despised by the rest of the family. It may be imagined how great indignation was excited in this man by her refusal, the more especially as, like Dumiger, he thought himself a proficient in science and the mechanical arts, and was one of those who in his way was laboring for the prize so soon to be awarded by the city. If merit was to be the test of success, he had but little chance; but where is that man and where are those minds with whom rank and power have not their weight? He was, therefore, if not the most formidable by intellect, at all events by circumstance, the one of Dumiger’s competitors the most to be dreaded, for his father was the president of that council which presided over the destinies of Dantzic, and who usurped more than imperial authority. He belonged to the ancient house of Albrect, Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, and oldest freeman of the Hanseatic League. A strange, proud man, who when he learned indirectly that his son Frederick was in love with Marguerite, indulged in a storm of fearful indignation, until he found from her that on no account did she intend to accept the suit; and then, in spite of his gratification at the certainty that his son could not make a marriage which he thought so discreditable, his vanity was wounded at her decision, and even while he praised Marguerite’s disinterested conduct, in his heart he was garnering up hatred against her. A blow to vanity is terrible, and it is a blow which the humblest and weakest can give as well as the most powerful, in the contempt or even the indifference expressed for the pursuit in which we are interested, or for the object which we have attained. So much of our opinion of the value of an object depends on the price which others set upon it, that it is sufficient to know others are indifferent to it for ourselves to undervalue it. But Marguerite went forward in her career of happiness, quite ignorant of the dislike she was leaving behind her. She told Frederick the truth, that she loved Dumiger, and kindly added, that but for this circumstance she might one day have loved him; and then with a light heart she left the splendid palace for the abode of poverty.
They moved on together, those two young and loving beings, and so intent were they on their own happiness, so concentrated in each other, that they did not observe how the crowd through which they passed fell back in admiration: but at last Dumiger caught the expressions of their faces, and saw the glance which accompanied them, and then he almost looked nobly born, so proud became his step and steadfast his gaze. The long market (surrounded with its fantastic gables, strange, rickety, and picturesque, which looked us though they retained the expression of the angular, quaint, rococo faces of those by whom the houses were formerly tenanted) was crowded with all that was gay and animated in Dantzic; around the fountains, somewhat rude in their execution but admirable in their models, the peasants from the neighborhood were congregated. Presently the crowd, which had momentarily become greater and still greater, swayed backward and forward like the tide in a harbor when a noble vessel enters its gates. They made place for a herald, who rode on horseback surrounded by his deputies, and gave notice in an audible voice that on that day week the Supreme Council would meet to decide on the merits of the different pieces of mechanism which were to be submitted to their judgments, and which were to be sent in three days previously. Then the herald recited the rewards which the great and free city offered to the most successful competitors: they were worthy of the great League of which Dantzic was the head:—A house to be kept up at the expense of the State, to be styled the “most honorable,” a ring of honor, but above all, a laurel wreath, and to have precedence immediately after the Supreme Council itself. Such was the attachment of the inhabitants of Dantzic to their town and its glories that its embellishment was dearer to them than any personal or material advantages. But it is probable that these honors would not have been so great on the present occasion had the Grand Master not been fully impressed with the belief that his own son would succeed in the contest, and add another and the greatest to the honors which belonged to his house. Marguerite and Dumiger pressed forward through the crowd to hear the proclamation read, and the blood flowed in their cheeks as they listened. Dumiger turned to look at Marguerite, her eyes were moist with love and admiration; he pressed her arm fondly, and said in a low voice,—
“Now, Marguerite, will you forgive me the hours passed in solitude, in selfish silence, when you know how highly the city estimates this work to which my nights and days have been devoted?”
Her only answer was a glance of affection which thrilled through his frame.
It was night, they were tired of wandering about, and entered one of the numerous cafes which had been temporarily erected in celebration of the day. In the center of the Grande Place a stage was built for dancing, and when the band played its liveliest tunes the bright-eyed dancers swept round in admirable time; the variegated lamps which hung around the square checkered the pavement with every variety of hue, cast such a glory on the fountain that its outline was worked as it were with threads of gold. All these different colors and shapes were reflected in the rippling waves of the ever-rolling waters. Youths in the gayest dresses strutted away their proud hour of triumph with that graceful vanity of pretension which youth so well becomes, or flirted with the tender maidens, who in silver-laced bodice and scarlet skirt, with their brows encircled with interwoven wild flowers, sat round the brink of the fountain, where the murmurs of the ever-falling waters could best conceal the murmurs of love. And above all this gorgeous tumult and bright excitement the moon from her throne of silver clouds rose like a virgin queen; the bold architecture of the Dom stood in clear relief, some parts as though sculptured out of heaven’s light, while the depths of the arches were buried in mysterious shade, emblematic of the faith to which it was dedicated,—in part clear to the fresh comprehension of the youngest child, and again full of deep and fathomless mysteries. Athwart the flood of light which filled the square, the deep shade of this noble Dom was thrown, like the dark visions of the future which sometimes fall upon the heart in its hours of brightest enjoyment. If one had stood that night on the lofty tower and looked forth on the vast multitude, he need not, Asmodeus-like, have unroofed the houses to read the history of human life or the passions of the human heart, for life and passion had gone forth that night from many a tranquil abode to revel in publicity. One so standing above the wild hum of tumultuous enjoyment would in silent thought have marveled at the strange drama performing as it were at his feet,—the sad and fearful mixture of the shadows and lights of life and death, the market-place, and close at hand the burial-ground. Talk of contemplation in the wild solitudes of the country, how much more is there room for contemplation in the crowded mart and the bustling thoroughfare! Where is the river whose current is so rapid as the current of life, or at time so dangerous and treacherous? Where is the tide whose ebb and flow is so uncertain as the ebb and flow of existence? Where are to be found winds and waves more boisterous than those which agitate the human heart? Where is the shore so strewn with wrecks as the heart with the broken memorials of passion which may have long since swept over it? If Nature in its solitude affords calm enjoyment, in its human development it affords matter for deeper thought; if the view from the mountain-top, extending over hill and dale, expand the mind, to stand above the wild tumult of a town equally exalts the imagination and conveys knowledge, even while it compels the gazer to pass out of himself.
As they approached a coffee-house on the same side of the street as the Dom, Marguerite proposed to Dumiger to remain there, where they could best see the dancing, and she drew a chair toward her.
“No, no, not here!” exclaimed Dumiger; and he took her across the square to another house of greater reputation.
But it was not on this account that Dumiger preferred it, but because it had a view of the Dom; he could there contemplate the space which was left for the clock, of which he fondly believed he was making the model. He pictured to himself that tower, the wonder and admiration of the town; that on the spot where he was then sitting numbers would crowd to view the wonderful machinery fashioned by his genius.
The history of the cafe to which he took Marguerite was curious; it had been opened not less than one hundred and twenty years without being once entirely closed. It was, in point of fact, formed by two houses, which were used alternately to allow of the necessary repairs and cleansings. On such an occasion as the present they were both thrown open,—the one part was for persons of the second rank, amongst which Dumiger and Marguerite now classed themselves; the other was reserved for the people of the higher order, for in this city of popular institutions and liberal opinions the distinction of classes was very strictly preserved.
Marguerite and Dumiger ordered some slight refreshment. Marguerite was enjoying that repose which is so agreeable to the mind after the sensation of strong happiness; Dumiger, with his head resting on his hand, was gazing on the lofty tower of the Dom, and the light fleecy clouds, which appeared to be almost attracted by the glittering vane. At that moment a rude hand slapped his shoulder.
“You here, Dumiger!” said Carl. “Why, Confound it, man. I thought you were poring over dull tomes of the University library, or worshiping a saint” and he took off his hat to Marguerite. “Here is Krantz, your old friend Krantz, whom you have not seen since we were all at Bonn together: so I will drink with you as well as he did three years since, when we reveled in Rhenish.”
Dumiger seized the extended hand, a gleam shot across his mind: the three years of abstraction and thought appeared to be swept away; he only beheld his two boon companions; his countenance was lightened of a dozen years.
“Marguerite, these are two friends of mine,” he said; “it is getting late and cold. See, the lights on the fountains are burning very dim, and the benches are deserted. You will not grudge me this one night for acquaintance sake, dear Marguerite? I shall not he late, but I must grant myself one bottle to-night to drink to my success. What, angry, my Marguerite!”
She was not angry, but she thought that love in life is of rare fulfillment. Again another night of loneliness: yesterday it was a disagreeable necessity, now an agreeable excitement, but both alike led to a lonely room and a lonely heart. But in the shade Dumiger pressed her hand, and assured her with many kisses that he would return within two hours, and she tried to feel satisfied and assured. The three friends sat down; a larger table replaced the small stand which had been exclusively devoted to ices; three bottles of huge dimensions were brought from the cellar; pledge after pledge was received and given. Dumiger became a different man, save that at moments, in the midst of some burst of louder hilarity, the cloud of ambition would cross his brow and seem to furrow it, and then he would fold his arms across his breast, as if to repress the outbreak of his soul. It was during one of these moments of abstraction that Carl turned suddenly round.
“Why, Dumiger,” he exclaimed, “you do not fill your glass! In former days, man, you were of a very different mood. Has marriage so tamed you? Won’t Marguerite allow it!”
Krantz and the two friends made the place ring with their rude students’ laugh. “Ha! ha! I, why I am in excellent spirits,” said Dumiger, filling a bumper with the strongest of the wines upon the table. “I ought to be in good spirits, for I have everything to make me so.”
“Ay, the most beautiful girl in Dantzic for a wife,” said Carl.
“With a large fortune?” said Krantz, laughing.
“That will come,” replied Dumiger, heated by wine.
“Large fortune!” they both exclaimed; “where are you to get it, student? Have you found an old cave in the Grime Thor, Dumiger, with a fortune buried, as the old romances have it?”
“Yes, I shall soon discover a fortune,” exclaimed the boy, now fairly excited, and his cheeks glowing with animation; “and more than a fortune. Fame and honors shall be heaped upon us. Do you imagine that I have been wasting the last three years of my life? do you believe that the ambition which was the subject of your illusive aim at college is dead? No! look here, Carl and Krantz, this day week will see me famous, and ennoble my family till it vies even with the Grand Master’s.”
“You are mad,” said Carl.
“No, I am speaking words of soberness,” said he, with an earnestness which carried conviction even to those wild spirits. “I tell you that I have an inward confidence that I shall win this prize which was proclaimed to-day, that my name will be associated with the proudest fame ever reared in Dantzic. Oh, the nights and days of toil, the hopes and fears which have agitated me, for the last three years: these will account to you for the paleness of my cheek, and my vacant look. Well, I have this day completed the test by which the accuracy of my work is proved, and now I hold I shall be great.”
He spoke so loud that his voice echoed through the peristyle; it disturbed one not the least interested in the conversation, Frederick Asprecht. He lent an attentive ear to all that fell from the speaker’s lips, and then he learned that not only had he been robbed of an affection which he had striven to win, but that the same man who had married Marguerite was about to take from him the possibility of obtaining a prize he sought for. In the vanity of his pretensions he could not believe it possible that Dumiger really was not at the moment speaking extravagantly; it was not until he listened attentively, and heard him give a detailed account of the nature of his mechanism, that he saw (for he was not wanting in scientific knowledge) that Dumiger’s confidence was far from misplaced. Frederick, when he had heard sufficient, left the place with a heavy heart, and with melancholy step retired to his chambers of luxury.
He entered the Grand Master’s palace, and through the vast marble hall, where the banners hung against the walls, and devices and armorial bearings testified to the antiquity and gallantry of his race. The lofty roof, supported by vast ashen beams, echoed to each step as it rang on the pavement. Sculpture and painting decorated the several galleries; but he passed by all unnoticed, for he had one object in view which absorbed all others, and rendered him now indifferent to the luxuries and grandeur by which he was surrounded. To his surprise when he entered a colonnade full of the choicest flowers, which united the extreme wings of the vast building, he found his father walking there with an anxious, timid step, his manner was nervous and uneasy.
“Frederick,” said the old man, one of those dignified, astute, tall, gray-bearded, and keen-eyed men, whom we find in the picture galleries of the middle ages, dressed in a suit of stately black, with the golden chain of his order, and riband of the Fleece, “I was very anxious to see you, my son. The influence of our house is deserting us; you have not attended the council lately—there is a majority organizing against us. You should be at your post my son. The first element of success in life is industry—patient, untiring industry; it is to this we owe the fortunes of our house the very decorations which I wear, the consideration with which I am treated,” and the old man curled the long, tapering moustache, partly in pride, partly in anger.
“But, my father, you forget that I am wholly occupied in my studies—that you yourself urged me to contend for the prize which the city gives—that you considered this would be the readiest means of extending your family influence.”
“Forget!” exclaimed the old man indignantly. “Forget!” and his spurs clanged upon the pavement. “I am not quite so old as to forget thus—neither do I forget that you wasted three months in making love to that jungfrau Marguerite, and three more months in lamenting her loss, even after she had spurned you, you son of the chief citizen of Dantzic. You succeed in nothing, sir; unstable as water, you trifle away all existence. Now tell me, you solitary student, where have you been to-night? Of course not wasting every moment in the holiday with your boon companions, and making love to all the peasants? Speak, sir.”
“It is true, my father; I was at the fair,” replied Frederick, submissively.
“You tell the truth at any rate,” continued the Count, somewhat touched by his frankness. “Well, then, we won’t say anything more about the past and Marguerite; but tell me as frankly what prospect you have of success in the competition for this famous clock, for on that will greatly depend the power of sustaining our family influence.”
So appealed to, Frederick thought it wise at once to prepare his father for the truth. He told him that until that evening he had imagined that he possessed every prospect of obtaining the prize, and then he repeated all that he had overheard Dumiger asserting. In the bitterness of his spirit he inveighed against him as a personal enemy, and as he spoke vehemently and earnestly, his father’s eyes glistened with vengeance and pleasure, for he saw that the dignity of the father had passed into his son; he had never seen the youth so excited, he now felt that he was worthy of the old time-honored race.
“Ah,” he said, “Dumiger again; and his scheme and plan seem well founded. However, neither the man nor his production will find great favor in the council while I have influence there; he may exaggerate his merits.”
“I think not,” said Frederick. “But there is one way to get rid of his competition,” said Frederick, laying his hand on the hilt of his sword.
“No, no, young man; take your hand from your sword: I will have no brawling, no bloodshed, like those common burghers, whose sons are even now rustling through the market-place. But wait a little; night gives counsel. I think I have a way far more practical and less hazardous than that which you propose—leave the matter in my hands, Frederick. I am glad to find you have some spirit, that it has not all been dissipated on that foolish girl; there is always hope in man where there is energy. What I feared was that you might become a mere dreamer, and struggle through an idle, vaporing existence: now I hold that you are worthy of your name, although the conviction has reached me in an unpleasant form. But leave this to me, all will be right; you have only one thing to do, to send Hoffman to me to-morrow morning.”
“Hoffman the silversmith, who lives at the corner near the senate house?” asked Frederick.
“Precisely,” replied the Count, and soon his firm unbroken step was heard ringing in the distance.
Frederick went out on the balcony to meditate on what possible steps his father proposed taking to overrule the opposition of Dumiger. With all his frivolity and dissipation he was greatly ambitious, and most anxious to sustain a reputation he had long enjoyed of having it in his power to command success in any pursuit to which he chose to direct his attention—that Alcibiades and Admirable Crichton character which is the principal source of failure to many men in life. With the exception of the hours wasted in the useless
Hoffman, the silversmith, whom the count desired to see, was one of those men who have existed at all times and in all countries, who trade on the exertions of those who possess more energy and perseverance than themselves, and who really do seem essential to the great mechanism of society. He had from time to time rendered assistance to Dumiger, who, unfortunately at the present moment owed him a large sum of money, which it would take a long time to liquidate. The count also had dealings with the silversmith; for in the quartier Juif all classes meet and jostle each other. But Hoffman was a superior man of his order, he knew the secret history of most of the important burghers, was consulted on many very delicate subjects, and could have published more scandal than any Sunday Chronicle of these more modern days. The count was like all other counts, incessantly in debt; so, when Hoffman was ordered to attend on the Grand Master, he did not doubt that the mandate originated in the ordinary necessity, and he prepared himself accordingly to evade or concede. Some time previously the count had found it necessary to part with a great portion of his old family plate, and as it was during the passion of his son for Marguerite, and after Dumiger had carried off the prize, he had discovered from the loquacious goldsmith all the particulars relative to Dumiger, and amongst others the account of his pecuniary obligations, and that Hoffman had a bond from him for a very large sum in his possession. The object of the count’s present interview with Hoffman was to know on what terms he could purchase the bond; and when the jeweler arrived, the bargain was soon concluded. Hoffman thought the bond would never be paid, and so the count purchased it for three times its apparent value.
On the previous evening Dumiger returned flushed and excited to his house. The moment his friends had left him, he began to regret the confidence he had placed in them, and the frankness with which he had expressed himself. He retained but a very slight recollection of all that he had said, but he thought it was quite sufficient to have aroused the ridicule of those around him. Most painful of all sensations, the vague sense of a folly committed, the extent and the consequences of which are alike unknown to us! As he approached his home it seemed to him that he had profaned his affection for Marguerite by mentioning her name in that rude society, and broken her confidence by alluding to his hopes and his fears. While his secret had been confined to his own breast, or communicated only to Marguerite, his confidence in himself had never for a moment been weakened; but now that others were made acquainted with his convictions and his hopes, they seemed to him exaggerated and unfounded. He had for a moment forgotten that the chief secret of success in all undertakings in life is Silence. Silence in the scheming, silence in the execution, silence in the fulfillment; half the charm that had given him strength was lost now that he had opened his breast and disclosed its secrets to others. And it was with a feeling approaching to disgust that he entered his workroom, and saw all the material of his great enterprise scattered about the floor.
He went to Marguerite’s room. She was sleeping with all the freshness of youthful dreams glowing on her cheek; after the tumult of the day the stillness of that room soothed his spirit. He reflected how little satisfactory were all these pursuits compared to the tranquillity of home, but then, even as he sat by the bedside, and with her hand in his, pondered on the past and future—a pageant as it were, robed in cloth of gold and purple, and laurel-crowned, swept by him; and the glory of being preeminent among his fellow-men flashed upon his soul. If he should fail—. A cold damp settled on his brow at the thought, for in that event all his time had been thrown away, and there was no possibility of his meeting his various engagements. It was not one Hoffman but many that beset him, although Hoffman was truly the most avaricious of his tribe, where all were greedy. And then, as he gazed on the lovely countenance by his side, he thought of the affection which had resigned all luxury, and, far above all luxury, that consideration which women so prize, for him, and that he had brought her to a home where she had to deny herself many of those comforts to which she had been accustomed. He regretted the deed. Still more did he regret the time that he had that night wasted, and the money that he had squandered; but it was too late for repentance. All that he could now do was to nerve his energies for the toil of the morrow—that morrow which comes to all men, the faith of the procrastinator, the hope of the sufferer, the mercy of the unbeliever.
He awoke in the morning with renewed resolution, but his brow was still heated with the dissipation of the previous night, and his hand shook as he applied himself to his work. After a couple of hours, however, when Marguerite had taken her place by his side, he forgot Dantzic, Carl, and Krantz, all the annoyances which threatened him. He was absorbed in his pursuit, and Marguerite was looking over with her attention not less absorbed than his own, when to their astonishment the magnificent carriage, with the heavy, sleek, overfed horses, of the Count Albrecht, rolled up to the door.
“Look here, Dumiger,” exclaimed Marguerite, running to the window with a woman’s curiosity flushing her cheek. “Here is the Grand Master’s carriage—what can he be doing at this house?”
“He must be calling on the new arrivals who took the apartments on the first-floor yesterday,” said Dumiger, scarcely looking up from his work, on which all his attention was concentrated.
“They are beautiful horses, and the manes and tails are decorated with ribands which would furnish me with sashes for a whole life,” thought Marguerite; but she avoided giving utterance to her feeling, lest Dumiger should interpret it into an expression of regret at having given up the prospect of ever obtaining all these luxuries.
Marguerite had just left the window when a heavy step was heard on the stair, and loud knock at the door roused Dumiger from his fit of abstraction, nearly making him jump from his chair. The impulsive “Come in!” which he uttered, was immediately succeeded by the appearance of the Count.
Dumiger, like most men of deep thought and habits of abstraction, was diffident. He stood for some moments thunderstruck without performing any of the usual courtesies of society. Marguerite in her surprise imagined that she must have been guilty of some great negligence while residing in the palace, with which the Count now came to reproach her.
The silence was broken by the Count himself, who nodded kindly, almost familiarly to Marguerite, and without any further ceremony took the chair from which Dumiger had just risen.
“I called to see whether you were comfortable, Marguerite, in your new abode. It is small,” continued the Count, as lolling back in his chair he touched the wall with the back of his head: “I suppose, however, that you will some day be able to afford a larger. I do not wish to trespass upon your confidence, but as I have the liveliest gratitude for the admirable manner in which you, Marguerite, discharged all your duties while you were with me, you must let me evince my recollection of them by a small wedding present.” And the Count laid a rouleau of gold pieces on the table.
“Oh, sir!” exclaimed Dumiger, seizing the Count’s hand with effusion, “you are so kind but I can assure you that we are quite happy here. When one is truly attached to another, the little sacrifices of life become a pleasure,” and Dumiger’s eyes so filled with tears, that he did not perceive the quiet, cold sneer on the Count’s upper lip; but Marguerite remarked it. Moreover, she knew the Count well—his vast ambition, his supercilious pride; she had caught the inflection of his tone when he spoke to Dumiger, and she knew that when he affected that winning, cajoling manner, he was always the most dangerous, and most to be suspected. So her only answer or acknowledgment was a low courtesy, and the blood mantled in her cheek, but whether from gratitude or some sterner feeling the Count was unable to divine.
He looked at her for some time under his long gray eyelash; Marguerite met the look calmly and composedly. Dumiger was bustling about quite in an ecstacy of delight, and for the time entirely forgot the clock and the Dom. Not so the Count, he was curiously scanning all the various parts of the complicated machinery which were lying round him. He waited until Marguerite should retire before he judged it right to commence speaking to Dumiger on the subject that was next his heart, but Marguerite did not seem at all disposed to give him the opportunity.
Woman’s prescience of danger for those she loves is wonderful. Without being able to assign any definite reason, Marguerite felt that the man’s presence boded her no good; and it was therefore with a troubled spirit that she heard the Count, after looking several times at his watch, suggest that he wished to speak to Dumiger alone.
Dumiger looked at Marguerite, who thought it wiser at once to take the hint than to allow the Count to suppose that she at all questioned the sincerity of the kind interest which he affected to take in her. He waited until the door was fairly closed, and then drew his chair near to Dumiger’s. The latter, quite unaccustomed to the neighborhood of so great a man, immediately withdrew his seat to a more deferential distance; but the dimensions of the room speedily put a stop to the retrogression and his modesty by arresting his chair.
“Don’t be afraid,” said the Count to Dumiger, in a somewhat harsher tone than he had yet used, for he was an impatient and testy old man. “Don’t draw your chair back in that way. I wish to speak to you privately and confidentially.”
Dumiger held his breath. What could the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights have to say to him? for, whatever might be his future greatness, at all events its promise could be known but to few others.
“You were out last night,” continued the Count. “You went to a wine-shop—you spoke loudly—you drank deeply.”
As the Count continued Dumiger’s cheeks glowed. The Count must have heard all that he said. His heart sank within him as he recalled his weakness; but his mind was soon settled on that point by the Count.
“And when you spoke,” continued he, you talked very wildly of becoming a great man; of obtaining more enduring fame than any of our noblest citizens. By the bye, you did me the honor to class me amongst those you were destined to triumph over.”
“It was a wild, idle thought,” said Dumiger, faltering forth a thousand apologies. “I did not know what I said. Two friends led me into this error. I am sure you will forgive me, sir: I was excited; my brain was in that state I really did not know what I said. Who ever could have repeated this to your Excellency?”
“No one repeated it.” said the Count, “so you need not entertain any mistrust of your friends. One of my household overheard you; and his ear having caught the sound of my name, he listened attentively, that is all. But what does it signify? You did just as all young men—ay, and the best of our young men, do—drank deep of the Rhenish. I like you the better for it. And then, by all accounts, you had some cause for excitement, for you believe you are to win the greatest prize that Dantzic has ever proposed for one of her citizens.”
The scene of the last night passed from Dumiger’s memory when the hope of fame and the prospect of success were mentioned. His whole countenance changed, his eye brightened, and the nostril dilated.
“You heard that, also, your Excellency!” he said. “Well, then, I need not scruple to tell you the truth. Yes, I have labored night and day, and I hope to obtain the reward of all this self-sacrifice; and now I draw near the goal my blood is excited—I am fevered by my hopes. Look here, sir,” and forgeting all his fears and etiquettes, he took the Count by the arm and led him to a curtain which was drawn across a corner of the room where the model-clock was placed. “Here is the work; it approaches completion; is it not worthy of the prize?”
Even to the most unpracticed eye this model of a great work appeared to be of admirable skill. So complicated was the machinery, that the marvel seemed to be how it was possible so nicely to have arranged its various parts, that they could find sufficient space for working. Massive weights were regulated by springs of such fine texture, that it was surprising how they could possibly have been made by a man’s rude hand. The movement was perfectly noiseless, so beautifully were the balances arranged around the principal works of the clock itself: the heavenly bodies were moving in harmony and regularity; the face of the clock had not yet been affixed, so the whole of the interior operations of the machinery were apparent. The Count gazed astonished at the result of long perseverance and indomitable energy. Dumiger stood beside him holding the massive curtain aside, and delighting in the Count’s amazement. At length he allowed it to fall, exclaiming, with pardonable self-love, “Surely this must succeed!”
The Count resumed his seat, and, for some time, was unable to regain the composure which he had lost by the sight which he had seen. Dumiger sat buried in thought.
“And when you have succeeded, Dumiger,” said the Count, in a voice which he intended to be very kind, but whose inflection manifested a bitter disappointment,—“and when you have succeeded, will you be happier? Do you think, Dumiger, that greatness adds to happiness? Ah, you know little of the world if you believe this. Besides, remember, you may fail, and then how bitter your disappointment will be!”
Dumiger was seated with his arms folded, and scarcely paying any attention to the Count’s observations: his mind was wandering amid the planets.
“Look, Dumiger, you are attached to Marguerite.”
At the name of Marguerite, Dumiger raised his head and concentrated all his attention.
“You love her better than all the world?”
“Far better,” said Dumiger.
“For her, like a man of heart, you would sacrifice everything!” continued the wily Count.
Dumiger nodded his head in assent.
“Even the clock?”
A glow mantled over Dumiger’s cheek; he was about to answer in the affirmative, when he remembered that the clock had been his companion for five years past. He had lived with it, breathed his own life into its movements,—should he renounce the clock? It, as well as Marguerite, had become a part of himself; it had long stood him in the place of family, of love, of all those enjoyments which youth so wantonly and earnestly clings to. The results of success, ambition, honors, wealth,—all this he would give up for Marguerite; but his clock—he hesitated.
The Count repeated the question.
At that moment a sweet voice might be heard caroling one of those simple national airs which are dear to all nations and all times. Marguerite had a soft, winning voice, well adapted to the song she was singing. The Count, as well as Dumiger, paused in his conversation; the color rose again to Dumiger’s face as he thought how nearly he was on the point of sacrificing his faith, and loving the work of his own hands more than the admirable work of Nature which had been bestowed upon him, and, as he listened, he lowered his voice and said,—
“For her I would sacrifice even the clock!”
“You shall,” exclaimed the Count.
“I shall!” said Dumiger, starting from his seat. “Now in what way do you mean, my Lord Count?”
“You know,” said the Count, “the value of the prize which is offered by the town. It is worth little in money. The honor is considered sufficient. Then you are to be given high place amongst the good citizens, a laurel crown, to ride a white horse, and sundry other trumperies.”
The Count looked at Dumiger while he applied the word trumperies to those results which the latter had so impatiently striven for,—for which he had been laboring night and day. These outward signs of the results of great ambition,—these to be called trumperies! Dumiger looked at the Count with astonishment.
“And yet,” said he, “it is for such trumperies men sacrifice their lives, sometimes their characters.”
The old Count colored slightly as he gave a glance at the riband and star which he wore. Men did sometimes say that the Grand Master had not obtained all his honors without sundry sacrifices of one kind and another. Dumiger had not intended any allusion to these rumors, and he was surprised at the Count’s change of color, for which, at the moment, he was unable to assign a reason.
“Well,” said the Count hesitatingly, “as you say you prefer Marguerite’s love even to your ambition, let us suppose, that in one moment you were able to attain certain wealth, to place her in a position worthy of her high qualities, to be at once on an equality with those of her fellow-citizens, who have hitherto—pardon me the word—treated her as an inferior; let us suppose that by some extraordinary powers all this could be immediately realized;—then let me ask you, would you sacrifice your clock?”
Dumiger marveled as he listened. He pictured Marguerite adorned with all those incidents which lend a new charm even to beauty like hers. He thought, with that vanity which clings to all men,—he thought if she were so much admired in her rustic dress, what would she be if she could rival in luxury and grace the chief ladies of Dantzic? He looked round the room; and instead of the rudely-carved, worn-out chairs, he pictured the most graceful and luxurious sofas; instead of two small, and, in spite of all Marguerite’s taste and exertion, rather dusty and ungraceful-looking rooms, a suite of magnificent apartments, where he could gratify every taste and find people willing to come and applaud it. All this passed through his mind, and he did not perceive how curiously the Count was regarding him; but at last Dumiger was recalled to himself, and he thought how little occasion there was for him to draw such pictures, as they could never be realized; and why should he annoy himself by considering this proposition, which could only be made to him in joke.
“But why,” he said to the count, “do you make me such a suggestion, when I can never hope to obtain this?”
The Count paused a moment, as though to examine Dumiger’s countenance still more attentively, and then said,—
“You shall obtain this wealth, and much more.”
“I!” exclaimed Dumiger, with astonishment.
“Yes,” said the Count; “at a great price, I know; at a price, however, which I think you will still be willing to pay for it—for your clock.”
“My clock worth that!” said Dumiger, “who will give it to me?”
It was the first time that Dumiger had tested, by the opinion of another, the value of the great work which he had achieved, and it gratified him to hear the magnificent offer.
“I,” said the Count, “I will give you all that I have said; nay, more, I will use all my influence to have you placed high on the great book of the citizens. You shall have everything to make life happy. Give me the clock; sign me a paper, making over this clock to me; declaring, at the same time, that it is your free act and deed, and that you never completed it, and I will immediately settle that fortune upon you.”
“And yet my clock,” thought Dumiger; “all the honors I have anticipated, the gratification of my ambition, that greatness I have dreamed of; can I forget all this?”
He was about to reply, when the door opened and Marguerite entered. The length of time that the conversation lasted had made her impatient; besides, she mistrusted the Count.
He looked annoyed at her appearance, for he imagined that Dumiger was on the point of acceding to his terms.
“Marguerite, I am so rejoiced you have come!” exclaimed Dumiger, as though a sudden light had burst upon him. “The Lord Count has offered to buy my clock, and to make us rich beyond all expectation; to have us placed high among the first class of the citizens; in fact to enable us at once to secure all that men pass their lifetimes in striving to attain, if I will give up my clock and declare that I failed in its execution. What do you say, Marguerite?”
“What do I say!” she exclaimed, and as she spoke she drew herself up to her full height, her brow contracted, the color glowed in her cheek. “And did you hesitate what reply to make?”
“I thought of you, Marguerite.”
“Of me!” she replied. “Oh, do not think of me; or rather if you do so, think that I would sooner live in the most abject poverty, and suffer any amount of privation, than part with the work, the consummation of which will be the glory of your life. Part with your clock! no, I would sooner sell this hair which you so prize, part with all those qualities which render me dear to you; nay more, I think I would even be content to sacrifice your love rather than see all the results of your patient industry wasted, your noble ambition sacrificed. Think of me, dear Dumiger, but think of me only as a part of yourself, as one who would give up every hope and every future to secure your happiness, that is, your fame.”
Dumiger rose from his seat, unmindful in whose presence he stood, he pressed Marguerite in his arms; again the nobility of his mind brightened in his eye and beamed over his countenance. It was another instance amid the thousand which, unknown to them, were passing around them of a man won to noble thoughts by a woman’s influence, proving that she is the animating power to save him in all his difficulties; that she invokes and renews all those noble thoughts which are concealed in the recesses of his mind. Hers is the light to dispel the mists which the chill atmosphere of the world hangs around the brightest portions of the mind: great at all times, greatest of all when, in a moment of difficulty, she is called upon to decide between the good and the evil, the just and the unjust, the generous and the mean, the ingenuous and the sophistical; and Marguerite, in one glance, saw all that Dumiger had failed to discover in the Count’s appearance and manner,—the dark design, the selfish calculation; her simplicity of mind perceived indications of low, mean purposes, which he failed to discern. Thus it is ever that the first impressions, and, above all other first impressions, the impressions of innocence and youth, are the truest and most to be depended on.
For wherein is it that men—so often men of the shrewdest intelligence and keenest intellect—deceive themselves by their own egregious vanity.—by that vanity which makes them prefer to depend on the refinements and subtle processes of their own intelligence, rather than on the first impressions of the mind which Heaven has bestowed upon them? They are not satisfied with perceiving that a thing is good, but they must learn why it is so. They are not satisfied with knowing that the world is beautiful, that the harmony of this globe and its planets is admirable, but they must know the origin of this beauty, and the cause of the harmony which strikes them with wonder. It is not enough for them to be told they are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” but they must attend schools to learn why they live, move, and have their being. Such is man, blinded by his self-conceit; blasted not by the excess, but by the partial light which bursts upon him: whereas woman moves clear in her apprehension, because she believes that “whatever is, is right;” and great in her intelligence, because she knows she is ignorant.
The count saw that all further appeals to Dumiger’s interest would now be thrown away, but he was not on that account to be baffled.
“Very well, sir,” he said, in an angry voice; “I make you the greatest offer that was ever made to any workman in this city, and you reject it with contempt. The day will come when you shall repent it. I would have saved you for that woman’s sake, from the distress and ruin which are impending over you, but you will not be free. Look to it, sir, for there is danger even now. Your success is not so certain. I have it in my power to crush you, and your pride shall be broken.”
So saying he took up the rouleau of gold he had given to Marguerite and departed. Dumiger and Marguerite stood side by side, alarmed, but still unbending; and yet the man who spoke to them was of great power. To recite his titles once more:—Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, President of the City Council; magnificent in his promise, fierce in his resentments, unscrupulous in his means. For a moment Dumiger looked at Marguerite as though he were disposed to yield to the tyranny of that great man, but a glance from her reassured him; and it was with a low but formal reverence that he opened the door to the illustrious visitor, while Marguerite stood proud, haughty, and reserved.
“Did we do wisely?” said Dumiger, when the door closed upon them.
“Wisely!” exclaimed Marguerite; “oh, Dumiger, can you doubt it? I feel myself worthier of you now that I was able to influence you in your moment of uncertainty. I say moment, for I will not believe that, upon reflection, you could have hesitated in your decision. Better risk all and lose all than sacrifice the glorious object which you have in view. Who would not prefer the greatness which must be yours, if you succeed? and the count has at least taught us one thing, that success is almost certain,—who would not prefer this to that wealth of which he is so proud, and that eminence which it makes him giddy to stand on? No, Dumiger, you were in the right; and come what may, you will feel proud of your decision and self-denial.”
“It was you who decided for me,” replied Dumiger, as he pressed her lips fondly to his own.
He toiled throughout the day, and the dusk was settling over the town when the last wheel was finished and the clock was completed.
It was late in the evening of the same day. Marguerite and Dumiger were sitting by the fire together. The fire burnt so brightly that it was not necessary to light the candles. Marguerite, with her eyes closed and half reposing in Dumiger’s arms, was enjoying all the happiness which the sense of returning affection gives. The night was somewhat changed since they first sat there. The rain beat against the casement, and the wind whistled down the chimney. The more it rained and blew, the closer crept Marguerite to Dumiger’s side. It was a picture of comfort; of that comfort which, alas! is so easily destroyed by the breath of tyranny. It was a type of the many hearths which are covered with ruins when the trumpet sounds through the city and the tocsin rings to arms; when war or rebellion sweeps like a pestilence, not alone over the ruins of palaces and of senate-houses, but over the abodes of the humble, where every room can tell a tale of affection and toil.
There was a knock at Dumiger’s door, which made Marguerite start and called all the color into her cheeks.
There was something ominous in the knock. It was a short, quick, clear, and decisive knock. It was the knock of a man in authority; of one who felt that although standing on the outside of the door, he had a right to be within. Marguerite and Dumiger both looked at the fire, as though they could read in its confused shapes the reason of this interruption; but the result could not have been very satisfactory, for neither spoke, while reluctantly Dumiger rose to open the dour, and Marguerite followed his movements with intense anxiety.
The truth is that people are never thoroughly comfortable and happy without a sense of the uncertainty of human happiness stealing over them. We speak of those whose lives are not a succession of parties of pleasure, of soft dreams and golden fulfillments—to such favored ones all sense of happiness is deadened by satiety—but they who toil through long, long days, and are blest with a few moments of repose, value them so highly that they scarcely believe such happiness can last.
Dumiger opened the door, and uttered a faint cry. Marguerite was in a moment by his side.
He had, indeed, some cause for alarm. An officer of the Grande Court de Justice stood there. There was no mistaking his character, for the uniform of the myrmidons of that court was too well known to all the inhabitants of Dantzic, and more especially to the poorer classes, who gazed on them with awe, for they were in general stern, hard-featured, and hard-hearted men, who did their duty without gentleness, and rarely deserted a man when once they had him in their clutches. Dumiger had made acquaintance with them of old on one or two occasions, and the recollection was anything but agreeable.
The man entered the room very quickly, took his seat in Dumiger’s chair, and drew his missive from his pocket. It was Dumiger’s bill to Hoffman for a very large sum, which had been purchased by the Count.
“What is this?” gasped forth Dumiger; for, at the moment, the debt had entirely escaped his recollection. “Ach Gott!” exclaimed Dumiger, “is it possible?” but observing Marguerite standing by, pale, tearful, and trembling, he restrained his impetuosity.
Dumiger rose and went to a drawer. He counted over, with the eagerness of a miser, all the dollars which were kept there,—the few which had remained after the expenses of the last fortnight. For some time past he had devoted all his energies so entirely to the construction of the clock, that the smallest receipts of his craft had been despised.
A cold perspiration stood on his forehead as he gazed upon his small store. He knew too well, that by the laws of Dantzic the debtor was either dragged to the common prison or all his goods were seized. Either alternative was terrible. He looked round the room. On one side stood the clock, the child of his mind and industry, on the other was Marguerite, beautiful in her grief.
The man had lit a pipe, and was carelessly smoking.
“Come,” said the officer at last, as shaking out the ashes of his pipe and drawing himself to his full stature, so as to give weight to his authority—“come, we have no time to lose, Herr Dumiger. The money or the furniture, or to prison. Consult the pretty jungfrau there: but you must come to a conclusion directly, for time presses and I have several other little bits of business to perform to-night: so I will light another pipe while you make up your minds.”
It was no easy matter for Marguerite to bring her mind to a decision. She thought on the one hand of the lonely nights she might have to pass; on the other, of the irreparable loss the clock would be to Dumiger. Dumiger clasped her hands in his own, and as his lips clung to hers he exclaimed, “Perish all things but love.” He rose—he was on the point of desiring the man to take away the clock in payment of the debt, in the hope that he might redeem it on the morrow, when the sudden thought struck him that the Count was the instigator of this act. He caught hold of the man by one arm, which was hanging listlessly over the back of the chair, and exclaimed—
“Tell me who sent you on this mission.”
The man only looked round with an expression of astonishment at his presumption, and without deigning any reply, he resumed his pipe.
“Was it the Grand Master?” asked Dumiger.
“Obey my orders and ask no questions,” said the man. “You had better follow my example. I have told you already that there is no time to spare. Tell me what course you intend to take. Give up some articles in this room—there is that clock, which will do more than pay the bill—or follow me immediately. There is no other alternative.”
The whole conversation with the Grand Master occurred to Dumiger. There could be no doubt that the clock would go into his possession; that it was a deep-laid scheme to spoil him of the result of all his labor. Better, far better, that Marguerite should bear the pain of separation, than that the clock should be endangered, and by such a man.
“Marguerite,” said Dumiger, in a low voice, after a long pause, “it is fixed. We must part for a short time. I will write from my prison to some of my friends; they will not desert me in this necessity. A few short hours, and I shall return to you, my own Marguerite.”
But Marguerite had fainted, and the lips which touched his cheek were cold and pale.
Slowly she opened those large blue eyes, and although her lips faltered, the look and the voice were both earnest as she bade him go.
“Yes, Dumiger, you are right: ambition such as yours is a less selfish passion than love like mine. Leave me for a time. I know the interval will be short. It is another step toward the greatness to which you are aspiring.”
The man looked at them with a vague and vacant look. He had been witness to this description of scene so frequently, that he began to believe it to be a part of the debtor’s craft. As some people can regard the most beautiful varying tints of heaven, the lights and shadows which flit across the face of nature, and see nothing more in them than a part of that vast and complicated machinery that governs the world—so he, in these lights and shadows of life, only beheld the natural workings of the human mind.
With a pale cheek but a firm step Dumiger departed. The last sound that fell upon his ear as he left his door, was the blessing murmured by his bride. Again he felt disposed to turn back and sacrifice all for his affection; but already one of the city guard stood behind him, and the rattle of arms on the pavement told him that his arrest had not been lightly planned or carelessly conducted.
The castle toward which Dumiger and his guards directed their steps was the Grimshaus, formerly a citadel and an important point of defense for the town of Dantzic, though now converted into a prison for political offenders and debtors. The reader may be aware that the laws against debtors in the great free commercial cities were intolerably severe. Some men were permitted to groan away their whole lives in hopeless misery. The creditor was in general without pity, and the debtor unpitied. He was entirely at the mercy of the jailer, who had it in his power to load him with chains, and even on the slightest pretext of insubordination to execute summary justice upon him. These laws, however, had as yet little affected Dumiger; though threatened with arrest on one or two previous occasions his difficulties had always been arranged. But the present debt was more serious than any which had as yet been pressed for, and he could not but feel that friends might be less willing to become surety.
They arrived at the square in which the Grimshaus was situated. It was a wild, unhealthy, stern, fantastic pile, which stood, in point of fact, upon an island, for a wide, wet ditch surrounded it, except where a drawbridge connected it with the square. The towers and ramparts had in some places mouldered away, and huge bars of iron were introduced in different parts of the wall to give strength to the building by binding the yawning mason-work together.
The square was deserted. The cry of the sentinel at the most distant of the landward posts sounded ominous, like that of a lost bird at night. Although the moon shone brightly, it was difficult to distinguish the whole outline of the building, on account of the pestiferous vapors which arose from the moat, and hung like a pall over the recently flooded plain. Through these mists the city chimes sounded muffled and melancholy. It was solitude—of all solitude the most fearful—a prison solitude in the neighborhood of a great town. The very escort appeared to feel the influence of their melancholy and lonely scene, for the jests stopped as the foot of the vanguard clanged on the drawbridge. This was merely the effect of discipline; but to Dumiger it appeared a part of the drama, and it added to his sense of fear.
They were detained some time upon the drawbridge while the sergeant was holding some conversation with the officer of the watch.
“By the Holy Mary!” exclaimed the functionary who had arrested Dumiger, “there must be something more than a mere debt in all this. I never saw such a fuss made about the receipt of the body of a debtor in all my life. And then, it was rather strange my being ordered to take a file of my guard instead of honest Jean, who would have held him just as firm in his grasp, and not kept my poor fellows shivering out all night in this unhealthy atmosphere. No, no, there is something more than a debt due: it is a case of political crime. Is it not so, my lad?” he exclaimed, giving Dumiger a thump on his back which made the chain-bridge rattle.
“Is it not what?” said Dumiger, who was quite taken by surprise. He had been gazing on the water, and the purest drops in it were the two tears which had fallen from his eyes. “I have heard nothing,” he replied. “What does all this mean, and why am I kept here?”
“Ah, that’s just what I wish to know!” answered the man, “and no one can tell us better than yourself. It is not merely for a case of debt that I was sent to your house to-night. No, no, I am wiser than that. Come now, tell us the real truth. What conspiracy have you entered into, what political offense have you committed, to entitle you to be escorted with such honor, and be made the subject of so many forms? There is no use denying it,” he continued, for Dumiger’s astonished countenance was quite a sufficient protestation against any such inference. “Look here; the lieutenant of the tower has been called up, and the guard is reinforced.”
It was quite true. Had Dumiger been a state prisoner of the highest rank, he could not have been received with more ceremony. The guard turned out, and the rattle of the muskets was heard as the massive gates rolled ponderously upon their axes. The one light in the entrance gave an awful but not unpicturesque appearance to the scene, for it was reflected on the glittering steel. It cast its wild gleams on the bronzed cheeks of the guards, while the length and height of the hall were lost in the gloom.
“Forward!” was the word, and tramp, tramp, tramp, mingled with the rattle of the chains of the bridge. Dumiger was now placed in the center of the guard.
The soldiers presented arms to the burghers: the burghers carried theirs as they passed. The single drum beat, and its echo vibrated through the building. The gates closed behind them—bolt after bolt was drawn, and Dumiger was separated from the world.
His heart sank within him, and well it might; for as the moon shone into the courtyard beyond the hall where he was standing, he could see that the windows which looked into it were all trebly barred. Besides, the building looked throughout so miserably damp and wretched; and there was an entire absence of care for the comfort of its inmates, which chilled his blood.
The lieutenant of the tower, after the conference with Dumiger’s officer had lasted some time, approached him. He took him gently by the arm, and brought him to the broken, rotten, creaking stairs, which led to the upper rooms, or rather cells, from which they were separated by two large, massive iron doors.
The lieutenant himself opened the locks, while two soldiers, standing on either side with flambeaux, gave Dumiger a full view of the desolate stair which he had to ascend. The passage to which it led had been taken out of the thickness of the walls, so massive were they. They passed through a large hall where a huge fire was blazing, about which some soldiers slept, with their cloaks drawn tightly round them to ward off the draughts which came in strong gusts beneath the doors and even through the shutters; one or two with handkerchiefs tied round their heads, to serve the purpose of night-caps, were sitting by the fire smoking. They took the pipes from their lips to salute the lieutenant as he passed, but beyond this notice paid no attention to the object of his visit. It was evidently an event of no uncommon occurrence. More passages, more bars, more doors battered by age and mended by slabs of iron, and at last Dumiger arrived at the room, or rather the cell, which had been prepared for him. The preparations, it must however be admitted, were of the very simplest character. A palliasse thrown down in the corner, a rickety chair, and the strangest apology for a table, were the whole furniture of the place. Without one word of explanation the lieutenant motioned him into his new abode. In vain Dumiger stormed and raved, and desired to know whether this was the way in which free citizens were treated in the free city of Dantzic. The lieutenant only shrugged his shoulders, gave orders to the soldiers to withdraw, and Dumiger was left to his melancholy meditations.
A heavy weight, such as magnetic influence affects the brain with, oppressed his forehead; he threw himself on the palliasse, and endeavored to recall the events of the last few hours: but so rapid and intense had they been, that they already seemed to be numbered amongst the visions of the past. When the heart is oppressed with suffering, and above all, with the most painful of all suffering, anxiety, solitude and sleep are the only consolations. But then the sleep is not the light, happy, joyous slumber, from which we awake refreshed and strengthened; it is a leaden, sullen, sodden trance, from which we awake with the sensation that the whole weight of the atmosphere has been concentrated on our brows. This was the case with Dumiger: the flickering, dreary light of the lamp kept waving before his eyes as he lay there. He felt like a man whose limbs have been paralyzed by some grievous accident. At last be breathed heavily, and the load of oppression fell from his eyelids. Such was the sleep we have described.
When he awoke in the morning the light had gone out; but a few pale, melancholy gleams of morning pierced the prison-bars, which were so far above him that it was not possible for him to reach them. He strove to remember where he was; his eyes fell on the grotesquely-painted figures which covered the walls, and which had escaped his observation on the preceding night. These were the handicraft of some man who had evidently endeavored to wile away his time in prison by caricaturing his persecutors; and certainly he had succeeded in the attempt. Nothing more absurd than some of these pictures could be imagined; every possible deformity was ascribed to the originals, and the sketches were surrounded by pasquinades and quaint devices. Here and there might be found expressions of deeper and more fearful import, if indeed anything could be more fearful than the contrast between the ridiculous and such a dungeon. “Non omnis moriar,” wrote one man in a yellow liquid, which too evidently was discolored blood. “Justum et tenacem recti virum,” scrawled another, immediately followed by a portrait of the “vultis instantis tyranni,” who had, if we may judge by the chain suspended from his neck, once been a famous Grand Master. On one part of the wall might be deciphered a whole romance scrawled with an old nail, in which the prisoner had arrived at such excellence, that the letters were like the most admirable type. It was a long, and doubtless melancholy tale; so much so, that the kind guardians of the place had scratched it with their knives to prevent its being easily deciphered. In fact, that little cell had evidently contained an Iliad of romances; and if the walls could have spoken, or even the scrawls been deciphered, some strange tales, and perhaps many mysterious events, would have come to light. Dumiger gazed on these sad records of prior existences with a melancholy interest. In vain he endeavored to explain to himself the cause of his being treated with such unparalleled severity. He could not recall any crime such as might excuse his incarceration in such an abominable place. He buried his face in his hands. He thought of Marguerite and the clock, and then, happily for him, he wept, as the young alone can weep when they are in sorrow, and when their sorrow is unselfish.
He was roused by an unbolting of bars, the turning of huge, unwieldy keys, and the lieutenant of the castle stood before him.
Dumiger was in that state of mind when whatever of pride belongs to the consciousness of innocence loses its strength. Though there was little to invite confidence in the outward demeanor of the functionary, he ran toward him, seized him by both hands, and exclaimed, “Have pity upon me, sir; tell me why I am here!”
“Pooh, pooh,” replied the bronzed old Cerberus: “be a man.”
“Be a man!” shrieked Dumiger, “I am a man: and it is because I am a man, a free man of Dantzic, that I appeal against this monstrous treatment. Be a man! why, I appeal to you, sir, to be a man, and to give up that situation, if it can only be retained by cruelty to others. I say again, be you a man, and cease to torture me.”
The lieutenant continued looking at him with the most perfect indifference. He whistled a tune, took the only two turns in the cell which its extent permitted, and then, as if a sudden recollection had struck him, put two letters into Dumiger’s hands.
“Come, you are not very ill treated, young man, when you are allowed to read.”
Dumiger felt a glow of delight thrill through his frame. Everything is by comparison, and after the pain be had endured, the sight of two letters, the one in the handwriting of Marguerite, the other of Carl, made his heart leap with joy. They seemed to him to be the guarantees of immediate safety.
The lieutenant still remained near him. Dumiger would not open the letters in his presence. At last the officer, after some minutes’ delay, and having sung sundry snatches of martial airs, gave Dumiger a contemptuous, indignant glance, and stalked out of the cell, taking care to rattle the bolts and bars as a punishment to Dumiger for not gratifying his curiosity. Poor devil, it was his only amusement to pry into the prisoners’ secrets.
“How is the lad?” asked the second in command when his commander appeared.
“Better than he will be when he knows the charges for which he is shut up. At present he is under the impression it is only for debt; but when he learns it is for treason, he will whimper and whine even more than he has been doing.”
“What, so young and a traitor!” exclaimed the subaltern, who was evidently the kinder spirit of the two. “It is almost incredible.”
“It may be,” continued the lieutenant. “I have directions from the Grand Master and Council to keep a strict watch over him. They say that he is a most dangerous character. But I never trouble myself much about these kind of fellows. I do my duty quietly. Meanwhile, I have given him letters which won’t add to his happiness much when he reads them, if I am to believe what the inspector told me, who of course read them and sealed them again.”
The moment the lieutenant had left the cell, Dumiger eagerly tore open Marguerite’s letter, without remarking that it had been opened ere it reached him. He read it through with that rapidity of glance and mental discernment which fear and love combined can alone give. It was with a groan of horror that he allowed the letter to drop from his hands, for the full extent of the difficulties of his situation now broke upon him. She told him that the same evening, the moment his arrest was known in the neighborhood, bills had poured in from all quarters; that she had seen his friends Carl and Krantz, who called early on that morning, and who found it impossible to obtain one-tenth of the sum now required for his release. All they could do, therefore, was to take charge of the wonderful model, and carry it to the Court-house, where it would have to remain until the decision of the Council should be proclaimed. The second letter, which was from Carl, was still more appalling, for he told Dumiger how essential it was for him to make any sacrifice in order to put the whole machinery in order, so that his work might appear to the judges in the most favorable point of view. He undertook, however, to engage the best mechanist in Dantzic, in the event of Dumiger not being able to obtain his release before the appointed day.
What was to be done? Dumiger felt himself driven almost to frenzy. He thought of Marguerite, of his clock, of his friends; he then began to think that be had acted very foolishly in refusing the offer of the Grand Master, who, he felt assured, although the lieutenant would not admit it to him, was the cause of all his misery. The more he reflected on the past, the more desperate he became; he rolled on the ground in agony; the whole day passed in efforts to reach the window, whence at least he might perceive the situation of his house, or to shake the bars of the strongly-ironed door. Toward evening a soldier brought him some refreshment, but preserved an obstinate silence. Dumiger allowed the refreshment to remain untasted on the ground; he could not touch it. The evening grew on apace, the merry chimes from the Dom of the city came across the water; it struck him that they had never chimed so musically before, or with so much meaning. Another long, long night of agony was to be passed, and where and how was suspense to end?
Time swept on, but this night they brought him no lamp, so that he had no means of measuring its progress; he could only judge how heavily the hours rolled by the tramp of the guards as they marched over the drawbridge to the several reliefs. At ten o’clock he heard the bugles sounding the retreat, and then when he pictured to himself his gentle young bride, so sweet, so lovely—when he remembered how greatly he had neglected her for his ambition—he loathed himself for what he used to consider laudable, but now felt to have been mere selfishness.
It was still very early, for the gray cold streaks of morning had not pierced the prison-bars, when Dumiger was roused from his uneasy slumber by the rattling of the lock of his door. He looked up and saw with surprise a man who was not dressed in uniform.
“Who are you? What do you want?” exclaimed Dumiger, “for there is such a thing as intrusion even in a prison.”
The man whom he addressed only replied by taking possession of the single chair which stood by the bedside; he then very quietly and coolly took a tinder-box from his pocket, struck a light in the most deliberate manner, and lit the small lamp which had remained unreplenished from the preceding evening. Dumiger had then an opportunity of examining his visitor.
He was a little, jesuitical, sly, crafty, leering person, with a quick, intelligent, practical eye—a man who was evidently conversant with the world; and to judge from the sensual expression of his mouth and the protuberance at the nape of the neck, whose world was of the worst description—a phrenologist or physiognomist would have hung him at once. It is fortunate for some men that these sciences are not more extensively understood, or a great many persons would suffer for their natural and cerebral conformation.
“You will soon be free, my son.”
“Free! thank God!” exclaimed Dumiger, throwing himself back on his pillow and clasping his hands in gratitude.
“You are too quick, young man,” continued the stranger. “I said you would soon be free, if—you see there is an if. It is for you to remove it.”
“If—if what? I will do anything you tell me,” almost shrieked Dumiger, so terrified was he at the possibility of his hopes deserting him.
“Well,” continued the little man, putting on his spectacles and examining the roll of his papers, “I will commence by telling you that I am a native of Hamburgh and like yourself, a great mechanist. I was sent for by the Council last evening, to examine all the models which have been received. I do not hesitate to say to you that yours is by far the best.”
“God be praised, Marguerite, Marguerite!” ejaculated Dumiger.
“Yes,” quickly remarked the mysterious visitor, “yours is by far superior to all the rest, but it will not win the prize.”
“Not win the prize!” said Dumiger; for now all his ambition had returned to him.
“Certainly not,” was the reply; “you know as well as I do that the machinery requires some directing power. No one knows how to apply it: no one knows the secret.”
“Yes, there is a secret,” said the youth, his face brightening even through the cold, clammy prison atmosphere.
“And you cannot get out to tell it, or to arrange your own work, for here I have a schedule of the judgments for debt which have been lodged against you;” and he held out a list some twelve inches in length.
Dumiger groaned. “And are there no means of paying this?”
“You can answer that question as well as myself,” replied the man. “I will tell you that there are none for the present; but there is one way in which the clock may still be the admiration of Dantzic, and yourself free with a great independence in three days.”
“What way? what way? tell me quickly!” cried Dumiger, gasping with anxiety.
“Be still, young man, be still; we have plenty of time: let’s proceed quietly,” said the stranger.
“Well, well, but be quick,” continued Dumiger, in anything but a quiet tone of voice.
“I have told you,” said the man, quietly readjusting his spectacles, which Dumiger had slightly disturbed by the violence with which he seized his arm, “I have told you that I am a native of Hambro’, a mechanician; that I have seen your clock, admired it, and taken the trouble to obtain a list of your liabilities,—here it is again.”
Dumiger gave another groan.
“Your position,” continued the stranger, “appears to me to be this—that without my assistance your clock will be worth nothing, while you will remain quietly in prison here, charged besides, as far as I can understand the matter, with some political offense; that Marguerite will either pine away or atone for your loss by amusing herself with some of your friends—Carl and Krantz for instance. You see I am au fait with all your domestic matters.”
Oh, jealousy! oh, cowardice of the heart! At the name of Carl the blood flew to Dumiger’s temples. It just occurred to him that it was strange that Marguerite should have gone to him for assistance without any direction from himself to do so. Root out the feeling, Dumiger; root it out, or you are lost.
The stranger smiled sarcastically, but affected not to notice his flushed cheek and faltering voice.
“Now there is but one means to relieve yourself from all these risks and this load of misery.”
“Again I inquire, what is it?” said Dumiger.
“Sell me your clock: I have come to purchase it on the part of the free city of Hamburgh,” was the calm, deliberate reply.
“Sell my clock!” echoed Dumiger.
“The city of Hamburgh,” continued the stranger, without appearing to remark Dumiger’s exclamation, “authorizes me to offer for the clock of best workmanship, the freedom of her walls, an income of four thousand dollars, a place in the chief council with due precedence, and many other minor advantages. If you accept these terms a large installment of money will be paid within three days,—that is, within the time for the return of post. You will naturally inquire, Why the city of Hambro’ should make so extravagant an offer? I will recall to you the extreme jealousy which has always existed between these two great commercial cities. You will remember that this rivalry is unceasing—that it comprehends all things, the smallest as well as the greatest. They attempted to vie with each other in the construction of their doms: Dantzic gained the advantage. The fame and the prize given for excellence in these clocks, and of the unrivaled workmanship which may be expected, has spread throughout Germany. The inhabitants of Hambro’ are inferior in science. They wish to obtain a piece of workmanship which shall be unrivaled, in the easiest manner, and I was sent here to negotiate the purchase. Well, I was selected by the Council here as one of the judges. It is an act of treachery—granted: that cannot affect you. All that there is for you to decide on are the terms I have offered you.”
“Oh! Marguerite!” exclaimed Dumiger, “if you were here, what would you counsel?”
“What would she counsel,” said the stranger, “except to accept this offer? Remember, if you refuse it you remain here for days, if not weeks. You cannot hope to obtain the preference unless you are enabled to inform any one of the secret of setting the works in motion, and then it would require a hand as steady and experienced as my own to carry out your directions; and I should not undertake to do it except on the conditions which I have named.”
“Show me the conditions drawn out,” said Dumiger.
The man rolled out slowly one of the long strips of parchment which he held in his hand; he gave it to Dumiger, who drew the lamp near him, and for a few minutes reveled in the ideas of freedom and wealth. He had but to say the word, and he enjoyed all that he had been laboring for through life; but then, at what price? at that which it pained him to contemplate—the citizenship of his native town, where his family had dwelt respected for centuries. No doubt he was selling his birthright; he was parting with all that a man should cling to in adversity as in prosperity—that which is not to be purchased with gold—all his old ties, his affections, his faith. Once signed, the deed was irrevocable; and yet if he did not sign, what had he to hope for?
He leaned his head on his hands, in one of those stern struggles which age a man in a few minutes, as breaths of frost wither the freshest leaves. He invoked the Spirit of Love—he called forth Marguerite, and she stood beside him. He saw her with her cheek paler than when he had parted from her; he saw her bosom heaving with sighs instead of love; he heard her soft whisper in his ear, and he thought that whisper expressed assent—that for him, she too was willing to relinquish the home and the friends of her childhood. Ay, is it not ever so? Invoke whom we may in hours of trial, does not the oracle take its tone from our own wishes? Fond and futile pretense to invoke the Spirit of Love to decide where love is interested! As Marguerite seemed to stand beside Dumiger he lost sight of ambition, and all its pomp and circumstance; all he asked was to be free.
“Give me the paper,” he said in a firm voice: “the clock is yours, and the principle of the movement is to be found engraved on a small plate under the mainspring.”
If he had seen the smile of triumph which passed over that man’s countenance, he would have hesitated.
The deed was done: the man put his materials and his paper into his pocket again.
“Now,” he said, rising to go, “the third day’s post will find you free; and take my advice, leave Dantzic soon. The people will be irritated at being deprived of their master-piece. I would not have you trust to their render mercies; for that matter, it is well for you that you are safe in prison. Remember this advice, for I know the Dantzickers as well as you do.”
“Stay, stay one moment,” cried Dumiger, as the stranger was about to leave the cell, “who told you so much about me? How did you obtain this list of debts? How came you to hear of Marguerite, and Carl, and Krantz? Surely,” and he passed his hand across his brow like a man who is pained by the intensity of a ray of light after having been long in darkness—“tell me before you go, what does this mean?” And he caught a firm hold of the man’s cloak.
“There is no reason why I should not tell you the truth now,” said he, buttoning his coat tightly over the papers. “I was sent for by the Grand Master, who engaged me to obtain the sale of your clock at any price. And he gave me good inducements to undertake the job.”
The whole scheme broke on Dumiger’s mind.
“And with what object?” he gasped forth; “tell me that.”
“To get rid of your competition,” said the man quietly. “After yours there is no doubt that his son’s is the best; and, therefore, when yours is sold to Hambro’, his will be prized in Dantzic. As for me, I shall get rewarded for my exertions, both by the Grand Master your noble count, and my own city. Here is the truth of the matter,” said he; “now let me go.”
“Let you go, miscreant!” exclaimed Dumiger, “never, until you return me that paper. Let you go! I will follow you to death rather. You betrayed me into this act; it was not my own free will. I am the victim of the basest conspiracy. I have been induced to sell my birthright—I prefer to remain in prison—I love my townspeople—I will not be free on these conditions! Give me back my bond!”
“Never!” said the man, putting himself into an attitude of defense.
And he did wisely, for there was desperation in Dumiger’s eye. He waited a moment, and then with a maniac’s strength he flew at the man, but he found a powerful and vigorous antagonist. The stranger, who had appeared half decrepit and aged, rose up in all the strength of youth. In a moment he had grasped Dumiger’s arms, very coolly taken out a handkerchief, and in spite of all Dumiger’s efforts bound his hands together. After he had performed this operation he drew the document again from his pocket, so as to be well assured that it was correctly signed, and smiled as he said to Dumiger—
“You know that signature?”
“Scoundrel! miscreant!” were the only words to which Dumiger could give utterance.
“And now, fellow-citizen,” said the man, “I bid you farewell. Keep your temper; these sober arts should have taught you this kind of self-command. You will soon be free. As for your arms, I dare not untie them now, but I will send the guard to you. Now, holloa, guard without there!” and he left the cell.
What did all this mean? A mystery seemed to be encircling Dumiger which he could not penetrate. He knew there was danger near him, but was unable to define its extent. Only one thing was now certain—he had sold that clock on which years of toil had been bestowed, and not in vain. He had but a few days since contemplated certain success, now how far it was from him! And Hamburgh—to be great and ennobled there, what did that signify to him? How long would it not take for him, the inhabitant of the great rival city, to be admitted into this new society? No, he had made an error which could never be recalled; he had broken the ties which were once so dear to him. Dumiger now learned the great truth, that it is only the opinion of the few with whom we are most intimate that we care for. It is nothing to be great amongst those with whom we have no sympathies, no affections in common. The kind word from one lip which we love is far more to be prized than the loudest acclamations of thousands to whom we are indifferent.
The day at last arrived for the triennial exhibition of the productions of Dantzic art, on which day the council had agreed that the prize for the clock was to be adjudged. It was a great fete for the town. At an early hour of the morning the inhabitants began to decorate their houses with tapestry, and to hang garlands over the door-posts. All classes prepared their dresses of brightest colors, and their gayest, happiest smiles. And none was happier than Marguerite, for Dumiger had written to tell her that on the next day he was certain to be free; but he had not ventured to inform her that the clock was sold to Hamburgh. Still, although the deed of sale was irrevocable, his feelings would not permit him to believe that the excellence of his work would remain unknown to his towns-people; he felt convinced that the strangers vanity would induce him to make use of the secret confided to him, so he wrote to Marguerite that all would go right. Carl and Krantz arrived early in the morning to accompany her to the great hall. She had within her a secret which she would not have disclosed to the universe,—the secret of her husband’s success, of his fame and future happiness. So far Dumiger had informed her that there was an intrigue against him, in which the Grand Master was the principal: he explained to her that the object the Grand Master had in view was to obtain the prize and its accompanying honors for his own son. Carl and Krantz undertook to protect her through the crowd, and it was with an abundant feeling of confidence that she dressed for the ceremonial.
She wore her hair braided round her head; a bodice, which showed the beauty and shape of her form, of scarlet cloth, attached by threads of gold across the shirt, which was of the softest and most delicate material; the short blue petticoat, which reached some way below the knee, but did not descend so far as to conceal the ankle, the symmetry of which was well-defined by the silk stocking. The shoe might have stirred the envy of any grisette in Paris—a class which was, even in those days, supposed to enjoy a monopoly of taste and refinement. There was a modesty combined with refinement and strength of character in the appearance of Marguerite which would have distinguished her in any crowd. She was a being for love and sunshine; but one who, at the same time, would have dared much for him she loved. The kind and generous are ever gallant, and rarely are the beautiful unworthy.
Carl and Krantz were also dressed out in their gayest costumes. It would have been hard to have decided which was the predominant color in the dresses of these two worthy citizens; they would have rivaled any tulip bed in a Dutch garden, and perfectly dazzled Marguerite when they entered the room.
At length the last touch was given to the toilette, and they sallied forth. Already the streets were so crowded that it was difficult to move through them; but Carl and Krantz were determined, energetic fellows, and what with their elbows and Marguerite’s bright smiles, after incurring a few risks of some jokes on Carl’s extravagant appearance, they reached the great hall.
The street in front of the Courthouse was lined with the burgher guard, stationed there to keep back the crowd; but Marguerite had an order for admittance at a private entrance, so, escorted by her cavalier, she ascended the staircase.
When she entered the hall she was struck with awe and astonishment. The whole of that enormous space, with the exception of the portion railed off for the competitors and the dais where the council were sitting, was crowded by a dense mass of people: along the sides of the vast edifice, and up to the very roof, were arranged all the various productions of national art. Nothing can be pictured more beautiful than the combination of rich and varied colors, or more curious than the forms which art and genius had given them: here were dyes which might have rivaled those of Tyre, and fabrics of finer texture than a Penelope could have woven. At one end, toward which Marguerite’s eyes were most anxiously turned, the models of the clocks were arranged. Dumiger’s was placed in the center, for it was at the same time the largest model, and contained the most elaborate and complicated machinery; but, alas! the works remained still, while all the others were in motion, and showed in the smallest space the movements of the heavenly bodies, and the progress of time. If Dumiger’s meant anything more than a confused mass of machinery, it could not for
The heralds proclaimed silence, and then the Grand Master rose to read the decision of the council. It commenced with reciting the list of the competitors, and when it mentioned Dumiger’s name, it said, “the work is imperfect, and therefore must be withdrawn.”
“It is not imperfect,” cried two stentorian voices from the farther end of the hall.
The voices proceeded from Carl and Krantz, whose excitement could no longer be retained.
“No! it is not imperfect,” said the gentler voice of Marguerite.
All eyes were turned toward the spot whence that voice proceeded. Marguerite nearly fainted to find herself the object of so much attention.
“Keep your courage,” whispered Carl. “Tell them that Dumiger will soon be free, and the works put in motion. I will tell them for you,” he exclaimed, and he began to speak, when the mysterious stranger stepped forth.
“Stay,” he said, “let me touch the works of this clock—the secret is mine.”
He forced his way through the crowd, looked carefully over the machinery, opened a secret spring, arranged two small wheels, on which the accurate movement of the whole machinery depended, and immediately it was all in motion.
The proceeding was watched with intense interest by all. The stranger’s eye gleamed with delight, for he was anxious, with the true spirit of Hamburg jealousy, that the people of Dantzic should feel the value of what they were about to lose.
It was indeed a marvelous piece of workmanship: the planets all revolved in their regular order, figures of exquisite workmanship appeared and disappeared to mark the seconds, and the dial plate was of elaborate beauty. The people for some time stood entranced in wonder. At last they exclaimed, as with one voice—
“It is a work worthy of Dantzic—and Dumiger has won! Dumiger forever’.”
If Marguerite had nearly fainted from fear, she was now pale with delight.
“Dumiger, Dumiger forever!” again shouted the crowd; “where is the laurel? where is the triumph? Greatest amongst his citizens, Dumiger has won!”
But at that moment the stranger came forward with a paper in his hand. The Count’s face, which had been overspread with anger and shame at these shouts, was again lit up with hope, for after Dumiger’s his son’s was evidently the best.
“You mistake, my friends,” said this man: “Dumiger is not a citizen of Dantzic, but of Hamburg, and the clock belongs to that noblest of free cities.”
“Madman! fool!” burst from the astonished crowd; “we all know Dumiger, his family are eminent in the list of our freemen—you are mad! Grand Master, proclaim that Dumiger has won the prize, that Dumiger is great.”
Joy thrilled through Marguerite’s frame.
The Grand Master rose, and his voice trembled with anxiety and secret pleasure as he spoke.
“It is too true,” he said; “the clock is sold to Hamburg, and Dumiger has lost his rights of citizenship here by becoming a freeman of that town. The prize, therefore, in accordance with the decision of the council, is adjudged to the second—to my son.”
Then the anger of the people rose, wild and savage; in one moment, like the bursting of a thunder-cloud, the whole aspect of the place had changed.
“Show us the deed!” they exclaimed.
The stranger took it and held it up. There was no mistaking it; it was headed by the arms of Hamburg, and signed by Dumiger. The storm of indignation had subsided for a moment, but only as it seemed to gain additional strength.
“Tear him in pieces—he shall not have the clock. Down with Dumiger—crucify the man who could prefer the freedom of Hamburg to the honors of Dantzic. Down with him!”
And the people tore up the benches, drove back the burgher guard; some of the boldest dashed on the platform; the Grand Council had to escape, carrying the stranger with them. The mob tore out of the hall, and told their friends outside—anger led to anger, the passions rose like the waves at the equinox. Nothing could stop the mob, from so apparently trifling a cause a tumult was created; the jealousy of the townsmen now appeared—that jealousy, smothered and subdued for so many years, burst forth in this madness.
Poor Marguerite had fainted. Carl and Krantz, by herculean exertions, dragged her through the mob; she was taken to a small room over the great hall, and laid there until the storm should be appeased.
It did not seem likely to be so. Unfortunately, one of the guards had in the tumult struck a burgher; in some of the smaller streets they were even now fighting; but the crowd in the great square seemed to have a firmer purpose, there was a gradual calm. At last one man climbed up the statue in the Center of the square.
“Where is Dumiger?” he asked.
And another voice answered, “He is in the debtor’s prison.”
“We will go and lead him to his triumph,” was the dark and threatening reply of the people, who now moved forward in columns.
The two days which elapsed since the interview with the stranger had been passed by Dumiger in great misery. He blamed himself deeply for having been so easily entrapped into what he feared would prove a snare, and very foolishly, as we have seen, he wrote to Marguerite that she had everything to hope, as he still retained the desire of being honored by his fellow-townsmen, although they were not to enjoy the fruit of his labors.
On the eventful morning which has been described, Dumiger arose full of hope, his triumph was to be secured; and in the evening he even entertained a secret impression and belief that the people would not permit the clock to be removed, and that the error he had made might be retrieved by their energetic wills. He heard the bands of music playing in the distance. The merry chimes floated over the water, and bade him good speed. He thought that he could even discern the buzz of enjoyment, and the shout of anticipated triumph. He took out the last letter which Marguerite had written to him, and pressed it to his heart; that day, he thought, was to see them united never to be parted again.
What sound was that?—Was it the wind? No, the murmur of many voices, the tramp of a thousand feet, shook the drawbridge. He heard his own name called out. Yes, it is! it surely cannot be an error; it is Dumiger they are invoking. Now there can be no mistake, the crowd unite in one loud cry,—
“Where is Dumiger?”
“I am here, I am here,” he shrieks out; “Open the gates.”
What could it mean? the guards were resisting. There is a shot fired—is this the way in which a triumph is conducted? There is a pause—a parley.
“We want the man Dumiger, the prisoner,” exclaims one.
“Good, you shall have him. Let but a few enter,” says the lieutenant of the tower, “and the guard shall withdraw.”
Immediately there is a loud rush on the stair, not the tramp, tramp, of regular troops.
“Here, here!” exclaims Dumiger; “here am I, my friends! Welcome, welcome!” and he rushes to embrace the first who enters.
“Back, traitor!” answers the man.
Dumiger tumbles against the wall in terror and astonishment.
“Yes, you are the traitor,” continued he who acted the part of leader of the motley crowd; “you have sold your birthright—you have betrayed our interests. What punishment is fit for such a usurer?”
“Down, down with him,” cried the mob.
The leaders consulted together for one moment.
“My good people,” continued the same man, “we have taken counsel, and you shall redress. We will not take this man’s life. This is what we decide,—We will keep the clock to be the glory of our town, but he shall never see it, neither shall he have it any more in his power to make another equal to it or better, for we will put out his eyes.”
“Yes, yes,” vociferated the mob, “it is excellent. Put out his eyes at once.”
Before Dumiger could collect his scattered senses two strong, stalwart men had seized him. In spite of his shrieks and entreaties they threw him down on the straw; one more savage than the rest drew forth a small knife—agony on agony! horror on horror! in one moment to the living man there was Cimmerian darkness. The deed was done, and they who had done it looked on with horror and fear at their own crime. There were no shrieks to break the fearful silence: a few inarticulate sobs of heart wrung from his misery were all that was heard, and the mob withdrew silent and repentant.
Carl had followed at a distance. He had made frantic, but ineffectual efforts to enter the cell; when the crowd dispersed he went up the stairs without impediment, and there he found his friend extended. He raised him, he bore him home with those sightless, bleeding orbs. He comes, Marguerite; hasten forth to meet your husband: let the light of your love bless him, for the light of Heaven has departed forever.
There is great excitement in Dantzic, for the noble clock, which has been for ten years the marvel of Germany,—the clock which was made by the cunningest artificers who followed Dumiger’s model, has stopped. No one can arrange it; the model was broken up as a jealous precaution. There is but one who understands it—who can regulate the wondrous movement; that is he who constructed it.
Yes. the Council will go to Dumiger. They seek his house; they repent of the fearful crime they committed.
“Dumiger, come forth!” they exclaim. “Forgive us our offense. Greatest of citizens, all honors and rewards shall be heaped upon you. Regulate this great work, prized above all others in this city, for which we contended for five years with Hamburg. Stand forth in glory and honor!”
And a man, young in years, but decrepit in suffering, appears, supported by two friends. The partner of his hopes and fears is long since dead. The streets ring with applause as he appears, and many kneel to kiss his hand—ay, some his feet. But all he asks is to be led first to Marguerite’s grave. There, in the presence of thousands, he prays for strength; and then he desires them to conduct him to the clock-tower.
When he appears outside, the air is rent with shouts. “Dumiger, Dumiger, the first of the citizens!” Oh, popular feeling, at once base and baseless!
He seems to see the works again; he climbs up and touches every part of the wonderful construction—his hand has found the secret of the movement, again it is in order, and the pride of Dantzic is saved.
He stands still for some minutes. A god could not have been more worshiped, or a prophet looked grander. Again his hand is on the movement—crash, crash,—the slight spring on which the whole machinery depended is rent asunder by his own hand; the clock falls to pieces, never to be repaired. At the same moment there is a fall, a fearful groan, and Dumiger lies on the pavement a bleeding corpse. The clock and its maker have ceased to exist.
Such is the legend, and from that day there has been no clock in the Dom of Dantzic.
* * * * *
THE SHIP “EXTRAVAGANCE.”
Oh, Extravagance saileth in climes bright
She is built for the sunlight and not for the storm;
Her anchor is gold, and her mainmast is pride—
Every sheet in the wind doth she dashingly ride!
But Content is a vessel not built for display,
Though she’s ready and steady—come storm when it may.
So give us Content as life’s channel we steer.
If our Pilot be Caution, we’ve little to fear!
Oh! Extravagance saileth ’mid glitter and show,
As if fortune’s rich tide never ebbed in its flow;
But see her at night when her gold-light is spent,
When her anchor is lost, and her silken sails rent;
When the wave of destruction her shatter’d side drinks,
And the billows—ha! ha!—laugh and shout as she sinks.
No! give us Content, as life’s channel we steer.
While our Pilot is Caution, there’s little to fear.
* * * * *
LAUGHING IN THE SLEEVE.—A writer in Notes and Queries gives an instance of Curry’s wit, introduced after a defeat in a conversational contest with Lady Morgan. “It was the fashion then for ladies to wear very short sleeves; and Lady Morgan, albeit not a young woman, with true provincial exaggeration, wore none—a mere strap over her shoulders. Curry was walking away from her little coterie, when she called out, ’Ah! come back, Mr. Curry, and acknowledge that you are fairly beaten.’ ‘At any rate,’ said he, turning round, ’I have this consolation, you can’t laugh at me in your sleeve!”
* * * * *
An antiquarian discovery has just been made in Kremusch, near Treplitz, in Bohemia. Some twelve feet below the surface of the earth, a tomb, with six bodies in it, was found. It contained, besides, a gold chain about a yard and a half long, three gold ear-rings, two gold balls of the size of a walnut, a gold medallion with a cameo representing a Roman Emperor, and an iron plate, thickly silvered, on each side of which is engraved a reindeer, with a hawk on its hind quarters. The workmanship of the different objects, which evidently belong to the ante-Christian era, is remarkable for its neatness.
* * * * *
“Death is a road our dearest friends
Why, with such leaders, fear to say ‘Lead on?’
Its gate repels, lest it too soon be tried;
But turns in balm on the immortal side.
Mothers have pass’d it; fathers; children: men,
Whose like we look not to behold again;
Women, that smiled away their loving breath.—
Soft is the traveling on the road of Death.
But guilt has passed it? Men not fit to die?
Oh, hush—for He that made us all, is by.
Human were all; all men; all born of mothers;
All our own selves, in the worn-out shape of others;
Our used, and oh! be sure, not to be ill-used brothers.”
* * * * *
So perfect were the Egyptians in the manufacture of perfumes that some of their ancient ointment, preserved in an alabaster vase, in the museum of Alnwick, still retains a powerful odor, though it must be within 2,000 and 3,000 years old.