Then he too disappeared.
A streak of crimson and purple stretched across the eastern sky announced the coming day.
I need not tell you that I did not accept my uncle Christian’s invitation, though I am quite aware that a similar call will one day arrive from One who must be obeyed. The remembrance of my brief abode at Burckhardt’s fort has wonderfully brought down the great opinion I had once formed of my own importance, for the vision of that night taught me that though orchards and meadows may not pass away their owners do, and this fact compels to serious reflection upon the nature of our duties and responsibilities.
I therefore wisely resolved not to risk the loss of manly energy and of the best prizes of life by tarrying at that Capua, but to betake myself, without further loss of time, to the pursuit of music as a science, and I hope to produce next year, at the Royal Theatre of Berlin, an opera which, I hope, will disarm all criticism at once.
I have come to the final conclusion that glory and renown, which speculative people speak of as if they were mere smoke, is, after all, the most enduring good. Life and a noble reputation do not depart together; on the contrary, death confirms well-deserved glory and adds to it a brighter lustre.
Suppose, for instance, that Homer returned to life, no one would dispute with him his claim to be the author of the Iliad, and each would vie with the rest to do honour to the father of epic poetry. But if peradventure some rich landowner of that day came back to assert a claim to the fields, the woods, the pastures of which he used to be so proud, ten to one he would be received like a thief and perhaps die a miserable death.
“If any one thing distresses my dear aunt,” said Caspar, “more than my fondness for Sebaldus Dick’s tavern, it is that there is an artist in the family!
“Dame Catherine would have been glad to see me an advocate, a priest, or a councillor. If I had become a councillor, like Monsieur Andreas Van Berghem; if I had snuffled out long and weary sentences, caressing my lace bands with dainty finger-tips, with what esteem and veneration would not that worthy woman have regarded monsieur her nephew! She would have greeted Monsieur le Conseiller Caspar with profound respect; she would have set before me her best preserves, she would have poured out for me, in the midst of her circle of gossips, just a drop of Muscadel of the year XI. with—
“Pray take this, monsieur le conseiller; I have but two bottles left!”
Anything that monsieur my nephew Caspar, conseiller at the court of justice, could do would certainly have been perfectly right and suitable, and quite perfect in its way.
Alas for the vanity of human wishes! the poor woman’s ambition was never to be gratified. Her nephew is plain Caspar—Caspar Diderich; he has no title, no wand of office, no big wig—he is just an artist! and Dame Catherine has running in her head the old proverb, “Beggarly as an artist,” which distresses her more than she can tell.