’Ah! but I spoke of women. There, there is my ground of love for my Professor! I meet my equals, princes, princesses, and the man, the woman, is out of them, gone, flown! They are out of the tide of humanity; they are walking titles, “Now,” says my Professor, “that tide is the blood of our being; the blood is the life-giver; and to be cut off from it is to perish.” Our princely houses he esteems as dead wood. Not near so much say I: yet I hear my equals talk, and I think, “Oh! my Professor, they testify to your wisdom.” I love him because he has given my every sense a face-forward attitude (you will complain of my feebleness of speech) to exterior existence. There is a princely view of life which is a true one; but it is a false one if it is the sole one. In your Parliament your House of Commons shows us real princes, your Throne merely titled ones. I speak what everybody knows, and you, I am sure, are astonished to hear me.’
‘I am,’ said I.
’It is owing to my Professor, my mind’s father and mother. They say it is the pleasure of low-born people to feel themselves princes; mine it is to share their natural feelings. “For a princess, her ancestry.” Yes; but for a princess who is no more than princess, her ancestors are a bundle of faggots, and she, with her mind and heart tied fast to them, is, at least a good half of her, dead wood. This is our opinion. May I guess at your thoughts?’
‘It’s more than I could dare to do myself, princess.’
How different from the Ottilia I had known, or could have imagined! That was one thought.
‘Out of the number, then, this,’ she resumed: ’you think that your English young ladies have command over their tongues: is it not so?’
‘There are prattlers among them.’
‘Are they educated strictly?’
’I know little of them. They seem to me to be educated to conceal their education.’
‘They reject ideas?’
‘It is uncertain whether they have had the offer.’
Ottilia smiled. ‘Would it be a home in their midst?’
Something moved my soul to lift wings, but the passion sank.
‘I questioned you of English ladies,’ she resumed, ’because we read your writings of us. Your kindness to us is that which passes from nurse to infant; your criticism reminds one of paedagogue and urchin. You make us sorry for our manners and habits, if they are so bad; but most of all you are merry at our simplicity. Not only we say what we feel, we display it. Now, I am so German, this offence is especially mine.’
I touched her horse’s neck, and said, ‘I have not seen it.’
‘Yet you understand me. You know me well. How is that?’
The murmur of honest confession came from me: ‘I have seen it!’
She laughed. ’I bring you to be German, you see. Could you forsake your England?’
‘Instantly, though not willingly.’