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Goethe's Works illustrated by the best German artists, Volume 4, Part 2

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Title:
Goethe's Works illustrated by the best German artists, Volume 4, Part 2
Creator:
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
Place of Publication:
Philadelphia, Penn.
Publisher:
G. Barrie
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
5 v. in 10 : ill. ; 30 cm.

Notes

General Note:
v. 1. The life of Goethe / by Hjalmar H. Boyesen ; Poems (Songs ; Familiar songs ; From Wilhelm Meister ; Ballads ; Antiques ; Elegies ; Epigrams ; The four seasons ; Sonnets ; Miscellaneous poems ; Art ; Parables ; Epigrams ; God und world ; West-Eastern Divan ; Hermann und Dorothea) -- v. 2. Faust ; Egmont ; The natural daughter ; The sorrows of young Werther -- v. 3. Goetz von Berlichingen ; Iphigenia in Tauris ; Torquato Tasso ; Clavigo ; Stella; The brother and sister ; A tale ; The good women ; Reynard the Fox -- v. 4. The recreations of the German emigrants ; Wilhelm Meister's apprenticeship -- v. 5. , pt. 1. Wilhelm Meister's travels --Elective affinities.

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orks
'Hl!>otume 3four


CHAPTER I.
LAERTES was standing at the window in a
thoughtful mood, resting on his arm and
looking out into the fields. Philina came gliding
towards him across the large hall; she leaned
upon him and began to mock him for his
serious looks.
Do not laugh, replied he; it is fright-
ful to think how time goes on, how all things
change and have an end. See here! A little
while ago there was a stately camp: how pleas-
antly the tents looked; what restless life and
motion was within them; how carefully they
watched the whole enclosure! And behold,
it is all vanished in a day! For a short while,
that trampled straw, those holes which the
cooks have dug, will show a trace of what was
here; and soon the whole will be ploughed
and reaped as formerly, and the presence of
so many thousand gallant fellows in this quar-
ter will but glimmer in the memories of one
or two old men.
Philina began to sing, and dragged forth
her friend to dance with her in the hall.
Since Time is not a person we can overtake
when he is past, cried she, let us honor
him with mirth and cheerfulness of heart while
he is passing.
Q They had scarcely made a step or two, when
Frau Melina came walking through the hall.
Philina was wicked enough to invite her to join
them in the dance, and thus to bring her in
mind of the shape to which her pregnancy had
reduced her.
That I might nevermore see a woman in
an interesting situation / said Philina, when
her back was turned.
Yet she feels an interest s it, said Laertes.
But she manages so shockingly. Didst
thou notice that wabbling fold of her shortened
petticoat, which always travels out before her
when she moves? She has not the smallest
knack or skill to trim herself a little and con-
ceal her state.
Let her be, said Laertes; time will
soon come to her aid.
It were prettier, however, cried Philina,
if we could shake children from the trees.
The baron entered, and spoke some kind
words to them, adding a few presents, in the
name of the count and the countess, who had
left the place very early in the morning. He
then went to Wilhelm, who was busy in the
side chamber with Mignon. She had been
extremely afifedtionate and taking; had asked
minutely about Wilhelms parents, brothers,
sisters and relations; and so brought to his
mind the duty which he owed his people, to
send them some tidings of himself.
With the farewell compliments of the family,
the baron delivered him an assurance from the
175


Wilhelm Meislcrs Apprenticeship.
count, that his lordship had been exceedingly
obliged by his acting, his poetical labors and
his theatrical exertions. For proof of this
statement the baron then drew forth a purse,
through whose beautiful texture the bright
glance of new gold coin was sparkling out.
Wilhelm drew back, refusing to accept of it.
Look upon this gift, said the baron, as
a compensation for your time, as an acknow-
ledgment of your trouble, not as the reward
of your talents. If genius procures us a good
name and good-will from men, it is fair like-
wise that, by our diligence and efforts, we
should earn the means to satisfy our wants;
since, after all, we are not wholly spirit. Had
we been in town, where everything is to be
got, we should have changed this little sum
into a watch, a ring, or something of that
sort; but as it is, I must place the magic rod
in your own hands; procure a trinket with it,
such as may please you best and be of greatest
use, and keep it for our sakes. At the same
time, you must not forget to hold the purse
in honor. It was knit by the fingers of our
ladies; they meant that the cover should give
to its contents the most pleasing form.
Forgive my embarrassment, said Wil-
helm, and my doubts about accepting this
present. It as it were annihilates the little I
have done, and hinders the free play of happy
recollection. Money is a fine thing, when any
matter is to be completely settled and abol-
ished; I feel unwilling to be so entirely abol-
ished from the recollection of your house.
That is not the case, replied the baron ;
'but, feeling so tenderly yourself, you could
not wish that the count should be obliged to
consider himself wholly your debtor; espec-
ially when I assure you that his lordships
highest ambition has always consisted in being
punctual and just. He is not uninformed of
the labor you have undergone, or of the zeal
with which you have devoted all your time to
execute his views; nay, he is aware that, to
quicken certain operations, you have even ex-
pended money of your own. With what face
shall I appear before him, then, if I cannot
say that his acknowledgment has given you
satisfaction ?
If I thought only of myself, said Wil-
helm; if I might follow merely the dictates
of my own feelings, I should certainly, in
spite of all these reasons, steadfastly refuse
this gift, generous and honorable as it is; but
I will not deny, that at the very moment when
it brings me into one perplexity, it frees me
from another, into which I have lately fallen
with regard to my relations, and which has in
secret caused me much uneasiness. My man-
agement, not only of the time, but also of the
money, for which I have to give account, has
not been the best; and now by the kindness
of his lordship, I shall be enabled, with con-
fidence, to give my people news of the good
fortune to which this curious bypath has led
me. I therefore sacrifice those feelings of
delicacy, which like a tender conscience ad-
monish us on such occasions,to a higher duty;
and, that I may appear courageously before
my father, I must consent to stand ashamed
before you.
It is singular, replied the baron, to see
what a world of hesitation people feel about
accepting money from their friends and pa-
trons, though ready to receive any other gift
! with joy and thankfulness. Human nature
: manifests some other such peculiarities, by
| which many scruples of a similar kind are pro-
| duced and carefully cherished.
j Is it not the same with all points of honor?
j said our friend.
! It is so, replied the baron; and with
several other prejudices. We must not root
them out, lest, in doing so, we tear up noble
! plants along with them. Yet I am always glad
| when I meet with men that feel superior to
i such objections when the case requires it;
and I think with pleasure on the story of that
ingenious poet, which I dare say you have
heard of. He had written several plays for
the court-theatre, which were honored by the
. warmest approbation of the monarch. I must
1 give him a distinguished recompense, said
, the generous prince: ask him whether he
; would choose to have some jewel given him;
! or if he would disdain to accept a sum of
I money. In his humorous way the poet am
: swered the inquiring courtier: I am thankful,
| with all my heart, for these gracious purposes;
j and, as the emperor is daily taking money from
; us, I see not wherefore I should feel ashamed
j of taking some from him.
Scarcely had the baron left the room when
i Wilhelm eagerly began to count the cash,
| which had come to him so unexpectedly, and,
; as he thought, so undeservedly. It seemed as
j if the worth and dignity of gold, not usually
j felt till later years, had now, by anticipation,
; twinkled in his eyes for the first time, as the
| fine glancing coins rolled out from the beauti-
: ful purse. He reckoned up, and found that,
j particularly as Melina had engaged immedia-
176


telv to pay the loan, he had. now as much or
more on the right side of his account, as on
that day when Philina first asked him for the
nosegay. With a little secret satisfaction he
looked upon his talents; with a little pride,
upon the fortune which had led him and at-
tended him. He now seized the pen, with
an assured mind, to write a letter, which might
free his family from their anxieties, and set
his late proceedings in the most favorable
light. He abstained from any special narra-
tive ; and only by significant and mysterious
hints left them room for guessing at what
had befallen him. The good condition of his
cash-book, the advantage he had earned by
his talents, the favor of the great and of the
fair, acquaintance with a wider circle, the im-
provement of his bodily and mental gifts, his
hopes from the future, altogether formed such
a fair cloud-pidture that Fata Morgana itself
could scarcely have thrown together a stranger
or a better.
In this happy exaltation, the letter being
folded up, he went on to maintain a conver-
sation with himself, recapitulating what he
had been writing, and pointing out for him-
self an active and glorious future. The ex-
ample of so many gallant warriors had fired
him; the poetry of Shakspeare had opened
a new world to him; from the lips of the
beautiful countess he had inhaled an inex-
pressible inspiration. All this could not and
would not be without effect.
The Stallmeister came to inquire whether
they were ready with their packing. Alas!
with the single exception of Melina, no one
of them had thought of it. Now, however,
they were speedily to be in motion. The
count had engaged to have the whole party
conveyed forward a few days journey on their
way: the horses were now in readiness, and
could not long be wanted. Wilhelm asked
for his trunk: Frau Melina had taken it to
put her own things in. He asked for money;
Herr Melina had stowed it all far down at the
bottom of his box. Philina said she had still
some room in hers; she took Wilhelms clothes
and bade Mignon bring the rest. Wilhelm,
not without reluctance, was obliged to let it
be so.
While they were loading and getting all
things ready, Melina said: I am sorry we
should travel like mountebanks and rope-
dancers; I could wish that Mignon would
put on girls clothes, and that the harper
would let his beard be shorn. Mignon clung
firmly to Wilhelm, and cried, with great vi-
vacity: I am a boy; I will be no girl!
The old man held his peace; and Philina, on
this suggestion, made some merry observa-
tions on the singularity of their protector the
count. If the harper should cut off his
beard, said she, let him sew it carefully
upon a ribbon, and keep it by him, that he
may put it on again whenever his lordship the
count falls in with him in any quarter of the
world. It was this beard alone that procured
him the favor of his lordship.
On being pressed to give an explanation of
this singular speech, Philina said to them:
The count thinks it contributes very much
to the completeness of theatrical illusion, if
the a6tor continues to play his part, and to
sustain his character, even in common life.
It was for this reason that he showed such
, favor to the pedant; and he judged it, in like
manner, very fitting that the harper not only
wore his false beard at nights on the stage,
but also constantly by day; and he used to
be delighted at the natural appearance of the
mask.
While the rest were laughing at this error,
and the other strange opinions of the count,
the harper led our friend aside, took leave of
him, and begged with tears that he would
; even now let him go. Wilhelm spoke to him,
declaring that he would protect him against
all the world, that no one should touch a hair
of his head, much less send him off against
his will.
The old man seemed affected deeply; an
unwonted fire was glowing in his eyes. It
is not that, cried he, which drives me
away. I have long been reproaching myself
in secret for staying with you. I ought to
linger nowhere; for misfortune flies to over-
take me, and injures all that are connected
with me. Dread everything, unless you dis-
miss me; but ask me no questions; I belong
not to myself; I cannot stay.
To whom dost thou belong? Who can
exert such a power on thee ?
Leave me my horrid secret and let me
go The vengeance which pursues me is not
of the earthly judge. I belong to an inex-
orable Destiny; I cannot stay, and I dare not.
In the situation thou art now in, I cer-
tainly will not let thee go.
It were high treason against you, my
j benefadtor, if I should delay. I am secure
' while with you, but you are in peril. You
| know not whom you keep beside you. I am
445
177


guilty, but more wretched than guilty. My
presence scares happiness away; and good
deeds grow powerless when I become con-
cerned in them. Fugitive, unresting I should
be, that my evil genius might not seize me,
which pursues but at a distance, and only ap-
pears when I have found a place, and am
laying down my head to seek repose. More
grateful I cannot show myself than by for-
saking you.
Strange man Thou canst neither take
away the confidence I place in thee, nor the
hope I feel to see thee happy. I wish not to
penetrate the secrets of thy superstition ; but
if thou livest in belief of wonderful forebod-
ings and entanglements of Fate, then, to cheer
and hearten thee, I say, unite thyself to my
good fortune, and let us see which genius is
the stronger, thy dark or my bright one.
Wilhelm seized this opportunity of suggest-
ing to him many other comfortable things;
for of late our friend had begun to imagine
that this singular attendant of his must be a
man who, by chance or destiny, had been led
into some weighty crime, the remembrance
of which he was ever bearing on his con-
science. A few days ago Wilhelm, listening
to his singing, had observed attentively the
following lines :
For him the light of ruddy morn
But paints the horizon red with flame;
And voices, from the depths of nature borne,
Woe woe upon his guilty head proclaim.
But, let the old man urge what arguments he
pleased, our friend had constantly a stronger
argument at hand. He turned everything on
its fairest side; spoke so bravely, heartily and
cheerily, that even the old man seemed again
to gather spirits, and to throw aside his whims.
CHAPTER II.
Melina was in hopes to get established with
his company in a small but thriving town at
some distance. They had already reached
the place where the counts horses were to
turn ; and now they looked about for other
carriages and cattle to transport them onward.
Melina had engaged to provide them a con-
veyance ; he showed himself but niggardly,
according to his custom. Wilhelm, on the
contrary, had the shining ducats of the
countess in his pocket, and thought he had
the fullest right to spend them merrily; for-
getting very soon how ostentatiously he had
produced them in the stately balance trans-
mitted to his father.
His friend Shakspeare, whom with the
greatest joy he acknowledged as his god-
father, and rejoiced the more that his name
was Wilhelm, had introduced him to a prince,
who frolicked for a time among mean, nay,
vicious companions, and who, notwithstand-
ing his nobleness of nature, found pleasure in
the rudeness, indecency and coarse intemper-
ance of these altogether sensual knaves. This
ideal likeness, which he figured as the type
and the excuse of his own actual condition,
was most welcome to our friend; and the
process of self-deception, to which already
he displayed an almost invincible tendency,
was thereby very much facilitated.
He now began to think about his dress. It
struck him that a waistcoat, over which, in
case of need, one could throw a little short
mantle, was a very fit thing for a traveller.
178


Long knit pantaloons, and a pair of lacing-
boots, seemed the true garb of a pedestrian.
He next procured a fine silk sash, which he
tied about him, under the pretence at first of
securing warmth for his person. On the other
hand, he freed his neck from the tyranny of
stocks ; and got a few stripes of muslin sewed
upon his shirt; making the pieces of con-
siderable breadth, so that they presented the
complete appearance of an ancient ruff. The
beautiful silk neckerchief, the memorial of
Mariana, which had once been saved from
burning, now lay slackly tied beneath this
muslin collar. A round hat, with a parti-
colored band, and a large feather, perfected
the mask.
The women all asserted that this garb be-
came him very well. Philina in particular
appeared enchanted with it. She solicited
his hair for herself; beautiful locks, which,
the closer to approach the natural ideal, he
had unmercifully clipped. By so doing, she
recommended herself not amiss to his favor;
and our friend, who, by his openhandedness,
had acquired the right of treating his com-
panions somewhat in Prince Harrys manner,
ere long fell into the humor of himself con-
triving a few wild tricks, and presiding in the
execution of them. The people fenced, they
danced, they devised all kinds of sports; and
in their gayety of heart partook of what toler-
able wine they could fall in with, in copious
proportions; while, amid the disorder of this
tumultuous life, Philina lay in wait for the coy
hero; over whom let his better Genius keep
watch!
One chief diversion, which yielded the com-
pany a frequent and very pleasing entertain-
ment, consisted in producing an extempore
play, in which their late benefactors and
patrons were mimicked and turned into ridi-
cule. Some of our actors had seized very
neatly whatever was peculiar in the outward
manner of several distinguished people in the
counts establishment; their imitation of these
was received by the rest of the party with the
greatest approbation ; and when Philina pro-
duced, from the secret archives of her expe-
rience, certain peculiar declarations of love
that had been made to her, the audience were
like to die with laughing and malicious joy.
Wilhelm censured their ingratitude; but
they told him in reply that these gentry well
deserved what they were getting, their general
conduct towards such deserving people as our
friends believed themselves, not having been
by any means the best imaginable. The
little consideration, the negledt they had
experienced, were now described with many
aggravations. The jesting, bantering and
mimicry proceeded as before; our party were
growing bitterer and more unjust every minute.
I wish, observed Wilhelm, there were
no envy or selfishness lurking under what you
say, but that you would regard those persons
and their station in the proper point of view.
It is a peculiar thing to be placed, by ones
very birth, in an elevated situation in society.
The man for whom inherited wealth has se-
cured a perfect freedom of existence; who
finds himself from his youth upwards abun-
dantly encompassed with all the secondary
essentials, so to speak, of human life,will
generally become accustomed to consider these
qualifications as the first and greatest of all;
while the worth of that mode of human life,
which nature from her own stores equips and
furnishes, will strike him much more faintly.
179


Wilhelm Meislers Apprenticeship.
The behavior of noblemen to their inferiors,
and likewise to each other, is regulated by ex-
ternal preferences: they give each credit for
his title, his rank, his clothes and equipage,
but his individual merits come not into play-
This speech was honored with the com-
panys unbounded applause. They declared
it to be shameful, that men of merit should
constantly be pushed into the background ;
and that in the great world there should not
be a trace of natural and hearty intercourse.
On this latter point particularly they overshot
all bounds.
Blame them not for it, said Wilhelm;
rather pity them They have seldom an
exalted feeling of that happiness which we
admit to be the highest that can flow from
the inward abundance of nature. Only to us
poor creatures is it granted to enjoy the happi-
ness of friendship in its richest fulness. Those
dear to us we cannot elevate by our counte-
nance, or advance by our favor, or make
happy by our presents. We have nothing
but ourselves. This whole self we must give
away; and, if it is to be of any value, we must
make our friend secure of it forever. What an
enjoyment, what a happiness, for giver and re-
ceiver With what blessedness does truth of
affection invest our situation It gives to the
transitory life of man a heavenly certainty; it
forms the crown and capital of all that we
possess.
While he spoke thus, Mignon had come
near him ; she threw her little arms round
him, and stood with her cheek resting on his
breast. He laid his hand on the childs head,
and proceeded : It is easy for a great man
to win our minds to him; easy to make our
hearts his own. A mild and pleasant manner,
a manner only not inhuman, will of itself do
wonders: and how many means does he pos-
sess of holding fast the affections he has once
conquered To us, all this occurs less fre-
quently, to us it is all more difficult; and we
naturally therefore put a greater value on what-
ever, in the way of mutual kindness, we acquire
and accomplish. What touching examples of
faithful servants giving themselves up to danger
and death for their masters How finely has
Shakspeare painted out such things to us Fi-
delity, in this case, is the effort of a noble soul
struggling to become equal with one exalted
above it. By steadfast attachment and love,
the servant is made equal to his lord, who but
for this is justified in looking on him as a hired
slave. Yes, these virtues belong to the lower
! class of men alone; that class cannot do with-
out them, and with them it has a beauty of its
own. Whoever is enabled to requite all favors
easily, will likewise easily be tempted to raise
: himself above the habit of acknowledgment,
i Nay, in this sense, I am of opinion, it might
almost be maintained, that a great man may
possess friends, but cannot be one.
Mignon pressed still closer towards him.
It may be so, replied one of the party:
we do not need their friendship, and do not
ask it. But it were well if they understood a
little more about the arts which they affect to
patronize. When we played in the best style,
there was none to mind us: it was all sheer
partiality. Any one they chose to favor
pleased; and they did not choose to favor
those that merited to please. It was intoler-
able to observe how often silliness and mere
stupidity attracted notice and applause.
When I abate from this, said Wilhelm,
what seemed to spring from irony and
malice, I think we may nearly say, that one
fares in art as he does in love. And after all,
how shall a fashionable man of the world,
with his dissipated habits, attain that intimate
presence with a special objeCt, which an artist
must long continue in, if he would produce
anything approaching to perfection ? a state
of feeling without which it is impossible for any-
one to take such an interest, as the artist hopes
and wishes, in his work.
Believe me, my friends, it is with talents
as with virtue; one must love them for their
own sake, or entirely renounce them. And
neither of them is acknowledged and rewarded,
except when their possessor can practise them
unseen, like a dangerous secret.
Meanwhile, until some proper judge dis-
covers us, we may all die of hunger, cried a
fellow in the corner.
Not quite inevitably, answered Wilhelm.
I have observed that so long as one stirs
and lives, one always finds food and raiment,
though they be not of the richest sort. And
why should we repine? Were we not, alto-
gether unexpectedly, and when our prospeCts
were the very worst, taken kindly by the hand,
and substantially entertained? And now, when
we are in want of nothing, does it once occur
to us to attempt anything for our improve-
ment ; or to strive, though never so faintly,
towards advancement in our art? We are
busied about indifferent matters; and, like
school-boys, we are casting all aside that
might bring our lesson to our thoughts.
180


In sad truth, said Philina, it is even
so Let us choose a play; we will go through
it on the spot. Each of us must do his best,
as if he stood before the largest audience.
They did not long deliberate; a play was
fixed on. It was one of those which at that
time were meeting great applause in Germany,
and have now passed away. Some of the party
whistled a symphony; each speedily bethought
him of his part; they commenced; and played
all the piece with the greatest attention, and
really well beyond expedition. Mutual ap-
plauses circulated; our friends had seldom
been so pleasantly diverted.
On finishing, they all felt exceedingly con-
tented, partly on account of their time being
spent so well, partly because each of them ex-
perienced some degree of satisfaction with his
own performance. Wilhelm expressed himself
copiously in their praise; the conversation grew
cheerful and merry.
You would see, cried our friend, what
advances we should make, if we continued this
sort of training, and ceased to confine our at-
tention to mere learning by heart, rehearsing,
and playing mechanically, as if it were a barren
duty, or some handicraft employment. How
different a character do our musical professors
merit! What interest they take in their art;
how correct are they in the practicings they
undertake in common What pains they are
at in tuning their instruments; how exadtly
they observe time; how delicately they ex-
press the strength and the weakness of their
tones! No one there thinks of gaining credit
to himself by a loud accompaniment of the
solo of another. Each tries to play in the
spirit of the composer, each to express well
whatever is committed to him, be it much or
little.
Should not we too go as strictly and as
ingeniously to work, seeing we practise an art
far more delicate than that of music; seeing
we are called on to express the commonest
and the strangest emotions of human nature,
with elegance, and so as to delight? Can
anything be more shocking than to slur over
our rehearsal, and in our acting to depend on
good luck, or the capricious chance of the
moment? We ought to place our highest
happiness and satisfaction in mutually de-
siring to gain each others approbation; we
should even value the applauses of the public,
only in so far as we have previously sanctioned
them among ourselves. Why is the master of
the band more secure about his music than
the manager about his play ? Because, in the
orchestra, each individual would feel ashamed
of his mistakes, which offend the outward ear;
but how seldom have I found an aCtor dis-
posed to acknowledge or feel ashamed of mis-
takes, pardonable or the contrary, by which
the inward ear is so outrageously offended !
I could wish, for my part, that our theatre
were as narrow as the wire of a rope-dancer,
that so no inept fellow might dare to venture
on it; instead of being, as it is, a place where
every one discovers in himself capacity enough
to flourish and parade.
The company gave this apostrophe a kind
reception; each being convinced that the
censure conveyed in it could not apply to
him, after aCting a little while ago so excel-
lently with the rest. On the other hand, it
was agreed that during this journey, and for
the future, if they remained together, they
would regularly proceed with their training
in the manner just adopted. Only it was
thought, that as this was a thing of good
humor and free will, no formal manager must
be allowed to have a hand in it. Taking it
for an established fad, that among good men
the republican form of government is the best,
they declared that the post of manager should
go round among them; he must be chosen by
universal suffrage, and every time have a sort
of little senate joined in authority along with
him. So delighted did they feel with this
idea, that they longed to put it instantly in
praCIice.
I have no obje&ion, said Melina, if
you incline making such an experiment while
we are travelling; I shall willingly suspend
my own directorship until we reach some
settled place. He was in hopes of saving
cash by this arrangement, and of casting
many small expenses on the shoulders of the
little senate or of the interim manager. This
fixed, they went very earnestly to counsel, how
the form of the new commonwealth might best
be adjusted.
Tis an itinerating kingdom, said Laertes;
we shall at least have no quarrels about fron-
tiers.
They diredly proceeded to the business, and
eleCled Wilhelm as their first manager. The
senate also was appointed, the women having
seat and vote in it; laws were propounded,
were rejected, were agreed to. In such play-
ing the time passed on unnoticed; and as
our friends had spent it pleasantly, they also
conceived that they had really been effecting
446
181


something useful; and by their new constitu-
tion had been opening a new prospect for the
stage of their native country.
CHAPTER III.
Seeing the company so favorably disposed,
Wilhelm now hoped he might further have it
in his power to converse with them on the
poetic merit of the pieces which might come
before them. It is not enough, said he
next day, when they were all again assembled,
for the adtor merely to glance over a dra-
matic work, to judge of it by his first impres-
sion, and thus, without investigation, to declare
his satisfaction or dissatisfaction with it. Such
things may be allowed in a spedtator, whose
purpose it is rather to be entertained and
moved than formally to criticise. But the
actor, on the other hand, should be prepared
to give a reason for his praise or censure: and
how shall he do this, if he have not taught
himself to penetrate the sense, the views and
feelings of his author? A common error is,
to form a judgment of a drama from a single
part in it; and to look upon this part itself in
an isolated point of view, not in its connec-
tion with the whole. I have noticed this,
within a few days, so clearly in my own con-
duct, that I will give you the account as an
example, if you please to hear me patiently.
You all know Shakspeares incomparable
Hamlet: our public reading of it at the castle
yielded every one of us the greatest satisfac-
tion. On that occasion, we proposed to act
the piece; and I, not knowing what I under-
took, engaged to play the princes part. This
I conceived that I was studying, while I be-
gan to get by heart the strongest passages, the
soliloquies, and those scenes in which force of
soul, vehemence and elevation of feeling have
the freest scope; where the agitated heart is
allowed to display itself with touching ex-
pressiveness.
I further conceived that I was penetrating
quite into the spirit of the character, while I
endeavored as it were to take upon myself the
load of deep melancholy under which my pro-
totype was laboring, and in this humor to
pursue him through the strange labyrinths of
his caprices and his singularities. Thus learn-
ing, thus practising, I doubted not but I should
by-and-by become one person with my hero.
But the further I advanced the more diffi-
cult did it become for me to form any image
of the whole, in its general bearings; till at
last it seemed as if impossible. I next went
through the entire piece without interruption ;
but here too I found much that I could not
away with. At one time the characters, at
another time the manner of displaying them,
seemed inconsistent; and I almost despaired
of finding any general tint, in which I might
present my whole part with all its shadings
and variations. In such devious paths I toiled
and wandered long in vain ; till at length a
hope arose that I might reach my aim in quite
a new way.
I set about investigating every trace of
Hamlets character, as it had shown itself
before his fathers death : I endeavored to
distinguish what in it was independent of this
mournful event; independent of the terrible
events that followed ; and what most probably
the young man would have been, had no
such thing occurred.
Soft, and from a noble stem, this royal
flower had sprung up under the immediate
influences of majesty : the idea of moral re<5ti-
tude with that of princely elevation, the feel-
ing of the good and dignified with the con-
sciousness of high birth, had in him been
unfolded simultaneously. He was a prince,
by birth a prince; and he wished to reign
only that good men might be good without
obstruction. Pleasing in form, polished by
nature, courteous from the heart, he was
meant to be the pattern of youth and the joy
of the world.
'Without any prominent passion, his love
for Ophelia was a still presentiment of sweet
wants. His zeal in knightly accomplishments
was not entirely his own; it needed to be
quickened and inflamed by praise bestowed
on others for excelling in them. Pure in
sentiment, he knew the honorable-minded,
and could prize the rest which an upright
spirit tastes on the bosom of a friend. To a
certain degree, he had learned to discern and
value the good and the beautiful in arts and
sciences; the mean, the vulgar was offensive
to him; and if hatred could take root in his
tender soul, it was only so far as to make him
properly despise the false and changeful in-
serts of a court, and play with them in easy
scorn. He was calm in his temper, artless in
his condu6t; neither pleased with idleness,
nor too violently eager for employment. The
routine of a university he seemed to continue
when at court. He possessed more mirth of
182


humor than of heart; he was a good com-
panion, pliant, courteous, discreet, and able
to forget and forgive an injury; yet never
able to unite himself with those who over-
stepped the limits of the right, the good, and
the becoming.
When we read the piece again, you shall
judge whether I am yet on the proper track.
I hope at least to bring forward passages that
shall support my opinion in its main points.
This delineation was received with warm
approval: the company imagined they foresaw
that Hamlets manner of proceeding might
now be very satisfactorily explained; they ap-
plauded this method of penetrating into the
spirit of a writer. Each of them proposed to
himself to take up some piece and study it on
these principles, and so unfold the authors
meaning.
CHAPTER IV.
Our friends had to continue in the place
for a day or two; and it was not long till
sundry of them got engaged in adventures of
a rather pleasant kind. Laertes in particular
was challenged by a lady of the neighborhood,
a person of some property; but he received
her blandishments with extreme, nay, unhand-
some coldness; and had in consequence to
undergo a multitude of jibes from Philina.
She took this opportunity of detailing to our
friend the hapless love-story which had made
the youth so bitter a foe to womankind.
Who can take it ill of him, she cried,
that he hates a sex which has played him
so foul, and given him to swallow, in one
stoutly concentrated potion, all the miseries
that man can fear from woman ? Do but
conceive it: within four and twenty hours he
was lover, bridegroom, husband, cuckold,
patient and widower! I wot not how you
could use a man worse.
Laertes hastened from the room half-vexed,
half-laughing; and Philina in her sprightliest
style began to relate the story: how Laertes,
a young man of eighteen, on joining a com-
pany of adlors, found in it a girl of fourteen
on the point of departing with her father,
who had quarrelled with the manager. How,
on the instant, he had fallen mortally in love;
had conjured the father by all possible con-
siderations to remain, promising at length to
marry the young woman. How, after a few
pleasing hours of groomship, he had accord-
ingly been wedded, and been happy as he
ought; whereupon, next day, while he was
occupied at the rehearsal, his wife, according
l to professional rule, had honored him with a
i pair of horns; and how as he, out of exces-
| sive tenderness, hastened home far too soon,
' had, alas, found a former lover in his place,
| he had struck into the affair with thoughtless
indignation, had called out both father and
lover, and sustained a grievous wound in the
duel. How father and daughter had there-
upon set off by night, leaving him behind to
labor with a double hurt. How the leech he
applied to was unhappily the worst in nature;
and the poor fellow had got out of the adven-
ture with blackened teeth and watering eyes.
That he was greatly to be pitied, being other-
wise the bravest young man on the face of the
earth. Especially, said she, it grieves
me that the poor soul now hates women; for,
hating women, how can one keep living?
183


ff Wilhelm Meislers Apprenticeship.
Melina interrupted them with news, that all
things being now ready for the journey, they
would set out to-morrow morning. He handed
them a plan, arranging how they were to travel.
If any good friend take me on his lap,
said Philina, I shall be content, though we
sit crammed together never so close and sor-
rily: tis all one to me.
It does not signify, observed Laertes,
who now entered.
It is pitiful, said Wilhelm, hastening
away. By the aid of money he secured an- '
other very comfortable coach, though Melina
had pretended that there were no more. A
new distribution then took place; and our
friends were rejoicing in the thought that they
should now travel pleasantly, when intelli-
gence arrived that a party of military volun-
teers had been seen upon the road, from whom
little good could be expected.
In the town these tidings were received
with great attention, though they were but
variable and ambiguous. As the contending
armies were at that time placed, it seemed im-
possible that any hostile corps could have ad-
vanced, or any friendly one hung arear, so
far. Yet every man was eager to exhibit to
our travellers the danger that awaited them as
truly dangerous; every man was eager to sug-
gest that some other route might be adopted.
By these means most of our friends had
been seized with anxiety and fear; and when,
according to the new republican constitution,
the whole members of the state had been
called together to take counsel on this extra-
ordinary case, they were almost unanimously
of opinion that it would be proper either to
keep back the mischief by abiding where they
were, or to evade it by choosing another road.
Wilhelm alone, not participating in the
panic, regarded it as mean to abandon, for
the sake of mere rumors, a plan which they
had not entered on without much thought.
He endeavored to put heart into them ; his
reasons were manly and convincing.
It is but a rumor, he observed; and
how many such arise in time of war Well-
informed people say that the occurrence is
exceedingly improbable, nay, almost impos-
sible. Shall we in so important a matter
allow a vague report to determine our pro-
ceedings? The route pointed out to us by
the count, and to which our passport was
adapted, is the shortest and in the best con-
dition. It leads us to the town, where you
see acquaintances, friends before you, and
184
may hope for a good reception. The other
way will also bring us thither; but by what
a circuit, and along what miserable roads !
Have we any right to hope, that, in this late
season of the year, we shall get on at all;
and what time and money shall we squander
in the meanwhile! He added many more
considerations, presenting the matter on so
many advantageous sides, that their fear be-
gan to dissipate, and their courage to increase.
He talked to them so much about the disci-
pline of regular troops, he painted the ma-
rauders and wandering rabble so contemptu-
ously, and represented the danger itself as so
pleasant and inspiring, that the spirits of the
party were altogether cheered.
Laertes from the first had been of his opin-
ion ; he now declared that he would not flinch
or fail. Old Boisterous found a consenting
phrase or two to utter, in his own vein;
Philina laughed at them all; and Madam
Melina, who, notwithstanding her advanced
state of pregnancy, had lost nothing of her
natural stout-heartedness, regarded the pro-
posal as heroic. Herr Melina, moved by this
harmonious feeling, hoping also to save some-
what by travelling the short road which had
been first contemplated, did not withstand the
general consent; and the project was agreed
to with universal alacrity.
They next began to make some preparations
for defence at all hazards. They bought large
hangers, and slung them in well-quilted straps
over their shoulders. Wilhelm, further, stuck
a pair of pistols in his girdle. Laertes, inde-
pendently of this occurrence, had a good gun.
They all took the road in the highest glee.
On the second day of their journey the
drivers, who knew the country well, proposed
to take their noons rest in a certain woody
spot of the hills; since the town was far off,
and in good weather the hill road was gener-
ally preferred.
The day being beautiful, all easily agreed
to the proposal. Wilhelm on foot went on
before them through the hills, making every
one that met him stare with astonishment at
his singular figure. He hastened with quick
and contented steps across the forest: Laertes
walked whistling after him; none but the
women continued to be dragged along in the
carriages. Mignon too ran forward by his
side, proud of the hanger, which, when the
party were all arming, she would not go with-
out. Around her hat she had bound the pearl
necklace, one of Marianas relics, which Wil-


ARTIST: E. WAGNER.
THE ROBBERS ATTACK,


helm still possessed. Friedrich, the fair-haired
boy, carried Laertes gun. The harper had
the most pacific look; his long cloak was
tucked up within his girdle, to let him walk
more freely; he leaned upon a knotty staff;
his harp had been left behind him in the car-
riage.
Immediately on reaching the summit of the
height, a task not without its difficulties, our
party recognized the appointed spot, by the
fine beech-trees which encircled and screened
it. A spacious green, sloping softly in the
middle of the forest, invited one to tarry; a
trimly-bordered well offered the most grateful
refreshment; and on the farther side, through
chasms in the mountains, and over the tops
of the woods, appeared a landscape distant,
lovely, full of hope. Hamlets and mills were
lying in the bottoms, villages upon the plain ;
and a new chain of mountains, visible in the
distance, made the prospe6t still more signifi-
cant of hope, for they entered only like a soft
limitation.
The first comers took possession of the
place; rested a while in the shade, lighted
a fire, and so awaited, singing as they worked,
the remainder of the party ; who by degrees
arrived, and with one accord saluted the place,
the lovely weather, and the still lovelier scene.
CHAPTER V.
If our friends had frequently enjoyed a
good and merry hour together while within
four walls, they were naturally much gayer
here, where the freedom of the sky and the
beauty of the place seemed as it were to
purify the feelings of every one. All felt
nearer to each other; all wished that they
might pass their whole lives in so pleasant an
abode. They envied hunters, charcoal-men
and wood-cutters; people whom their calling
constantly retains in such happy places: but,
above all, they prized the delicious economy
of a band of gypsies. They envied these
wonderful companions, entitled to enjoy in
blissful idleness all the adventurous charms of
nature; they rejoiced at being in some degree
like them.
Meanwhile the women had begun to boil
potatoes; and to unwrap and get ready the
victuals brought along with them. Some pots
were standing by the fire. The party had
placed themselves in groups, under the trees
and bushes. Their singular apparel, their
various weapons, gave them a foreign aspect.
'Pile horses were eating their provender at a
side. Could one have concealed the coaches,
the look of this little horde would have been
romantic, even to complete illusion.
Wilhelm enjoyed a pleasure he had never
felt before. He could now imagine his present
company to be a wandering colony, and him-
self the leader of it. In this charadter he
talked with those around him, and figured
out the fantasy of the moment as poetically
as he could. The feelings of the party rose
in cheerfulness: they ate and drank and made
merry; and repeatedly declared that they had
never passed more pleasant moments.
Their contentment had not long gone on
increasing, till a<5tivity awoke among the
younger part of them. Wilhelm and Laertes
seized their rapiers, and began to practise, on
this occasion with theatrical intentions. They
undertook to represent the duel in which Ham-
let and his adversary find so tragical an end.
Both were persuaded that, in this powerful
scene, it was not enough merely to keep
pushing awkwardly hither and thither, as it
is generally exhibited in theatres: they were
in hopes to show, by example, how, in pre-
senting it, a worthy spectacle might also be
afforded to the critic in the art of fencing.
The rest made a circle round them. Both
fought with skill and ardor. The interest of
the spectators rose higher every pass.
But all at once, in the nearest bush, a shot
went off; and immediately another; and the
party flew asunder in terror. Next moment,
armed men were to be seen pressing forward
to the spot where the horses were eating their
fodder, not far from the coaches that were
packed with luggage.
A universal scream proceeded from the fe-
males : our heroes threw away their rapiers,
seized their pistols, and ran towards the
robbers; demanding, with violent threats,
the meaning of such conduct.
This question being answered laconically,
with a couple of musket-shots, Wilhelm fired
his pistol at a crisp-headed knave, who had
got upon the top of the coach, and was cut-
ting the cords of the package. Rightly hit,
this artist instantly came tumbling down:
Laertes also had not missed. Both of them,
encouraged by success, drew their side-arms;
when a number of the plundering party rushed
out upon them, with curses and loud bellow-
ing, fired a few shots at them, and fronted their


impetuosity with glittering sabres. Our young
heroes made a bold resistance. They called
upon their other comrades, and endeavored
to excite them to a general resistance. But
ere long Wilhelm lost the sight of day, and
the consciousness of what was passing. Stupe-
fied by a shot that wounded him between the
breast and the left arm, by a stroke that split
his hat in two, and almost penetrated to his
brain, he sank down, and only by the narra-
tives of others came afterwards to understand
the luckless end of this adventure.
On again opening his eyes, he found him-
self in the strangest posture. The first thing
that pierced the dimness, which yet swam be-
fore his vision, was Philinas face bent down
over his. He felt himself weak; and making
a movement to rise he discovered that he was
in Philinas lap; into which, indeed, he again
sank down. She was sitting on the sward.
She had softly pressed towards her the head
of the fallen young man; and made for him 1
an easy couch, as far as in her power. Mignon
was kneeling with dishevelled and bloody hair
at his feet, which she embraced with many
tears.
On noticing his bloody clothes, Wilhelm
asked, in a broken voice, where he was, and
what had happened to himself and the rest.
Philina begged him to be quiet: the others,
she said, were all in safety, and none but he
and Laertes wounded. Further, she would
tell him nothing; but earnestly entreated him
to keep still, as his wounds had been but
slightly and hastily bound. He stretched out
his hand to Mignon, and inquired about the
bloody locks of the child, who he supposed
was also wounded.
For the sake of quietness Philina let him
know that this true-hearted creature, seeing |
her friend wounded, and in the hurry of the
instant being able to think of nothing which
would stanch the blood, had taken her own
hair that was flowing round her head, and
tried to stop the wounds with it; but had
soon been obliged to give up the vain at-
tempt : that afterwards they had bound him
with moss and dry mushrooms, Philina herself
giving up her neckerchief for that purpose.
Wilhelm noticed that Philina was sitting
with her back against her own trunk, which
still looked firmly locked and quite uninjured.
He inquired if the rest also had been so lucky
as to save their goods ? She answered with a
- shrug of the shoulders, and a look over the
green, where broken chests, and coffers beaten
into fragments, and knapsacks ripped up, and
a multitude of little wares, lay scattered all
round. No person now was to be seen upon
the place: this strange group formed the only
living object in the solitude.
Inquiring further, our friend learned more
and more particulars. The rest of the men,
it appeared, who at all events might still have
made resistance, were struck with terror, and
soon overpowered. Some fled, some looked
with horror at the accident. The drivers, for
the sake of their cattle, had held out more
obstinately; but they too were at last thrown
down and tied; after which, in a few minutes,
everything was thoroughly ransacked, and the
booty carried off. The hapless travellers,
their fear of death being over, had begun to
mourn their loss; and hastened with the
greatest speed to the neighboring village,
taking with them Laertes, whose wounds were
slight, and carrying off but a very few frag-
ments of their property. The harper having
placed his damaged instrument against a tree,
' had proceeded in their company to the place,
; to seek a surgeon, and return with his utmost
rapidity to help his benefactor, whom he had
left apparently upon the brink of death.
CHAPTER VI.
Meanwhile our three adventurers con-
tinued yet a time in their strange position,
no one returning to their aid. Evening was
advancing; the darkness threatened to come
on. Philinas indifference was changing to
anxiety; Mignon ran to and fro, her impa-
tience increasing every moment; and at last,
when their prayer was granted, and human
creatures did approach, a new alarm fell upon
them. They distinctly heard a troop of horses
coming up the road, which they had lately
travelled; they dreaded lest, a second time,
some company of unbidden guests might be
purposing to visit this scene of battle, and
gather up the gleanings.
The more agreeable was their surprise when,
after a few moments, a young lady issued from
the thickets, riding on a gray courser and ac-
companied by an elderly gentleman and some
cavaliers. Grooms, servants, and a troop of
hussars closed up the rear.
Philina stared at this phenomenon, and was
about to call and entreat the fair Amazon for
help, when the latter, turning her astonished
186


eyes on the group, instantly checked her horse,
rode up to them, and halted. She inquired
eagerly about the wounded man, whose pos-
ture in the lap of this light-minded Samaritan
seemed to strike her as peculiarly strange.
Is it your husband? she inquired of
Philina. Only a good friend, replied the
other, with a tone that Wilhelm liked ex-
tremely ill. He had fixed his eyes upon the
soft, elevated, calm, sympathizing features of
the stranger: he thought he had never seen
aught nobler or more lovely. Her shape he
could not see: it was hid by a mans white
greatcoat, which she seemed to have borrowed
from some of her attendants, to screen her
from the chill evening air.
By this time the horsemen had come near.
Some of them dismounted; the lady did so
likewise. She asked, with humane sympathy,
concerning every circumstance of the mishap
which had befallen the travellers; but espe-
cially concerning the wounds of the poor
youth who lay before her. Thereupon she
turned quickly round, and went aside with
the old gentleman to some carriages, which
were slowly coming up the hill, and which at
length stopped upon the scene of action.
The young lady having stood with her con-
ductor a short time at the door of one of the
coaches, and talked with the people in it, a
man of a squat figure stepped out and came
along with them to our wounded hero. By
the little box which he held in his hand, and
the leathern pouch with instruments in it, you
soon recognized him for a surgeon. His man-
ners were rude rather than attractive; but his
hand was light and his help was welcome.
Having examined strictly, he declared that
none of the wounds were dangerous. He
would dress them, he said, on the spot; after
which the patient might be carried to the
nearest village.
187


VBUZS
Wilhelm Meis/er s Apprenticeship.

The anxious attentions of the young lady
seemed to augment. Do but look, she
said, after going to and fro once or twice, and
again bringing the old gentleman to the place; j
look how they have treated him! And is
it not on our account that he is suffering? j
Wilhelm heard these words, but did not un- !
derstand them. She went restlessly up and
down; it seemed as if she could not tear her-
self away from the presence of the wounded |
man, while at the same time she feared to vio-
late decorum by remaining, when they had |
begun, though not without difficulty, to re-
move some part of his apparel. The surgeon
was just cutting off the left sleeve of his pa-
tients coat, when the old gentleman came
near, and represented to the lady, in a serious
tone, the necessity of proceeding on their
journey. Wilhelm kept his eyes bent on
her, and was so enchanted with her looks
that he scarcely felt what he was suffering or
doing.
Philina, in the meantime, had risen up to
kiss the hand of this kind young lady. While
they stood beside each other Wilhelm thought
he had never seen such a contrast. Philina
had never till now appeared in so unfavorable
a light. She had no right, as it seemed to
him, to come near that noble creature, still
less to touch her.
The lady asked Philina various things, but
in an undertone. At length she turned to the
old gentleman and said, Dear uncle, may I
be generous at your expense? She took off
the greatcoat, with the visible intention to
give it to the stripped and wounded youth.
Wilhelm, whom the healing look of her eyes
had hitherto held fixed, was now, as the sur-
tout fell away, astonished at her lovely figure.
She came near and softly laid the coat above
him. At this moment, as he tried to open his
mouth, and stammer out some words of grati-
tude, the lively impression of her presence
worked so strongly on his senses, already
caught and bewildered, that all at once it ap-
peared to him as if her head were encircled
with rays; and a glancing light seemed by
degrees to spread itself over all her form. At
this moment the surgeon, making preparations
to extract the ball from his wound, gave
him a sharper twinge: the angel faded away
from the eyes of the fainting patient; he
lost all consciousness; and on returning to
himself the horsemen and coaches, the fair
one with her attendants, had vanished like a
dz-eam.
188
CHAPTER VII.
Wilhelms wounds once dressed, and his
clothes put on, the surgeon hastened off; just
as the harper with a number of peasants ar-
rived. Out of some cut boughs, which they
speedily wattled with twigs, a kind of litter
was construdted; upon which they placed the
wounded youth, and under the condudl of a
mounted huntsman, whom the noble company
had left behind them, carried him softly down
the mountain. The harper, silent and shrouded
in his own thoughts, bore with him his broken
instrument. Some men brought on Philinas
box, herself following with a bundle. Mignon
skipped along through copse and thicket, now
before the party, now beside them, and looked
up with longing eyes at her hurt protestor.
He meanwhile, wrapped in his warm sur-
tout, was lying peacefully upon the litter. An
eledtric warmth seemed to flow from the fine
wool into his body; in short, he felt himself
in the most delightful frame of mind. The
lovely being, whom this garment lately cov-
ered, had affedted him to the very heart. He
still saw the coat falling down from her shoul-
ders; saw that noble form, begirt with radi-
ance, stand beside him; and his soul hied
over rocks and forests on the footsteps of his
vanished benefadtress.
It was nightfall when the party reached the
village and halted at the door of the inn where
the rest of the company, in the gloom of de-
spondency, were bewailing their irreparable
loss. The one little chamber of the house
was crammed with people. Some of them
were lying upon straw; some were occupying
benches; some had squeezed themselves be-
hind the stove. Frau Melina, in a neighbor-
ing room, was painfully expedting her deliv-
ery. Fright had accelerated this event. With
the sole assistance of the landlady, a young,
inexperienced woman, nothing good could be
expedted.
As the party just arrived required admission,
there arose a universal murmur. All now
maintained that by Wilhelms advice alone,
and under his especial guidance, they had en-
tered on this dangerous road, and exposed
themselves to such misfortunes. They threw
the blame of the disaster wholly on him; they
stuck themselves in the door to oppose his en-
trance, declaring that he must go elsewhere
and seek quarters. Philina they received with
still greater indignation; nor did Mignon and
the harper escape their share.


Wilhelm Mcisler's Apprenticeship.
The huntsman, to whom the care of the for-
saken party had been earnestly and stridlly
recommended by his beautiful mistress, soon
grew tired of this discussion: he rushed upon
the company with oaths and menaces, com-
manding them to fall to the right and left,
and make way for this new arrival. They
now began to pacify themselves. He made a
place for Wilhelm on a table, which he shoved
into a corner; Philina had her box put there,
and then sat down upon it. All packed
themselves as they best could; and the hunts-
man went away to see if he could not find
for the young couple a more convenient
lodging.
Scarcely was he gone, when spite again
grew noisy, and one reproach began to follow
close upon another. Each described and
magnified his loss, censuring the foolhardiness
they had so keenly smarted for. They did
not even hide the malicious satisfaction they
felt at Wilhelms wounds; they jeered Philina,
and imputed to her as a crime the means by
which she had saved her trunk. From a mul-
titude of jibes and bitter innuendoes you were
required to conclude that during the plunder-
ing and discomfiture she had endeavored to
work herself into favor with the captain of the
band, and had persuaded him, heaven knew
by what arts and complaisance, to give her
back the chest unhurt. To all this she an-
swered nothing; only clanked with the large
padlocks of her box, to impress her censurers
completely with its presence, and by her own
good fortune to augment their desperation.
CHAPTER VIII.
Though our friend was weak from loss of
blood, and though ever since the appearance
of that helpful angel his feelings had been soft
and mild, yet at last he could not help getting
vexed at the harsh and unjust speeches which,
as he continued silent, the discontented com-
pany went on uttering against him. Feeling
himself strong enough to sit up and expostu-
late on the annoyance they were causing to
their friend and leader, he raised his bandaged
head, and propping himself with much diffi-
culty, and leaning against the wall, he began
to speak as follows:
Considering the pain which your losses
occasion, I forgive you for assailing me with
injuries at a moment when you should con-
dole with me; for opposing me and casting
me from you the first time I have needed to
look to you for help. The services I did you,
the complaisance I showed you, I regarded as
sufficiently repaid by your thanks, by your
friendly conduct: do not warp my thoughts,
do not force my heart to go back and calcu-
late what I have done for you; the calculation
would be painful to me. Chance brought me
near you, circumstances and a secret inclina-
tion kept me with you. I participated in
your labors and your pleasures: my slender
abilities were ever at your service. If you
now blame me with bitterness for the mishap
that has befallen us, you do not recollect that
the first project of taking this road came to
us from stranger people, was tried by all of
you, and sanctioned by every one as well as
me.
Had our journey ended happily, each
would have taken credit to himself for the
happy thought of suggesting this plan and
preferring it to others; each would joyfully
have put us in mind of our deliberations and
of the vote he gave: but now you make me
alone responsible ; you force a piece of blame
upon me which I would willingly submit to
if my conscience with a clear voice did not
pronounce me innocent, nay, if I might not
appeal with safety even to yourselves. If you
have aught to say against me, bring it forward
in order, and I shall defend myself; if you
have nothing reasonable to allege, then be
silent, and do not torment me now when I
have such pressing need of rest.
By way of answer the girls once more began
whimpering and whining, and describing their
losses circumstantially. Melina was quite be-
side himself; for he had suffered more in purse
than any of them; more indeed than we can
rightly estimate. He stamped like a madman
up and down the little room, he knocked his
head against the wall, he swore and scolded
in the most unseemly manner; and the land-
lady entering at this very time with news that
his wife had been delivered of a dead child,
he yielded to the most furious ebullitions,
while in accordance with him all howled and
shrieked and bellowed and uproared with
double vigor.
Wilhelm, touched to the heart at once with
sympathy in their sorrows, and with vexation
at their mean way of thinking, felt all the
vigor of his soul awakened, notwithstanding
the weakness of his body. Deplorable as
189
448


your case may be, exclaimed he, I shall
almost be compelled to despise you. No mis-
fortune gives us right to load an innocent man
with reproaches. If I had share in this false
step, am I not suffering my share? I lie
wounded here ; and if the company has come
to loss, I myself have come to most. The
wardrobe of which we have been robbed, the
decorations that are gone, were mine; for
you, Iierr Melina, have not yet paid me, and
I here fully acquit you of all obligation in
that matter.
It is well to give what none of us will
ever see again, replied Melina. Your
money was lying in my wifes coffer, and it
is your own blame that you have lost it. But
ah! if that were all! And thereupon he
began anew to stamp and scold and squeal.
Every one recalled to memory the superb
clothes from the counts wardrobe; also the
buckles, watches, snuff-boxes, hats, for which
Melina had so happily transacted with the head
valet. Each then thought also of his own,
though far inferior treasures. They looked
with spleen at Philinas box; and gave Wil-
helm to understand that he had indeed done
wisely to conneCt himself with that fair per-
sonage, and to save his own goods also under
the shadow of her fortune.
Do you think, he exclaimed, at last,
that I shall keep anything apart while you
are starving? And is this the first time I have
honestly shared with you in a season of need ?
Open the trunk; all that is mine shall go to
supply the common wants.
It is my trunk, observed Philina, and
I will not open it till I please. Your rag or
two of clothes, which I have saved for you,
could amount to little, though they were sold
to the most conscientious of Jews. Think of
yourself; what your cure will cost, what may
befall you in a strange country.
You, Philina, answered Wilhelm, will
keep back from me nothing that is mine; and
that little will help us out of the first per-
plexity. But a man possesses many things
besides coined money to assist his friends
with. All that is in me shall be devoted to
these hapless persons; who, doubtless, on re-
turning to their senses, will repent their pres-
ent conduCt. Yes, continued he, I feel
that you have need of help, and what is mine
to do I will perform. Give me your confi-
dence again ; compose yourselves for a moment,
and accept of what I promise! Who will re-
ceive the engagement of me in the name of
all?
Here he stretched out his hand and cried :
I promise not to flinch from you, never to
forsake you till each shall see his losses doubly
and trebly repaired; till the situation you are
fallen into, by whose blame soever, shall be
totally forgotten by all of you, and changed
for a better.
He kept his hand still stretched out: but
no one would take hold of it. I promise
190


Wilhelm Me is ter s Apprenticeship.
Q2E3SSZ2ZBS
it again, cried he, sinking back upon his pil-
low. All continued silent; they felt ashamed,
but nothing comforted; and Philina, sitting
on her chest, kept cracking nuts, a stock of
which she had discovered in her pocket.
CHAPTER IX.
The huntsman now came back with several
people, and made preparations for carrying
away the wounded youth. He had persuaded i
the parson of the place to receive the young
couple into his house; Philinas trunk was
taken out; she followed with a natural air of
dignity. Mignon ran before; and when the
patient reached the parsonage, a wide couch,
which had long been standing ready as guests
bed and bed of honor, was assigned him.
Here it was first discovered that his wound :
had opened and bled profusely. A new band-
age was required for it. He fell into a fever-
ish state; Philina waited on him faithfully;
and when fatigue overpowered her she was
relieved by the harper. Mignon, with the i
firmest purpose to watch, had fallen asleep in J
a corner. J
Next morning Wilhelm, who felt himself in j
some degree refreshed, learned by inquiring i
of the huntsman that the honorable persons j
who last night assisted him so nobly had
shortly before left their estates, in order to
avoid the movements of the contending ar-
mies, and remain till the time of peace in
some more quiet district. He named the
elderly nobleman as well as his niece; men- j
tioned the place they were first going to ; and j
told how the young lady had charged him to
take care of Wilhelm.
The entrance of the surgeon interrupted the
warm expressions of gratitude in which our
friend was pouring out his feelings. He made
a circumstantial description of the wounds;
and certified that they would soon heal if the
patient took care of them and kept himself
at peace.
When the huntsman was gone, Philina sig-
nified that he had left with her a purse of
twenty louis-dor; that he had given the par-
son a remuneration for their lodging, and left
with him money to defray the surgeons bill
when the cure should be completed. She
added that she herself passed everywhere for
Wilhelms wife: that she now begged leave
to introduce herself once for all to him in
this capacity, and would not allow him to
look out for any other sick-nurse.
Philina, said Wilhelm, in this disaster
that has overtaken us, I am already deeply in
your debt for kindness shown me; and I
should not wish to see my obligations in-
creased. I am restless so long as you are
near me: for I know of nothing by which I
can repay your labor. Give me my things
which you have saved in your trunk; unite
yourself to the rest of the company; seek
another lodging, take my thanks, and the
gold watch as a small acknowledgment; only
leave me; your presence disturbs me more
than you can fancy.
She laughed in his face when he had ended.
Thou art a fool, she said ; thou wilt not
gather wisdom. I know better what is good
for thee; I will stay, I will not budge from
the spot. I have never counted on the grati-
tude of men, and therefore not on thine; and
if I have a touch of kindness for thee what
hast thou to do with it?
She stayed accordingly; and soon wormed
herself into favor with the parson and his
household ; being always cheerful, having the
knack of giving little presents, and of talking
to each in his own vein; at the same time
always contriving to do exactly what she
pleased. Wilhelms state was not uncomfort-
able : the surgeon, an ignorant but no unskil-
ful man, let Nature play her part; and the
patient was not long till he felt himself re-
covering. For such a consummation, being
eager to pursue his plans and wishes, he vehe-
mently longed.
Incessantly he kept recalling that event
which had made an ineffaceable impression on
his heart. He saw the beautiful Amazon
again come riding out of the thickets; she
approached him, dismounted, went to and fro,
and strove to serve him. He saw the gar-
ment she was wrapped in fall down from her
shoulders; he saw her countenance, her figure
vanish in their radiance. All the dreams of
his youth now fastened on this image. Here
he conceived he had at length beheld the
noble, the heroic Clorinda with his own eyes;
and again he bethought him of that royal
youth, to whose sick-bed the lovely sympa-
thizing princess came in her modest meekness.
May it not be, said he often to himself
in secret, that in youth as in sleep, the
images of coming things hover round us, and
mysteriously become visible to our unob-
structed eyes? May not the seeds of what is
191


JVilhdm Mcister s Apprenticeship.
to betide us be already scattered by the hand
of Fate; may not a foretaste of the fruits we
yet hope to gather possibly be given us?
FI is sick-bed gave him leisure to repeat those
scenes in every mood. A thousand times he
called back the tone of that sweet voice; a
thousand times he envied Philina, who had
kissed that helpful hand. Often the whole
incident appeared before him as a dream; and
he would have reckoned it a fiCtion if the
white surtout had not been left behind to con-
vince him that the vision had a real existence.
With the greatest care for this piece of ap-
parel, he combined the greatest wish to wear
it. The first time he arose he put it on ; and
was kept in fear all day, lest it might be hurt
by some stain or other injury.
CHAPTER X.
Laertes visited his friend. Fie had not as-
sisted in that lively scene at the inn, being then
confined to bed in an upper chamber. For his
loss he was already in a great degree consoled;
he helped himself with his customary, What
does it signify? He detailed various laugh-
able particulars about the company; partic-
ularly charging Frau Melina with lamenting
the loss of her stillborn daughter, solely be-
cause she herself could not on that account
enjoy the Old-German satisfaction of having
a Mechthilde christened. As for her husband,
it now appeared that he had been possessed
of abundant cash; and even at first had by
no means needed the advances which he had
cajoled from Wilhelm. Melinas present plan
was to set off by the next postwagon; and he
meant to require of Wilhelm an introductory
letter to his friend, the Manager Serlo, in
whose company, the present undertaking
having gone to wreck, he now wished to
establish himself.
For some days Mignon had been singularly
quiet; when pressed with questions, she at
length admitted that her right arm was out of
joint. 'Thou hast thine own folly to thank
for that, observed Philina; and then told
how the child had drawn her sword in the
battle; and seeing her friend in peril had
struck fiercely at the freebooters; one of whom
had at length seized her by the arm, and
pitched her aside. They chided her for
not sooner speaking of her ailment; but they
easily saw that she was apprehensive of the
surgeon, who had hitherto looked on her as
a boy. With a view to remove the mischief,
she was made to keep her arm in a sling;
which arrangement too displeased her; for
now she was obliged to surrender most part
of her share in the management and nursing
of our friend to Philina. That pleasing sin-
ner but showed herself the more aCtive and
attentive on this account.
One morning, on awakening, Wilhelm found
himself in a strange neighborhood with her.
In the movements of sleep he had hitched
himself quite to the back of his spacious bed.
Philina was lying across from the front part
of it; she seemed to have fallen asleep while
sitting on the bed and reading. A book had
dropped from her hand; she had sunk back,
and her head was lying near his breast, over
which her fair and now loosened hair was
spread in streams. The disorder of sleep
enlivened her charms more than heart or pur-
pose could have done; a childlike smiling rest
hovered on her countenance. He looked at
her for a time; and seemed to blame himself
for the pleasure which this gave him. He had
viewed her attentively for some moments,
when site began to awake. He softly closed
his eyes; but could not help glimmering at
her through his eyelashes, as she trimmed her-
self again, and went away to consult about
breakfast.
All the aCtors had at length successively an-
nounced themselves to Wilhelm; asking in-
troductory letters, requiring money for their
journey with more or less impatience and ill-
breeding; and constantly receiving it against
Philinas will. It was in vain for her to tell
our friend that the huntsman had already left
a handsome sum with these people, and that
accordingly they did but cozen him. To these
remonstrances he gave no heed; on the con-
trary, the two had a sharp quarrel on the sub-
ject; which ended by Wilhelm signifying once
for all that Philina must now join the rest of
the company, and seek her fortune with Serlo.
For an instant or two she lost temper; but
speedily recovering her composure, she cried :
If I had but my fair-haired boy again I
should not care a fig for any of you. She
meant Friedrich, who had vanished from the
scene of battle, and never since appeared.
Next morning Mignon brought news to the
bedside that Philina had gone off by night,
leaving all that belonged to Wilhelm very
neatly laid out in the next room. He felt her
absence; he had lost in her a faithful nurse,
192


Pr. Pfc/U y<'z.
RUBBISHED BYCEORGr. BARRIE
f. G,yrr ycsi
P o
V.


a cheerful companion ; he was no longer used
to be alone. But Mignon soon filled up the
blank.
Ever since that light-minded beauty had
been near the patient with her friendly cares,
the little creature had by degrees drawn back,
and remained silent and secluded in herself;
but the field being clear once more, she again
came forth with her attentions and her love;
again was eager in serving, and lively in en-
tertaining him.
CHAPTER XI.
Wilhelm was rapidly approaching complete
recovery: he now hoped to be upon his jour-
ney in a few days. He proposed no more to
lead an aimless routine of existence: the steps
of his career were henceforth to be calculated
for an end. In the first place, he purposed to
seek out that beneficent lady, and express the
gratitude he felt to her; then to proceed
without delay to his friend the manager, that
he might do his utmost to assist the luckless
company; intending at the same time to visit
the commercial friends whom he had letters
for, and to transact the business which had
been intrusted to him. He was not without
hope that fortune, as formerly, would favor
him; and give him opportunity, by some
lucky speculation, to repair his losses, and
fill up the vacuity of his coffer.
The desire of again beholding his beautiful
deliverer augmented every day. To settle his
route, he took counsel with the clergyman, a
person well skilled in statistics and geography,
and possessing a fine collection of charts and
books on those subjedts. They searched
for the place which this noble family had
chosen as their residence while the war con-
tinued; they searched for information respedt-
ing the family itself. But their place was to
be found in no geography or map; and the
heraldic manuals made no mention of their
name. Wilhelm became restless; and having
mentioned the cause of his uneasiness, the
harper told him he had reason to believe that
the huntsman, for whatever reason, had con-
cealed the real designations.
Conceiving himself now to be in the imme-
diate neighborhood of his lovely benefactress,
Wilhelm hoped he might obtain some tidings
of her if he sent out the harper: but in this
too he was deceived. Diligently as the old
man kept inquiring, he could find no trace of
her. Of late days a number of quick move-
ments and unforeseen marches had taken place
in that quarter; no one had particularly noticed
the travelling party; and the ancient messen-
ger, to avoid being taken for a Jewish spy, was
obliged to return, and appear without any
olive-leaf before his master and friend. He
gave a strict account of his condudt in this
commission, striving to keep far from him all
suspicions of remissness. He endeavored by
every means to mitigate the trouble of our
friend; bethought him of everything that he
had learned from the huntsman, and advanced
a number of conjectures; out of all which,
one circumstance at length came to light,
whereby Wilhelm could explain some enig-
matic words of his vanished benefactress.
The freebooters, it appeared, had lain in
wait, not for the wandering troop, but for that
noble company, whom they rightly guessed to
be provided with store of gold and valuables,
and of whose movements they must have had
precise intelligence. Whether the attack should
be imputed to some free corps, to marauders, or
to robbers, was uncertain. It was clear, how-
ever, that by good fortune for the high and
rich company, the poor and low had first ar-
rived upon the place, and undergone the fate
which was provided for the others. It was to
this that the ladys words referred, which Wil-
helm yet well recollected. If he might now
be happy and contented, that a prescient
Genius had selected him for the sacrifice,
which saved a perfect mortal; he was, on
the other hand, nigh desperate when he
thought that all hope of finding her and
seeing her again was, at least for the present,
completely gone.
What increased this singular emotion still
further, was the likeness which he thought he
had observed between the countess and the
beautiful unknown. They resembled one an-
other, as two sisters may, of whom neither
can be called the younger or the elder, for
they seem to be twins.
The recollection of the amiable countess
was to Wilhelm infinitely sweet. He recalled
her image but too willingly into his memory.
But anon the figure of the noble Amazon
would step between; one vision melted and
changed into the other, and the form of
neither would abide with him.
A new resemblance, the similarity of their
handwritings, naturally struck him with still
greater wonder. He had a charming song in
the countess hand laid up in his portfolio;
449
193


and in the surtout lie had found a little note,
inquiring with much tender care about the
health of an uncle.
Wilhelm was convinced that his benefactress
must have penned this billet; that it must have
been sent from one chamber to another, at
some inn during their journey, and put into
the coat-pocket by the uncle. He held both
papers together; and if the regular and grace-
ful letters of the countess had already pleased
him much, he found in the similar but freer
lines of the stranger a flowing harmony which
could not be described. The note contained
nothing; yet the strokes of it seemed to affect
him, as the presence of their fancied writer
once had done.
He fell into a dreamy longing; and well
accordant with his feelings was the song which
at that instant Mignon and the harper began
to sing, with a touching expression, in the
form of an irregular duet:
You never longd and lovd,
You know not grief like mine:
Alone and far removd
From joys or hopes, I pine :
A foreign sky above,
And a foreign earth below me,
To the south I look all day;
For the hearts that love and know me
Are far, are far away.
I burn, I faint, I languish,
My heart is waste, and sick, and sore;
Who has not longd in baflled anguish
Cannot know what I deplore.
CHAPTER XII..
The soft allurements of his dear presiding
angel, far from leading our friend to any one
determined path, did but nourish and increase
the unrest which he had previously experi-
enced. A secret fire was gliding through his
veins; objects distinct and indistinct al-
ternated within his soul, and awoke un-
speakable desire. At one time he wished
for a horse, at another for wings; and not
till it seemed impossible that he could stay
did he look round him to discover whither he
was wanting to go.
The threads of his destiny had become so
strangely entangled, he wished to see its
curious knots unravelled or cut in two.
Often, when he heard the tramp of a horse
or the rolling of a carriage, he would run to
the window and look out, in hopes it might
be some one seeking him; some one, even
though it were by chance, bringing him in-
telligence and certainty and joy. He told
stories to himself, how his friend Werner
might visit these parts and come upon him ;
how perhaps Mariana might appear. The
sound of every posts horn threw him into
agitation. It would be Melina sending news
to him of his adventures; above all, it would
be the huntsman coming back to carry him to
the beauty whom he worshipped.
Of all these possibilities, unhappily, no one
occurred : he was forced at last to return to
the company of himself; and in again look-
ing through the past there was one circum-
stance which, the more he viewed and Aveighed
it, grew the more offensive and intolerable to
him. It Avas his unprosperous generalship;
of Avhich he neA'er thought Avithout vexation.
For although, on the evening of that luckless
day, he had produced a pretty fair defence of
his conduct Avhen accused by the company,
yet he could not hide from himself that he
Avas guilty. On the contrary, in hypochon-
driacal moments he took the blame of the
whole misfortune.
Self-love exaggerates our faults as Avell as
our virtues. Wilhelm thought he had aAvak-
ened confidence in him, had guided the Avill
of the rest; that, led by inexperience and
rashness, they had ventured on, till a danger
seized them, for Avhich they Avere no match.
Loud as Avell as silent reproaches had then
assailed him : and if in their sorroAvful con-
dition he had promised to the company, mis-
guided by him, never to forsake them till
their loss had been repaid Avith usury, this
was but another folly for Avhich he had to
blame himself, the folly of presuming to take
upon his single shoulders a misfortune that
Avas spread over many. One instant he ac-
cused himself of uttering this promise, under
the excitement and the pressure of the mo-
ment; the next he again felt that this gen-
erous presentation of his hand, Avhich no one
deigned to accept, Avas but a light formality
compared with the voav Avhich his heart had
taken. He meditated means of being kind
and useful to them; he found every cause
conspire to quicken his visit to Serlo. Accord-
ingly he packed his things together; and
Avithout Avaiting his complete recovery, Avith-
out listening to the counsel of the parson or
the surgeon, he hastened, in the strange so-
ciety of Mignon and the harper, to escape
the inactivity, in Avhich his fate had once
more too long detained him.
194


Wilhelm Meister s Apprenticeship.
CHAPTER XIII.
Serlo received him with open arms, crying
as he met him: Is it you? Do I see you
again? You have scarcely changed at all.
Is your love for that noblest of arts still as
lively and strong? I myself am so glad at
your arrival, I even feel no longer the mistrust
which your last letters had excited in me.
Wilhelm asked with surprise for a clearer
explanation.
You have treated me, said Serlo, not
like an old friend, but as if I were a great
lord, to whom with a safe conscience you
might recommend useless people. Our des-
tiny depends on the opinion of the public;
and I fear Herr Melina and his suite can
hardly be received among us.
Wilhelm tried to say something in their
favor; but Serlo began to draw so merciless
a picture of them, that our friend was happy
when a lady came into the room, and put a
stop to the discussion. She was introduced
to him as Aurelia, the sister of his friend:
she received him with extreme kindness ; and
her conversation was so pleasing, that he did
not once remark a shade of sorrow visible on
her expressive countenance, to which it lent
peculiar interest.
For the first time during many months,
Wilhelm felt himself in his proper element
once more. Of late in talking, he had merely
found submissive listeners, and even these not
always; but now he had the happiness to speak
with critics and artists, who not only fully
understood him, but repaid his observations
by others equally instructive. With wonder-
ful vivacity they travelled through the latest
pieces; with wonderful corredtness judged
them. The decisions of the public they
could try and estimate: they speedily threw
light on each others thoughts.
Loving Shakspeare as our friend did, he
failed not to lead round the conversation to
the merits of that dramatist. Expressing, as
he entertained, the liveliest hopes of the new
epoch which these exquisite productions must
form in Germany, he ere long introduced his
Hamlet, who had busied him so much of late.
Serlo declared that he would long ago have
played the piece, had this been possible, and
that he himself would willingly engage to adt
Polonius. He added, with a smile: An
Ophelia, too, will certainly turn up, if we
had but a prince.
Wilhelm did not notice that Aurelia seemed
a little hurt at her brothers sarcasm. Our
friend was in his proper vein, becoming co-
pious and didadtic, expounding how he would
have Hamlet played. He circumstantially de-
livered to his hearers the opinions we before
saw him busied with ; taking all the trouble
possible to make his notion of the matter ac-
ceptable, sceptical as Serlo showed himself
regarding it. Well, then, said the latter,
finally, suppose we grant you all this, what
will you explain by it?
Much, everything, said Wilhelm. Con-
ceive a prince such as I have painted him, and
that his father suddenly dies. Ambition and
the love of rule are not the passions that in-
spire him. As a kings son he would have
been contented; but now he is first con-
strained to consider the difference which
separates a sovereign from a subject. The
crown was not hereditary; yet a longer
possession of it by his father would have
strengthened the pretensions of an only son,
and secured his hopes of the succession. In
place of this, he now beholds himself ex-
cluded by his uncle, in spite of specious
promises, most probably forever. He is now
poor in goods and favor, and a stranger in the
scene which from youth he had looked upon
as his inheritance. His temper here assumes
its first mournful tinge. He feels that now
he is not more, that he is less than a private
nobleman; he offers himself as the servant of
every one ; he is not courteous and condes-
cending, he is needy and degraded.
His past condition he remembers as a
vanished dream. It is in vain that his uncle
strives to cheer him, to present his situation
in another point of view. The feeling of his
nothingness will not leave him.
The second stroke that came upon him
wounded deeper, bowed still more. It was
the marriage of his mother. The faithful,
tender son had yet a mother when his father
passed away. He hoped, in the company of
his surviving noble-minded parent, to rever-
ence the heroic form of the departed; but
his mother too he loses, and it is something
worse than death that robs him of her. The
| trustful image which a good child loves to
form of its parents is gone. With the dead
! there is no help ; on the living no hold. She
[ also is a woman, and her name is Frailty, like
| that of all her sex.
I Now first does he feel himself completely
: bent and orphaned; and no happiness of life
! can repay what he has lost. Not refledlive
!95


or sorrowful by nature, refledlion and sorrow
have become for him a heavy obligation. It
is thus that we see him first enter on the scene.
I do not think that I have mixed aught foreign
with the piece, or overcharged a single feature
of it.
Serlo looked at his sister, and said, Did I
give thee a false picture of our friend ? He
begins well; he has still many things to tell
us, many to persuade us of. Wilhelm asseve-
rated loudly, that he meant not to persuade,
but to convince; he begged for another mo-
ments patience.
Figure to yourselves this youth, cried he,
this son of princes; conceive him vividly,
bring his state before your eyes, and then ob-
serve him when he learns that his fathers
spirit walks; stand by him in the terrors of
the night, when the venerable ghost itself ap-
pears before him. A horrid shudder passes
over him ; he speaks to the mysterious form ;
he sees it beckon him; he follows it, and hears.
The fearful accusation of his uncle rings in his
ears; the summons to revenge, and the pierc-
ing, oft-repeated cry, Remember me !
And when the ghost has vanished, who is
it that stands before us ? A young hero pant-
ing for vengeance? A prince by birth, re-
joicing to be called to punish the usurper of
his crown ? No trouble and astonishment
take hold of the solitary young man; he
grows bitter against smiling villains, swears


Wilhelm Meister s Apprenticeship.
?^SK3S^HSH^gGZ353^52

that lie will not forget the spirit, and con-
cludes with the significant ejaculation :
The time is out of joint: O cursed spile,
That ever I was born to set it right!
In these words,
I imagine, will be
found the key to
Hamlets whole
procedure. To
me it is clear that
Shakspeare meant,
in the present case,
to represent the ef-
fedts of a great ac-
tion laid upon a soul
unfit for the per-
formance of it. In
this view the whole
piece seems to me
to be composed.
There is an oak tree
planted in a costly
jar, which should
have borne only
pleasant flowers in
its bosom; the roots
expand, the jar is
shivered.
A lovely, pure,
noble and most
moral nature, with-
out the strength of
nerve which forms a
hero, sinks beneath
a burden which it
cannot bear and
must not cast away.
All duties are holy
for him; the present
is too hard. Im-
possibilities have
been required of
him; not in them-
selves impossibili-
ties, but such for
him. He winds,
and turns, and tor-
ments himself; he
advances and re-
coils ; is ever put in mind, ever puts himself
in mind; at last does all but lose his purpose
from his thoughts; yet still without recovering
his peace of mind.
CHAPTER XIV.
Several people entering interrupted the
discussion. They were musical dilettanti, who
commonly assembled at Serbs once a week,
and formed a little concert. Serb himself
loved music much : he used to maintain, that
a player without taste for it never could attain
a distinct conception and feeling of the scenic
art. As a man performs, he would observe,
with far more ease and dignity when his
45
197


gestures are accompanied and guided by a
tune, so the player ought, in idea as it were,
to set to music even his prose parts, that he
may not monotonously slight them over in
his individual style, but treat them in suitable
alternation by time and measure.
Aurelia seemed to give but little heed to
what was passing; at last, she conduXed Wil-
helm to another room, and going to the win-
dow, and looking out at the starry sky, she
said to him : You have still much to tell us
about Hamlet; I will not hurry you; my
brother must hear it as well as I: but let me
beg to know your thoughts about Ophelia.
Of her there cannot much be said, he
answered ; for a few master-strokes complete
her character. The whole being of Ophelia
floats in sweet and ripe sensation. Kindness
for the prince, to whose hand she may aspire,
flows so spontaneously, her tender heart obeys
its impulses so unresistingly, that both father
and brother are afraid ; both give her warn-
ing harshly and direXly. Decorum, like the
thin lawn upon her bosom, cannot hide the
soft, still movements of her heart; it on the
contrary betrays them. Her fancy is smit;
her silent modesty breathes amiable desire;
and if the friendly goddess Opportunity should
shake the tree its fruit would fall.
And then, said Aurelia, when she be-
holds herself forsaken, cast away, despised;
when all is inverted in the soul of her crazed
lover, and the highest changes to the lowest,
and instead of the sweet cup of love lie offers
her the bitter cup of woe
Her heart breaks, cried Wilhelm ; the
whole structure of her being is loosened from
its joinings; her fathers death strikes fiercely
against it; and the fair edifice altogether
crumbles into fragments.
Our friend had not observed with what ex-
pressiveness Aurelia pronounced those words.
Looking only at this work of art, at its con-
nexion and completeness, he dreamed not
that his auditress was feeling quite a different
influence; that a deep sorrow of her own was
vividly awakened in her breast by these dra-
matic shadows.
Aurelias head was still resting on her arms;
and her eyes, now full of tears, were direXed
to the sky. At last, no longer able to conceal
her secret grief, she seized both hands of her
friend, and exclaimed, while he stood sur-
prised before her: Forgive, forgive a heavy
heart! I am girt and pressed together by
these people; from my hard-hearted brother I
198
must seek to hide myself; your presence has
untied these bonds. My friend ! continued
she, it is but a few minutes since we saw
each other first, and already you are going to
become my confidant. She could scarcely
end the words, and sank upon his shoulder.
Think not worse of me, she said with sobs,
that I disclose myself to you so hastily, that
I am so weak before you. Be my friend, re-
main my friend; I shall deserve it. He
spoke to her in his kindest manner: but in
vain ; her tears still flowed, and choked her
words.
At this moment Serlo entered, most unwel-
comely, and most unexpeXedlv, Philina with
her hand in his. Here is your friend, said
he to her; he will be glad to make his com-
pliments to you.
How! cried Wilhelm in astonishment:
are you here? With a modest settled
mien, she went up to him; bade him welcome;
praised Serlos goodness, who, she said, with-
out merit on her part, but purely in the hope
of her improvement, had agreed to admit her
into his accomplished troop. She behaved,
all the while, in a friendly manner towards
Wilhelm, yet with a dignified distance.
But this dissimulation lasted only till the
other two were gone. Aurelia having left
them, that she might conceal her trouble, and
Serlo being called away, Philina first looked
very sharply at the doors, to see that both
were really out; then began skipping to and
fro about the room, as if she had been mad;
at last dropped down upon the floor, like
to die of giggling and laughing. She then
sprang up, patted and flattered our friend;
rejoicing above measure that she had been
clever enough to go before, and spy the land
and get herself nestled in.
Pretty things are going on here, she
said; just of the sort I like. Aurelia has
had a hapless love-affair with some nobleman,
who seems to be a very stately person, one
whom I myself could like to see some day.
He has left her a memorial, or I much mis-
take. There is a boy running about the house
of three years old or so: the papa must be a
very pretty fellow. Commonly I cannot suffer
children, but this brat quite delights me. I
have calculated Aurelias business. The death
of her husband, the new acquaintance, the
childs age, all things agree.
But now her spark has gone his ways;
for a year she has not seen a glimpse of him.
She is beside herself and inconsolable on this


account. The more fool she Her brother
has a dancing girl in his troop, with whom he
stands on pretty terms; an aCtress to whom he
is betrothed; in the town, some other women
whom he courts; I too am on his list. The
more fool he Of the rest thou shalt hear to-
morrow. And now one word about Philina,
whom thou knowest: the arch fool is fallen in
love with thee. She swore that it was true,
and a proper joke. She earnestly requested
Wilhelm to fall in love with Aurelia; for then
the chase would be worth beholding. She
pursues her faithless swain, thou her, I thee,
her brother me. If that will not divert us for
a quarter of a year, I engage to die at the
first episode which occurs in this four-times
complicated tale. She begged of him not
to spoil her trade, and to show her such re-
speCl as her external conduCt should deserve.
CHAPTER XV.
Next morning Wilhelm went to visit Frau
Melina; but found her not at home. On in-
quiring here for the other members of the
wandering community, he learned that Philina
had invited them to breakfast. Out of curi-
osity, he hastened thither; and found them
all cleared up and not a little comforted. The
cunning creature had collected them, was treat-
ing them with chocolate, and giving them to
understand that some prospeCts still remained
for them; that, by her influence, she hoped
to convince the manager how advantageous it
would be for him to introduce so many clever
hands among his company. They listened to
her with attention; swallowed cup after cup
of her chocolate; thought the girl was not so
bad after all; and went away proposing to
themselves to speak whatever good of her
they could.
Do you think then, said our friend, who
stayed behind, that Serlo will determine to
retain our comrades? Not at all, replied
Philina; nor do I care a fig for it. The
sooner they are gone the better! Laertes
alone I could wish to keep: the rest we shall
by-and-by pack off.
Next she signified to Wilhelm her firm per-
suasion that he should no longer hide his
talent; but, under the direction of a Serlo,
go upon the boards. She was lavish in her
praises of the order, the taste, the spirit,
which prevailed in this establishment: she
spoke so flatteringly to Wilhelm; with such
admiration of his gifts, that his heart and his
imagination were advancing towards this pro-
posal, as fast as his understanding and his
reason were retreating from it. He concealed
his inclination from himself and from Philina;
and passed a restless day, unable to resolve on
visiting his trading correspondents, to receive
the letters which might there be lying for him.
The anxieties of his people during all this time
he easily conceived; yet he shrank from the
precise account of them; particularly at the
present time, as he promised to himself a great
and pure enjoyment from the exhibition of a
new piece that evening.
Serlo had refused to let him witness the re-
hearsal. You must see us on the best side,
he observed, before we can allow you to look
into our cards.
The acting of the piece, however, where
our friend did not fail to be present, yielded
him a high satisfaction. It was the first time
he had ever seen a theatre in such perfection.
The aCtors were evidently all possessed of ex-
cellent gifts, of superior capacities, and a high
clear notion of their art: they were not equal;
but they mutually restrained and supported
one another; each breathed ardor into those
around him ; throughout all their aCting they
showed themselves decided and correCt. You
soon felt that Serlo was the soul of the whole;
as an individual he appeared to much advan-
tage. A merry humor, a measured vivacity, a
settled feeling of propriety, combined with a
| great gift of imitation, were to be observed in
him the moment he appeared upon the stage.
; The inward contentment of his being seemed
! to spread itself over all that looked on him;
and the intellectual style, in which he could
so easily and gracefully express the finest
| shadings of his part, excited more delight,
! as he could conceal the art which, by long-
! continued practice, he had made his own.
! Aurelia, his sister, was not inferior; she
obtained still greater approbation, for she
touched the souls of the audience, which it
was his to exhilarate and amuse.
After a few days had passed pleasantly
enough, Aurelia sent to inquire for our
friend. He hastened to her: she was lying
on a sofa; she seemed to be suffering from
headache; her whole frame had visibly a
feverish movement. Her eye lighted up as
she noticed Wilhelm. Pardon me! she
cried, as he entered : the trust you have in-
spired me with has made me weak. Till now
199


I have contrived to bear up against mv woes I
in secret; nav, they gave me strength and
consolation : but now, I know not how it is,
you have loosened the bands of silence; you
must, against your will, take part in the battle
I am fighting with myself.
Wilhelm answered her in friendly and
obliging terms. He declared that her image
and her sorrows had not ceased to hover in
his thoughts; that he longed for her confi-
dence, and devoted himself to be her friend.
While he spoke his eyes were attracted to
the boy, who sat before her on the floor, and
was busy rattling a multitude of playthings.
This child, as Philina had observed, might be
about three years of age; and Wilhelm now
conceived how that giddy creature, seldom
elevated in her phraseology, had likened it to
the sun. For its cheerful eyes and full coun-
tenance were shaded by the finest golden locks,
which flowed round in copious curls; dark,
slender, softly-bending eyebrows showed them-
selves upon a brow of dazzling whiteness; and
the living tinge of health was glancing on its
cheeks. Sit by me, said Aurelia: you
are looking at the happy child with admira-
tion ; in truth, I took it into my arms with
joy; I keep it carefully: yet by it too I can
measure the extent of my sufferings; for they
seldom let me feel the worth of such a gift.
Allow me, she continued, to speak to
you about myself and my destiny; for I have
it much at heart that you should not misunder-
stand me. I thought I should have a few calm
instants, and accordingly I sent for you; you
are now here, and the thread of my narrative
is lost.
One more forsaken woman in the world !
you will say. You are a man ; you are think-
ing: What a noise she makes, the fool, about
a necessary evil; which, certainly as death,
awaits a woman, when such is the fidelity of
men ! O my friend if my fate were com-
mon, I would gladly undergo a common evil;
but it is so singular: why cannot I present it
to you in a mirror, why not command some
one to tell it you ? Oh, had I, had I been
seduced, surprised, and afterwards forsaken,
there would then still be comfort in despair:
but I am far more miserable; I have been my
own deceiver; I have wittingly betrayed my-
self; and this, this is what shall never be for-
given me.
With noble feelings, such as yours, said
Wilhelm, you can never be entirely un-
happy.
And do you know to what I am indebted
for my feelings? asked Aurelia. To the
worst education that ever threatened to con-
taminate a girl; to the vilest examples for
misleading the senses and the inclinations.
My mother dying early, the fairest years
of my youth were spent with an aunt, whose
principle it was to despise the laws of decency.
She resigned herself headlong to every im-
pulse; careless whether the objeft of it proved
her tyrant or her slave, so she might forget
herself in wild enjoyment.
By children, with the pure clear vision of
innocence, what ideas of men were necessarily
formed in such a scene! How stolid, brutally
bold, importunate, unmannerly, was every one
whom she allured How sated, empty, inso-
lent and tasteless, when he left her! I have
seen this woman live for years humbled under
the control of the meanest creatures. What
incidents she had to undergo "With what a
front she contrived to accommodate herself to
her destiny; nay, with how much skill to wear
those shameful fetters !
It was thus, my friend, that I became ac-
quainted with your sex : and deeply did I hate
it, when, as I imagined, I observed that even
tolerable men, in their condudl to ours, ap-
peared to renounce every honest feeling, of
which nature might otherwise have made them
capable.
Unhappily, moreover, on such occasions,
a multitude of painful discoveries about my
own sex were forced upon me: and in truth I
was then wiser, as a girl of sixteen, than I now
am; now that I scarcely understand myself.
Why are we so wise when young; so wise,
and ever growing less so?
The boy began to make a noise; Aurelia
became impatient, and rung. An old woman
came to take him out. Hast thou tooth-
ache still? said Aurelia to the crone, whose
face was wrapped in cloth. Unsufferable,
said the other, with a muffled voice; then
lifted the boy, who seemed to like going with
her, and carried him away.
Scarcely was he gone, when Aurelia began
bitterly to weep. I am good for nothing,
cried she, but lamenting and complaining;
and I feel ashamed to lie before you like a
miserable worm. My recolledlion is already
fled; I can relate no more. She faltered,
and was silent. Her friend, unwilling to reply
with a. commonplace, and unable to reply with
anything particularly applicable, pressed her
hand, and looked at her for some time without
200


WILHELM AND AURELIA


mi


Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship.
speaking. Thus embarrassed, he at length
took up a book, which he noticed lying on
the table before him : it was Shakspeares
works, and open at Hamlet.
Serlo at this moment entering, inquired
about his sister; and looking in the book
which our friend had hold of, cried: So
you are again at Hamlet? Very good Many
doubts have arisen in me, which seem not a
little to impair the canonical aspedl of the
piece as you would have it viewed. The
English themselves have admitted that its
chief interest concludes with the third adl;
the last two lagging sorrily on, and scarcely
uniting with the rest: and certainly about the
end it seems to stand stock-still.
It is very possible, said Wilhelm, that
some individuals of a nation, which has so
many masterpieces to feel proud of, may be
led by prejudice and narrowness of mind to
form false judgments: but this cannot hinder
us from looking with our own eyes, and doing
justice where we see it due. I am very far
from censuring the plan of Hamlet; on the
contrary, I believe there never was a grander
one invented; nay, it is not invented, it is
real.
How do you demonstrate that? inquired
Serlo.
I will not demonstrate anything, said
Wilhelm; I will merely show you what my
own conceptions of it are.
Aurelia rose up from her cushion ; leaned
upon her hand, and looked at Wilhelm; who,
with the firmest assurance that he was in the
right, went on as follows: It pleases us, it
flatters us to see a hero adling on his own
strength; loving and hating as his heart
directs him; undertaking and completing;
casting every obstacle aside; and at length
attaining some great object which he aimed
at. Poets and historians would willingly per-
suade us that so proud a lot may fall to man.
In Hamlet we are taught another lesson : the
hero is without a plan, but the piece is full of
plan. Here we have no villain punished on
some self-conceived and rigidly-accomplished
scheme of vengeance: a horrid deed occurs;
it rolls itself along with all its consequences,
dragging guiltless persons also in its course;
the perpetrator seems as if he would evade the
abyss which is made ready for him; yet he
plunges in, at the very point by which he
thinks he shall escape and happily complete
his course.
For it is the property of crime to extend
its mischief over innocence, as it is of virtue
to extend its blessings over many that deserve
them not; while frequently the author of the
one or of the other is not punished or re-
451
201


warded at all. Here in this play of ours, '
how strange! The pit of darkness sends its
spirit and demands revenge; in vain! All
circumstances tend one way, and hurry to re-
venge ; in vain Neither earthly nor infernal
thing may bring about what is reserved for
Fate alone. The hour of judgment comes:
the wicked fall with the good: one race is
mowed away, that another may spring up.
After a pause, in which they looked at one
another, Serlo said : <£ You pay no great com-
pliment to Providence, in thus exalting Shaks-
peare; and besides, it appears to me, that for
the honor of your poet, as others for the honor
of Providence, you ascribe to him an objedl
and a plan, which he himself had never
thought of.
CHAPTER XVI.
I
Let me also put a question, said Aurelia. !
I have looked at Ophelias part again; I am j
contented with it, and conceive that under ;
certain circumstances I could play it. But
tell me, should not the poet have furnished
the insane maiden with another sort of songs?
Could not one seledt some fragments out of ;
melancholy ballads for this purpose? What I
have double meanings and lascivious insipid-
ities to do in the mouth of such a noble- |
minded person ? |
Dear friend, said Wilhelm, even here
I cannot yield you one iota. In these singu- |
larities, in this apparent impropriety, a deep |
sense is hid. Do we not understand from the ;
very first what the mind of the good soft- j
hearted girl was busied with? Silently she j
lived within herself, yet she scarce concealed :
her wishes, her longing; the tones of desire ;
were in secret ringing through her soul; and j
how often may she have attempted, like an j
unskilful nurse, to lull her senses to repose with
songs which only kept them more awake? But
at last, when her self-command is altogether i
gone, when the secrets of her heart are hover- '
ing on her tongue, that tongue betrays her, !
and in the innocence of insanity she solaces
herself, unmindful of king or queen, with the
echo of her loose and well-beloved songs:
To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day; and By .
Gis and by Saint Charity. |
He had not finished speaking, when all at j
once an extraordinary scene took place before '
him, which he could not in any way explain.
Serlo had walked once or twice up and
down the room without evincing any special
objecl. On a sudden, he stepped forward
to Aurelias dressing-table; caught hastily at
something that was lying there, and hastened
to the door with his booty. No sooner did
Aurelia notice this, than springing up, she
threw herself in his way; laid hold of him
with boundless vehemence, and had dexterity
enough to clutch an end of the article which
he was carrying off. They struggled and
wrestled with great obstinacy; twisted and
threw each other sharply round : he laughed;
she exerted all her strength : and as Wilhelm
hastened towards them, to separate and soothe
them, Aurelia sprang aside with a naked dag-
ger in her hand, while Serlo cast the scabbard,
which had stayed with him, angrily upon the
floor. Wilhelm started back astonished ; and
his dumb wonder seemed to ask the cause why
so violent a strife, about so strange an imple-
ment, had taken place between them.
You shall judge between us, said the
brother. What has she to do with sharp
steel? Do but look at it. That dagger is
not fit for any adlress: point like a needles,
edge like a razors What good is it ? Pas-
sionate as she is, she will one day chance to
do herself a mischief. I have a hearts hatred
at such singularities: a serious thought of that
sort is insane, and so dangerous a plaything is
not in taste.
I have it back! exclaimed Aurelia, and
held the polished blade aloft; I will now
keep my faithful friend more carefully. Pardon
me, she cried, and kissed the steel, that I
have so negledled thee.
Serlo was like to grow seriously angry.
Take it as thou wilt, brother, she con-
tinued: how knowest thou but, under this
form, a precious talisman may have been
given me; so that, in extreme need, I may-
find help and counsel in it? Must all be
hurtful that looks dangerous?
Such talk without a meaning might drive
one mad, said Serlo, and left the room with
suppressed indignation. Aurelia put the dag-
ger carefully into its sheath, and placed it in
her bosom. Let us now resume the con-
versation which our foolish brother has dis-
turbed, said she, as Wilhelm was beginning
to put questions on the subject of this quarrel.
I must admit your pidlure of Ophelia to
be just, continued she; I cannot now mis-
understand the objedl of the poet: I must
pity, though, as you paint her, I shall rather
pity her than sympathize with her. But allow
202


me here to offer a remark, which in these few
days you have frequently suggested to me. I
observe with admiration the correct, keen,
penetrating glance with which you judge of
poetry, especially dramatic poetry: the deepest
abysses of invention are not hidden from you,
the finest touches of representation cannot
escape you. Without ever having viewed the
objects in nature, you recognize the truth of
their images: there seems, as it were, a pre-
sentiment of all the universe to lie in you,
which by the harmonious touch of poetry is
awakened and unfolded. For, in truth, con-
tinued she, from without, you receive not
much: I have scarcely seen a person that so
little knew, so totally misknew the people he
lived with, as you do. Allow me to say it:
in hearing you expound the mysteries of
Shakspeare, one would think you had just
descended from a synod of the gods, and had
listened there while they were taking counsel
how to form men; in seeing you transact with
your fellows, I could imagine you to be the
first large-born child of the Creation, standing
agape, and gazing with strange wonderment
and edifying good-nature, at lions and apes
and sheep and elephants, and true-heartedly
addressing them as your equals, simply be-
cause they were there, and in motion like
yourself.
The feeling of my ignorance in this re-
spect, said Wilhelm, often gives me pain;
and I should thank you, worthy friend, if you
would help me to get a little better insight
into life. From youth I have been accus-
tomed to diredt the eyes of my spirit inwards
rather than outwards; and hence it is very
natural that to a certain* extent I should be
acquainted with man, while of men 1 have
not the smallest knowledge.
In truth, said Aurelia, I at first sus-
pected that, in giving such accounts of the
people whom you sent to my brother, you
meant to make sport of us; when I com-
pared your letters with the merits of these
persons, it seemed very strange.
Aurelias remarks, well-founded as they
might be, and willing as our friend was to
confess himself deficient in this matter,
carried with them something painful, nay,
offensive to him; so that he grew silent,
and retired within himself, partly to avoid
showing any irritated feeling, partly to search
his mind for the truth or error of the charge.
Let not this alarm you, said Aurelia:
the light of the understanding it is always
in our power to reach; but this fulness of
the heart no one can give us. If you are
destined for an artist, you cannot long enough
retain the dim-sightedness and innocence of
which I speak ; it is the beautiful hull upon
the young bud; woe to us if we are forced too
soon to burst it! Surely it were well, if we
never knew what the people are, for whom we
work and study.
Oh I too was in that happy case, when I
first betrod the stage, with the loftiest opinion
of myself and of my nation. What a people,
in my fancy, were the Germans; what a people
might they yet become! I addressed this
people ; raised above them by a little joinery,
separated from them by a row of lamps, whose
glancing and vapor threw an indistinctness
over everything before me. How welcome
was the tumult of applause which sounded to
me from the crowd ; how gratefully did I ac-
cept the present, offered me unanimously by
so many hands For a time I rocked myself
in these ideas; I affected the multitude, and
was again affected by them. With my public
I was on the fairest footing; I imagined that
I felt a perfect harmony between us, and that
on each occasion I beheld before me the best
and noblest of the land.
Unhappily it was not the a<5tress alone
that inspired these friends of the stage with
interest; they likewise made pretensions to
the young and lively girl. They gave me to
understand, in terms distin<51 enough, that my
duty was not only to excite emotion in them,
but to share it with them personally. This
unluckily was not my business: I wished to
elevate their minds; but to what they called
their hearts I had not the slightest claim. Yet
now men of all ranks, ages and characters, by
turns afflicted me with their addresses; and it
did seem hard that I could not, like an honest
young woman, shut my door, and spare myself
such a quantity of labor.
The men appeared, for most part, much
the same as I had been accustomed to about
my aunt; and here again I should have felt
disgusted with them, had not their peculiarities
and insipidities amused me. As I was com-
pelled to see them, in the theatre, in open
places, in my house, I formed the projedl of
spying out their follies, and my brother helped
me with alacrity to execute it. And if you
refledl that, up from the whisking shopman
and the conceited merchants son, to the
polished calculating man of the world, the
bold soldier and the impetuous prince, all in
203


succession passed in review before me, each
in his way endeavoring to found his small ro-
mance, you will pardon me if I conceived
that I had gained some acquaintance with my
nation.
The fantastically-dizened student; the
awkward, humbly-proud man of letters; the
sleek-fed, gouty canon ; the solemn, heedful
man of office; the heavy country-baron; the
smirking, vapid courtier; the young erring
parson ; the cool, as well as the quick and
sharply-speculating merchant: all these I have
seen in motion; and I swear to you that there
were few among them fitted to inspire me even
with a sentiment of toleration: on the con-
trary, I felt it altogether irksome to colledl,
with tedium and annoyance, the suffrages of
fools; to pocket those applauses in detail,
which in their accumulated state had so de-
lighted me, which in the gross I had appro-
priated with such pleasure.
If I expedled a rational compliment upon
my adling; if I hoped that they would praise
an author whom I valued, they were sure to
make one empty observation on the back of
another, and to name some tasteless piece in
which they wished to see me play. If I lis-
tened in their company to hear if some noble,
brilliant, witty thought had met with a re-
sponse among them, and would reappear from
some of them in proper season, it was rare
that I could catch an echo of it. An error
that had happened, a mispronunciation, a
provincialism of some a<5tor; such were the
weighty points by which they held fast, be-
yond which they could not pass. I knew not,
in the end, to what hand I should turn : them-
selves they thought too clever to be enter-
tained; and me they imagined they were well
entertaining, if they romped and made noise
enough about me. I began very cordially to
despise them all; I felt as if the whole nation
had, on purpose, deputed these people to de-
base it in my eyes. They appeared to me so
clownish, so ill-bred, so wretchedly instrudded,
so void of pleasing qualities, so tasteless; I
frequently exclaimed: No German can buckle
his shoes till he has learned to do it of some
foreign nation !
You perceive how blind, how unjust and
splenetic I was; and the longer it lasted, my
spleen increased. I might have killed myself
with these things: but I fell into the contrary-
extreme ; I married, or rather let myself be
married. My brother, who had undertaken
to condudl the theatre, wished much to have a
helper. His choice lighted on a young man,
who was not offensive to me; who wanted all
that my brother had, genius, vivacity, spirit
and impetuosity of mind; but who also in
return had all that my brother wanted, love
of order, diligence, and precious gifts in
housekeeping and the management of money.
He became my husband, I know not how;
we lived together, I do not well know why.
Enough, our affairs went prosperously forward.
We drew a large income; of this my brothers
activity was the cause. We lived with a mod-
erate expenditure; and that was the merit of
my husband. I thought no more about world
or nation. With the world I had nothing to
participate: my idea of the nation had faded
away. When I entered on the scene, I did so
that I might subsist; I opened my lips because
I durst not continue silent, because I had come
out to speak.
Yet let me do the matter justice. I had
altogether given myself up to the disposal of
my brother. His objedls were applause and
money; for, between ourselves, he has no dis-
like to hear his own praises, and his outlay is
always great. I no longer played according
to my own feeling, to my own convidlion ;
but as he directed me: and if I did it to his
satisfaction, I was content. He steered en-
tirely by the caprices of the public. Money-
flowed upon us; he could live according to his
humor, and so we had good times with him.
Thus had I fallen into a dull, handicraft
routine. I spun out my days without joy or
sympathy. My marriage was childless, and
not of long continuance. My husband grew
sick ; his strength was visibly decaying ; anxi-
ety for him interrupted my general indifference.
It was at this time that I formed an acquaint-
ance, which opened a new life for me ; a new
and quicker one, for it will soon be done.
She kept silence for a moment, and then
continued : All at once my prattling humor
falters; I have not the courage to go on. Let
me rest a little. You shall not go till you have
learned the whole extent of my misfortune.
Meanwhile, call in Mignon, and ask her what
she wants.
The child had more than once been in the
room, while Aurelia and our friend were talk-
ing. As they spoke lower on her entrance,
she had glided out again, and was now sitting
quietly in the hall, and waiting. Being bid
return, she brought a book with her, which its
form and binding showed to be a small geog-
raphical atlas. She had seen some maps, for
204


the first time at the parsons house, with great
astonishment; had asked him many questions,
and informed herself so far as possible about
them. Her desire to learn seemed much ex-
cited by this new branch of knowledge. She
now earnestly requested Wilhelm to purchase
her the book_^ saying she had pawned her
large silver buckle with the printseller for it,
and wished to have back the pledge to-morrow
morning, as this evening it was late. Her
request was granted; and she then began re-
peating several things she had already learned;
at the same time, in her own way, making ;
many very strange inquiries. Here again one
might observe, that, with a mighty effort, she
could comprehend but little and laboriously.
So likewise was it with her writing, at which
she still kept busied. She yet spoke very-
broken German: it was only when she opened
her mouth to sing, when she touched her
cithern, that she seemed to be employing an
organ, by which, in some degree, the work-
ings of her mind could be disclosed and com-
municated.
Since we are at present on the subject, we
may also mention the perplexity which Wil-
helm had of late experienced from certain
parts of her procedure. When she came or
went, wished him good-morning or good-
night, she clasped him so firmly in her arms,
and kissed him with such ardor, that often the
violence of this expanding nature gave him
serious fears. The spasmodic vivacity of her
demeanor seemed daily to increase; her whole
being moved in a restless stillness. She would
never be without some piece of packthread to
twist in her hands; some napkin to tie in
knots; some paper or wood to chew. All
her sports seemed but the channels which
drained off some inward violent emotion.
The only thing that seemed to cause her any
cheerfulness was being near the boy Felix,
with whom she could go on in a very dainty-
manner.
Aurelia, after a little rest, being now ready
to explain to her friend a matter which lay very
near her heart, grew impatient at the little girls
delay, and signified that she must go; a hint,
however, which the latter did not take; and
at last, when nothing else would do, they sent
; her off expressly- and against her will.
Now or never, said Aurelia, must I tell
you the remainder of my story. Were my
tenderly-beloved and unjust friend but a few
miles distant, I would say to you: Mount
on horseback, seek by some means to get ac-
quainted with him; on returning you will cer-
tainly forgive me, and pity me with all your
heart. As it is, I can only tell you with
words how amiable he was, and how much I
loved him.
It was at the critical season, when care
for the illness of my husband had depressed
my spirits, that I first became acquainted
with this stranger. He had just returned
from America, where, in company with some
Frenchmen, he had served with much distinc-
tion under the colors of the United States.
He addressed me with an easy dignity, a
frank kindliness; he spoke about myself, my
state, my acting, like an old acquaintance, so
affectionately and distinctly, that now for the
first time I enjoyed the pleasure of perceiving
my existence reflected in the being of another.
His judgments were just, though not severe;
penetrating, yet not void of love. He showed
452
205


no harshness; his pleasantry was courteous,
with all his humor. He seemed accustomed
to success with women; this excited my atten-
tion : he was never in the least importunate or
flattering; this put me off my guard.
In the town he had intercourse with few;
he was often on horseback, visiting his many
friends in the neighborhood, and managing
the business of his house. On returning, he
would frequently alight at my apartments ; he
treated my ever-ailing husband with warm at-
tention; he procured him mitigation of his
sickness by a good physician. And taking
part in all that interested me he allowed me
to take part in all that interested him. He
told me the history of his campaigns; he
spoke of his invincible attachment to military
life, of his family relations, of his present
business. He kept no secret from me; he
displayed to me his inmost thoughts, allowed
me to behold the most secret corners of his
soul: I became acquainted with his passions
and his capabilities. It was the first time in
my life that I enjoyed a cordial, intellectual
intercourse with any living creature. I was
attracted by him, borne along by him, before I
thought about inquiring how it stood with me.
Meanwhile I lost my husband, nearly just
as I had taken him. The burden of theatrical
affairs now fell entirely on me. My brother,
not to be surpassed upon the stage, was never
good for anything in economical concerns: I
took the charge of all; at the same time, study-
ing my parts with greater diligence than ever.
I again played as of old; nay, with new life,
with quite another force. It was by reason
of my friend, it was on his account that I
did so ; yet my success was not always best
when I knew him to be present. Once or
twice he listened to me unobserved ; and how
pleasantly his unexpected applauses surprised
me you may conceive.
Certainly I am a strange creature. In
every part I played, it seemed as if I had
been speaking it in praise of him ; for that
was the temper of my heart: the words might
be anything they pleased. Did I understand
him to be present in the audience, I durst not
venture to speak out with all my force; just
as I would not press my love or praise on him
to his face: was he absent, I had then free
scope; I did my best, with a certain peaceful-
ness, with a contentment not to be described.
Applause once more delighted me ; and when
I charmed the people I longed to call down
among them : This you owe to him !
| Yes, my relation to the public, to the na-
tion, had been altered by a wonder. On a
sudden they again appeared to me in the most
favorable light; I felt astonished at my former
blindness.
How foolish, said I often to myself, was
it to revile a nation ; foolish, simply since it
was a nation. Is it necessary, is it possible,
that individual men should generally interest
us much ? Not at all! The only question is,
whether in the great mass there exists a suf-
ficient quantity of talent, force and capability,
which lucky circumstances may develop, which
men of lofty minds may direCt upon a common
objeCt. I now rejoiced in discovering so little
prominent originality among my countrymen;
I rejoiced that they disdained not to accept of
guidance from without; I rejoiced that they
had found a leader.
Lotharioallow me to designate my friend
by this his first name which I lovedLothario
had always presented the Germans to my mind
on the side of valor; and shown me, that when
well commanded, there was no braver nation
on the face of the earth; and I felt ashamed
that I had never thought of this, the first
quality of a people. History was known to
him; he was in connection and correspond-
ence with the most distinguished persons of
the age. Young as he was, his eye was open
to the budding youthhood of his native coun-
try ; to the silent labors of active and busy
men in so many provinces of art. He af-
forded me a glimpse of Germany; what it
was, and what it might be; and I blushed at
having formed my judgment of a nation from
the motley crowd that press themselves into
the wardrobe of a theatre. He made me look
upon it as a duty that I too, in my own de-
partment, should be true, spirited, enlivening.
I now felt as if inspired every time I stepped
upon the boards. Mediocre passages grew
golden in my mouth; had any poet been at
hand to support me adequately, I might have
produced the most astonishing effeCts.
So lived the young widow for a series of
months. He could not want me; and I felt
exceedingly unhappy when he stayed away.
He showed me the letters he received from his
relations, from his amiable sister. He took an
interest in the smallest circumstance that con-
cerned me; more complete, more intimate no
union ever was than ours. The name of love
was not mentioned. He went and came, came
and wentand now, my friend, it is high time
that you too should go.
206


CHAPTER XVII.
Wilhelm could put off no longer the visit-
ing of his commercial friends. He proceeded
to their place with some anxiety ; knowing he
should there find
letters from his
people; he dreaded
the reproofs which
these would of
course contain: it
seemed likely also
that notice had
been given to his
trading correspond-
ents concerning the
perplexities and
fears which his late
silence had occa-
sioned. After such
a series of knightly
adventures, he re-
coiled from the
school-boy aspe6l
in which he must
appear: he pro-
posed within his
mind to acl with
an air of sternness
and defiance, and
thus hide his em-
barrassment.
To his great
wonder and con-
tentment, however,
all went off very
easily and well. In
the vast, stirring,
busy counting-
room, the men had
scarcely time to
seek him out his
packet; his delay
was but alluded to
in passing. And
on opening the let-
ters of his father
and his friend Wer-
ner, he found them all of very innocent con-
tents. His father, in hopes of an extensive
journal, the keeping of which he had strongly
recommended to his son at parting, giving
him also a tabulary scheme for that purpose,
seemed pretty well pacified about the silence
of the first period; complaining only of a
certain enigmatical obscurity in the last and
only letter, despatched, as we have seen, from
the castle of the count. Werner joked in his
way; told merry anecdotes, facetious burgh
news; and requested intelligence of friends
and acquaintances, whom Wilhelm in the
large trading city would now meet with in
great numbers. Our friend, extremely pleased
at getting off so well, answered without loss
of a moment, in some very cheerful letters:
promising his father a copious journal of his
travels, with all the required geographical,
statistical and mercantile remarks. He had
seen much on his journey, he said; and hoped
207


to make a tolerably large manuscript out of
these materials. He did not observe, that he
was almost in the same case as he had once
experienced before, when he assembled an
audience and lit his lamps to represent a play,
which was not written, still less got by heart.
Accordingly, so soon as he commenced the
a<5lual work of composition, he became aware
that he had much to say about emotions and
thoughts, and many experiences of the heart
and spirit; but not a word concerning out-
ward objects, on which, as he now discovered,
he had not bestowed the least attention.
In this embarrassment, the acquisitions of
his friend Laertes came very seasonably to his
aid. Custom had united these young people,
unlike one another as they were; and Laertes,
with all his failings and singularities, was actu-
ally an interesting man. Endowed with warm
and pleasurable senses, he might have reached
old age without reflecting for a moment on his
situation. But his ill fortune and his sickness
had robbed him of the pure feelingsof youth;
and opened for him instead of it a view into
the transitoriness, the discontinuity of mans
existence. Hence had arisen a humorous,
flighty, rhapsodical way of thinking about all
things, or rather of uttering the immediate
impressions they produced on him. He did
not like to be alone; he strolled about all the
coffee-houses and tablcs-d'hole; and when he
did stay at home, books of travel were his
favorite, nay, his only kind of reading. Having
lately found a large circulating library, he had
been enabled to content his taste in this re-
specfl to the full; and ere long half the world
was figuring in his faithful memory.
It was easy for him, therefore, to speak com- !
fort to his friend, when the latter had disclosed
his utter lack of matter for the narrative so '
solemnly promised by him. Now is the i
time for a stroke of art, said Laertes, that
shall have no fellow !
Has not Germany been travelled over,
cruised over, walked, crept and flown over,
repeatedly from end to end? And has not j
every German traveller the royal privilege of i
drawing from the public a repayment of the
great or small expenses he may have incurred
while travelling? Give me your route pre- .
vious to our meeting; the rest I know already, j
I will find you helps and sources of informa- I
tion : of miles that were never measured, ;
populations that were never counted, we shall |
give them plenty. The revenues of provinces
we will take from almanacs and tables, which, j
208
! as all men know, are the most authentic docu-
ments. On these we will ground our political
j discussions; we shall not fail in side-glances
! at the ruling powers. One or two princes we
will paint as true fathers of their country, that
! we may gain more ready credence in our alle-
gations against others. If we do not travel
through the residence of any noted man, we
j shall take care to meet such persons at the inn,
and make them utter the most foolish stuff to
us. Particularly, let us not forget to insert,
| with all its graces and sentiments, some love-
; story with a pastoral bar-maid. I tell you it
: shall be a composition, which will not only
fill father and mother with delight, but which
booksellers themselves shall gladly pay you
current money for.
They went accordingly to work; and both
of them found pleasure in their labor. Wil-
helm, in the meantime, frequenting the play at
night, and conversing with Serlo and Aurelia
by day, experienced the greatest satisfaction ;
and was daily more and more expanding his
ideas, which had been too long revolving in
the same narrow circle.
CHAPTER XVIII.
It was not without deep interest that he be-
came acquainted with the history of Serlos
career. Piecemeal he learned it; for it was
not the fashion of that extraordinary man to
be confidential, or to speak of anything con-
nedively. He had been, one may say, born
and suckled in the theatre. While yet literally
an infant, he had been produced upon the
stage to move spectators merely by his pres-
ence ; for authors even then were acquainted
with this natural and very guiltless mode
of doing so. Thus his first Father! or
Mother! in favorite pieces, procured him
approbation, before he understood what was
meant by that clapping of the hands. In the
charafler of Cupid he more than once de-
scended, with terror, in his flying-gear; as
harlequin he used to issue from the egg; and
as a little chimney-sweep to play the sharpest
tricks.
Unhappily, the plaudits of these glancing
nights were too bitterly repaid by sufferings
in the intervening seasons. His father was
persuaded that the minds of children could
be kept awake and steadfast by no other means
than blows; hence, in the studying of any


part, he used to thrash him at stated periods;
not because the boy was awkward, but that he
might become more certainly and constantly
expert. It was thus that in former times,
while putting down a landmark, people were
accustomed to bestow a hearty drubbing on
the children who had followed them; and
these, it was supposed, would recoiled! the
place exadtly to the latest day of their lives.
Serlo waxed in stature, and showed the finest
capabilities of spirit and of body; in par-
ticular an admirable pliancy at once in his
thoughts, looks, movements and gestures. His
gift of imitation was beyond belief. When
still a boy he could mimic persons, so that
you would think you saw them; though in
form, age and disposition, they might be en-
tirely unlike him, and unlike each other.
Nor, with all this, did he want the knack of
suiting himself to his circumstances, and pick-
ing out his way in life. Accordingly, so soon
as he had grown in some degree acquainted
with his strength, he very naturally eloped
from his father; who, as the boys under-
standing and dexterity increased, still thought
it needful to forward their perfe6tion by the
harshest treatment.
Happy was the wild boy, now roaming free
about the world, where his feats of waggery
never failed to secure him a good reception.
His lucky star first led him in the Christmas
season to a cloister, where the friar, whose
business it had been to arrange processions,
and to entertain the Christian community by
spiritual masquerades, having just died, Serlo
was welcomed as a helping angel. On the
instant he took up the part of Gabriel in the
Annunciation; and did not by any means dis-
please the pretty girl, who, adting the Virgin,
very gracefully received his most obliging kiss,
with external humility and inward pride. In
their Mysteries he continued to perform the
most important parts; and thought himself no
slender personage, when at last, in the charac-
ter of Martyr, he was mocked of the world,
and beaten, and fixed upon the cross.
Some Pagan soldiers had, on this occasion,
played their parts a little too naturally. To
be avenged on these heathen in the proper
style, he took care at the Day of Judgment to
have them decked out in gaudy clothes as em-
perors and kings; and at the moment when
they, exceedingly contented with their situa-
tion, were about to take precedence of the rest
in heaven as they had done on earth, he on a
sudden rushed upon them in the shape of the
Devil; and, to the cordial edification of all
the beggars and spectators, having thoroughly
curried them with his oven-fork, he pushed
them without mercy back into the Chasm,
where, in the midst of waving flame, they met
with the sorriest welcome.
He was acute enough, however, to perceive
that these crowned heads might feel offended
at such bold procedure; and perhaps forget
.the reverence due to his privileged office of
Accuser and Turnkey. So, in all silence, be-
fore the Millennium commenced, he withdrew,
and betook him to a neighboring town. Here
a society of persons, denominated Children
of Joy, received him with open arms. They
were a set of clever, strong-headed, lively
geniuses, who saw well enough that the sum
of our existence, divided by reason, never
gives an integer number, but that a surprising
fraction is always left behind. At stated times,
to get rid of this fraction, which impedes, and
if it is diffused over all the mass of our conduCt,
endangers us, was the objeCt of the Children
of Joy. For one day a week each of them in
succession was a fool on purpose; and during
this, he in his turn exhibited to ridicule, in
allegorical representations, whatever folly he
had noticed in himself or the rest, throughout
the other six. This practice might be some-
what ruder than that constant training, in the
course of which a man of ordinary morals is
accustomed to observe, to warn, to punish
himself daily; but it was also merrier and
surer. For as no Child of Joy concealed his
bosom-folly, so he and those about him held
it for simply what it was: whereas, on the
other plan, by the help of self-deception, this
same bosom-folly often gains the head authority
within, and binds down reason to a secret ser-
vitude, at the very time when reason fondly
hopes that she has long since chased it out of
doors. The mask of folly circulated round in
this society; and each member was allowed,
in his particular day, to decorate and charac-
terize it with his own attributes or those of
others. At the time of Carnival they assumed
the greatest freedom, vying with the clergy in
attempts to instruct and entertain the multi-
tude. Their solemn figurative processions
of Virtues and Vices, Arts and Sciences,
Quarters of the World, and Seasons of the
Year, bodied forth a number of concep-
tions, and gave images of many distant ob-
je<5ts to the people, and hence were not with-
I out their use; while, on the other hand, the
mummeries of the priesthood tended but to
453
209


Wilhelm Mels ter's Apprenticeship.
strengthen a tasteless superstition, already
strong enough.
Here again young Serlo was altogether in
his element. Invention in its stridlest sense,
it is true, he had not; but, on the other hand,
he had the most consummate skill in employ-
ing what he found before him; in ordering
it; and shadowing it forth. His roguish
turns; his gift of mimicry; his biting wit,
which at least one day weekly he might use
with entire freedom, even against his benefac-
tors, made him precious, or rather indispen-
sable, to the whole society.
Yet his restless mind soon drove him from
this favorable scene to other quarters of his
country, where other means of instruction
awaited him. He came into the polished but
also barren part of Germany, where, in wor-
shipping the good and the beautiful, there is
indeed no want of truth, but frequently a
grievous want of spirit. His masks would
here do nothing for him: he had now to aim
at working on the heart and mind. For short
periods he attached himself to small or to ex-
tensive companies of aclors; and marked, on
these occasions, what were the distinctive
properties both of the pieces and the players.
The monotony which then reigned on the
German theatre, the mawkish sound and
cadence of their Alexandrines, the flat and
yet distorted dialogue, the shallowness and
commonness of these undisguised preachers
of morality, he was not long in comprehend-
ing ; or in seizing, at the same time, what
little there was that moved and pleased.
Not only single parts in the current pieces,
but the pieces themselves remained easily and
wholly in his memory; and along with them
the special tone of any player who had repre-
sented them with approbation. At length, in
the course of his rambles, his money being al-
together done, the projedt struck him of adting
entire pieces by himself, especially in villages
and noblemens houses; and thus in all places
making sure at least of entertainment and
lodging. In any tavern, any room, or any
garden, he would accordingly at once set up
his theatre: with a roguish seriousness and a
show of enthusiasm, he would contrive to gain
the imaginations of his audience; to deceive
their senses, and before their eyes to make an
old press into a tower, or a fan into a dagger.
His youthful warmth supplied the place of
deep feeling; his vehemence seemed strength,
and his flattery tenderness. Such of the spec-
tators as already knew a theatre, he put in
mind of all that they had seen and heard;
in the rest he awakened a presentiment of
i something wonderful, and a wish to be more
1 acquainted with it. What produced an efifedt
in one place he did not fail to repeat in others;
and his mind overflowed with a wicked pleasure
when, by the same means, on the spur of the
moment, he could make gulls of all the world.
His spirit was lively, brisk and unimpeded :
by frequently repeating parts and pieces, he
improved very fast. Ere long he could recite
and play with more conformity to the sense
than the models whom he had at first imitated.
Proceeding thus, he arrived by degrees at play-
ing naturally, though he did not cease to feign.
He seemed transported, yet he lay in wait for
the efifedt; and his greatest pride was in mov-
ing, by successive touches, the passions of
men. The mad trade he drove did itself
soon force him to proceed with a certain
moderation; and thus, partly by constraint,
partly by instindl, he learned the art of which
so few players seem to have a notion, the art of
being frugal in the use of voice and gestures.
Thus did he contrive to tame, and to in-
spire with interest for him, even rude and un-
friendly men. Being always contented with
food and shelter; thankfully accepting presents
of any kind as readily as money; which latter,
when he reckoned that he had enough of it,
he frequently declined,he became a general
favorite; was sent about from one to another
with recommendatory letters; and thus he
wandered many a day from castle to castle,
exciting much festivity, enjoying much, and
meeting in his travels with the most agreeable
and curious adventures.
With such inward coldness of temper, he
could not properly be said to love any one;
with such clearness of vision, he could respedt
no one. In fadt, he never looked beyond the
external peculiarities of men; and he merely
carried their charadters in his mimical collec-
tion. Yet, withal, his selfishness was keenly
wounded, if he did not please every one, and
call forth universal applause. How this might
be attained, he had studied in the course of
time so accurately, and so sharpened his sense
of the matter, that not only on the stage, but
also in common life, he no longer could do
otherwise than flatter and deceive. And thus
did his disposition, his talent and his way of
life work reciprocally on each other, till by
this means he had imperceptibly been formed
into a perfedt adtor. Nay, by a mode of adtion
and readtion, which is quite natural, though it
210


seems paradoxical, his recitation, declamation
and gesture improved, by critical discernment
and practice, to a high degree of truth, ease
and frankness; while, in his life and inter-
course with men, he seemed to grow continu-
ally more secret, artful, or even hypocritical
and constrained.
Of his fortunes and adventures we perhaps
shall speak in another place: it is enough to
remark at present, that in later times, when
he had become a man of circumstance, in pos-
session of a distindt reputation, and of a very
good though not entirely secure employment
and rank, he was wont, in conversation, partly
in the way of irony, partly of mockery, in a
delicate style, to adt the sophist, and thus to
destroy almost all serious discus-
sion. This kind of speech he
seemed peculiarly fond of using
towards Wilhelm; particularly
when the latter took a fancy, as
often happened, for introducing
any of his general and theoretical
disquisitions. Yet still they liked
well to be together; with such
different modes of thinking the
conversation could not fail to be
lively. Wilhelm always wished
to deduce everything from ab-
stract ideas which he had arrived
at; he wanted to have art viewed
in all its connections as a whole.
He wanted to promulgate and fix
down universal laws; to settle
what was right, beautiful and
good: in short, he treated all
things in a serious manner.
Serlo, on the other hand, took
up the matter very lightly ; never
answering directly to any ques-
tion, he would contrive by some
anecdote or laughable turn to
give the finest and most satisfac-
tory illustrations; and thus to in-
struct his audience while he made
them merry.
CHAPTER XIX.
While our friend was in this
way living very happily, Melina
and the rest were in quite a dif-
ferent case. Wilhelm they haunted
like evil spirits; and not only by
their presence, but frequently by
rueful faces and bitter words, they caused him
many a sorry moment. Serlo had not ad-
mitted them to the most trifling part, far less
held out to them any hope of a permanent
engagement; and yet he had contrived, by
degrees, to get acquainted with the capabilities
of every one of them. Whenever any adtors
were assembled in leisure hours about him, he
was wont to make them read, and frequently
to read along with them. On such occasions
he took plays which were by-and-by to be
adted, which for a long time had remained
unadted ; and generally by portions. In like
manner, after any first representation, he caused
such passages to be repeated as he had anything
to say upon ; by which means he sharpened the
21 i


discernment of his actors, and strengthened
their certainty of hitting the proper point.
And as a person of slender but correct under-
standing may produce more agreeable effeCt
on others than a perplexed and unpurified
genius, he would frequently exalt men of
mediocre talents, by the clear views which he
imperceptibly afforded them, to a wonderful
extent of power. Nor was it an unimportant
item in his scheme that he likewise had poems
read before him in their meetings; for by
these he nourished in his people the feeling of
that charm which a well-pronounced rhythm
is calculated to awaken in the soul; whereas
in other companies, those prose compositions
were already getting introduced, for which
any tyro was adequate.
On occasions such as these he had con-
trived to make himself acquainted with the
new-come players: he had decided what they
were, and what they might be; and silently
made up his mind to take advantage of their
talents, in a revolution which was now threat-
ening his own company. For a while he let
the matter rest; declined every one of Wil-
helms intercessions for his comrades with a
shrug of the shoulders; till at last he saw his
time, and altogether unexpectedly made the
proposal to our friend, that he himself should
come upon the stage; that on this condition
the others too might be admitted.
These people must not be so useless as
you formerly described them, answered Wil-
helm, if they can now be all received at
once; and I suppose their talents would re-
main the same without me as with me.
Under seal of secrecy Serlo hereupon ex-
plained his situation : how his first aCtor was
giving hints about a rise of salary at the re-
newal of their contract; how he himself did
not incline conceding this, the rather as the
individual in question was no longer in such
favor with the public; how, if he dismissed
him, a whole train would follow; whereby, it
was true, his company would lose some good,
but likewise some indifferent aCtors. He then
showed Wilhelm what he hoped to gain in
him, in Laertes, Old Boisterous, and even
Frau Melina. Nay, he promised to procure
for the silly Pedant himself, in the charaCter
of Jew, minister, but chiefly of villain, a de-
cided approbation.
Wilhelm faltered; the proposal agitated
him; he knew not what to say. That he
might say something, he rejoined with a
deep-drawn breath : You speak very gra-
ciously about the good you find and hope to
find in us: but how is it with our weak points,
which certainly have not escaped your pene-
tration ?
These, said Serlo, by diligence, prac-
tice and reflection, we shall soon make strong
points. Though you are yet but freshmen
and bunglers, there is not one among you
that does not warrant expectation more or
less: for, so far as I can judge, no stick,
properly so called, is to be met with in the
company ; and your stick is the only person
that can never be improved, never bent or
guided, whether it be self-conceit, stupidity or
hypochondria that renders him unpliant.
The manager next stated, in a few words,
the terms he meant to offer; requested Wil-
helm to determine soon, and left him in no
small perplexity.
In the marvellous composition of those
travels, which he had at first engaged with
as it were in jest, and was now carrying on in
conjunction with Laertes, his mind had by
degrees grown more attentive to the circum-
stances and the every-day life of the aCtual
world than it was wont. He now first under-
stood the objeCt of his father in so earnestly
recommending him to keep a journal. He
now, for the first time, felt how pleasant and
how useful it might be to become participator
in so many trades and requisitions, and to
take a hand in diffusing activity and life into
the deepest nooks of the mountains and forests
of Europe. The busy trading town in which
he was; the unrest of Laertes, who dragged
him about to examine everything, afforded
him the most impressive image of a mighty
centre, from which everything was flowing
out, to which everything was coming back;
and it was the first time that his spirit, in
contemplating this species of aClivity^, had
really felt delight. At such a juncture Serlos
offer had been made him; had again awak-
ened his desires, his tendencies, his faith in a
natural talent, and again brought into mind
his solemn obligation to his helpless comrades.
Here standest thou once more, said he
within himself, at the Parting of the Ways,
between the two women who appeared before
thee in thy youth. The one no longer looks
so pitiful as then; nor does the other look so
glorious. To obey the one, or to obey the
other, thou art not without a kind of inward
calling; outward reasons are on both sides
strong enough ; and to decide appears to thee
impossible. Thou wishest some preponderancy
212


from without would fix thy choice: and yet,
if thou consider well, it is external circum-
stances only that inspire thee with a wish to
trade, to gather, to possess; whilst it is thy
inmost want that has created, that has nour-
ished the desire still further to unfold and
perfect what endowments soever for the beau-
tiful and good, be they mental or bodily,
may lie within thee. And ought I not to
honor Fate, which without furtherance of
mine has led me hither to the goal of all
my wishes? Has not all that I in old times
meditated and forecast now happened acci-
dentally, and without my co-operation? Sin-
gular enough We seem to be so intimate
with nothing as we are with our own wishes
and hopes, which have long been kept and
cherished in our hearts; yet when they meet
us, when they as it were press forward to us,
then we know them not, then we recoil from
them. All that, since the hapless night which
severed me from Mariana, I have but allowed
myself to dream, now stands before me, en-
treating my acceptance. Hither I intended to
escape by flight; hither I am softly guided:
with Serlo I meant to seek a place; he now
seeks me, and offers me conditions which, as
a beginner, I could not have looked for. Was
it then mere love to Mariana that bound me
to the stage ? Or love to art that bound me
to her? Was that prospect, that outlet, which
the theatre presented me, nothing but the pro-
je£t of a restless, disorderly and disobedient
boy, wishing to lead a life which the customs
of the civic world would not admit of? Or,
was all this different, worthier, purer ? If so,
what moved thee to alter the persuasions of
that period? Hast thou not hitherto, even
without knowing it, pursued thy plan? Is
not the concluding step still further to be
justified, now that no side-purposes combine
with it; now that in making it thou mayest
fulfil a solemn promise, and nobly free thyself
from a heavy debt?
All that could afife<5t his heart and his imagi-
nation was now moving and conflicting in the
liveliest strife within him. The thought that
he might retain Mignon, that he should not
need to put away the harper, was not an in-
considerable item in the balance; which, how-
ever, had not ceased to waver to the one and
to the other side, when he went, as he was
wont, to see his friend Aurelia.
CHAPTER XX.
She was lying on the sofa; she seemed
quiet. Do you think you will be fit to act
to-morrow? he inquired. O yes! cried
she with vivacity, you know there is nothing
to prevent me. It I but knew a way, con-
tinued she, to rid myself of those applauses!
The people mean it well, but they will kill me.
Last night, I thought my very heart would
break! Once, when I used to please myself, I
could endure this gladly: when I had studied
long, and well prepared myself, it gave me
joy to hear the sound, 'It has succeeded!
pealing back to me from every corner. But
now I speak not what 1 like, nor as I like; I
am swept along, I get confused, I scarce know
what I do; and the impression I make is far
deeper. The applause grows louder, and
I think: Did you but know what charms
you! These dark, vague, vehement tones
of passion move you, force you to admire ;
and you feel not that they are the cries of
agony, wrung from the miserable being whom
you praise.
I learned my part this morning; just now
I have been repeating it and trying it. I am
tired, broken down; and to-morrow I must
do the same. To-morrow evening is the play.
Thus do I drag myself to and fro: it is weari-
some to rise, it is wearisome to go to bed.
All moves within me in an everlasting circle.
Then come their dreary consolations, and pre-
sent themselves before me; and I cast them
out, and execrate them. I will not surrender,
not surrender to necessity: why should that
be necessary which crushes me to the dust?
Might it not be otherwise? I am paying the
penalty of being born a German ; it is the
nature of the Germans that they bear heavily
on everything, that everything bears heavily
on them.
Oh, my friend! cried Wilhelm, could
you cease to whet the dagger wherewith you
are ever wounding me! Does nothing then
remain for you? Are your youth, your form,
your health, your talents nothing? Having
lost one blessing, without blame of yours,
must you throw all the others after it ? Is that
also necessary?
She was silent for a few moments, and then
burst forth: I know well it is a waste of
time, nothing but a waste of time, this love!
What might not, should not, I have done!
And now it is all vanished into air. I am a
poor, wretched, lovelorn creature; lovelorn,
454
213


that is all! Oh, have compassion on me: j
God knows I am poor and wretched ! j
She sank in thought; then, after a brief !
pause, she exclaimed with violence: You
are accustomed to have all things fly into
your arms. No, you cannot feel; no man
is qualified to feel the worth of a woman that
can reverence herself. By all the holy angels,
by all the images of blessedness, which a pure
and kindly heart creates, there is not anything
more heavenly than the soul of a woman giving
herself to the man she loves!
We are cold, proud, high, clear-sighted,
wise, while we deserve the name of women ;
and all these qualities we lay down at your feet
the instant that we love, that we hope to excite
a return of love. Oh, how have I cast away
my whole existence wittingly and willingly !
But now will I despair, purposely despair.
There is no drop of blood within me but
shall suffer, no fibre that I will not punish.
Smile, I pray you; laugh at this theatrical dis-
play of passion.
Wilhelm was far enough from any tendency
to laugh. This horrible, half-natural, half-
fa<5litious condition of his friend afflicted him
but too deeply. He sympathized in the tor-
tures of that racking misery: his thoughts
were wandering in painful perplexities, his
blood was in a feverish tumult.
She had risen, and was walking up and
down the room. I see before me, she
214




Wilhelm Master's Apprenticeship.

exclaimed, all manner of reasons why I'
should not love him. I know he is not
worthy of it: I turn my mind aside, this way
and that; I seize upon whatever business I
can find. At one time I take up a par':,
though I have not to play it; at another, I
begin to practise old ones, though I know
them through and through ; I practise them
more diligently, more minutely, I toil and
toil at themmy friend, my confidant, what
a horrid task is it to tear away ones thoughts
from ones self! My reason suffers, my brain
is racked and strained ; to save myself from
madness I again admit the feeling that I love
him. Yes, I love him, I love him! cried
she, with a shower of tears; I love him, I
shall die loving him !
He took her by the hand, and entreated her
in the most earnest manner not to waste her-
self in such self-torments. Oh, it seems
hard, said he, that not only so much that
is impossible should be denied us, but so
much also that is possible. It was not your
lot to meet with a faithful heart that would
have formed your perfect happiness. It was
mine to fix the welfare.of my life upon a
hapless creature, whom by the weight of my
fidelity I drew to the bottom like a reed, per-
haps even broke in pieces !
He had told Aurelia of his intercourse with
Mariana, and could therefore now refer to it.
She looked him intently in the face, and
asked: Can you say that you never yet
betrayed a woman, that you never tried with
thoughtless gallantry, with false asseverations,
with cajoling oaths, to wheedle favor from
her ?
I can, said Wilhelm, and indeed with-
out much vanity; my life has been so simple
and sequestered, I have had but few entice-
ments to attempt such things. And what a
warning, my beautiful, my noble friend, is
this melancholy state in which I see you !
Accept of me a vow, which is suited to my
heart; which, under the emotion you have
caused me, has settled into words and shape,
and will be hallowed by the hour in which I
utter it: Each transitory inclination I will
study to withstand; and even the most earnest
I will keep within my bosom; no woman shall
receive an acknowledgment of love from my
lips, to whom I cannot consecrate my life !
She looked at him with a wild indifference ;
and drew back some steps as he offered her
his hand. Tis of no moment! cried she:
so many womens tears more or fewer; the
ocean will not swell by reason of them. And
yet, continued she, among thousands one
woman saved ; that still is something: among
thousands one honest man discovered ; this is
not to be refused. Do you know then what
you promise?
I know it, answered Wilhelm with a
smile, and holding out his hand.
I accept it then, said she, and made a
movement with her right hand, as if meaning
to take hold of his: but instantly she darted
it into her pocket, pulled out her dagger quick
as lightning, and scored with the edge and point
of it across his hand. He hastily drew it back,
but the blood was already running down.
One must mark you men rather sharply,
if one would have you take heed, cried she
with a wild mirth, which soon passed into a
quick assiduity. She took her handkerchief,
and bound his hand with it to stanch the
fast-flowing blood. Forgive a half-crazed
being, cried she, and regret not these few
drops of blood. I am appeased, I am again
myself. On my knees will I crave your
pardon : leave me the comfort of healing
you.
She ran to her drawer; brought lint, with
other apparatus; stanched the blood, and
viewed the wound attentively. It went across
the palm, close under the thumb, dividing the
life-lines, and running towards the little finger.
She bound it up in silence, with a significant,
reflective look. He asked once or twice:
Aurelia, how could you hurt your friend?
Hush ! replied she, laying her finger on
her mouth : Hush!
215


BOOK V.
CHAPTER I.
THUS Wilhelm, to his pair of former
wounds, which were yet scarcely healed,
had now got the accession of a third, which
was fresh and not a little disagreeable. Aurelia
would not suffer him to call a surgeon ; she
dressed the hand with all manner of strange
speeches, saws and ceremonies; and so placed
him in a very painful situation. Yet not he
alone, but all persons who came near her, suf-
fered by her restlessness and singularity: and
no one more than little Felix. This, stirring
child was exceedingly impatient under such
oppression, and showed himself still naughtier
the more she censured and instructed him.
He delighted in some practices which com-
monly are thought bad habits, and in which
she would not by any means indulge him. He
would drink, for example, rather from the
bottle than the glass; and his food seemed
visibly to have a better relish when eaten from
the bowl than from the plate. Such ill-breed-
ing was not overlooked: if he left the door
standing open, or slammed it to ; if when bid
to do anything he stood stock still, or ran off
violently, he was sure to have a long le&ure
inflicted on him for the fault. Yet he showed
no symptoms of improvement from this train-
ing; on the other hand, his affection for Au-
relia seemed daily to diminish; there was
nothing tender in his tone when he called her
mother; whereas he passionately clung to the
old nurse, who let him have his will in every-
thing.
But she likewise had of late become so sick
that they had at last been obliged to take her
from the house into a quiet lodging; and
Felix would have been entirely alone if Mignon
; had not, like a kindly guardian spirit, come to
| help him. The two children talked together,
and amused each other in the prettiest style.
; She taught him little songs; and he, having
i an excellent memory, frequently recited them,
I to the surprise of those about him. She at-
| tempted also to explain her maps to him.
I With these she was still very busy, though she
1 did not seem to take the fittest method. For,
in studying countries, she appeared to care
little about any other point than whether they
, were cold or warm. Of the North and South
i Poles, of the horrid ice which reigns there, and
of the increasing heat the farther one retires
from them, she could give a very clear ac-
count. When any one was travelling she
merely asked whether he was going northward
or southward; and strove to find his route in
| her little charts. Especially when Wilhelm
. spoke of travelling, she was all attention, and
| seemed vexed when anything occurred to
change the subjeCt. Though she could not be
prevailed upon to undertake a part, or even to
enter the theatre when any play was aCting,
yet she willingly and zealously committed
2x6


many odes and songs to memory; and by un-
expectedly, and as it were on the spur of the
moment, reciting some such poem, generally
of the earnest and solemn kind, she would
often cause astonishment in every one.
Serlo, accustomed to regard with favor
every trace of opening talent, encouraged her
in such performances; but what pleased him
most in Mignon was her sprightly, various and
often even mirthful singing. By means of a
similar gift the harper likewise had acquired
his favor.
Without himself possessing genius for music,
or playing on any instrument, Serlo could
rightly prize the value of the art; he failed
not, as often as he could, to enjoy this pleas-
ure, which cannot be compared with any
other. He held a concert once a week ; and
now, with Mignon, the harper and Laertes,
who was not unskilful on the violin, he had
formed a very curious domestic band.
He was wont to say, Men are so inclined
to content themselves with what is common-
est ; the spirit and the senses so easily grow
dead to the impressions of the beautiful and
perfedl, that every one. should study, by all
methods, to nourish in his mind the faculty of
feeling these things. For no man can bear to
be entirely deprived of such enjoyments: it is
only because they are not used to taste of what
is excellent, that the generality of people take
delight in silly and insipid things, provided
they be new. For this reason, he would
add, one ought every day at least to hear a
little song, read a good poem, see a fine pic-
ture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few
reasonable words. With such a turn of
thought in Serlo, which in some degree was
natural to him, the persons who frequented
his society could scarcely be in want of pleas-
ant conversation.
It was in the midst of these instructive en-
tertainments that Wilhelm one day received a
letter sealed in black. Werners hand beto-
kened mournful news; and our friend was not
a little shocked when, opening the sheet, he
found it to contain the tidings of his fathers
death, conveyed in a very few words. After
a short and sudden illness he had parted from
the world, leaving his domestic affairs in the
best possible order.
This unlooked-for intelligence struck Wil-
helm to the heart He deeply felt how care-
less and negligent we often are of friends and
relations while they inhabit with us this terres-
trial sojourn; and how we first repent of our
insensibility when the fair union, at least for
this side of time, is finally cut asunder. His
grief for the early death of this honest parent
was mitigated only by the feeling that he had
loved but little in the world, and the convic-
tion that he had enjoyed but little.
Wilhelms thoughts soon turned to his own
predicament; and he felt himself extremely
discomposed. A person can scarcely be put
into a more dangerous position, than when
external circumstances have produced some
striking change in his condition, without his
manner of feeling and of thinking having un-
dergone any preparation for it. There is then
an epoch without epoch; and the contradic-
tion which arises is the greater the less the
person feels that he is not trained for this new
manner of existence.
Wilhelm saw himself in freedom at a mo-
ment when he could not yet be at one with
himself. His thoughts were noble, his mo-
tives pure, his purposes were not to be de-
spised. All this he could with some degree
of confidence acknowledge to himself; but he
had of late been frequently enough compelled
to notice that experience was sadly wanting to
him; and hence, on the experience of others,
and on the results which they deduced from
it, he put a value far beyond its real one, and
thus led himself still deeper into error. What
he wanted he conceived he might most readily
acquire if he undertook to colledl and retain
whatever memorable thought he should meet
with in reading or in conversation. He ac-
cordingly recorded his own or other mens
opinions; nay, wrote whole dialogues, when
they chanced to interest him. But unhappily
by this means he held fast the false no less
firmly than the true; he dwelt far too long on
one idea, particularly when it was of an apho-
ristic shape ; and thus he left his natural mode
of thought and adtion, and frequently took
foreign lights for his loadstars. Aurelias bit-
terness and Laertes cold contempt for men
warped his judgment oftener than they should
have done; but no one in his present case
would have been so dangerous as Jarno, a
man whose clear intelledt could form a just
and rigorous decision about present things,
but who erred withal in enunciating these
particular decisions with a kind of universal
application; whereas, in truth, the judgments
of the understanding are properly of force but
once, and that in the stridlest cases, and be-
come inaccurate in some degree when applied
to any other.
455
217


Thus Wilhelm, striving to become consist-
ent with himself, was deviating further and
further from wholesome consistency; and this
confusion made it easier for his passions to
employ their whole artillery against him, and
thus still further to perplex his views of duty.
Serlo did not fail to take advantage of the
late tidings; and in truth he daily had more
reason to be anxious about some fresh arrange-
ment of his people. Either he must soon
renew his old contrails, a measure he was not
specially fond of, for several of his adlors, who
reckoned themselves indispensable, were grow-
ing more and more arrogant, or else he must
entirely new-model and reform his company;
which plan he looked upon as preferable.
Though he did not personally importune
our friend, he set Aurelia and Philina on him;
and the other wanderers, longing for some
kind of settlement, on their side gave Wilhelm
not a moments rest; so that he stood hesi-
tating in his choice, in no slight embarrass-
ment, till he should decide. Who would have
thought that a letter of Werners, written with
quite different views, should have forced him
on resolving? We shall omit the introduc-
tion, and give the rest of it with little altera-
tion.
CHAPTER II.
... It was therefore, and it always must
be, right for every one, on any opportunity,
to follow his vocation and exhibit his adlivity.
Scarcely had the good old man been gone
a quarter of an hour when everything in
the house began moving by a different plan
than his. Friends, acquaintances, relations,
crowded forward ; especially all sorts of people
who on such occasions use to gain anything.
They fetched and carried, they counted, wrote
and reckoned ; some brought wine and meat,
others ate and drank ; and none seemed busier
than the women getting out the mournings.
Such being the case, thou wilt not blame
me that, in this emergency, I likewise thought
of my advantage. I made myself as adlive,
and as helpful to thy sister, as I could; and
so soon as it was any way decorous, signified
to her that it had now become our business to
accelerate a union, which our parents in their
too great circumspedtion had hitherto post-
poned.
Do not suppose, however, that it came
into our heads to take possession of that mon-
strous empty house. We are more modest and
more rational. Thou shalt hear our plan : thy
sister, so soon as we are married, comes to our
house; and thy mother comes along with her.
How can that be ? thou wilt say ; you have
scarcely room for yourselves in that hampered
nest. There lies the art of it, my friend!
Good packing renders all things possible; thou
wouldst not believe what space one finds when
one desires to occupy but little. The large
house we shall sell; an opportunity occurs for
this; and the money we shall draw for it will
produce a hundred-fold.
I hope this meets thy views; I hope also
thou hast not inherited the smallest particle
of those unprofitable tastes for which thy
father and thy grandfather were noted. The
latter placed his greatest happiness in having
about him a multitude of dull-looking works
of art, which no one, I may well say no one,
could enjoy with him; the former lived in a
218


stately pomp which he suffered no one to en-
joy with him. We mean to manage other-
wise, and we expedl thy approbation.
It is true I myself in all the house have
no place whatever but the stool before my
writing-desk; and I see not clearly where
they will be able to put a cradle down: but
in return, the room we shall have out of doors
will be the more abundant. Coffee-houses
and clubs for the husband; walks and drives
for the wife : and pleasant country jaunts for
both. But the chief advantage in our plan
is, that the round table being now completely
filled, our father cannot ask his friends to din-
ner, who the more he strove to entertain them,
used to laugh at him the more.
Now no superfluity for us! Not too much
furniture and apparatus; no coach, no horses !
Nothing but money ; and the liberty, day after
day, to do what you like in reason. No ward-
robe ; still the best and newest on your back:
the man may wear his coat till it is done; the
wife may truck her gown the moment it is
going out of fashion. There is nothing so
unsufferable to me as an old hucksters shop
of property. If you would offer me a jewel,
on condition of my wearing it daily on my
finger, I would not accept it; for how can
one conceive any pleasure in a dead capital ?
This then is my confession of faith : To trans-
act your business, to make money, to be merry
with your household; and about the rest of
the earth to trouble yourself no further than
where you can be of service to it.
But ere now thou art saying : And pray
what is to be done with me in this sage plan
of yours? Where shall I find shelter, when
you have sold my own house, and not the
smallest room remains in yours?
This is in truth the main point, brother;
and in this too I shall have it in my power to
serve thee. But first I must present the just
tribute of my praise for time so spent as thine
has been.
Tell me, how hast thou within a few weeks
become so skilled in every useful, interesting
objedl ? Highly as I thought of thy powers,
I did not reckon such attention and such dili-
gence among the number. Thy journal shows
us with what profit thou art travelling. The
description of the iron and the copper forges
is exquisite ; it evinces a complete knowledge
of the subjedl. I myself was once there ; but
my relation, compared with this, has but a
very bungled look. The whole letter on the
linen trade is full of information ; the remarks
on commercial competition are at once just
and striking. In one or two places there are
errors in addition, which indeed are very par-
donable.
But what most delights my father and my-
self is thy thorough knowledge of husbandry
and the improvement of landed property. We
have thoughts of purchasing a large estate, at
present under sequestration, in a very fruitful
district. For paying it, we mean to use the
money realized by the sale of the house; an-
other portion we shall borrow ; a portion may
remain unpaid. And we count on thee for
going thither and superintending the improve-
ment of it; by which means, before many
years are passed, the land, to speak in moder-
ation, will have risen above a third in value.
We shall then bring it to the market again ;
seek out a larger piece ; improve and trade as
formerly. For all this thou art the man. Our
pens, meanwhile, will not lie idle here; and
so by-and-by we shall rise to be enviable
people.
For the present, fare thee well! Enjoy
life on thy journey, and turn thy face wherever
thou canst find contentment and advantage.
For the next half year we shall not need thee;
thou canst look about thee in the world as
thou pleasest; a judicious person finds his best
instruction in his travels. Farewell.! I rejoice
at being connected with thee so closely by re-
lation, and now united with thee in the spirit
of activity.
Well as this letter might be penned, and
full of economical truths as it was, Wilhelm
felt displeased with it for more than one
reason. The praise bestowed on him for his
pretended statistical, technological and rural
knowledge was a silent reprimand. The ideal
of the happiness of civic life, which his wor-
thy brother sketched, by no means charmed
him ; on the contrary, a secret spirit of con-
tradiction dragged him forcibly the other way.
He convinced himself that, except on the
stage, he could nowhere find that mental cul-
ture which he longed to give himself: he
seemed to grow the more decided in his reso-
lution, the more strongly Werner, without
knowing it, opposed him. Thus assailed, he
collected all his arguments together, and but-
tressed his opinions in his mind the more care-
fully, the more desirable he reckoned it to
show them in a favorable light to Werner;
and in this manner he produced an answer,
which also we insert.
219


CHAPTER III.
Thy letter is so well written, and so pru-
dently and wisely conceived, that no objec-
tion can be made to it. Only thou must par-
don me when I declare that one may think,
maintain and do directly the reverse, and yet
be in the right as well as thou. Thy mode
of being and imagining appears to turn on
boundless acquisition, and a light mirthful
manner of enjoyment: I need scarcely tell
thee that in all this I find little that can
charm me.
First, however, I am sorry to admit that
my journal is none of mine Under the pres-
sure of necessity, and to satisfy my father, it
was patched together by a friends help, out
of many books; and though in words I know
the objects it relates to, and more of the like
sort, I by no means understand them, or can
occupy myself about them. What good were
it for me to manufacture perfect iron, while
my own breast is full of dross? What would
it stead me to put properties of land in order,
while I am at variance with myself?
To speak it in a word, the cultivation of
my individual self, here as I am, has from my
youth upwards been constantly though dimly
my wish and my purpose. The same inten-
tion I still cherish, but the means of realizing
it are now grown somewhat clearer. I have
seen more of life than thou belie vest, and
profited more by it also. Give some atten-
tion then to what I say, though it should not
altogether tally with thy own opinions.
Had I been a nobleman our dispute would
soon have been decided; but being a simple
burgher, I must take a path of my own; and
I fear it may be difficult to make thee under-
stand me. I know not how it is in foreign
countries; but in Germany a universal, and,
if I may say so, personal cultivation is be-
yond the reach of any one except a nobleman.
A burgher may acquire merit; by excessive
efforts he may even educate his mind ; but his
personal qualities are lost, or worse than lost,
let him struggle as he will. Since the noble-
man, frequenting the society of the most pol-
ished, is compelled to give himself a polished
manner; since this manner, neither door nor
gate being shut against him, grows at last an
unconstrained one; since, in court or camp,
his figure, his person, are a part of his posses-
sions, and it may be the most necessary part,
he has reason enough to put some value on
them, and to show that he puts some. A cer-
tain stately grace in common things, a sort of
gay elegance in earnest and important ones,
: becomes him well; for it shows him to be
I everywhere in equilibrium. He is a public
! person, and the more cultivated his move-
j ments, the more sonorous his voice, the more
| staid and measured his whole being is, the
j more perfect is he. If to high and low, to
I friends and relations, he continues still the
same, then nothing can be said against him,
none may wish him otherwise. His coldness
must be reckoned clearness of head, his dis-
simulation prudence. If he can rule himself
externally at every moment of his life, no
man has aught more to demand of him; and
whatever else there may be in him or about
him, capacities, talents, wealth, all seem gifts
of supererogation.
Now imagine any burgher offering ever to
pretend to these advantages, he will utterly
fail; and the more completely, the greater
inclination and the more endowments na-
ture may have given him for that mode of
being.
Since, in common life, the nobleman is
hampered by no limits, since kings, or king-
like figures do not differ from him, he can
everywhere advance with a silent conscious-
ness, as if before his equals; everywhere he is
entitled to press forward; whereas nothing
more beseems the burgher than the quiet feel-
ing of the limits that are drawn round him.
The burgher may not ask himself, What art
thou ? He can only ask, What hast thou ?
What discernment, knowledge, talent, wealth?
If the nobleman, merely by his personal car-
riage, offers all that can be asked of him, the
burgher by his personal carriage offers noth-
ing, and can offer nothing. The former had
a right to seem; the latter is compelled to be,
and what he aims at seeming becomes ludi-
crous and tasteless. The former does and
makes; the latter but effe<5ls and procures; he
must cultivate some single gifts in order to be
useful, and it is beforehand settled that in his
manner of existence there is no harmony, and
can be none, since he is bound to make him-
self of use in one department, and so has to
relinquish all the others.
Perhaps the reason of this difference is
not the usurpation of the nobles, and the
submission of the burghers, but the constitu-
tion of society itself. Whether it will ever
alter, and how, is to me of small importance ;
my present business is to meet my own case,
as matters actually stand ; to consider by what
220


means I may save myself, and reach the objedt
which I cannot live in peace without.
Now this harmonious cultivation of my
nature, which has been denied me by birth, is
exactly what I most long for. Since leaving
thee I have gained much by voluntary prac-
tice; I have laid aside much of my wonted
embarrassment, and can bear myself in very
tolerable style. My speech and voice I have
likewise been attending to; and I may say,
without much vanity, that in society I do not
cause displeasure. But I will not conceal from
thee that my inclination to become a public
person, and to please and influence in a larger
circle, is daily growing more insuperable.
With this there is combined my love for poetry
and all that is related to it; and the necessity
I feel to cultivate my mental faculties and
tastes, that so, in this enjoyment, henceforth
indispensable, I may esteem as good the good
alone, as beautiful the beautiful alone. Thou
seest well that for me all this is nowhere to be
met with except upon the stage; that in this
element alone can I effedl and cultivate my-
self according to my wishes. On the boards
a polished man appears in his splendor with
personal accomplishments, just as he does so
in the upper classes of society; body and
spirit must advance with equal steps in all his
studies; and there I shall have it in my power
at once to be and seem, as well as anywhere.
If I further long for solid occupations, we have
there mechanical vexations in abundance; I
may give my patience daily exercise.
Dispute not with me on this subjedt; for
ere thou writest the step is taken. In compli-
ance with the ruling prejudices I will change
my name, as indeed that of Meister or Master
does not suit me. Farewell! Our fortune is
| in good hands: on that subjedt I shall not dis-
456
221


turb myself. What I need I will, as occasion
calls, require from thee: it will not be much;
for I hope my art will be sufficient to maintain
me.
Scarcely was the letter sent away when our
friend made good his words. To the great
surprise of Serlo and the rest, he at once de-
clared that he was ready to become an adtor,
and bind himself by a contract on reasonable
terms. With regard to these they were soon
agreed; for Serlo had before made offers, with
which Wilhelm and his comrades had good
reason to be satisfied. The whole of that un-
lucky company, wherewith we have had so
long to occupy ourselves, was now at once re-
ceived; and, except perhaps Laertes, not a
member of it showed the smallest thankfulness
to Wilhelm. As they had entreated without
confidence, so they accepted without grati-
tude. Most of them preferred ascribing their
appointment to the influence of Philina, and
directed their thanks to her. Meanwhile the
contracts had been written out, and were now
a-signing. At the moment when our friend
was subscribing his assumed designation, by
some inexplicable concatenation of ideas, there
arose before his minds eye the image of that
green in the forest, where he lay wounded in
Philinas lap. The lovely Amazon came
riding on her gray palfrey from the bushes of
the wood; she approached him and dis-
mounted. Her humane anxiety made her
come and go; at length she stood before him.
The white surtout fell down from her shoul-
ders; her countenance, her form began to
glance in radiance, and she vanished from his
sight. He wrote his name mechanically only,
not knowing what he did; and felt not, till
after he had signed, that Mignon was standing
at his side, was holding by his arm, and had
softly tried to stop him and pull back his
hand.
CHAPTER IV.
One of the conditions under which our
friend had gone upon the stage was not ac-
ceded to by Serlo without some limitations.
Wilhelm had required that Hamlet should be
played entire and unmutilated; the other had
agreed to this strange stipulation, in so far as
it was possible. On this point they had many
a contest; for as to what was possible or not
possible, and what parts of the piece could be
omitted without mutilating it, the two were of
very different opinions.
Wilhelm was still in that happy season when
one cannot understand how, in the woman one
loves, in the writer one honors, there should
be anything defective. The feeling they ex-
cite in us is so entire, so accordant with itself,
that we cannot help attributing the same per-
fect harmony to the objects themselves. Serlo
again was willing to discriminate, perhaps too
willing: his acute understanding could usually
discern in any work of art nothing but a more
or less mperfedt whole. He thought, that as
pieces usually stood, there was little reason to
be chary about meddling with them; that of
course Shakspeare, and particularly Hamlet,
would need to suffer much curtailment.
But when Serlo talked of separating the
wheat from the chaff, Wilhelm would not hear
of it. It is not chaff and wheat together,
said he: it is a trunk with boughs, twigs,
leaves, buds, blossoms and fruit. Is not the
one there with the others, and by means of
them? To which Serlo would reply, that
people did not bring a whole tree upon the
table; that the artist was required to present
his guests with silver apples in platters of
silver. They exhausted their invention in
similitudes: and their opinions seemed still
further to diverge.
Our friend was on the borders of despair,
when, on one occasion, after much debating,
Serlo counselled him to take the simple plan ;
to make a brief resolution, to grasp his pen,
to peruse the tragedy; dashing out whatever
would not answer, compressing several per-
sonages into one: and if he was not skilled
in such proceedings, or had not heart enough
for going through with them, he might leave
the task to him, the manager, who would en-
gage to make short work with it.
That is not our bargain, answered Wil-
helm. How can you, with all your taste,
show so much levity?
My friend, cried Serlo, you yourself
will ere long feel it and show it. I know too
well how shocking such a mode of treating
works is; perhaps it never was allowed on any
theatre till now. But where indeed was ever
one so slighted as ours? Authors force us on
this wretched clipping system, and the public
tolerates it. How many pieces have we, pray,
which do not overstep the measure of our
numbers, of our decorations and theatrical
machinery, of the proper time, of the fit alter-
nation of dialogue, and the physical strength
222


of the adtor? And yet we are to play, and
play, and constantly give novelties. Ought
we not to profit by our privilege then, since
we accomplish just as much by mutilated
works as by entire ones? It is the public
itself that grants the privilege. Few Ger-
mans, perhaps few men of any modern
nation, have a proper sense of an aesthetic
whole: they praise and blame by passages;
they are charmed by passages: and who has
greater reason to rejoice at this than adtors,
since the stage is ever but a patched and
piecework matter?
Is! cried Wilhelm; but must it ever
be so? Must everything that is continue?
Convince me not that you are right: for no
power on earth should force me to abide by
any contradt which I had concluded with the
grossest misconceptions.
Serlo gave a merry turn to the business;
and persuaded Wilhelm to review once more
the many conversations they had had together
about Hamlet; and himself to invent some
means of properly reforming the piece.
After a few days, which he had spent alone,
our friend returned with a.cheerful look. I j
am much mistaken, cried he, if I have not
now discovered how the whole is to be man-
aged : nay, I am convinced that Shakspeare
himself would have arranged it so, had not
his mind been too exclusively diredted to
the ruling interest, and perhaps misled by
the novels, which furnished him with his
materials.
Let us hear, said Serlo, placing himself
with an air of solemnity upon the sofa; I
will listen calmly; but judge with rigor.
I am not afraid of you, said Wilhelm;
only hear me. In the composition of this
play, after the most accurate investigation and
the most mature reflection, I distinguish two
classes of objedts. The first are the grand
internal relations of the persons and events,
the powerful effedts which arise from the
characters and proceedings of the main fig-
ures: these, I hold, are individually excellent,
and the order in which they are presented
cannot be improved. No kind of interference
must be suffered to destroy them, or even
essentially to change their form. These are
the things which stamp themselves deep into
the soul; which all men long to see, which no
one dares to meddle with. Accordingly, I
understand, they have almost wholly been re-
tained in all our German theatres. But our
countrymen have erred, in my opinion, with
regard to the second class of objects, which
may be observed in this tragedy; I allude to
the external relations of the persons, whereby
they are brought from place to place, or com-
bined in various ways by certain accidental
incidents. These they have looked upon as
very unimportant; have spoken of them only
in passing, or left them out altogether. Now,
indeed, it must be owned, these threads are
slack and slender; yet they run through the
entire piece, and bind together much that
would otherwise fall asunder, and does ac-
tually fall asunder, when you cut them off,
and imagine you have done enough and more,
if you have left the ends hanging.
Among these external relations I include
the disturbances in Norway, the war with
young Fortinbras, the embassy to his uncle,
the settling of that feud, the march of young
Fortinbras to Poland, and his coming back at
the end; of the same sort are Horatios re-
turn from Wittenberg, Hamlets wish to go
thither, the journey of Laertes to France, his
return, the despatch of Hamlet into England,
his capture by pirates, the death of the two
j courtiers by the letter which they carried. All
these circumstances and events would be very
fit for expanding and lengthening a novel;
but here they injure exceedingly the unity of
the piece, particularly as the hero has no plan,
and are in consequence entirely out of place.
For once in the right! cried Serlo.
Do not interrupt me, answered Wilhelm;
perhaps you will not always think me right.
These errors are like temporary props of an
edifice; they must not be removed till we
have built a firm wall in their stead. My pro-
jedt therefore is, not at all to change those
first-mentioned grand situations, or at least as
much as possible to spare them, both collec-
tively and individually; but with respedl to
these external, single, dissipated and dissipa-
ting motives, to cast them all at once away,
and substitute a solitary one instead of them.
And this? inquired Serlo, springing up
from his recumbent posture.
It lies in the piece itself, answered Wil-
helm, only I employ it rightly. There are
disturbances in Norway. You shall hear my
plan, and try it.
After the death of Hamlet the father, the
Norwegians, lately conquered, grow unruly.
The viceroy of that country sends his son,
Horatio, an old school-friend of Hamlets,
and distinguished above every other for his
bravery and prudence, to Denmark, to press
223


forward the equipment of the fleet, which,
under the new luxurious king, proceeds but
slowly. Horatio has known the former king,
having fought in his battles, having even stood
in favor with him; a circumstance by which ;
the first ghost-scene will be nothing injured, j
The new sovereign gives Horatio audience, i
and sends Laertes into Norway with intelli-
gence that the fleet will soon arrive, whilst
Horatio is commissioned to accelerate the pre-
paration of it; and the queen, on the other
hand, will not consent that Hamlet, as he
wishes, should go to sea along with him.
Heaven be praised! cried Serlo; we
shall now get rid of Wittenberg and the uni-
versity, which was always a sorry piece of
business. I think your idea extremely good :
for except these two distant objedts, Norway
and the fleet, the spedlator will not be re-
quired to fancy anything: the rest he will see;
the rest takes place before him; whereas his
imagination, on the other plan, was hunted
over all the world.
You easily perceive, said Wilhelm, how
I shall contrive to keep the other parts to-
gether. When Hamlet tells Horatio of his
uncles crime, Horatio counsels him to go to
Norway in his company, to secure the affec-
tions of the army, and return in warlike force.
Hamlet also is becoming dangerous to the
king and queen ; they find no readier method
of deliverance than to send him in the fleet,
with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to be spies
upon him; and as Laertes in the meantime
comes from France, they determine that this
youth, exasperated even to murder, shall go
after him. Unfavorable winds detain the
fleet; Hamlet returns: for his wandering
through the churchyard perhaps some lucky
motive may be thought of; his meeting with
Laertes in Ophelias grave is a grand moment,
which we must not part with. After this, the
king resolves that it is better to get quit of
Hamlet on the spot: the festival of his de-
parture, the pretended reconcilement with
Laertes, are now solemnized; on which oc-
casion knightly sports are held, and Laertes
fights with Hamlet. Without the four corpses
I cannot end the piece; not one of them can
possibly be left. The right of popular elec-
tion now again comes in force, and Hamlet
gives his dying voice for Horatio.
Quick! quick! said Serlo; sit down
and work the piece : your plan has my entire
approbation; only do not let your zeal for it
evaporate.
CHAPTER V.
Wilhelm had already been for some time
busied with translating Hamlet; making use,
as he labored, of Wielands spirited perform-
ance, by means of which he had first become
acquainted with Shakspeare. What in Wie-
lands work had been omitted he replaced;
and he had at length procured himself a com-
plete version, at the very time when Serlo and
he finally agreed about the way of treating it.
He now began, according to his plan, to cut
out and insert, to separate and unite, to alter
and often to restore; for, satisfied as he was
with his own conception, it still appeared to
him as if in executing it he were but spoiling
the original.
So soon as all was finished, he read his work
to Serlo and the rest. They declared them-
selves exceedingly contented with it; Serlo, in
particular, made many flattering observations.
You have felt very justly, said he, among
other things, that some external circum-
stances must accompany this piece; but that
they must be simpler than those which the
great poet has employed. What takes place
without the theatre, what the spectator does
not see, but must imagine for himself, is like
a background, in front of which the adting
figures move. Your large and simple prospedt
of the fleet and Norway will very much im-
prove the piece : if this were altogether taken
from it, we should have but a family-scene
remaining; and the great idea, that here a
kingly house by internal crimes and incon-
gruities goes down to ruin, would not be pre-
sented with its proper dignity. But if the
former background were left standing, so
manifold, so fluctuating and confused, it
would hurt the impression of the figures.
Wilhelm again took Shakspeares part;
alleging that he wrote for islanders, for
Englishmen, who generally in the distance
were accustomed to see little else than ships
and voyages, the coasts of France and priva-
teers ; and thus what perplexed and distradted
others was to them quite natural.
Serlo assented; and both of them were of
opinion, that as the piece was now to be pro-
duced upon the German stage, this more
serious and simple background was the best
adapted for the German mind.
The parts had been distributed before: Serlo
undertook Polonius; Aurelia undertook Ophe-
lia ; Laertes was already designated by his
name; a young, thickset, jolly new-comer
224


ARTIST : E. WAGNER.
SERLO AND PHILINA


was to be Horatio: the King and the Ghost
alone occasioned some perplexity. For both
of these there was no one but Old Boisterous
remaining. Serlo proposed to make the Pe-
dant King; but against this our friend pro-
tested in the strongest terms. They could
resolve on nothing.
Wilhelm also had allowed both Rosencrantz
and Guildenstern to continue in his piece.
Why not compress them into one? said
Serlo. This abbreviation will not cost you
much.
Heaven keep me from all such curtail-
ments ! answered Wilhelm, they destroy at
once the sense and the effect. What these
two persons are and do, it is impossible to
represent by one. In such small matters we
discover Shakspeares greatness. These soft
approaches, this smirking and bowing, this
assenting, wheedling, flattering, this whisking
agility, this wagging of the tail, this allness
and emptiness, this legal knavery, this inepti-
tude and insipidity,how can they be ex-
pressed by a single man ? There ought to be
at least a dozen of these people, if they could
be had : for it is only in.society that they are
anything; they are society itself; and Shak-
speare showed no little wisdom and discern-
ment in bringing in a pair of them. Besides, I
need them as a couple that may be contrasted
with the single, noble, excellent Horatio.
I understand you, answered Serlo, and
we can arrange it. One of them we shall
hand over to Elmira, Old Boisterous eldest
daughter: it will all be right, if they look
well enough, and I will deck and trim the
puppets so that it shall be a pleasure to be-
hold them.
Philina was rejoicing not a little that she
had to act the Duchess in the small subordi-
nate play. I will show it so natural, cried
she, how you wed a second without loss of
time, when you have loved the first immensely.
I hope to gain the loudest plaudits, and every
man shall wish he were the third.
Aurelia gave a frown; her spleen against
Philina was increasing every day.
Tis a pity, I declare, said Serlo, that
we have no ballet; else you should dance me
a pas de deux with your first, and then another
with your second husband,and the first might
dance himself to sleep by the measure; and
your bits of feet and ankles would look so
pretty, tripping to and fro upon the side
stage.
Of my ankles you do not know much,
replied she snappishly; and as to my bits
of feet, cried she, hastily reaching below the
table, pulling off her slippers, and holding
them together out to Serlo; here are the
cases of them, and I give you leave to find
me nicer ones.
It were a serious task, said he, looking
at the elegant half-shoes. In truth, one
does not often meet with anything so dainty.
They were of Parisian workmanship: Philina
had obtained them as a present from the coun-
tess, a lady whose foot was celebrated for its
beauty.
A charming thing! cried Serlo; my
heart leaps at the sight of them.
What gallant throbs! replied Philina.
There is nothing in the world beyond a
pair of slippers, said he; of such pretty
manufacture, in their proper time and place,
when
Philina took her slippers from his hands,
crying, You have squeezed them all! They
are far too wide for me She played with
them, and rubbed the soles of them together.
How hot it is !\* cried she, clapping the sole
upon her cheek, then again rubbing, and hold-
ing it to Serlo. He was innocent enough
to stretch out his hand to feel the warmth.
Clip clap ! cried she, giving him a smart
rap over the knuckles with the heel, so that he
screamed and drew back his hand: I will
teach you to use my slippers better.
And I will teach you to use old folk like
children, cried the other; then sprang up,
seized her, and plundered many a kiss, every
one of which she artfully contested with a show
of serious reluctance. In this romping her
long hair got loose, and floated round the
group; the chair overset; and Aurelia, in-
wardly indignant at such rioting, arose in
great vexation.
CHAPTER VI.
Though in this remoulding of Hamlet
many characters had been cut off, a sufficient
number of them still remained; a number
which the company was scarcely adequate to
meet.
If this is the way of it, said Serlo, our
prompter himself must issue from his den, and
mount the stage, and become a personage like
one of us.
In his own station, answered Wilhelm,
I have frequently admired him.
457
225


I do not think, said Serlo, that there
is in the world a more perfect artist of his
kind. No spectator ever hears him; we upon
the stage catch every syllable. He has formed
in himself, as it were, a peculiar set of vocal
organs for this purpose; he is like a Genius
that whispers intelligibly to us in the hour of
need. He feels as if by instindt what portion
of his task an adlor is completely master of;
and anticipates from afar where his memory
will fail him. I have known cases, in which
I myself had scarcely read my part; he said
it over to me word for word, and I played
happily. Yet he has some peculiarities, which
would make another in his place quite useless.
For example, he takes such an interest in the
pieces, that in giving any moving passage, he
does not indeed declaim it, but he reads it
with all pomp and pathos. By this ill habit
he has nonplussed me on more than one oc-
casion.
As with another of his singularities, ob-
served Aurelia, he once left me sticking fast
in a very dangerous passage.
How could this happen, with the mans
attentiveness? said Wilhelm.
He is so affedted, said Aurelia, by
certain passages, that he weeps warm tears,
and for a few moments loses all reflection ;
and it is not properly passages such as we
should call affedling that produce this im-
pression on him; but, if I express myself
clearly, the beautiful passages, those out of
which the pure spirit of the poet looks forth,
as it were, through open sparkling eyes; pas-
sages which others at most rejoice over, and
which many thousands altogether overlook.
And with a soul so tender, why does he
never venture on the stage?
A hoarse voice, said Serlo, and a stiff
carriage exclude him from it; as his melan-
cholic temper excludes him from society.
What trouble have I taken, and in vain, to
make myself familiar with him But he is a
charming reader; such another I have never
heard ; no one can observe like him the nar-
row limit between declamation and graceful
recital.
The very man! exclaimed our friend,
the very man What a fortunate discovery !
We have now the proper hand for delivering
the passage of The rugged Pyrrhus.
One requires your eagerness, said Serlo,
before one can employ every object in the
use it was meant for.
In truth, said Wilhelm, I was very
much afraid we should be obliged to leave
this passage out; the omission would have
lamed the whole play.
Well! That is what I cannot under-
stand, observed Aurelia.
I hope you will ere long be of my opin-
ion, answered Wilhelm. Shakspeare has
introduced these travelling players with a
double purpose. The person who recites the
death of Priam with such feeling, in the first
place, makes a deep impression on the Prince
himself; he sharpens the conscience of the
wavering youth: and, accordingly, this scene
becomes a prelude to that other, where, in the
second place, the little play produces such ef-
fect upon the King. Hamlet sees himself re-
proved and put to shame by the player, who
feels so deep a sympathy in foreign and fidti-
tious woes: and the thought of making an
experiment upon the conscience of his step-
father is in consequence suggested to him.
What a royal monologue is that, which ends
the second act! How charming it will be to
speak it!
O what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit,
That from her working all his visage wannd;
Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
A broken voice, and Iris whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit ? And all for nothing!
For Hecuba Whats Hecuba to him,
Or he to Hecuba, that he should weep for her?
If we can but persuade our man to come
upon the stage, observed Aurelia.
We must lead him to it by degrees, said
Serlo. At the rehearsal he may read the
passage; we shall tell him that an adtor whom
we are expecting is to play it; and so, by-and-
by, we shall lead him nearer to the point.
Having agreed on this affair, the conversa-
tion next turned upon the Ghost. Wilhelm
could not bring himself to give the part of
the living King to the Pedant, that so Old
Boisterous might play the Ghost: he was of
opinion that they ought to wait a while; be-
cause some other actors had announced them-
selves, and among these it was probable they
would find a fitter man.
We can easily conceive, then, how aston-
ished Wilhelm must have been, when return-
ing home that evening, he found a billet lying
on his table, sealed with singular figures, and
containing what follows:
Strange youth we know thou art in great
226


perplexity. For thy Hamlet thou canst hardly
find men enough, not to speak of Ghosts. Thy
zeal deserves a miracle: miracles we cannot
work; but somewhat marvellous shall happen.
If thou have faith, the Ghost shall arise at the
proper hour Be of courage and keep firm !
This needs no answer: thy determination will
be known to us.
With this curious sheet he hastened back to
Serlo, who read it and re-read it, and at last
declared with a thoughtful look, that it seemed
a matter of some moment; that they must
consider well and seriously whether they could
risk it. They talked the subjedt over at some
length; Aurelia was silent, only smiling now
and then; and a few days after, when speak- j
ing of the incident again, she gave our friend j
not obscurely to understand, that she held it
all for a joke of Serlos. She desired him to
cast away anxiety, and to expedt the Ghost
with patience.
Serlo, for most part, was in excellent humor:
the adtors that were going to leave him took
all possible pains to play well, that their ab-
sence might be properly regretted; and this,
combined with the new-fangled zeal of the
others, gave promise of the best results.
His intercourse with Wilhelm had not failed
to exert some influence on him. He began
to speak more about art: for, after all, he was
a German; and Germans like to give them-
selves account of what they do. Wilhelm
wrote down many of their conversations;
which, as our narrative must not be so often
interrupted here, we shall communicate to
such of our readers as feel an interest in
dramaturgic matters, by some other oppor-
tunity.
In particular, one evening, the manager
was very merry in speaking of the part of
Polonius, and how he meant to take it up.
I engage, said he, on this occasion, to
present a very meritorious person in his best
aspect. The repose and security of this old
gentleman, his emptiness and his significance,
his exterior gracefulness and interior mean-
ness, his frankness and sycophancy, his sincere
roguery and deceitful truth, I will introduce
with all due elegance in their fit proportions.
This respedtable, gray-haired, enduring, time-
serving half-knave I will represent in the most
courtly style: the occasional roughness and
coarseness of our authors strokes will further
me here. I will speak like a book, when I am
prepared beforehand; and like an ass, when I
utter the overflowings of my heart. I will be
insipid and absurd enough to chime in with
every one; and acute enough never to observe
when people make a mock of me. I have
seldom taken up a part with so much zeal and
roguishness.
Could I but hope as much from mine!
exclaimed Aurelia. I have neither youth
nor softness enough to be at home in this
character. One thing alone I am too sure of;
the feeling that turns Ophelias brain, I shall
not want.
We must not take the matter up so
strictly, said our friend. For my share,
I am certain, that the wish to a<5t the char-
a<5ter of Hamlet has led me exceedingly
astray, throughout my study of the piece.
And now the more I look into the part, the
more clearly do I see, that in my whole form
and physiognomy, there is not one feature
such as Shakspeare meant for Hamlet. When
I consider with what nicety the various cir-
cumstances are adapted to each other, I can
scarcely hope to produce even a tolerable ef-
fect.
You are entering on your new career
with becoming conscientiousness, said Serlo.
The a6tor fits himself to his part as he can,
and the part to him as it must. But how has
Shakspeare drawn his Hamlet ? Is he then so
utterly unlike you?
In the first place, answered Wilhelm,
he is fair-haired.
That I call farfetched, observed Aurelia.
How do you infer that?
As a Dane, as a Northman, he is fair-
haired and blue-eyed by descent.
And you think Shakspeare had this in
view ?
I do not find it specially expressed ; but,
by comparison of passages, I think it incon-
testable. The fencing tires him ; the sweat is
running from his brow; and the Queen re-
marks : He's fat and scant of breath. Can
you conceive him to be otherwise than plump
and fair-haired? Brown-complexioned people
in their youth are seldom plump. And does
not his wavering melancholy, his soft lament-
ing, his irresolute adtivity, accord with such
a figure? From a dark-haired young man
you would look for more decision and im-
petuosity.
You are spoiling my imagination, cried
Aurelia: away with your fat Hamlets Do
not set your well-fed Prince before us! Give
us rather any succedaneum that will move us,
will delight us. The intention of the author
227


is of less importance to us than our own enjoy-
ment, and we need a charm that is adapted
for us.
CHAPTER VII.
One evening a dispute arose among our
friends about the novel and the drama, and
which of them deserved the preference. Serlo
said it was a fruitless and misunderstood de-
bate ; both might be superior in their kinds,
only each must keep within the limits proper
to it.
About their limits and their kinds, said
Wilhelm, I confess myself not altogether
clear.
Who is so? said the other; and yet
perhaps it were worth while to come a little
closer to the business.
They conversed together long upon the
matter; and in fine, the following was nearly
the result of their discussion :
In the novel as well as in the drama, it is
human nature and human aCtion that we see.
The difference between these sorts of fiCtion
lies not merely in their outward form; not
merely in the circumstance that the personages
of the one are made to speak, while those of
the other have commonly their history nar-
rated. Unfortunately many dramas are but
novels, which proceed by dialogue; and it
would not be impossible to write a drama in
the shape of letters. '
But in the novel it is chiefly sentiments
and events that are exhibited; in the drama
it is characters and deeds. The novel must go
slowly forward; and the sentiments of the
hero, by some means or another, must restrain
the tendency of the whole to unfold itself and
to conclude. The drama, on the other hand,
must hasten, and the character of the hero
must press forward to the end; it does not re-
strain, but is restrained. The novel-hero must
be suffering, at least he must not in a high de-
gree be aCtive; in the dramatic one we look
for activity and deeds. Grandison, Clarissa,
Pamela, the Vicar of Wakefield, Tom Jones
himself, are, if not suffering, at least retard-
ing personages; and the incidents are all in
some sort modelled by their sentiments. In
the drama the hero models nothing by him-
self; ail things withstand him, and he clears
and casts away the hindrances from off his
path, or else sinks under them.
Our friends were also of opinion, that in
the novel some degree of scope may be al-
lowed to Chance; but that it must always be
led and guided by the sentiments of the per-
sonages; on the other hand, that Fate, which,
by means of outward unconnected circum-
stances, carries forward men, without their
own concurrence, to an unforeseen catas-
trophe, can have place only in the drama;
that Chance may produce pathetic situations,
but never tragic ones; Fate, on the other
hand, ought always to be terrible; and is in
the highest sense tragic, when it brings into a
ruinous concatenation the guilty man, and the
guiltless that was unconcerned with him.
These considerations led them back to the
play of Hamlet, and the peculiarities of its
composition. The hero in this case, it was
observed, is endowed more properly with sen-
timents than with a character; it is events
alone that push him on; and accordingly the
piece has in some measure the expansion of a
novel. But as it is Fate that draws the plan ;
as the story issues from a deed of terror, and
the hero is continually driven forward to a
deed of terror, the work is tragic in the
highest sense, and admits of no other than a
tragic end.
They were now to study and peruse the
piece in common; to commence what are
called the book-rehearsals. These Wilhelm
had looked forward to as to a festival. Hav-
ing formerly collated all the parts, no obstacle
on this side could oppose him. The whole of
the aCtors were acquainted with the piece; he
endeavored to impress their minds with the
importance of these book-rehearsals. As
you require, said he, of every musical per-
former, that he shall, in some degree, be able
to play from the book; so every aCtor, every
educated man, should train himself to recite
from the book, to catch immediately the char-
acter of any drama, any poem, any tale he
may be reading, and exhibit it with grace and
readiness. No committing of the piece to
memory will be of service, if the aCtor have
not in the first place penetrated into the sense
and spirit of his author; the mere letter will
avail him nothing.
Serlo declared that he would overlook all
subsequent rehearsals, the last rehearsal itself,
if justice were but done to these rehearsals
from the book. For commonly, said he,
there is nothing more amusing than to hear
an aCtor speak of study; it is as if freemasons
were to talk of building.
The rehearsal passed according to their
228


wishes; and we may assert, that the fame and
favor which our company acquired afterwards
had their foundation in these few but well-
spent hours.
You did right, my friend, said Serlo,
when they were alone, in speaking to our
fellow-laborers so earnestly; and yet I am
afraid they will scarcely fulfil your wishes.
How so? asked Wilhelm.
I have noticed, answered Serlo, that as
easily as you may set in motion the imagina-
tions of men, gladly as they listen to your
tales and fictions, it is yet very seldom that
you find among them any touch of an imagi-
nation you can call productive. In adlors
this remark is strikingly exemplified. Any
one of them is well content to undertake a
beautiful, praiseworthy, brilliant part; and
seldom will any one of them do more than
self-complacently transport himself into his
heros place, without in the smallest troubling
his head whether other people view him so
or not. But to seize with vivacity what the
authors feeling was in writing; what portion
of your individual qualities you must cast off,
in order to do justice to a part; how by your
own convidlion that you are become another
man you may carry with you the convictions
of the audience; how by the inward truth of
your conceptive power you can change these |
458
boards into a temple, this pasteboard into
woods; to seize and execute all this is given
to very few. That internal strength of soul,
by which alone deception can be brought
about; that lying truth, without which no-
thing will affedt us rightly, have by most men
never even been imagined.
Let us not then press too hard for spirit
and feeling in our friends! The surest way is
first coolly to instruct them in the sense and
letter of the piece; if possible, to open their
understandings. Whoever has the talent will
then, of his own accord,, eagerly adopt the
spirited feeling and manner of expression ;
and those who have it not, will at least be
prevented from adting or reciting altogether
falsely. And among adtors, as indeed in all
cases, there is no worse arrangement than for
any one to make pretensions to the spirit of a
thing, while the sense and letter of it are not
ready and clear to him.
CHAPTER VIII.
Coming to the first stage-rehearsal very
early, Wilhelm found himself alone upon the
boards. The appearance of the place sur-
prised him, and awoke the strangest recollec-
229


tions. A forest and village-scene stood exactly
represented as he once had seen it in the the-
atre of his native town. On that occasion also
a rehearsal was proceeding; and it was the
morning when Mariana first confessed her
love to him, and promised him a happy in-
terview. The peasants cottages resembled
one another on the two stages, as they did
in nature; the true morning sun, beaming
through a half-closed window-shutter, fell
upon a part of a bench ill-joined to a cot-
tage-door; but unhappily it did not now
enlighten Marianas waist and bosom. He
sat down, reflecting on this strange coinci-
dence: he almost thought that perhaps on
this very spot he would soon see her again.
And alas! the truth was nothing more than
that an afterpiece to which this scene belonged
was at that time very often played upon the
German stage.
Out of these meditations he was aroused
by the other adtors; along with whom two
amateurs, frequenters of the wardrobe and
the stage, came in, and saluted Wilhelm with
a show of great enthusiasm. One of these
was in some degree attached to Frau Melina:
but the other was entirely a pure friend of art;
and both were of the kind which a good com-
pany should always wish to have about it. It
was difficult to say whether their love for the
stage or their knowledge of it was the greater.
They loved it too much to know it perfectly;
they knew it well enough to prize the good,
and to discard the bad. But their inclina-
tion being so powerful, they could tolerate the
mediocre; and the glorious joy which they ex-
perienced from the foretaste and the aftertaste
of excellence surpassed expression. The me-
chanical department gave them pleasure, the
intellectual charmed them; and so strong was
their susceptibility that even a discontinuous
rehearsal afforded them a species of illusion.
Deficiencies appeared in their eyes to fade
away in distance; the successful touched them
like an objedt near at hand. In a word, they
were judges such as every artist wishes in his
own department. Their favorite movement
was from the side-scenes to the pit, and from
the pit to the side-scenes; their happiest place
was in the wardrobe; their busiest employ-
ment was in trying to improve the dress,
position, recitation, gesture of the adtor;
their liveliest conversation was on the effedt
produced by him; their most constant effort
was to keep him accurate, adtive and atten-
tive, to do him service or kindness, and, with-
out squandering, to procure for the company
a series of enjoyments. The two had ob-
tained the exclusive privilege of being present
on the stage at rehearsals as well as exhibi-
tions. In regard to Hamlet, they had not in
all points agreed with Wilhelm; here and
there he had yielded; but for most part he
had stood by his opinion; and, upon the
whole, these discussions had been very useful
in the forming of his taste. He showed both
gentlemen how much he valued them; and
they again predicted nothing less, from these
combined endeavors, than a new epoch for
the German theatre.
The presence of these persons was of great
service during the rehearsals. In particular,
they labored to convince our players that,
throughout the whole of their preparations,
the posture and a<5tion as they were intended
ultimately to appear, should always be com-
bined with the words, and thus the whole be
mechanically united by habit. In rehearsing
a tragedy especially, they said, no common
movement with the hands should be allowed :
a tragic adtor that took snuff in the rehearsal
always frightened them; for, in all proba-
bility, on coming to the same passage in the
exhibition he would miss his pinch. Nay, on
the same principles, they maintained that no
one should rehearse in boots, if his part were
to be played in shoes. But nothing, they
declared, afflidted them so much as when the
women, in rehearsing, stuck their hands into
the folds of their gowns.
By the persuasion of our friends another very
good effedt was brought about; the adtors all
began to learn the use of arms. Since mili-
tary parts occur so frequently, said they, can
anything look more absurd than men with-
out the smallest particle of discipline, troll-
ing about the stage in captains and majors
uniforms?
Wilhelm and Laertes were the first that
took lessons of a subaltern: they continued
their practising of fence with the greatest
zeal.
Such pains did our two amateurs give them-
selves for perfecting a company, which had so
fortunately come together. They were thus
providing for the future satisfaction of the
public, while the public was usually laughing
at their taste. People did not know what
gratitude they owed our friends; particularly
for performing one service, the service of fre-
quently impressing on the adtor the funda-
mental point that it was his duty to speak so


loud as to be heard. In this simple matter
they experienced more opposition and repug-
nance than could have been expected. Most
part maintained that they were heard well
enough already; some laid the blame upon
the building; others said one could not yell
and bellow when one had to speak naturally,
secretly or tenderly.
Our two friends having an immeasurable
stock of patience, tried every means of un-
doing this delusion, of getting round this
obstinate self-will. They spared neither argu-
ments nor flatteries; and at last they reached
their objedl, being aided not a little by the
good example of Wilhelm. By him they
were requested to sit down in the remotest
corners of the house; and every time they
did not hear him perfectly, to rap on the
bench with a key. He articulated well, spoke
out in a measured manner, raised his tones
gradually, and did not overcry himself in the
most vehement passages. The rapping of the
key was heard less and less every new re-
hearsal : by-and-by the rest submitted to the
same operation; and at last it seemed rational
to hope that the piece would be heard by
every one in all the nooks of the house.
From this example we may see how desirous
people are to reach their objedt in their own
way; what need there often is of enforcing
on them truths which are self-evident; and
how difficult it may be to reduce the man,
who aims at effecting something, to admit
the primary conditions under which alone his
enterprise is possible.
CHAPTER IX.
The necessary preparations for scenery and
dresses, and whatever else was requisite, were
now proceeding. In regard to certain scenes
and passages, our friend had whims of his own,
which Serlo humored, partly in consideration
of their bargain, partly from convidlion, and
because he hoped by these civilities to gain
Wilhelm, and to lead him according to his
own purposes the more implicitly in time to
come.
Thus, for example, the King and Queen
were, at the first audience, to appear sitting
on the throne with the courtiers at the sides,
and Hamlet standing undistinguished in the
crowd. Hamlet, said he, must keep him-
self quiet; his sable dress will sufficiently
point him out. He should rather shun re-
mark than seek it. Not till the audience is
ended, and the King speaks with him as with
a son, should he advance and allow the scene
to take its course.
A formidable obstacle still remained, in re-
gard to the two pidlures, which Hamlet so
passionately refers to in the scene with his
mother. We ought, said Wilhelm, to
have both of them visible, at full length, in
the bottom of the chamber near the main
door; and the former King must be clad in
armor, like the Ghost, and hang at the side
where it enters. I could wish that the figure
held its right hand in a commanding attitude;
were somewhat turned away; and as it were
looked over its shoulder, that so it might per-
fectly resemble the Ghost at the moment
when he issues from the door. It will pro-
duce a great efledt, when at this instant
Hamlet looks upon the Ghost and the Queen
upon the picture. The stepfather may be
painted in royal ornaments, but not so strik-
ing.
There were several other points of this sort,
about which we shall perhaps elsewhere have
opportunity to speak.
Are you then inexorably bent on Hamlets
dying at the end? inquired Serlo.
How can I keep him alive, said Wilhelm,
when the whole piece is pressing him to
death? We have already talked at large on
that matter.
But the public wishes him to live.
I will show the public any other com-
plaisance ; but as to this, I cannot. We often
wish that some gallant useful man, who is dy-
ing of a chronic disease, might yet live longer.
The family weep, and conjure the physician,
but he cannot stay him; and no more than
this physician can withstand the necessity of
nature can we give law to an acknowledged
necessity of art. It is a false compliance with
the multitude to raise in them emotions which
they wish, when these are not emotions which
they ought, to feel.
Whoever pays the cash, said Serlo, may
require the ware according to his liking.
Doubtless, in some degree, replied our
friend; but a great public should be rever-
enced, not used as children are, when pedlers
wish to hook the money from them. By pre-
senting excellence to the people, you should
gradually excite in them a taste and feeling
for the excellent; and they will pay their
231


money with double satisfaction when reason
itself has nothing to object against this outlay.
The public you may flatter, as you do a well-
beloved child, to better, to enlighten it; not
as you do a pampered child of quality, to per-
petuate the error you profit from.
In this manner various other topics were dis-
cussed relating to the question : What might
still be changed in the piece, and what must
of necessity remain untouched? We shall not
enter further on those points at present; but
perhaps at some future time we may admit this
altered Hamlet itself to such of our readers as
feel any interest in the subjeCl.
CHAPTER X.
The main rehearsal was at length concluded;
it had lasted very long. Serlo and Wilhelm
still found much to care for: notwithstanding
all the time which had already been consumed
in preparation, some highly necessary matters
had been left to the very last moment.
Thus, the pictures of the kings, for instance,
were not ready; and the scene between Ham-
let and his mother, from which so powerful an
effeCt was looked for, had a very helpless as-
pect, as the business stood ; for neither Ghost
nor painted image of him was at present forth-
coming. Serlo made a jest of this perplexity:
We should be in a pretty scrape, said he,
if the Ghost were to decline appearing, and
the guard had nothing to fight with but the
air, and our prompter were obliged to speak
the spirits part from the side-scenes.
We will not scare away our strange friend
by unbelief, said Wilhelm : doubtless at the
proper season he will come, and astonish us as
much as the spectators.
Well, certainly, said Serlo, I shall be
a happy man to-morrow night, when once this
piece is fairly aCted. It costs us more arrange-
ment than I dreamed of.
But none of you, exclaimed Philina,
will be happier than I, little as my part dis-
turbs me. Really, to hear a single subjeCt
talked of forever and forever, when after all
there is nothing to come of it, beyond an ex-
hibition which will be forgotten like so many
hundred others, this is what I have not patience
for. In heavens name, not so many pros
and cons! The guests you entertain have al-
ways something to objeCt against the dinner;
nay, if you could hear them talk of it at home,
they cannot understand how it was possible to
undergo so sad a business.
Let me turn your illustration, pretty one,
to my own advantage, answered Wilhelm.
Consider how much must be done by art
and nature, by traffickers and tradesmen, be-
fore an entertainment can be given. How
many years the stag must wander in the forest,
the fish in the river or the sea, before they can
deserve to grace our table! And what cares
and consultations with her cooks and servants
has the lady of the house submitted to Ob-
serve with what indifference the people swallow
the production of the distant vintager, the sea-
man and the vintner, as if it were a thing of
course. And ought these men to cease from
laboring, providing and preparing; ought the
master of the house to cease from purchasing
and laying up the fruit of their exertions, be-
cause at last the enjoyment it affords is tran-
sitory ? But no enjoyment can be transitory;
the impression which it leaves is permanent;
and what is done with diligence and effort
communicates to the spectator a hidden force,
of which we cannot say how far its influence
may reach.
Tis all one to me, replied Philina;
only here again I must observe that you
men are constantly at variance with your-
selves. With all this conscientious horror at
curtailing Shakspeare, you have missed the
finest thought there was in Hamlet!
The finest? cried our friend.
Certainly the finest, said Philina; the
Prince himself takes pleasure in it.
And it is? inquired Serlo.
If you wore a wig, replied Philina, I
would pluck it very coolly off you ; for I think
you need to have your understanding opened.
The rest began to think what she could
mean; the conversation paused. The party
arose; it was now grown late; they seemed
about to separate. While they were standing
in this undetermined mood, Philina all at once
struck up a song, with a very graceful, pleas-
ing tune:
Sing me not with such emotion
How the night so lonesome is;
Pretty maids, Ive got a notion
It is the reverse of this.
For as wife and man are plighted,
And the better half the wife;
So is night to day united,
Nights the better half of life.
232


Can you joy in bustling daytime,
Day when none can get bis will ?
It is good for work, for haytime,
For much other it is ill.
But when, in the nightly glooming,
Social lamp on table glows,
Face for faces dear illuming,
And such jest and joyance goes;
When the fiery pert young fellow,
Wont by day to run or ride,
Whispering now some tale would tell O,
All so gentle by your side;
When the nightingale to lovers
Lovingly her songlet sings,
Which for exiles and sad rovers
Like mere woe and wailing rings:
With a heart how lightsome feeling
Do ye count the kindly clock,
Which, twelve times deliberate pealing,
Tells you none to-night shall knock 1
Therefore, on all fit occasions,
Mark it, maidens, what I sing:
Every day its own vexations,
And the night its joys will bring.
She made a little courtesy on concluding,
and Serlo gave a loud Bravo! She scuttled
f off, and left the room with a te-hee of laugh-
ter. They heard her singing and skipping as
she went down-stairs.
Serlo passed into another room; Wilhelm
bade Aurelia good-night; but she continued
looking at him for a few moments, and said:
How I dislike that woman! dislike her
from my heart, and to her very slightest qual-
ities! Those brown eyelashes, with her fair
hair, which our brother thinks so charming, I
cannot bear to look at; and that scar upon
her brow has something in it so repulsive, so
low and base, that I could recoil ten paces
every time I meet her. She was lately telling
as a joke that her father, when she was a child,
threw a plate at her head, of which this is the
mark. It is well that she is marked in the
eyes and brow, that those about her may be
on their guard.5
j Wilhelm made no answer, and Aurelia went
on, apparently with greater spleen:
It is next to impossible to speak a friendly
or civil word to her, so deeply do I hate her,
with all her wheedling. Would that we were
, rid of her! And you too, my friend, have a
J certain complaisance for the creature, a way
4-59
233


of a&ing towards her, that grieves me to the
soul; an attention which borders on respedl
which, by heaven she does not merit. _
Whatever she may be, replied our friend,
I owe her thanks. Her upbringing is to
blame: to her natural charadler I would do
justice.
Character! exclaimed Aurelia; and do
you think such a creature has a character ? O
you men It is so like you! These are the
women you deserve!
My friend, can you suspedl me? an-
swered Wilhelm. I will give account of
every minute I have spent beside her.
Come, come, replied Aurelia; it is
late; we will not quarrel. All like each, and
each like all! Good-night, my friend Good-
night, my sparkling bird of Paradise !
Wilhelm asked how he had earned this
title.
Another time, cried she; another
time. They say it has no feet, but hovers in
the air, and lives on ether. That, however,
is a story, a poetic fidtion. Good-night!
Dream sweetly, if you are in luck!
She proceeded to her room; and he, being
left alone, made haste to his.
Half angrily he walked along his chamber
to and fro. The jesting but decided tone of
Aurelia had hurt him: he felt deeply how un-
just she was. Could he treat Philina with
unkindness or ill-nature? She had done no
evil to him: but for any love to her, he could
proudly and confidently take his conscience to
witness that it was not so.
On the point of beginning to undress, he
was going forward to his bed to draw aside
the curtains, when, not without extreme aston-
ishment, he saw a pair of womens slippers
lying on the floor before it. One of them was
resting on its sole, the other on its edge. They
were Philinas slippers; he recognized them
but too well. He thought he noticed some
disorder in the curtains; nay, it seemed as if
they moved. He stood and looked with un-
averted eyes.
A new impulse, which he took for anger,
cut his breath; after a short pause he recov-
ered, and cried in a firm tone:
Come out, Philina! What do you mean
by this? Where is your sense, your modesty?
Are we to be the speech of the house to-mor-
row?
Nothing stirred.
I do not jest, continued he; these
pranks are little to my taste.
No sound. No motion.
Irritated and determined, he at last went
forward to the bed and tore the curtains asun-
der. Arise, said he, if I am not to give
you up my room to-night.
With great surprise he found his bed unoc-
cupied ; the sheets and pillows in the sleekest
rest. He looked around; he searched, and
searched, but found no traces of the rogue.
Behind the bed, the stove, the drawers, there
was nothing to be seen; he sought with great
and greater diligence; a spiteful looker-on
might have believed that he was seeking in the
hope of finding.
All thought of sleep was gone. He put the
slippers on his table; went past it up and
down; often paused before it; and a wicked
sprite that watched him has asserted that our
friend employed himself for several hours about
these dainty little shoes; that he viewed them
with a certain interest; that he handled them
and played with them: and it was not till
towards morning that he threw himself on the
bed, without undressing, where he fell asleep
amidst a world of curious fantasies.
234


He was still slumbering, when Serlo entered
hastily. Where are you ? cried he; Still
in bed ? Impossible I want you in the the-
atre: we have a thousand things to do.
CHAPTER XI.
The forenoon and the afternoon fled rapidly
away. The playhouse was already full; our
friend hastened to dress. It was not with the
joy which it had given him when he first es-
sayed it that he now put on the garb of Ham-
let: he only dressed himself that he might be
in readiness. On joining the women in the
stage-room they unanimously cried that noth-
ing sat upon him right: the fine feather stood
awry, the buckle of his belt did not fit; they
began to slit, to sew, and piece together. The
music started. Philina still objected some-
what to his ruff; Aurelia had much to say
against his mantle. Leave me alone, good
people, cried he; this negligence will make
me more like Hamlet. The women would
not let him go, but continued trimming him.
The music ceased; the adting was begun. He
looked at himself in the glass; pressed his hat
closer down upon his face, and retouched the
painting of his cheeks.
At this instant somebody came rushing in
and cried, The Ghost! the Ghost!
Wilhelm had not once had time all day to
think of the Ghost, and whether it would
come or not. His anxiety on that head was
at length removed, and now some strange as-
sistant was to be expected. The stage-man-
ager came in, inquiring after various matters :
Wilhelm had not time to ask about the Ghost;
he hastened to present himself before the
throne, where King and Queen, surrounded
with their court, were already glancing in all
the splendors of royalty, and waiting till the
scene in front of them should be concluded.
He caught the last words of Horatio, who was
speaking of the Ghost, in extreme confusion,
and seemed to have almost forgotten his part.
The intermediate curtain went aloft, and
Hamlet saw the crowded house before him.
Horatio having spoken his address, and been
dismissed by the King, pressed through to
Hamlet; and, as if presenting himself to the
Prince, he said, The devil is in harness; he
has put us all in fright.
In the meanwhile two men of large stature,
in white cloaks and capuches, were observed
standing in the side-scenes. Our friend, in
the distradtion, embarrassment and hurry of
the moment, had failed in the first soliloquy;
at least such was his own opinion, though loud
plaudits had attended his exit. Accordingly
he made his next entrance in no pleasant
mood, with the dreary wintry feeling of dra-
matic condemnation. Yet he girded up his
mind; and spoke that appropriate passage on
the rouse and wassel, the heavy-headed
revel of the Danes, with suitable indifference;
he had, like the audience, in thinking of it,
quite forgotten the Ghost; and he started in
real terror when Horatio cried out, Look,
my lord, it comes! He whirled violently
round; and the tall noble figure, the low in-
audible tread, the light movement in the
heavy-looking armor, made such an impres-
sion on him that he stood as if transformed to
stone, and could utter only in a half voice his
Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!
He glared at the form, drew a deep breathing
once or twice, and pronounced his address to
the Ghost in a manner so confused, so broken,
so constrained, that the highest art could not
have hit the mark so well.
His translation of this passage now stood
him in good stead. He had kept very close to
the original; in which the arrangement of the
words appeared to him expressive of a mind
confounded, terrified and seized with horror:
Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damnd,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
Thou comst in such a questionable shape,
That I will speak to thee; Ill call thee Hamlet,
King, father, royal Dane : O answer me !
A deep effedt was visible in the audience.
The Ghost beckoned; the Prince followed
him amid the loudest plaudits.
The scene changed; and when the two had
reappeared the Ghost on a sudden stopped
and turned round; by which means Hamlet
came to be a little too close upon it. With a
longing curiosity he looked in at the lowered
vizor, but, except two deep-lying eyes, and a
well-formed nose, he could discern nothing.
Gazing timidly, he stood before the Ghost;
but when the first tones issued from the hel-
met, and a somewhat hoarse yet deep and
penetrating voice pronounced the words, I
am thy fathers spirit, Wilhelm, shuddering,
started back some paces, and the audience
shuddered with him. Each imagined that he
knew the voice ; Wilhelm thought he noticed
235


in it some resemblance with his fathers.
These strange emotions and remembrances;
the curiosity lie felt about discovering his se-
cret friend, the anxiety about offending him,
even the theatric impropriety of coming too
near him in the present situation, all this af-
fected Wilhelm with powerful and conflicting
impulses. During the long speech of the
Ghost, he changed his place so frequently, he
seemed so unsettled and perplexed, so atten-
tive and so absent-minded, that his adting
caused a universal admiration, as the Spirit
caused a universal horror. The latter spoke
with a feeling of melancholy anger rather than
of sorrow; but of an anger spiritual, slow and
inexhaustible. It was the mistemper of a
noble soul that is severed from all earthly
things, and yet devoted to unbounded woe.
At last he vanished, but in a curious manner;
for a thin, gray, transparent gauze arose from
the place of descent like a vapor, spread itself
over him, and sank along with him.
Hamlets friends now entered and swore
upon the sword. Old Truepenny, in the
meantime, was so busy underground that
wherever they might take their station he was
sure to call out right beneath them: Swear!
and they started, as if the soil had taken fire
below them, and hastened to another spot.
On each of these occasions, too, a little flame
pierced through at the place where they were
standing. The whole produced on the spec-
tators a profound impression.
After this the piece proceeded calmly on its
course: nothing failed, all prospered; the
audience manifested their contentment, and
the aCtors seemed to rise in heart and spirits
every scene.
CHAPTER XII.
The curtain fell; and rapturous applauses
sounded out of every corner of the house.
The four princely corpses sprang aloft and
embraced each other. Polonius and Ophelia
likewise issued from their graves, and listened
with extreme satisfaction, as Horatio, who
had stepped before the curtain to announce
the following piece, was welcomed with the
most thundering plaudits. The people would
not hear of any other play, but violently re-
quired the repetition of the present.
We have won, cried Serlo: and so not
another reasonable word this night! Every-
thing depends on the first impression: we
should never take it ill of any adlor that, on
occasion of his first appearance, he is provi-
dent and even self-willed.
The box-keeper came and delivered him a
| heavy sum. We have made a good begin-
! ning, cried the manager, and prejudice
! itself will now be on our side. But where is
the supper that you promised us? To-night
we may be allowed to relish it a little.
It had been agreed that all the party were
to stay together in their stage-dresses, and
enjoy a little feast among themselves. Wil-
helm had engaged to have the place in readi-
ness, and Frau Melina to provide the victuals.
A room, which commonly was occupied by
scene-painters, had accordingly been polished
up as well as possible; our friends had hung
it round with little decorations; and so decked
and trimmed it that it looked half like a gar-
den, half like a colonnade. On entering it,
the company were dazzled with the glitter of
a multitude of lights, which, across the vapors
of the sweetest and most copious perfumes,
spread a stately splendor over a well-decorated
and well-furnished table. These preparations
were hailed with joyful interjedlions by the
party: all took their places with a certain
genuine dignity; it seemed as if some royal
family had met together in the Kingdom of
the Shades. Wilhelm sat between Aurelia
and the Frau Melina; Serlo between Philina
and Elmira; nobody was discontented with
himself or with his place.
Our two theatric amateurs, who had from
the first been present, now increased the pleas-
ure of the meeting. While the exhibition was
proceeding, they had several times stepped
round, and come upon the stage, expressing,
in the warmest terms, the delight which they
and the audience felt. They now descended
to particulars; and each was richly rewarded
for his efforts.
With boundless animation the company ex-
tolled man after man and passage after passage.
To the prompter, who had modestly sat down
at the bottom of the table, they gave a liberal
commendation for his rugged Pyrrhus; the
fencing of Hamlet and Laertes was beyond
all praise; Ophelias mourning had been in-
expressibly exalted and affedling; of Polonius
they would not trust themselves to speak.
Every individual present heard himself
commended through the rest and by them;
nor was the absent Ghost defrauded of his
share of praise and admiration. He had
played the part, it was asserted, with a very
236


ARTIST: E. WAGNER.
HAMLET


Wilhelm Meistcr's Apprenticeship.
^7/JSSmrS2jS§gi
happy voice, and in a lofty style; but what
surprised them most was the information which
he seemed to have about their own affairs. He
entirely resembled the painted figure, as if he
had sat to the painter of it; and the two ama-
teurs described, in glowing language, how
awful it had looked when the Spirit entered
near the picture and stepped across before his
own image. Truth and error, they declared,
had been commingled in the strangest man-
ner ; they had felt as if the Queen really did
not see the Ghost. And Frau Melina was es-
pecially commended, because on this occa-
sion she had gazed upwards at the picture,
while Hamlet was pointing downwards at the
Spedlre.
Inquiry was now made how the apparition
could have entered. The stage-manager re-
ported that a back door, usually blocked up
by decorations, had that evening, as the
Gothic hall was occupied, been opened ; that
two large figures in white cloaks and hoods,
one of whom was not to be distinguished from
the other, had entered by this passage ; and
by the same, it was likely, they had issued
when the third act was over.
Serlo praised the Ghost for one merit; that
he had not whined and lamented like a tailor;
nay, to animate his son, had even introduced
a passage at the end, which more beseemed
such a hero. Wilhelm had kept it in memory;
he promised to insert it in his manuscript.
Amid the pleasures of the entertainment it
had not been noticed that the children and
the harper were absent. Ere long they made
their entrance, and were blithely welcomed
by the company. They came in together,
very strangely decked; Felix was beating a
triangle, Mignon a tambourine; the old man
had his large harp hung round his neck, and
was playing on it whilst he carried it before
him. They marched round and round the
table, and sang a multitude of songs. Eata-
bles were handed them; and the guests seemed
to think they could not do a greater kindness
to the children than by giving them as much
sweet wine as they chose to have. For the
company themselves had not by any means
neglected a stock of savory flasks, presented
by the two amateurs, which had arrived that
evening in baskets. The children tripped
about and sang; Mignon, in particular, was
frolicsome beyond all wont. She beat the
tambourine with the greatest liveliness and
grace: now, with her finger pressed against
the parchment, she hummed across it swiftly
460
to and fro; now rattled on it with her
knuckles, now with the back of her hand ;
nay, sometimes, with alternating rhythm, she
struck it first against her knee and then against
her head; and anon twirling it in her hand,
she made the shells jingle by themselves; and
thus, from the simplest instrument, elicited a
great variety of tones. After she and Felix
had long rioted about, they sat down upon an
elbow-chair which was standing empty at the
table, exactly opposite to Wilhelm.
Keep out of the chair ! cried Serlo: it
is waiting for the Ghost, I think; and when
he comes it will be worse for you.
I do not fear him, answered Mignon:
if he come, we can rise. He is my uncle,
and will not harm me. To those who did
not know that her reputed father had been
named the Great Devil this speech was unin-
telligible.
The party looked at one another; they were
more and more confirmed in their suspicion
that the manager was in the secret of the
Ghost. They talked and tippled, and the
girls from time to time cast timid glances to-
wards the door.
The children, who, sitting in the great
chair, looked from over the table but like
puppets in their box, did actually at length
start a little drama in the style of Punch. The
screeching tone of these people Mignon imi-
tated very well; and Felix and she began to
knock their heads together, and against the
edges of the table, in such a way as only
wooden puppets could endure. Mignon, in
particular, grew frantic with gayety ; the com-
pany, much as they had laughed at her at
first, were in fine obliged to curb her. But
persuasion was of small avail; for she now
sprang up, and raved and shook her tambou-
rine, and capered round the table. With her
hair flying out behind her, with her head
thrown back, and her limbs as it were cast
into the air, she seemed like one of those
antique Maenads, whose wild and all but im-
possible positions still, on classic monuments,
often strike us with amazement.
Incited by the talents and the uproar of the
children, each endeavored to contribute some-
thing to the entertainment of the night. The
girls sang several canons; Laertes whistled in
the manner of a nightingale; and the Pedant
gave a symphony pianissimo upon the Jews-
harp. Meanwhile the youths and damsels,
who sat near each other, had begun a great
variety of games; in which, as the hands often
237


crossed and met, some pairs were favored with
a transient squeeze, the emblem of a hopeful
kindness. Madam Melina in particular seemed
scarcely to conceal a decided tenderness for
Wilhelm. It was late; and Aurelia, perhaps
the only one retaining self-possession in the
party, now stood up and signified that it was
time to go.
By way of termination, Serlo gave a fire-
work, or what resembled one; for he could
imitate the sound of crackers, rockets and
firewheels with his mouth, in a style of nearly
inconceivable corre<5tness. You had only to
shut your eyes, and the deception was com-
plete. In the meantime, they had all risen ;
the men gave their arms to the women to
escort them home. Wilhelm was walking last
with Aurelia. The stage-manager met him on
the stairs, and said to him : Here is the veil
our Ghost vanished in : it was hanging fixed
to the place where he sank; we found it this
moment.
A curious relic! said our friend, and
took it with him.
At this instant his left arm was laid hold
of, and he felt a smart twinge of pain in it.
Mignon had hid herself in the place; she had
seized him, and bit his arm. She rushed past
him, down-stairs, and disappeared.
On reaching the open air almost all of
them discovered that they had drank too lib-
erally. They glided asunder without taking
leave.
The instant Wilhelm gained his room he
stripped, and, extinguishing his candle, has-
tened to bed. Sleep was overpowering him
without delay, when a noise, that seemed to
issue from behind the stove, aroused him. In
the eye of his heated fancy the image of the
harnessed King was hovering there: he sat
up that he might address the Spe<5lre; but he
felt himself encircled with soft arms, and his
mouth was shut with kisses, which he had not
force to push away.
CHAPTER XIII.
Next morning Wilhelm started up with an
unpleasant feeling, and found himself alone.
His head was still dim with the tumult, which
he had not yet entirely slept off; and the rec-
olledlion of his nightly visitant disquieted his
mind. His first suspicion lighted on Philina;
but, on second thoughts, he conceived that it
could not have been she. He sprang out of
bed, and, while putting on his clothes, he
noticed that the door, which commonly he
used to bolt, was now ajar; though whether
he had shut it on the previous night or not he
could not recollect.
But what surprised him most was the Spirits
veil, which he found lying on his bed. Having
brought it up with him, he had most probably
thrown it there himself. It was a gray gauze;
on the hem of it he noticed an inscription
broidered in dark letters. He unfolded it,
and read the words: For the first and
the last time! Fly, Youth! Fly! He
was struck with it, and knew not what to
think or say.
At this moment Mignon entered with his
breakfast. The aspedl of the child astonished
238


Wilhelm, we may almost say frightened him.
She appeared to have grown taller overnight;
she entered with a stately, noble air; and
looked him in the face so earnestly that he
could not endure her glances. She did not
touch him, as at other times, when, for morn-
ing salutation, she would press his hand, or
kiss his cheek, his lips, his arm, or shoulder;
but having put his things in order she retired
in silence.
The appointed time of a first rehearsal now
arrived: our friends assembled, all of them
entirely out of tune from yesterdays debauch.
Wilhelm roused himself as much as possible,
that he might not at the very outset violate
the principles of diligence, which he had
preached so lately with such emphasis. His
pradlice in the matter helped him through:
for practice and habit must, in every art, fill
up the voids, which genius and temper in
their fluctuations will so often leave.
But in the present case our friends had es-
pecial reason to admit the truth of the remark,
that no one should begin with a festivity any
situation that is meant to last, particularly that
is meant to be a trade, a mode of living. Fes-
tivities are fit for what is happily concluded :
at the commencement, they but waste the force
and zeal which should inspire us in the strug-
gle and support us through a long-continued
labor. Of all festivities, the marriage-festival
appears the most unsuitable: calmness, hu-
mility and silent hope befit no ceremony more
than this.
So passed the day, which to Wilhelm seemed
the most insipid he had ever spent. Instead
of their accustomed conversation in the even-
ing, the company began to yawn : the interest
of Hamlet was exhausted; they rather felt it
disagreeable than otherwise that the piece was
to be given again next night. Wilhelm showed
the veil which the Royal Dane had left; it
was to be inferred from this that he would not
come again. Serlo was of that opinion; he
appeared to be deep in the secrets of the
Ghost; but, on the other hand, the inscrip-
tion, Fly, youth Fly! seemed inconsistent
with the rest. How could Serlo be in league
with any one whose aim it was to take away
the finest aCtor of his troop ?
It had now become a matter of necessity
to confer on Boisterous the Ghosts part, and
on the Pedant that of the King. Both de-
clared that they had studied these sufficiently :
nor was it wonderful; for, in such a number
of rehearsals, and so copious a treatment of
the subject, all of them had grown familiar
with it; each could have exchanged his part
with any other. Yet they rehearsed a little
here and there, and prepared the new adven-
turers as fully as the hurry would admit. When
the company was breaking up at a pretty late
hour, Philina softly whispered Wilhelm as she
passed : I must have my slippers back : thou
wilt not bolt the door ? These words excited
some perplexity in Wilhelm when he reached
his chamber: they strengthened the suspicion
that Philina was the secret visitant: and we
ourselves are forced to coincide with this idea;
particularly as the causes, which awakened in
our friend another and a stranger supposition,
cannot be disclosed. He kept walking up and
down his chamber in no quiet frame: his door
was actually not yet bolted.
On a sudden Mignon rushed into the room,
laid hold of him, and cried : Master save
the house It is on fire ! Wilhelm sprang
through the door; and a strong smoke came
rushing down upon him from the upper story.
On the street he heard the cry of fire; and
the harper, with-his instrument in his hand,
came down-stairs breathless through the smoke.
Aurelia hurried out of her chamber, and threw
little Felix into Wilhelms arms.
Save the child ! cried she ; and we will
mind the rest.
Wilhelm did not look upon the danger as
so great; his first thought was to penetrate to
the source of the fire, and try to stifle it be-
fore it reached a head. He gave Felix to the
harper; commanding him to hasten down the
stone stairs, which led across a little garden-
vault out into the garden, and to wait with
the children in the open air. Mignon took a
light to show the way. He begged Aurelia
to secure her things there also. He himself
pierced upwards through the smoke; but it
was in vain that he exposed himself to such
danger. The flame appeared to issue from a
neighboring house; it had already caught the
wooden floor and staircase: some others, who
had hastened to his help, were suffering like
| himself from fire and vapor. Yet he kept
I inciting them; he called for water; he con-
i jured them to dispute every inch with the
flame; and promised to abide by them to the
! last. At this instant Mignon came spring-
j ing up, and cried : Master! save thy Felix !
The old man is mad! He is killing him.
Scarcely knowing what he did, Wilhelm darted
down-stairs, and Mignon followed close behind
him.
239


On the last steps, which led into the garden-
vault, he paused with horror. Some heaps of
firewood branches, and large masses of straw,
which had been stowed in the place, were
burning with a clear flame; Felix was lying
on the ground and screaming; the harper
stood aside holding down his head, and
leaned against the wall. Unhappy creature!
what is this? said Wilhelm. The old man
spoke not; Mignon lifted Felix, and carried
him with difficulty to the garden ; while Wil-
helm strove to pull the fire asunder and ex-
tinguish it; but only by his efforts made the
flame more violent. At last he too was forced
to fly into the garden, with his hair and his
eyelashes burned; tearing the harper with him
through the conflagration, who, with singed
beard, unwillingly accompanied him.
Wilhelm hastened instantly to seek the chil-
dren. He found them on the threshold of a
summer-house at some distance : Mignon was
trying every effort to pacify her comrade.
Wilhelm took him on his knee; he questioned
him, felt him; but could obtain no satisfactory
account from either him or Mignon.
Meanwhile the fire had fiercely seized on
several houses; it was now enlightening all
the neighborhood. Wilhelm looked at the
child in the red glare of the flames; he could
find no wound, no blood, no hurt of any kind.
He groped over all the little creatures body;
but it gave no sign of pain ; on the contrary,
240


it by degrees grew calm, and began to wonder
at the blazing houses, and express its pleasure
at the spectacle of beams and rafters burning
all in order, like a grand illumination, so beau-
tifully there.
Wilhelm thought not of the clothes or goods
he might have lost; he felt deeply how inesti-
mable to him was this pair of human beings
who had just escaped so great a danger. He
pressed little Felix to his heart with a new emo-
tion ; Mignon too he was about to clasp with
joyful tenderness, but she softly avoided this;
she took him by the hand and held it fast.
Master, said she,(till the present even-
ing she had hardly ever named him master;
at first she used to name him sir, and after-
wards to call him father) Master we have
escaped an awful danger; thy Felix was on
the point of death.
By many inquiries Wilhelm learned from
her at last, that when they came into the
vault, the harper tore the light from her hand,
and set on fire the straw. That he then put
Felix down ; laid his hands with strange ges-
tures on the head of the child, and drew a
knife as if he meant to sacrifice him. That
she sprang forward and snatched it from him;
that she screamed, and some one from the
house, who was carrying something down into
the garden, came to her help, but must have
gone away again in the confusion, and left the
old man and the child alone.
Two or even three houses were now flaming
in a general blaze. Owing to the conflagra-
tion in the vault, no person had been able to
take shelter in the garden. Wilhelm was dis-
tressed about his friends, and in a less degree
about his property. Not venturing to quit the
children, he was forced to sit, and see the mis-
chief spreading more and more.
In this anxious state he passed some hours.
Felix had fallen asleep on his bosom; Mignon
was lying at his side, and holding fast his
hand. The efforts of the people finally sub-
dued the fire. The burnt houses sank, with
successive crashes, into heaps; the morning
was advancing; the children awoke, and com-
plained of bitter cold; even Wilhelm in his
light dress could scarcely brook the chillness
of the falling dew. He took the young ones
to the rubbish of the prostrate building;
where, among the ashes and the embers, they
found a very grateful warmth.
The opening day collected, by degrees,
the various individuals of the party. All of
them had got away unhurt, no one had lost
much. Wilhelms trunk was saved among the
rest.
Towards ten oclock, Serlo called them to
rehearse their Hamlet, at least some scenes of
the piece, in which fresh players were to a6t.
He had some debates to manage on this point
with the municipal authorities. The clergy
required that, after such a visitation of Provi-
dence, the playhouse should be shut for some
time; and Serlo on the other hand maintained
that, both for the purpose of repairing the
damage he had suffered, and of exhilarating
the depressed and terrified spirits of the
people, nothing could be more in place than
the exhibition of some interesting piece. His
opinion in the end prevailed; and the house
was full. The adtors played with singular
fire, with more of a passionate freedom than
at first. The feelings of the audience had
been heightened by the horrors of the previous
night, and their appetite for entertainment
had been sharpened by the tedium of a wasted
and dissipated day; every one had more than
usual susceptibility for what was strange and
moving. Most off them were new spectators,
invited by the fame of the piece; they could
not compare the present with the preceding
evening. Boisterous played altogether in the
style of the unknown Ghost; the pedant too
had accurately seized the manner of his pre-
decessor ; nor was his own woful aspedt with-
out its use to him; for it seemed as if, in spite
of his purple cloak and his ermine collar,
Hamlet were fully justified in calling him a
king of shreds and patches.
Few have ever reached the throne by a path
more singular than his had been. But although
the rest, and especially Philina, made sport of
his preferment, he himself signified that the
count, a consummate judge, had at the first
glance predidled this and much more of him.
Philina, on the other hand, recommended low-
liness of mind to him; saying she would now
and then powder the sleeves of his coat, that
he might remember that unhappy night in the
castle, and wear his crown with meekness.
CHAPTER XIV.
Our friends had sought out other lodgings,
on the spur of the moment, and were by this
means much dispersed. Wilhelm had con-
ceived a liking for the garden-house, where
he had spent the night of the conflagration:
461
241


lie easily obtained the key, and settled him-
self there. But, Aurelia being greatly ham-
pered in her new abode, he was obliged to
retain little Felix with him. Mignon, indeed,
would not part with the bov.
He had placed the children in a neat cham-
ber on the upper floor: he himself was in the
lower parlor. The young ones were asleep at
this time : Wilhelm could not sleep.
Adjoining the lovely garden, which the full
moon had just risen to illuminate, the black
ruins of the fire were visible, and here and
there a streak of vapor was still mounting
from them. The air was soft, the night ex-
tremely beautiful. Philina in issuing from the
theatre had jogged him with her elbow, and
whispered something to him which he did not
understand. He felt perplexed and out of
humor: he knew not what he should expecl
or do. For a day or two Philina had avoided
him: it was not till to-night that she had given
him any second signal. Unhappily the doors,
that he was not to bolt, were now consumed ;
the slippers had evaporated into smoke. How
the girl would gain admission to the garden,
if her aim was such, he knew not. He wished
she might not come; and yet he longed to
have some explanation with her.
But what lay heavier at his heart than this,
was the fate of the harper, whom, since the
fire, no one had seen. Wilhelm was afraid
that in clearing off the rubbish they would
find him buried under it. Our friend had
carefully concealed the suspicion which he
entertained, that it was the harper who had
fired the house. The old man had been first
seen as he rushed from the burning and smok-
ing floor; and his desperation in the vault ap-
peared a natural consequence of such a deed.
Yet, from the inquiry which the magistrates
had instituted touching the affair, it seemed
likely that the fire had not originated in the
house where Wilhelm lived, but had acci-
dentally been kindled in the third from that,
and had crept along beneath the roofs before
it burst into activity.
Seated in a grove, our friend was meditating
all these things, when he heard a low footfall
in a neighboring walk. By the melancholy
song which arose along with it, he recognized
the harper. He caught the words of the song
without difficulty: it turned on the consola-
tions of a miserable man, conscious of being
on the borders of insanity. Unhappily our
friend forgot the whole of it except the last
verse:
Wheresoeer my steps may lead me,
Meekly at the door Ill stay;
Pious hands will come to feed me,
And Ill wander on my way.
Each will feel a touch of gladness,
When my aged form appears;
Each will shed a tear of sadness,
Though I reck not of his tears.
So singing, he had reached the garden-door,
which led into an unfrequented street. Find-
ing it bolted, he was making an attempt to
climb the railing, when Wilhelm held him
back, and addressed some kindly words to
him. The old man begged to have the door
unlocked, declaring that he would and must
escape. Wilhelm represented to him, that he
might indeed escape from the garden, but
could not from the town; showing, at the
same time, what suspicions he must needs
incur by such a step. But it was in vain:
the old man held by his opinion. Our friend,
however, would not yield; and at last he
brought him, half by force, into the garden-
house, in which he locked himself along with
him. The two carried on a strange conver-
sation ; which, however, not to afflict our
readers with repeating unconnected thoughts
and dolorous emotions, we had rather pass
in silence than detail at large.
CHAPTER XV.
Undetermined what to do with this un-
happy man, who displayed such indubitable
symptoms of madness, Wilhelm would have
been in great perplexity, had not Laertes
come that very morning, and delivered him
from his uncertainty. Laertes, as usual, ram-
bling everywhere about the town, had hap-
pened, in some coffee-house, to meet with a
man who, a short time ago, had suffered under
violent attacks of melancholy. This person,
it appeared, had been intrusted to the care of
some country clergyman, who made it his
peculiar business to attend to people in such
situations. In the present instance, as in
many others, his treatment had succeeded:
he was still in town; and the friends of the
patient were showing him the greatest honor.
Wilhelm hastened to find out this person:
he disclosed the case to him, and agreed with
him about the terms. The harper was to be
brought over to him, under certain pretexts.
The separation deeply pained our friend; so
used was he to see the man beside him, and to
242


hear his spirited and touching strains. The
hope of soon beholding him recovered, served
in some degree to moderate this feeling. The
old man's harp had been destroyed in the
burning of the house: they purchased him
another, and gave it him when he departed.
Mignons little wardrobe had in like man-
ner been consumed. As Wilhelm was about
providing her with new apparel, Aurelia pro-
posed that now at last they should dress her
as a girl.
No! no! not at all! cried Mignon;
and insisted on it with such earnestness that
they let her have her way.
The company had not much leisure for re-
flection ; the exhibitions followed close on
one another.
Wilhelm often mingled with the audience
to ascertain their feelings; but he seldom
heard a criticism of the kind he wished: more
frequently the observations which he listened
to distressed or angered him. Thus, for in-
stance, shortly after Hamlet had been aCted
for the first time, a youth was telling, with
considerable animation, how happy he had
been that evening in the play-house. Wil-
helm hearkened, and was scandalized to learn
that his neighbor had, on that occasion, in
contempt of those behind him, kept his hat
on, stubbornly refusing to remove it till the
piece was done; to which heroical trans-
action he still looked back with great con-
tentment.
Another gentleman declared that Wilhelm
played Laertes very well, but that the aCtor
who had undertaken Hamlet did not seem too
happy in his part. This permutation was not
quite unnatural, for Wilhelm and Laertes did
resemble one another, though in a very dis-
tant manner.
A third critic warmly praised his aCting,
particularly in the scene with his mother; only
he regretted much that in this fiery moment a
white strap had peered out from below the
Princes waistcoat, whereby the illusion had
been greatly marred.
Meanwhile, in the interior of the company,
a multitude of alterations were occurring.
Philina, since the evening subsequent to that
of the fire, had never given our friend the
smallest sign of closer intimacy. She had, as
it seemed on purpose, hired a remote lodging;
she associated with Elmira, and came seldomer j
to Serlo; an arrangement very gratifying to J
Aurelia. Serlo continued still to like her, i
and often visited her quarters, particularly |
I when he hoped to find Elmira there. One
| evening he took Wilhelm with him. At their
| entrance both of them were much surprised to
j see Philina, in the inner room, sitting in close
; contaCt with a young officer. He wore a red
j uniform with white pantaloons; but his face
being turned away, they could not see it.
Philina came into the outer room to meet her
visitors, and shut the door behind her. You
surprise me in the middle of a very strange
adventure, cried she.
It does not appear so strange, said Serlo:
but let us see this handsome, young, enviable
gallant. You have us in such training that we
dare not show any jealousy, however it may be.
I must leave you to suspicion for a time,
replied Philina, in a jesting tone; yet I can
assure you the gallant is a lady of my friends,
who wishes to remain a few days undiscovered.
You shall know her history in due season;
nay, perhaps you shall even behold the beau-
tiful spinster in person; and then most prob-
ably I shall have need of all my prudence and
discretion, for it seems too likely that your
new acquaintance will drive your old friend
out of favor.
Wilhelm stood as if transformed to stone.
At the first glance the red uniform had re-
minded him of Mariana; the figure too was
hers, the fair hair was hers; only the present
individual seemed to be a little taller.
For heavens sake, cried he, let us
know something more about your friend ; let
us see this lady in disguise! We are now par-
takers of your secret: we will promise, we will
swear ; only let us see the lady !
What a fire he is in! cried Philina: but
be cool, be calm; for to-day there will nothing
come of it.
Let us only know her name ! cried Wil-
helm.
It were a fine secret then, replied Philina.
At least her first name !
If you can guess it, be it so. Three
guesses I will give you; not a fourth. You
might lead me through the whole calendar.
Well! said Wilhelm, Cecilia, then?
None of your Cecilias !
Henrietta?
Not at all! Have a care, I pray you;
guess better, or your curiosity will have to
sleep unsatisfied.
Wilhelm paused and shivered: he tried to
speak, but the sound died away within him.
Mariana? stammered he at last, Mariana!
Bravo ! cried Philina. Hit toahairs-
243


breadth ! said she, whirling round upon her
heel, as she was wont on such occasions.
Wilhelm could not utter a word; and Serlo,
not observing his emotion, urged Philina more
and more to let them in.
Conceive the astonishment of both, when
Wilhelm, suddenly and vehemently interrupt-
ing their raillery, threw himself at Philinas
feet, and with an air and tone of the deepest
passion begged and conjured her: Let me
see the stranger, cried he; she is mine;
she is my Mariana! She for whom I have
longed all the days of my life; she who is
still more to me than all the women in this
world Go in to her at least, and tell her
that I am here; that the man is here who
linked to her his earliest love, and all the
happiness of his youth. Say that he will
justify himself, though he left her so un-
kindly ; he will pray for pardon of her; and
will grant her pardon, whatsoever she may
have done to him; he will even make no pre-
tensions further, if he may but see her, if he
may but see that she is living and in happi-
ness.
Philina shook her head, and said : Speak
low Do not betray us! If the lady is in-
deed your friend, her feelings must be spared;
for she does not in the least suspedt that you
are here. Quite a different sort of business
brings her hither: and you know well enough,
one had rather see a spedtre than a former
lover, at an inconvenient time. I will ask
her, and prepare her; we will then consider
what is further to be done. To-morrow I
shall write you a note, saying when you are to
come, or whether you may come at all. Obey
me pundtually; for I protest that, without her
own and my consent, no eye shall see this
lovely creature. I shall keep my doors better
bolted; and with axe and crow you surely
will not visit me.
Our friend conjured her, Serlo begged of
her; but all in vain: they were obliged to
yield, and leave the chamber and the house.
With what feelings Wilhelm passed the
night is easy to conceive. How slowly the
hours of the day flowed on, while he sat ex-
pedting a message from Philina, may also be
imagined. Unhappily he had to play that
evening: such mental pain he had never en-
dured. The moment his part was done, he
hastened to Philinas house, without inquiring
whether he had got her leave or not. He
found her doors bolted: and the people of
the house informed him that Mademoiselle
had set out early in the morning, in company
with a young officer; that she had talked
about returning shortly; but they had not
believed her, she having paid her debts, and
taken everything along with her.
This intelligence drove Wilhelm almost
frantic. He hastened to Laertes, that he
might take measures for pursuing her, and,
cost what it would, for attaining certainty
regarding her attendant. Laertes, however,
represented to him the imprudence of such
passion and credulity. I dare wager, after
all, said he, that it is no one else but
Friedrich. The boy is of a high family, I
know; he is madly in love with Philina; it is
likely he has cozened from his friends a fresh
supply of money, so that he can once more
live with her in peace for a while.
These considerations, though they did not
quite convince our friend, sufficed to make
244


him waver. Laertes showed him how improb-
able the story was, with which Philina had
amused them; reminded him how well the
strangers hair and figure answered Friedrich;
that with the start of him by twelve hours,
they could not easily be overtaken ; and what
was more than all, that Serlo could not do
without him at the theatre.
By so many reasons, Wilhelm was at last
persuaded to postpone the execution of his
project. That night Laertes got an a<5tive
man, to whom they gave the charge of fol-
lowing the runaways. It was a steady person,
who had often officiated as courier and guide
to travelling parties, and was at present with-
out employment. They gave him money, they
informed him of the whole affair; instrudling
him to seek and overtake the fugitives, to keep
them in his eye, and instantly to send intelli-
gence to Wilhelm, where and how he found
them. That very hour he mounted horse,
pursuing this ambiguous pair; by which ex-
ertions Wilhelm was, in some degree at least,
composed.
CHAPTER XVI.
The departure of Philina did not make a
deep sensation, either in the theatre or in the
public. She never was in earnest with any-
thing; the women universally detested her;
the men were desirous to see her rather off
than on the boards. Thus her fine, and for
the stage even happy talents were of no avail
to her. The other members of the company
took greater labor on them to supply her place;
the Frau Melina, in particular, was much dis-
tinguished by her diligence and zeal. She
noted down, as formerly, the principles of
Wilhelm; she guided herself according to his
theory and his example; there was of late a
something in her nature that rendered her
more interesting. She soon acquired an accu-
rate mode of playing; she attained the nat-
ural tone of conversation altogether, that of
keen emotion she attained in some degree.
She contrived, moreover, to adapt herself to
Serlos humors; she took pains in singing for
his pleasure, and succeeded in that matter
moderately well.
By the accession of some other players, the
company was rendered more complete; and
while Wilhelm and Serlo were busied each in
his degree, the former insisting on the general
tone and spirit of the whole, the latter faith-
fully elaborating the separate passages, a laud-
able ardor likewise inspired the adlors, and
the public took a lively interest in their con-
cerns.
We are on the right path, said Serlo
once; if we can continue thus, the public
too will soon be on it. Men are easily aston-
ished and misled by wild and barbarous exhi-
bitions; yet lay before them anything rational
and polished, in an interesting manner, and
doubt not they will catch at it:
What forms the chief defect of our Ger-
man theatre, what prevents both actor and
spedtator from obtaining proper views, is the
vague and variegated nature of the objects
it contains. You nowhere find a barrier on
which to prop your judgment. In my opinion,
it is far from an advantage to us that we have
expanded our stage into as it were a boundless
arena for the whole of nature: yet neither
manager nor adtor need attempt contradting
it until the taste of the nation shall itself
mark out the proper circle. Every good
society submits to certain conditions and re-
strictions; so also must every good theatre.
Certain manners, certain modes of speech,
certain objects and fashions of proceeding,
must altogether be excluded. You do not
grow poorer by limiting your household ex-
penditure.
On these points our friends were more or
less accordant or at variance. The majority,
with Wilhelm at their head, were for the Eng-
lish theatre; Serlo and a few others for the
French.
It was also settled, that in vacant hours, of
which unhappily an actor has too many, they
should in company peruse the finest plays in
both these languages; examining what parts
of them seemed best and worthiest of imita-
tion. They accordingly commenced with
some French pieces. On these occasions, it
was soon observed, Aurelia went away when-
ever they began to read. At first they sup-
posed she had been sick; Wilhelm once ques-
tioned her about it.
I would not assist at such a reading, said
she: for how could I hear and judge, when
my heart was torn in pieces? I hate the
French language from the bottom of my
soul.
How can you be hostile to a language,
cried our friend, to which we Germans are
indebted for the greater part of our accom-
plishments; to which we must become in-
462
245


debted still more, if our natural qualities are
ever to assume their proper form?
It is no prejudice! replied Aurelia: a
painful impression, a hated recollection of my
faithless friend has robbed me of all enjoyment
in that beautiful and cultivated tongue. How
I hate it now with my whole strength and heart!
During the period of our kindliest connection j
he wrote in German, and what genuine, power-
ful, cordial German It was not till he wanted !
to get rid of me that he began seriously to
write in French. I marked, I felt what he
meant. What he would have blushed to utter
in his mother-tongue, he could by this means
write with a quiet conscience. It is the lan-
guage of reservations, equivocations and lies;
it is a perfidious language. Heaven be praised!
I cannot find another word to express thisper-
fide of theirs in all its compass. Our poor
treulos, the faithless of the English, are inno-
cent as babes beside it. Perfide means faith-
less with pleasure, with insolence and malice.
How enviable is the culture of a nation that
can figure out so many shades of meaning by
a single word! French is exactly the lan-
guage of the world; worthy to become the
universal language, that all may have it in
their power to cheat, and cozen, and betray
each other! His French letters were always
smooth and pleasant, while you read them.
If you chose to believe it, they sounded
warmly, even passionately; but if you ex-
amined narrowly, they were but phrases,
accursed phrases! He has spoiled my feeling
to the whole language, to French literature,
even to the beautiful delicious expressions of
noble souls which may be found in it. I
shudder when a French word is spoken in my
hearing.
In such terms, she could for hours continue
to give utterance to her chagrin, interrupting
or disturbing every other kind of conversa-
tion. Sooner or later, Serlo used to put an
end to such peevish lamentations by some bit-
ter sally; but, by this means, commonly the
talk for the evening was destroyed.
In all provinces of life, it is unhappily the
case, that whatever is to be accomplished by
a number of co-operating men and circum-
stances, cannot long continue perfect. Of an
adting company as well as of a kingdom, of a
circle of friends as well as of an army, you 1
may commonly seledl the moment when it !
may be said that all was standing on the high-
est pinnacle of harmony, perfection, content-
ment and activity. But alterations will ere
long occur: the individuals that compose the
body often change; new members are added;
the persons are no longer suited to the circum-
stances, or the circumstances to the persons;
what was formerly united quickly falls asunder.
Thus it was with Serlos company. For a time
you might have called it as complete as any
German company could ever boast of being.
Most of the adtors occupied their proper places;
all had enough to do, and all did it willingly.
Their private personal condition was not bad;
and each appeared to promise great things in
his art, for each commenced with animation
and alacrity. But it soon became apparent
that a part of them were mere automatons,
who could not reach beyond what was attain-
able without the aid of feeling. Nor was it
long till grudgings and envyings arose among
them, such as commonly obstrudt every good
arrangement, and easily distort and tear in
pieces everything that reasonable and thinking
men would wish to keep united.
The departure of Philina was not quite so
insignificant as it had at first appeared. She
had always skilfully contrived to entertain the
manager, and keep the others in good humor.
She had endured Aurelias violence with amaz-
ing patience; and her dearest task had been
to flatter Wilhelm. Thus she was, in some
respects, a bond of union for the whole: the
loss of her was quickly felt.
Serlo could not live without some little pas-
sion of the love sort. Elmira was of late
grown up, we might almost say grown beauti-
ful ; for some time she had been attradling his
attention, and Philina, with her usual dexter-
ity, had favored this attachment so soon as
she observed it. We should train ourselves
in time, she would say, to the business of
procuress; nothing else remains for us when
we are old. Serlo and Elmira had by this
means so approximated to each other, that,
shortly after the departure of Philina, both
were of a mind; and their small romance was
rendered doubly interesting, as they had to
hide it sedulously from the father; Old Bois-
terous not understanding jokes of that des-
cription. Elmiras sister had been admitted
to the secret; and Serlo was in consequence
obliged to overlook a multitude of things in
both of them. One of their worst habits was
an excessive love of junketing, nay, if you
will, an intolerable gluttony. In this respedt
they altogether differed from Philina, to whom
it gave a new tint of loveliness, that she seemed
as it were to live on air; eating very little;
246


and for drink, merely skimming off, with all
imaginable grace, the foam from a glass of
champagne.
Now, however, Serlo, if he meant to please
his doxies, was obliged to join breakfast with
dinner; and with this, by a substantial bever,
to connect the supper. But amid gormand-
izing, Serlo entertained another plan, which
he longed to have fulfilled. He imagined that
he saw a kind of inclination between Wilhelm
and Aurelia; and he anxiously wished that it
might assume a serious shape. He hoped to
cast the whole mechanical department of his
theatrical economy on Wilhelm's shoulders;
to find in him, as in the former brother, a
faithful and industrious tool. Already he had,
by degrees, shifted over to him most of the
cares of management: Aurelia kept the strong
box; and Serlo once more lived as he had
done of old, entirely according to his humor.
Yet there was a circumstance which vexed him
in secret, as it did his sister likewise.
The world has a particular way of adling
towards public persons of acknowledged merit:
it gradually begins to be indifferent to them ;
and to favor talents which- are new, though
far inferior; it makes excessive requisitions of
the former, and accepts of anything with ap-
probation from the latter.
Serlo and Aurelia had opportunity enough
to meditate on this peculiarity. The strangers,
especially the young and handsome ones, had
drawn the whole attention and applause upon
themselves; and Serlo and his sister, in spite
of the most zealous efforts, had in general to
make their exits without the welcome sound
of clapping hands. It is true, some special
causes were at work on this occasion. Aure-
lias pride was palpable, and her contempt for
the public was known to many. Serlo indeed
flattered every individual; but his cutting gibes
against the whole were often circulated and re-
peated. The new members again were not
only strangers, unknown and wanting help,
but soiYie of them were likewise young and
amiable; thus all of them found patrons.
Ere long, too, there arose internal discon-
tents, and many bickerings among the adlors.
Scarcely had they noticed that our friend was
a<5ting as director, when most of them began
to grow the more remiss, the more he strove
to introduce a better order, greater accuracy,
and chiefly to insist that everything mechanical
should be performed in the most stridt and
regular manner.
Thus, by-and-by, the whole concern, which
actually for a time had nearly looked ideal,
grew as vulgar in its attributes as any mere
itinerating theatre. And unhappily, just as
Wilhelm, by his labor, diligence and vigorous
efforts, had made himself acquainted with the
requisitions of the art, and trained completely
both his person and his habits to comply with
them, he began to feel, in melancholy hours,
that this craft deserved the necessary outlay
of time and talents less than any other. The
task was burdensome, the recompense was
small. He would rather have engaged with
any occupation in which, when the period of
exertion is past, one can enjoy repose of mind,
than with this, wherein, after undergoing much
mechanical drudgery, the aim of ones activity
cannot still be attained but by the strongest
effort of thought and emotion. Besides, he
had to listen to Aurelias complaints about her
brothers wastefulness; he had to misconceive
the winks and nods of Serlo, trying from afar
to lead him to a marriage with Aurelia. He
had withal to hide his own secret sorrow,
which pressed heavy on his heart, because of
that ambiguous officer, whom he had sent in
quest of. The messenger returned not, sent
no tidings; and Wilhelm feared that his
Mariana was lost to him a second time.
About this period there occurred a public
mourning, which obliged our friends to shut
their theatre for several weeks. Wilhelm
seized this opportunity to pay a visit to the
clergyman with whom the harper had been
placed to board. He found him in a pleasant
district; and the first thing that he noticed
in the parsonage, was the old man teaching a
boy to play upon his instrument. The harper
showed no little joy at sight of Wilhelm; he
rose, held out his hand, and said : You see,
I am still good for something in the world ;
permit me to continue; for my hours are all
distributed, and full of business.
The clergyman saluted Wilhelm very kindly;
and told him that the harper promised well, al-
ready giving hopes of a complete recovery.
Their conversation naturally turned upon
the various modes of treating the insane.
Except physical derangements, observed
the clergyman, which often place insuper-
able difficulties in the way, and in regard to
which I follow the prescriptions of a wise
physician, the means of curing madness seem
to me extremely simple. They are the very
means by which you hinder sane persons from
becoming mad. Awaken their activity; ac-
custom them to order; bring them to perceive
247


that they hold their being and their fate in
common with many millions; that extraordi-
nary talents, the highest happiness, the deepest
misery, are but slight variations from the gen-
eral lot: in this way, no insanity will enter;
or, if it has entered, will gradually disappear.
I have portioned out the old mans hours; he
gives lessons to some children on the harp;
he works in the garden; he is already much
more cheerful. He wishes to enjoy the cab-
bages he plants; my son, to whom in case of
death he has bequeathed his harp, he is ardent
to instrudl, that the boy may be able to make
use of his inheritance. I have said but little
to him, as a clergyman, about his wild myste-
rious scruples; but a busy life brings on so
many incidents, that ere long he must feel
how true it is, that doubt of any kind can be
removed by nothing but activity. I go softly
to work; yet if I could get his beard and
hood removed, I should reckon it a weighty
point; for nothing more exposes us to mad-
ness than distinguishing ourselves from others,
and nothing more contributes to maintain our
common-sense than living in the universal way
with multitudes of men. Alas! how much
there is in education, in our social institu-
tions, to prepare us and our children for in-
sanity !
Wilhelm stayed some days with this intelli-
gent divine; heard from him many curious
narratives, not of the insane alone, but of
persons such as commonly are reckoned wise
and rational, though they may have peculiar-
ities which border on insanity.
The conversation became doubly animated
on the entrance of the dodlor, with whom it
was a custom to pay frequent visits to his
friend the clergyman, and to assist him in his
labors of humanity. The physician was an
oldish man, who, though in weak health, had
spent many years in the practice of the noblest
virtues. He was a strong advocate for country
life, being himself scarcely able to exist except
in the open air. Withal he was extremely
active and companionable. For several years
he had shown a special inclination to make
friends with all the country clergymen within
his reach. Such of these as were employed
in any useful occupation, he strove by every
means to help; into others, who were still un-
settled in their aims, he endeavored to infuse
a taste for some profitable species of exertion.
Being at the same time in connection with a
multitude of noblemen, magistrates, judges,
he had in the space of twentv vears, in secret,
accomplished much towards the advancement
of many branches of husbandry; he had done
his best to put in motion every projedt that
seemed capable of benefiting agriculture, ani-
mals or men; and had thus forwarded im-
provement in its truest sense. For man,
he used to say, there is but one misfortune;
when some idea lays hold of him, which exerts
no influence upon adlive life, or still more,
which withdraws him from it. At the present
time, continued he on this occasion, I have
such a case before me ; it concerns a rich and
noble couple; and hitherto has baffled all my
skill. The affair belongs in part to your de-
partment, worthy pastor, and your friend here
will forbear to mention it again.
In the absence of a certain nobleman,
some persons of the house, in a frolic not en-
tirely commendable, disguised a young man
in the masters clothes. The lady was to be
imposed upon by this deception ; and although
it was described to me as nothing but a joke,
I am much afraid the purpose of it was to lead
this noble and most amiable lady from the
path of honor. Her husband, however, un-
expectedly returns; he enters his chamber;
thinks he sees his spirit; and from that time
falls into a melancholy temper, firmly believ-
ing that his death is near.
He has now abandoned himself to men
who pamper him with religious ideas; and I
see not how he is to be prevented from going
among the Herrnhuthers with his lady; and,
as he has no children, from depriving his re-
lations of the chief part of his fortune.
With his lady? cried our friend, in great
agitation ; for this story had affrighted him
extremely.
And alas! replied the dodlor, who re-
garded Wilhelms exclamation only as the
voice of common sympathy; this lady is
herself possessed with a deeper sorrow, which
renders a removal from the world desirable to
her also. The same young man was taking
leave of her: she was not circumspect' enough
to hide a nascent inclination towards him;
the youth grew bolder, clasped her in his arms,
and pressed a large portrait of her husband,
which was set with diamonds, forcibly against
her breast. She felt a sharp pain, which
gradually went off, leaving first a little red-
ness, then no trace at all. As a man, I am
convinced that she has nothing further to re-
proach herself with in this affair; as a physi-
cian, I am certain that this pressure could not
have the smallest ill effect. Yet she will not
248


be persuaded that an induration is not taking 1
place in the part; and if you try to overcome
her notion by the evidence of feeling, she
maintains, that though the evil is away this
moment, it will return the next. She con-
ceives that the disease will end in cancer;
and thus her youth and loveliness be alto-
gether lost to others and herself.
Wretch that I am ! cried Wilhelm, strik-
ing his brow, and rushing from the company
into the fields. He had never felt himself in
such a miserable case.
The clergyman and the physician were of
course exceedingly astonished at this singular
discovery. In the evening all their skill was
called for, when our friend returned, and, with
a circumstantial disclosure of the whole occur-
rence, uttered the most violent accusations of
himself. Both took interest in him; both felt
a real concern about his general condition,
particularly as he painted it in the gloomy
colors which arose from the humor of the
moment.
Next day the physician, without much en-
treaty, was prevailed upon to accompany him
in his return; both that he might bear him
company, and that he might, if possible, do
something for Aurelia, whom our friend had
left in rather dangerous circumstances. 1
463
1 In fact, they found her worse than they ex-
pe<5ted. She was afflicted with a sort of inter-
mittent fever, which could the less be mastered,
as she purposely maintained and aggravated
the attacks of it. The stranger was not intro-
duced as a physician : he behaved with great
courteousness and prudence. They conversed
about her situation bodily and mental: her
new friend related many anecdotes of persons
who, in spite of lingering disorders, had at-
tained a good old age; adding, that in such
cases, nothing could be more injurious than
the intentional recalling of passionate and dis-
agreeable emotions. In particular he stated,
that for persons laboring under chronic and
partly incurable distempers, he had always
found it a very happy circumstance when they
chanced to entertain and cherish in their
minds true feelings of religion. This he sig-
nified in the most unobtrusive manner; as it
were historically; promising Aurelia at the
same time the reading of a very interesting
manuscript, which he said he had received
from the hands of an excellent lady of his
friends, who was now deceased. To me,
he said, it is of uncommon value; and I
shall trust you even with the original. No-
thing but the title is in my handwriting: I
\ have called it, Confessions of a Fair Saint.
249


Touching the medical and dietetic treat-
ment of the racked and hapless patient, he
also left his best advice with Wilhelm. He
then departed; promising to write; and, if
possible, to come again in person.
Meanwhile, in Wilhelms absence, there had
changes been preparing such as he was not
aware of. During his directorship our friend
had managed all things with a certain liber-
ality and freedom; looking chiefly at the main
result. Whatever was required for dresses,
decorations and the like, he had usually pro-
vided in a plentiful and handsome style; and
for securing the co-operation of his people, he
had flattered their self-interest, since he could
not reach them by nobler motives. In this
he felt his conduct justified the more, as Serlo
for his own part never aimed at being a strict
economist; but liked to hear the beauty of his
theatre commended; and was contented, if
Aurelia, who conducted the domestic matters,
on defraying all expenses, signified that she
was free from debt, and could besides afford
the necessary sums for clearing off such scores
as Serlo in the interim, by lavish kindness to
his mistresses or otherwise, might have in-
curred.
Melina, who was charged with managing
the wardrobe, had all the while been silently
considering these things, with the cold spite-
ful temper peculiar to him. On occasion of
our friends departure, and Aurelias increas-
ing sickness, he contrived to signify to Serlo
that more money might be raised and less ex-
pended ; and consequently something be laid
up, or at least a merrier life be led. Serlo
hearkened gladly to such allegations, and
Melina risked the exhibition of his plan.
I will not say, continued he, that any
of youraCtors has at present too much salary;
they are meritorious people, they would find a
welcome anywhere; but for the income which
they bring us in they have too much. My
projeCt would be, to set up an opera: and as
to what concerns the playhouse, I may be al-
lowed to say it, you are the person for main-
taining that establishment upon your single
strength. Observe how at present your merits
are negleCted; and justice is refused you, not
because your fellow aCtors are excellent, but
merely good.
Come out alone, as used to be the case;
endeavor to attraCl around you middling, I
will even say inferior people, for a slender
salary; regale the public with mechanical dis-
plays, as you can so cleverly do; apply your
remaining means to the opera which I am
talking of; and you will quickly see, that
with the same labor and expense, you will
give greater satisfaction, while you draw in-
comparably more money than at present.
These observations were so flattering to
Serlo, that they could not fail to make some
impression on him. He readily admitted,
that, loving music as he did, he had long
wished for some arrangement such as this:
though he could not but perceive that the
public taste would thus be still more widely
led astray; and that with such a mongrel
theatre, not properly an opera, not properly
a playhouse, any residue of true feeling for
regular and perfeCt works of art must shortly
disappear.
Melina ridiculed, in terms more plain than
delicate, our friends pedantic notions in this
matter, and his vain attempts to form the
public mind, instead of being formed by it.
Serlo and he at last agreed, with full convic-
tion, that the sole concern was how to gather
money, and grow rich, or live a joyous life;
and they scarcely concealed their wish to be
delivered from those persons who at present
hindered them. Melina took occasion to
lament Aurelias weak health, and the speedy
end which it threatened; thinking all the
while direCtly the reverse. Serlo affeCted to
regret that Wilhelm could not sing; thus sig-
nifying that his presence was by no means in-
dispensable. Melina then came forward with
a whole catalogue of savings, which, he said,
might be effected; and Serlo saw in him his
brother-in-law replaced threefold. Both of
them felt well that secrecy was necessary in
the matter; but this mutual obligation only
joined them closer in their interests. They
failed not to converse together privately on
everything that happened; to blame what-
ever Wilhelm or Aurelia undertook; and to
elaborate their own projeCt, and prepare it
more and more for execution.
Silent as they both might be about their
plan, little as their words betrayed them, in
their conduCt they were not so politic as con-
stantly to hide their purposes. Melipa now
opposed our friend in many points that lay
within the province of the latter; and Serlo,
who had never aCled lovingly to his sister,
seemed to grow more bitter, the more her
sickness deepened, the more her passionate
and variable humors would have needed tol-
eration.
About this period they took up the Emilie
250


AW****1
Wilhelm Master's Apprenticeship. T?)'
Galotti of Lessing. The parts were very
happily distributed and filled; within the
narrow circle of this tragedy, the company
found room for showing all the complex
riches of their adting. Serlo in the charac-
ter of Marinelli was altogether in his place;
Odoardo was very well exhibited; Madam
Melina played the Mother with considerable
skill; Elmira gained distinction as Emilie;
Laertes made a stately Appiani; and Wil-
helm had bestowed the study of some months
upon the Princes part. On this occasion,
both internally and with Aurelia and Serlo,
he had often come upon this question: What
is the distinction between a noble and a well-
bred manner; and how far must the former
be included in the latter, though the latter is
not in the former?
Serlo, who himself in Marinelli had to act
the courtier accurately, without caricature, af-
forded him some valuable thoughts on this.
A well-bred carriage, he would say, is
difficult to imitate; for in strictness it is nega-
tive; and it implies a long-continued previous
training. You are not required to exhibit in
your manner anything that specially betokens
dignity; for, by this means, you are like to
run into formality and haughtiness; you are
rather to avoid whatever is undignified and
vulgar. You are never to forget yourself; are
to keep a constant watch upon yourself and
others; to forgive nothing that is faulty in
your own conduct, in that of others neither
to forgive too little nor too much. Nothing
must appear to touch you, nothing to agitate:
you must never overhaste yourself, must ever
keep yourself composed, retaining still an
outward calmness, whatever storms may rage
within. The noble character at certain mo-
ments may resign himself to his emotions;
the well-bred never. The latter is like a man
dressed out in fair and spotless clothes: he
will not lean on anything; every person will
beware of rubbing on him. He distinguishes
himself from others, yet he may not stand
apart; for as in all arts, so in this, the hardest
must at length be done with ease: the well-
bred man of rank, in spite of every separa-
tion, always seems united with the people
round him; he is never to be stiff or uncom-
plying ; he is always to appear the first, and
never to insist on so appearing.
It is clear, then, that to seem well-bred,
a man must actually be so. It is also clear
why women generally are more expert at
taking up the air of breeding than the other
sex ; why courtiers and soldiers catch it more
easily than other men.
Wilhelm now despaired of doing justice to
his part; but Serlo aided and encouraged him;
communicated the acutest observations on de-
tached points; and furnished him so well,
that on the exhibition of the piece, the public
reckoned him a very proper Prince.
Serlo had engaged to give him, when the
play was over, such remarks as might occur
upon his adting; a disagreeable contention
with Aurelia prevented any conversation of
that kind. Aurelia had adted the charadter
of Orsina in such a style as few have ever
done. She was well acquainted with the part,
and during the rehearsals she had treated it
indifferently; but in the exhibition of the
piece she had opened as it were all the sluices
of her personal sorrow; and the charadter was
represented so as never poet in the first glow
of invention could have figured it. A bound-
less applause rewarded her painful efforts; but
her friends, on visiting her when the play was
finished, found her half fainting in her chair.
Serlo had already signified his anger at her
overcharged adling, as he called it; at this
disclosure of her inmost heart before the pub-
lic, to many individuals of which the history
of her fatal passion was more or less com-
pletely known. He had spoken bitterly and
fiercely; grinding with his teeth and stamping
with his feet, as was his custom when enraged.
Never mind her, cried he, when he saw
her in the chair, surrounded by the rest; she
will go upon the stage stark naked one of these
days, and then the approbation will be per-
fedt.
Ungrateful, inhuman man! exclaimed
she; soon shall I be carried naked to the
place where approbation or disapprobation
can no longer reach our ears! With these
words she started up and hastened to the door.
The maid had not yet brought her mantle;
the sedan was not in waiting; it had been
raining lately; a cold, raw wind was blowing
through the streets. They endeavored to
persuade her to remain, for she was very
warm. But in vain; she purposely walked
slow; she praised the coolness, seemed to in-
hale it with peculiar eagerness. No sooner
was she home than she became so hoarse that
she could hardly speak a word; she did not
mention that there was a total stiffness in her
neck and along her back. Shortly afterwards
a sort of palsy in the tongue came on, so that
she pronounced one word instead of another.


They put her to bed; by numerous and co-
pious remedies the evil changed its form,
but was not mastered. The fever gathered
strength ; her case was dangerous.
Next morning she enjoyed a quiet hour.
She sent for Wilhelm and delivered him a
letter. This sheet, said she, has long
been waiting for the present moment. I feel
that my end is drawing nigh; promise me that
you yourself will take this paper; that by a
word or two you will avenge my sorrows on
the faithless man. He is not void of feeling;
my death will pain him for a moment.
Wilhelm took the letter, still endeavoring
to console her and to drive away the thought
of death.
No, said she; do not deprive me of
my nearest hope. I have waited for him
long; I will joyfully clasp him when he
comes.
Shortly after this the manuscript arrived
which the physician had engaged to send her.
She called for Wilhelm; made him read it to
her. The effedt which it produced upon her
the reader will be better able to appreciate
after looking at the following Book. The
violent and stubborn temper of our poor Au-
relia was mollified by hearing it. She took
252




Wilhelm Meistcr's Apprenticeship.
back the letter, and wrote another, as it seemed
in a meeker tone; charging Wilhelm at the
same time to console her friend, if he should
be distressed about her death; to assure him
that she had forgiven him, and wished him
every kind of happiness.
From this time she was very quiet, and ap-
peared to occupy herself with but a few ideas,
which she endeavored to extradl and appro-
priate from the manuscript, out of which she
frequently made Wilhelm read to her. The
decay of her strength was not perceptible;
.nor had Wilhelm been anticipating the event,
when one morning as he went to visit her he
found that she was dead.
Entertaining such respeCt for her as he had
done, and accustomed as he was to live in her
society, the loss of her affeCted him with no
common sorrow. She was the only person
that had truly wished him well; the coldness
of Serlo he had felt of late but too keenly. He
hastened therefore to perform the service she
had intrusted to him; he wished to be absent
for a time.
On the other hand, this journey was exceed-
ingly convenient for Melina; in the course of
his extensive correspondence he had lately
entered upon terms with a male and female
singer, who, it was intended, should, by their
performances in interludes, prepare the public
for his future opera. The loss of Aurelia, and
Wilhelms absence, were to be supplied in this
manner; and our friend was satisfied with
anything that could facilitate his setting out.
He had formed within himself a singular
idea of the importance of his errand. The
death of his unhappy friend had moved him
deeply; and having seen her pass so early
from the scene, he could not but be hostilely
inclined against the man who had abridged
her life and made that shortened term so full
of woe.
Notwithstanding the last mild words of the
dying woman, he resolved that, on delivering
his letter, he would pass a strict sentence on
her faithless friend; and not wishing to de-
pend upon the temper of the moment, he
studied an address, which in the course of
preparation became more pathetic than just.
Having fully convinced himself of the good
composition of his essay, he began committing
it to memory, and at the same time making
ready for departure. Mignon was present as
he packed his articles; she asked him whether
he intended travelling south or north; and
learning that it was the latter, she replied,
Then I will wait here for thee. She
begged of him the pearl necklace which had
once been Marianas. He could not refuse
to gratify the dear little creature, and he gave
it her; the neckerchief she had already. On
the other hand, she put the veil of Hamlets
Ghost into his travelling bag, though he told
her it could not be of any service to him.
Melina took upon him the directorship;
his wife engaged to keep a mothers eye upon
the children, whom Wilhelm parted with un-
willingly. Felix was very merry at the setting
out, and when asked what pretty thing he
wished to have brought back for him, he said,
Hark you! bring me a papa! Mignon
seized the travellers hand; then, standing on
her tiptoes, she 'pressed a warm and cordial,
though not a tender kiss upon his lips, and
cried, Master! forget us not, and come
soon back.
And so w.e leave our friend, entering on his
journey, amid a thousand different thoughts
and feelings, and here subjoin, by way of
close, a little poem, which Mignon had recited
once or twice with great expressiveness, and
which the hurry of so many singular occur-
rences prevented us from inserting sooner :
Oh, ask me not to speak, I pray thee!
It must not be reveald, but hid;
How gladly would my tongue obey thee,
Did not the voice of fate forbid !
At his appointed time revolving,
The sun these shades of night dispels;
The rock, its rugged breast dissolving,
Gives up to Earth its hidden wells.
In Friendships arms each heart reposes;
There soul to soul pours out its woe:
My lips an oath forever closes,
My sorrows God alone can know.
464
253


BOOK VI.
CONFESSIONS OF A FAIR SAINT.
TILL my eighth year I was always a healthy j
child; but of that period I can recoiled:
no more than of the day when I was born, j
About the beginning of my eighth year I was
seized with a hemorrhage; and from that mo- j
ment my soul became all feeling, all memory. |
The smallest circumstances of that accident j
are yet before my eyes, as if they had occurred
but yesterday.
During the nine months, which I then spent
patiently upon a sick bed, it appears to me i
the groundwork of my whole turn of thought J
was laid; as the first means were then af- i
forded my mind of developing itself in its !
own manner. i
I suffered and I loved; this was the peculiar .
form of my heart. In the most violent fits of ;
coughing, in the depressing pains of fever, I j
lay quiet, like a snail drawn back within its
house: the moment I obtained a respite I j
wanted to enjoy something pleasant; and, as
every other pleasure was denied me, I endeav- ;
ored to amuse myself with the innocent de- j
lights of eye and ear. The people brought [
me dolls and pidture-books; and whoever
would sit by my bed was obliged to tell me
something.
From my mother I rejoiced to hear the
Bible histories: and my father entertained
me with natural curiosities. He had a very
pretty cabinet; from which he brought me
first one drawer and then another, as occasion
served ; showing me the articles, and pointing
out their properties. Dried plants and inserts,
with many kinds of anatomical preparations,
such as human skin, bones, mummies and the
like, were in succession laid upon the sick-bed
of the little one; the birds and animals he
killed in hunting were shown to me before
they passed into the kitchen: and that the
Prince of the World might also have a voice
in this assembly, my aunt related to me love-
adventures out of fairy tales. All was accepted,
all took root. There were hours in which I
vividly conversed with the Invisible Power.
I can still repeat some verses, which I then
dictated, and my mother wrote down.
Often I would tell my father back again
what I had learned from him. Rarely did I
take any physic without asking where the
simples it was made of grew, what look they
had, what names they bore. Nor had the
stories of my aunt lighted on stony ground.
I figured myself out in pretty clothes, and
met the most delightful princes, who could
find no peace or rest till they discovered who
the unknown beauty was. One adventure of
this kind, with a charming little angel, dressed
in white, with golden wings, who warmly
courted me, I dwelt upon so long that my
254


imagination painted out his form almost to
visibility.
After a year I was pretty well restored to
health ; but nothing of the giddiness of child-
hood remained with me. I could not play
with dolls; I longed for beings able to return
my love. Dogs, cats and birds, of which my
father kept a great variety, afforded me de-
light : but what would I have given for such
a creature as my aunt once told me of! It
was a lamb, which a peasant girl took up and
nourished in a wood; but in the guise of this
pretty beast an enchanted prince was hid;
who at length appeared in his native shape, a
lovely youth, and rewarded his benefadlress
by his hand. Such a lamb I would have given
the world for.
But there was none to be had ; and as every-
thing about me went on in such a quite natu-
ral manner, I by degrees all but abandoned
nearly all hopes of such a treasure. Mean-
while I comforted myself by reading books,
in which the strangest incidents were set forth.
Among them all, my favorite was the Chris-
tian German Hercules: that devout love-
history was altogether in my way. Whenever
anything befell his dear Valiska, and cruel
things befell her, he always prayed before has-
tening to her aid, and the prayers stood there
verbatim. My longing after the Invisible,
which I had always dimly felt, was strength- i
ened by such means: for, in short, it was
ordained that God should also be my con-
fidant.
As I grew older, I continued reading,
Heaven knows what, in chaotic order. The
Roman Octavia was the book I liked be-
yond all others. The persecutions of the first
Christians, decorated with the charms of a
romance, awoke the deepest interest in me.
But my mother now began to murmur at
my constant reading; and to humor her my
father took away my books to-day, but gave
them back to-morrow. She was wise enough
to see that nothing could be done in this way ;
she next insisted merely that my Bible should
be read with equal diligence. To this I was
not disinclined: and I accordingly perused
the sacred volume with a lively interest.
Withal my mother was extremely careful that
no books of a corruptive tendency should
come into my hands: immodest writings I
would, of my own accord, have cast away;
for my princes and my princesses were all ex-
tremely virtuous.
To my mother, and my zeal for knowledge,
it was owing that with all my love for books
I also learned to cook; for much was to be
seen in cookery. To cut up a hen, a pig,
was quite a feast for me. I used to bring the
entrails to my father, and he talked with me
about them, as if I had been a student of
anatomy. With suppressed joy, he would
often call me his misfashioned son.
My twelfth year was now behind me. I
learned French, dancing and drawing; I re-
ceived the usual instrudlions in religion. In
the latter, many thoughts and feelings were
awakened; but nothing properly relating to
my own condition. I liked to hear the peo-
ple speak of God; I was proud that I could
speak on these points better than my equals.
I zealously read many books which put me in
a condition to talk about religion; but it
never once struck me to think how matters
stood with me, whether my soul was formed
according to these holy precepts, whether it
was like a glass from which the everlasting
sun could be reflefled in its glancing. From
the first, I had presupposed all this.
My French I learned with eagerness. My
teacher was a clever man. He was not a vain
empiric, not a dry grammarian : he had learn-
ing, he had seen the world. Instructing me
in language, he satisfied my zeal for know-
ledge in a thousand ways. I loved him so
much that I used to wait his coming with a
palpitating heart. Drawing was not hard for
me: I should have made greater progress had
my teacher possessed head and science; he
had only hands and practice.
Dancing was, at first, one of my smallest
amusements: my body was too sensitive for
it; I learned it only in the company of my
sisters. But our dancing-master took a thought
of gathering all his scholars, male and female,
and giving them a ball. This event gave
dancing quite another charm for me.
Amid a throng of boys and girls, the most
remarkable were two sons of the Marshal of
the Court. The younger was of my age, the
other two years older; they were children of
such beauty that, according to the universal
voice, no one had seen their like. For my
part, scarcely had I noticed them when I lost
sight of all the other crowd. From that mo-
ment I began to dance with care, and to wish
that I could dance with grace. How came it,
on the other hand, that these two boys distin-
guished me from all the rest ? No matter;
before an hour had passed, we had become
the warmest friends; and our little entertain-
255


ment did not end till we had fixed upon the
time and place where we were next to meet.
What a joy for me! And how charmed was
I next morning when both of them inquired
for my health, each in a gallant note, accom-
panied with a nosegay I have never since
felt as I then did Compliment was met by
compliment; letter answered letter. The
church and the public walks were grown a
rendezvous; our young acquaintances, in all
their little parties, now invited us together;
while, at the same time, we were sly enough
to veil the business from our parents, so that
they saw no more of it than we thought good.
Thus had I at once got a pair of lovers. I
had yet decided upon neither; they both
pleased me, and we did extremely well to-
gether. All at once the elder of the two fell
very sick. I myself had often been sick; and
thus I was enabled, by rendering him many
little dainties and delicacies suited for a sick
person, to afford some solace to the sufferer.
His parents thankfully acknowledged my at-
tention : in compliance with the prayer of
their beloved son, they invited me, with all
my sisters, to their house, so soon as he had
risen from his sick-bed. The tenderness,
which he displayed on meeting me, was not
the feeling of a child; from that day I gave
the preference to him. He warned me to
keep our secret from his brother; but the
flame could no longer be concealed ; and the
jealousy of the younger completed our ro-
mance. He played us a thousand tricks;
eager to annihilate our joys, he but increased
the passion he was seeking to destroy.
At last, then, I had actually found the
256
wished-for lamb; and this attachment a<5ted
on me like my sickness; it made me calm,
and drew me back from noisy pleasures. I
was solitary, I was moved; and thoughts of
God again occurred to me. He was again my
confidant, and I well remember with what
tears I often prayed for this poor boy, who
still continued sickly.
The more childishness there was in this ad-
venture, the more did it contribute to the
forming of my heart. Our French teacher
had now turned us from translating, into daily
writing him some letter of our own invention.
I brought my little history to market, shrouded
in the names of Phyllis and Damon. The
old man soon saw through it; and to render
me communicative praised my labor very
much. I still waxed bolder; came openly
out with the affair, adhering even in the mi-
nute details to truth. I do not now remem-
ber what the passage was at which he took
occasion to remark: How pretty, how nat-
ural it is! But the good Phyllis had better
have a care; the thing may soon grow seri-
ous.
It vexed me that he did not look upon the
matter as already serious; and I asked him,
with an air of pique, what he meant by seri-
ous. I had not to repeat the question; he ex-
plained himself so clearly, that I could scarcely
hide my terror. Yet, as anger came along
with it, as I took it ill that he should enter-
tain such thoughts, I kept myself composed;
I tried to justify my nymph; and said with
glowing cheeks: But, sir, Phyllis is an hon-
orable girl.
He was rogue enough to banter me about


my honorable heroine. While we were speak-
ing French, he played upon the word honnete,
and hunted the honorableness of Phyllis over
all its meanings. I felt the ridicule of this,
and was extremely puzzled. Pie, not to
frighten me, broke off; but afterwards often
led the conversation to such topics. Plays
and little histories, such as I was reading and
translating with him, gave him frequent op-
portunity to show how feeble a security against
the calls of inclination our boasted virtue
was. I no longer contradidled him; but I
was in secret scandalized; and his remarks
became a burden to me.
With my worthy Damon, too, I by degrees
fell out of all connection. The chicanery of
the younger boy destroyed our intercourse.
Soon after, both these blooming creatures
died. I lamented sore; however, in a short
time I forgot.
But Phyllis rapidly increased in stature; was
altogether healthy and began to see the world.
The hereditary prince now married; and a
short time after, on his fathers death, began
his rule. Court and town were in the live-
liest motion: my curiosity had copious nour-
ishment. There were plays and balls, with all
their usual accompaniments; and though my
parents kept retired as much as possible, they
were obliged to show themselves at court,
where I was of course introduced. Strangers
were pouring in from every side; high com-
pany was in every house; even to us some
cavaliers were recommended, others intro-
duced; and at my uncles men of every na-
tion might be met with.
My honest mentor still continued, in a mod-
est and yet striking way, to warn me; and I
in secret to take it ill of him. With regard
to his assertion, that women under every cir-
cumstance were weak, I did not feel at all
convinced; and here perhaps I was in the
right, and my mentor in the wrong; but he
spoke so earnestly, that once I grew afraid he
might be right, and said to him, with much
vivacity: Since the danger is so great, and
the human heart so weak, I will pray to God
that He may keep me.
This simple answer seemed to please him,
for he praised my purpose; but,on my side, it
was anything but seriously meant. It was, in
truth, but an empty word; for my feelings
towards the Invisible were almost totally ex-
tinguished. The hurry and the crowd I lived
in, dissipated my attention, and carried me
along as in a rapid stream. These were the
j emptiest years of my life. All day long, to
speak of nothing, to have no solid thought;
! never to do anything but revel: such was my
employment. On my beloved books I never
j once bestowed a thought. The people I lived
j among had not the slightest tinge of literature
; or science: they were German courtiers; a
; class of men at that time altogether destitute
of culture.
| Such society, it may be thought, must nat-
1 urally have led me to the brink of ruin. I
| lived away in mere corporeal cheerfulness;
: I never took myself to task, I never prayed,
| I never thought about myself or God. Yet I
; look upon it as a providential guidance, that
j none of these many handsome, rich and well-
| dressed men could take my fancy. They
[ were rakes, and did not conceal it; this
| scared me back: they adorned their speech
j with double meanings; this offended me,
; made me act with coldness towards them.
Many times their improprieties exceeded be-
lief ; and I did not restrain myself from being
j rude.
Besides, my ancient counsellor had once in
I confidence contrived to tell me, that, with the
; greater part of these lewd fellows, health as
i well as virtue was in danger. I now shud-
dered at the sight of them; I was afraid, if
i one of them in any way approached too near
me. I would not touch their cups or glasses,
even the chairs they had been sitting on.
Thus morally and physically I remained apart
from them; all the compliments they paid me
I haughtily accepted, as incense that was due.
j Among the strangers then resident among
! us, was one young man peculiarly distin-
! guished, whom we used in sport to call Nar-
; ciss. He had gained a reputation in the
I diplomatic line; and, among the various
| changes now occurring at court, he was in
hopes of meeting with some advantageous
; place. He soon became acquainted with my
j father; his acquirements and manners opened
| for him the way to a sele<5t society of most
] accomplished men. My father often spoke
in praise of him; his figure, which was very
| handsome, would have made a still better im-
! pression, had it not been for something of
| self-complacency, which breathed from the
i whole carriage of the man. I had seen him;
; I thought well of him; but we had never
j spoken.
I At a great ball, where we chanced to be in
company, I danced a minuet with him; but
this too passed without results. The more
465
257


violent dances, in compliance with my father,
who felt anxious about my health, I was ac-
customed to avoid; in the present case, when
these came on, I retired to an adjoining room,
and began to talk with certain of my friends, el-
derly ladies, who had set themselves to cards.
Narciss, who had jigged it for a while, at
last came into the room where I was; and
having got the better of a bleeding at the
nose, which had overtaken him in dancing,
he began speaking with me about a multitude
of things. In half an hour the talk had
grown so interesting, that neither of us could
think of dancing any more. We were rallied
by our friends; but we did not let their ban-
tering disturb us. Next evening, we recom-
menced our conversation, and were very
careful not to hurt our health.
The acquaintance, then, was made. Narciss
was often with my sisters and myself; and I
now once more began to reckon over and con-
sider what I knew, what I thought of, what I
had felt, and what I could express myself
about in conversation. My new friend had
mingled in the best society; besides the de-
partment of history and politics, with every
part of which he was familiar, he had gained
extensive literary knowledge; there was noth-
ing new that issued from the press, especially
in France, that he was unacquainted with.
He brought or sent me many a pleasant book;
but this we had to keep as secret as forbidden
love. Learned women had been made ridic-
ulous, nor were well-informed women tol-
erated,apparently, because it would have
been uncivil to put so many ill-informed men
to shame. Even my father, much as he de-
lighted in this new opportunity of cultivating
my mind, expressly stipulated that our literary
commerce should remain secret.
Thus our intercourse continued for almost
year and day; and still I could not say that,
in any wise, Narciss had ever shown me aught
of love or tenderness. He was always com-
plaisant and kind; but manifested nothing
like attachment: on the contrary, he even
seemed to be in some degree affected by the
charms of my youngest sister, who was then
extremely beautiful. In sport, he gave her
many little friendly names out of foreign
tongues; for he could speak two or three of
these extremely well, and loved to mix their
idiomatic phrases with his German. Such
compliments she did not answer very liber-
ally; she was entangled in a different noose;
and being very sharp, while he was very sen-
sitive, the two were often quarrelling about
trifles. With my mother and my aunt he kept
on very pleasant terms; and thus by gradual
advances, he was grown to be a member of
the family.
Who knows how long we might have lived
in this way, had not a curious accident altered
our relations all at once. My sisters and I
were invited to a certain house to which we
did not like to go. The company was too
mixed; and persons of the stupidest, if not
the rudest stamp were often to be met there.
Narciss, on this occasion, was invited also;
and on his account I felt inclined to go, for
I was sure of finding one, at least, whom I
could converse with as I desired. Even at
table we had many things to suffer; for sev-
eral of the gentlemen had drunk too much;
then, in the drawing-room, they insisted on
a game at forfeits. It went on with great
vivacity and tumult. Narciss had lost a for-
feit; they ordered him, by way of penalty, to
whisper something pleasant in the ear of every
member of the company. It seems he stayed
too long beside my next neighbor, the lady
of a captain. The latter on a sudden struck
him such a box with his fist that the powder
flew about me into my eyes. When I had got
my eyes cleared, and in some degree recov-
ered from my terror, I saw that both gentle-
men had drawn their swords. Narciss was
bleeding; and the other, mad with wine and
rage and jealousy, could scarcely be held back
by all the company. I seized Narciss, led
him by the arm up-stairs; and, as I did not
think my friend safe even here from his frantic
enemy, I shut the door and bolted it.
Neither of us considered the wound serious;
for a slight cut across the hand was all we saw.
Soon, however, I discovered that there was a
stream of blood running down his back, that
there was a deep wound on the head. I now
began to be afraid. I hastened to the lobby
to get help, but I could see no person ; every
one had stayed below to calm the raving cap-
tain. At last a daughter of the family came
skipping up; her mirth annoyed me; she was
like to die with laughing at the bedlam spec-
tacle. I conjured her, for the sake of heaven,
to get a surgeon; and she, in her wild way,
sprang down-stairs to fetch me one herself.
Returning to my wounded friend, I bound
my handkerchief about his hand, and a neck-
erchief, that was hanging on the door, about
his head. He was still bleeding copiously. He
now grew pale, and seemed as if he were about
258


to faint. There was none at hand to aid me:
I very freely put my arm round him; patted
his cheek, and tried' to cheer him by little
flatteries. It seemed to aC on him like a
spiritual remedy; he kept his senses, but sat
as pale as death.
At last the aCive housewife arrived; it is
easy to conceive her terror when she saw my
friend in this predicament, lying in my arms,
and both of us bestreamed with blood. No
one had supposed he was wounded; all im-
agined I had carried him away in safety.
Now smelling-bottles, wine and everything
that could support and stimulate were copi-
ously produced. The surgeon also came; and
I might easily have been dispensed with. Nar-
ciss, however, held me firmly by the hand; I
would have stayed without holding. During
the dressing of his wounds I continued wet-
ting his lips with wine; I minded not though
all the company were now about us. The
surgeon having finished, his patient took a
mute but tender leave of me, and was con-
duced home.
The mistress of the house now led me to her
bedroom: she had to strip me altogether; and
I must confess, while they washed the blood
from me, I saw with pleasure for the first time,
in a mirror, that I might be reckoned beautiful
without help of dress. No portion of my
clothes could be put on again; and, as the
people of the house were all either less or
larger than myself, I was taken home in a
strange disguise. My parents were of course
astonished. They felt exceedingly indignant
at my fright, at the wounds of their friend, at
the captains madness, at the whole occur-
rence. A very little would have made my
father send the captain a challenge, that he
might avenge his friend without delay. He
blamed the gentlemen that had been there,
because they had not punished on the spot
such a murderous attempt; for it was but too
clear that the captain, instantly on striking,
had drawn his sword, and wounded the other
from behind. The cut across the hand had
been given just when Narciss himself was
grasping at his sword. I felt unspeakably
affeCed, altered, orhow shall I express it ?
The passion which was sleeping at the deepest
bottom of my heart had at once broken loose,
like a flame getting air. And if joy and
pleasure are well suited for the first producing
and the silent nourishing of love, yet this
passion, bold by nature, is most easily im-
pelled by terror to decide and to declare
259


itself. My mother gave her little flurried
daughter some medicine, and made her go to
bed. With the earliest morrow my father
hastened to Narciss, whom he found lying
very sick of a wound-fever.
He told me little of what passed between
them; but tried to quiet me about the prob-
able results of this event. They were now
considering whether an apology should be ac-
cepted, whether the affair should go before a
court of justice, and many other points of that
description. I knew my father too well to
doubt that he would be averse to see the mat-
ter end without a duel; but I held my peace,
for I had learned from him before that women
should not meddle in such things. For the
rest, it did not strike me as if anything had
passed between the friends in which my inter-
ests were specially concerned; but my father
soon communicated to my mother the purport
of their further conversation. Narciss, he
said, appeared to be exceedingly affected at
the help afforded by me; had embraced him,
declared himself my debtor forever; signified
that he desired no happiness except what he
could share with me, and concluded by en-
treating that he might presume to ask my
hand. All this mamma repeated to me, but
subjoined the safe refledtion that, as for
what was said in the first agitation of mind in
such a case, there was little trust to be placed
in it. Of course, none, I answered,
with affedled coldness; though all the while I
was feeling Heaven knows what.
Narciss continued sick for two months;
owing to the wound in hi's right hand, he
could not even write. Yet, in the meantime,
he showed me his regard by the most obliging
courtesies. All these unusual attentions I
combined with what my mother had disclosed
to me; and constantly my head was full of
fancies. The whole city talked of the occur-
rence. With me they spoke of it in a pecu-
liar tone; they drew inferences which, greatly
as I struggled to avoid them, touched me very
close. What had formerly been habitude and
trifling was now grown seriousness and incli-
nation. The anxiety in which I lived was the
more violent the more carefully I studied to
conceal it from every one. The idea of losing
him frightened me; the possibility of any
closer union made me tremble. For a half- j
prudent girl there is really something awful in j
the thought of marriage.
By such incessant agitations I was once !
more led to recollect myself. The gaudy im- ;
agery of a thoughtless life, which used to
hover day and night before my eyes, was at
once blown away. My soul again began to
awaken ; but the greatly interrupted intimacy
with my Invisible Friend was not so easy to
renew. We still continued at a frigid dis-
tance; it was again something, but little to
the times of old.
A duel had been fought, and the captain
severely wounded, before I ever heard of it.
The public feeling was in all senses strong on
the side of my lover, who at length again ap-
peared upon the scene. But first of all he
came, with his head tied up and his arm in a
sling, to visit us. How my heart beat while
he was there The whole family was present;
general thanks and compliments were all that
passed on either side. Narciss, however,
found an opportunity to show some secret
tokens of his love to me, by which means my
inquietude was but increased. After his re-
covery he visited us throughout the winter on
the former footing; and in spite of all the
soft private marks of tenderness which he con-
trived to give me, the whole affair remained
unsettled, undiscussed.
In this manner was I kept in constant prac-
tice. I could trust my thoughts to no mortal;
and from God I was too far removed. Him
I had quite forgotten those four wild years.
I now again began to think of Him occasion-
ally; but our acquaintance had grown cool;
they were visits of mere ceremony, these ; and
as, moreover, in waiting on Him I used to
dress in fine apparel, to set before Him self-
complacently my virtue, honor and superiori-
ties to others, He did not seem to notice me,
or know me in that finery.
A courtier would have been exceedingly
distressed if the prince who held his fortune
in his hands had treated him in this way; but
for me, I did not sorrow at it. I had what I
required, health and conveniences; if God
should please to think of me, well; if not, I
reckoned I had done my duty.
This, in truth, I did not think at that pe-
riod; yet it was the true figure of my soul.
But, to change and purify my feelings, prepa-
rations were already made.
The spring came on. Narciss once visited
me, unannounced, and at a time when I hap-
pened to be quite alone. He now appeared
in the character of lover, and asked me if I
could bestow on him my heart, and, so soon
as he should obtain some lucrative and honor-
able place, my hand along with it.
260


ARTIST : E. BOSCH.
THE PROPOSAL


5SSR3SE
3 IV,
Wilhelm Masters Apprenticeship.
He had been received into our service; but j
at first they kept him back, and would not i
rapidly promote him, because they dreaded
his ambition. Having some little fortune of
his own, he was left with a slender salary.
Notwithstanding my regard for him, I knew
that he was not a man to treat with altogether
frankly. I drew up, therefore, and referred
him to my father. About my father he did
not seem to doubt; but wished first to be at
one with me, now and here. I at last said,
Yes; but stipulated as an indispensable con-
dition that my parents should concur. He
then spoke formally with both of them; they
signified their satisfaction; mutual promises
were given on the faith of his advancement,
which it was expected would be speedy. Sis-
ters and aunts were informed of this arrange-
ment, and the strictest secrecy enjoined on
them.
Thus from a lover I had got a bridegroom.
The difference between the two soon showed
itself to be considerable. If one could change
the lovers of all honorable maidens into bride-
grooms, it would be a kindness to our sex,
even though marriage should not follow the
connection. The love between two persons
does not lessen by the change, but it becomes
more reasonable. Innumerable little follies,
all coquetries and caprices, disappear. If the
bridegroom tell us that we please him better
in a morning cap than in the finest head-dress,
no discreet young woman will disturb herself
about her hair-dressing; and nothing is more
natural than that he too should think solidly,
and rather wish to form a housewife for him-
self than a gaudy doll for others. And thus
it is in every province of the business.
Should a young woman of this kind be for-
tunate enough to have a bridegroom who pos-
sesses understanding and acquirements, she
learns from him more than universities and
foreign lands can teach. She not only will-
ingly receives instruction when he offers it,
but she endeavors to elicit more and more
from him. Love makes much that was im-
possible possible. By degrees, too, that sub-
jection, so necessary and so graceful for the
female sex, begins: the bridegroom does not
govern like the husband; he only asks: but
his mistress seeks to discover what he wants,
and to offer it before he asks it.
So did experience teach me what I would
not for much have missed. I was happy;
truly happy, as woman could be in the world;
that is to say, for a while.
Amid these quiet joys a summer passed
away. Narciss gave not the slightest reason
to complain of him ; he daily became more
dear to me; my whole soul was his; this he
well knew, and knew also how to prize it.
Meanwhile, from seeming trifles, something
rose, which by-and-bv grew hurtful to our
union.
Narciss behaved to me as to a bride, and
never dared to ask of me such favors as were
yet forbidden us. But, about the boundaries
of virtue and decorum, we were of very differ-
ent opinions. I meant to walk securely ; and
so never granted him the smallest freedom
which the whole world might not have wit-
nessed. He, used to dainties, thought this
diet very striCl. On this point there was con-
tinual variance: he praised my modesty, and
sought to undermine my resolution.
The serious of my old French teacher now
occurred to me, as well as the defence which
I had once suggested in regard to it.
With God I had again become a little more
acquainted. He had given me a bridegroom
whom I loved; and for this I felt some thank-
fulness. Earthly love itself concentrated my
soul, and put its powers in motion; nor did
it contradict my intercourse with God. I
naturally complained to Him of what alarmed
me: but I did not perceive that I myself was
wishing and desiring it. In my own eyes I
was strong; I did not pray: Lead us not
into temptation ! My thoughts were far be-
yond temptation. In this flimsy tinsel-work
of virtue I came to God; He did not drive
me back. On the smallest movement towards
Him, He left a soft impression in my soul;
and this impression caused me always to return.
Except Narciss, the world was altogether
dead to me; excepting him, there was noth-
ing in it that had any charm. Even my love
for dress was but the wish to please him ; if
I knew that he was not to see me, I could
spend no care upon it. I liked to dance, but
if he were not beside me, it seemed as if I
could not bear the motion. At a brilliant
festival, if he were not invited, I could neither
take the trouble of providing new things, nor
of putting on the old according to the mode.
To me they were alike agreeable, or rather,
I might say, alike burdensome. I used to
reckon such an evening very fairly spent when
I could join myself to any ancient card-party,
though formerly I had not the smallest taste
for such things ; and if some old acquaintance
came and rallied me about it, I would smile,
4 66
261


perhaps for the first time all that night. So
likewise it was with promenades, and every
social entertainment that can be imagined.
Him had I chosen from all others,
His would I be, and not anothers;
To me his love was all in all.
Thus was I often solitary in the midst of
company; and real solitude was generally ac-
ceptable to me. But my busy soul could
neither sleep nor dream; I felt and thought;
and acquired by degrees some faculty to speak
about my feelings and my thoughts with God.
Then were feelings of another sort unfolded ;
but these did not contradict the former feel-
ings: my affection to Narciss accorded with
the universal scheme of nature: it nowhere
hindered the performance of a duty. They
did not contradi<5t each other, yet they were
immensely different. Narciss was the only
living form which hovered in my mind, and
to which my love was all directed ; but the
other feeling was not directed towards any
form, and yet it was unspeakably agreeable.
I no longer have it, I no longer can impart it.
My lover, whom I used to trust with all my
secrets, did not know of this. I soon discov-
ered that he thought far otherwise: he often
gave me writings which opposed, with light
and heavy weapons, all that can be called
connection with the Invisible. I used to read
the books, because they came from him ; but,
at the end, I knew no word of all that had
been argued in them.
Nor, in regard to sciences and knowledge,
was there want of contradiction in our con-
duct. He did as all men do, he mocked at
learned women; and yet he kept continually
instructing me. He used to speak with me
on all subjects, law excepted ; and, while con-
stantly procuring books of every kind for me,
he frequently repeated the uncertain precept,
That a lady ought to keep the knowledge
she might have more secret than the Calvinist
his creed in Catholic countries. And while
I, by natural consequence, endeavored not to
show myself more wise or learned than for-
merly before the world, Narciss himself was
commonly the first who yielded to the vanity
of speaking about me and my superiorities.
A nobleman of high repute, and at that
time valued for his influence, his talents and
accomplishments, was living at our court with
great applause. He bestowed especial notice
on Narciss, whom he kept continually about
him. They once had an argument about the
virtue of women. Narciss repeated to me
what had passed between them; I was not
wanting with my observations; and my friend
required of me a written essay on the subjeCl.
I could write French fluently enough; I had
laid a good foundation with my teacher. My
correspondence with Narciss was likewise car-
ried on in French: except in French books,
there was then no elegant instruction to be
had. My essay pleased the count; I was
obliged to let him have some little songs,
which I had lately been composing. In short,
Narciss appeared to revel without stint in the re-
nown of his beloved : and the story, to his great
contentment, ended with a French epistle in
heroic verse, which the count transmitted to
him on departing; in which their argument
was mentioned, and my friend reminded of
his happiness in being destined, after all his
doubts and errors, to learn most certainly
what virtue was in the arms of a virtuous and
charming wife.
He showed this poem first of all to me,
and then to almost every one; each thinking
of the matter what he pleased. Thus did he
aCt in several cases; every stranger, whom he
valued, must be made acquainted in our house.
A noble family was staying for a season in
the place to profit by the skill of our physi-
cian. In this house too Narciss was looked
on as a son: he introduced me there; we
found among these worthy persons the most
pleasant entertainment for mind and heart.
Even the common pastimes of society ap-
peared less empty here than elsewhere. All
knew how matters stood with us : they treated
us as circumstances would allow, and left the
main relation unalluded to. I mention this
one family, because in the after-period of my
life it had a powerful influence on me.
Almost a year of our connection had
elapsed ; and, along with it, our spring was
over. The summer came, and all grew drier
and more earnest.
By several unexpected deaths, some offices
fell vacant which Narciss might make preten-
sions to. The instant was at hand when my
whole destiny must be decided; and while
Narciss, and all our friends, were making
every effort to efface some impressions which
obstructed him at court, and to obtain for
him the wished-for situation, I turned with
my request to my Invisible Friend. I was
received so kindly that I gladly came again.
I confessed, without disguise, my wish that
Narciss might obtain the place; but my prayer
262


was not importunate; and I did not require
that it should happen for the sake of my peti-
tion.
The place was obtained by a far inferior
competitor. I was dreadfully troubled at this
news. I hastened to my room, the door of
which I locked behind me. The first fit of
grief went off in a shower of tears; the next
thought was, Yet it was not by chance that
it happened; and instantly I formed the
resolution to be well content with it, seeing
even this apparent evil would be for my true
advantage. The softest emotions then pressed
in upon me, and divided all the clouds of sor-
row. I felt that, with help like this, there
| oftener did I endeavor to renew them. I
hoped continually to meet with comfort where
I I had so often met with it; yet I did not al-
ways meet with it; I was as one that goes to
warm him in the sunshine,while there is some-
thing standing in the way that makes a shadow.
What is this ? I asked myself. I traced the
matter zealously, and soon perceived that it
all depended on the situation of my soul: if
this was not turned in the straightest diredlion
towards God, I still continued cold; I did
not feel His counter-influence; I could obtain
no answer. The second question was, What
hinders this direction? Here I was in a
wide field; I perplexed myself in an inquiry,
v'as nothing one might not endure. At din-
ner I appeared quite cheerful, to the great
astonishment of all the house.
Narciss had less internal force than I, and I
was called upon to comfort him. In his fam-
ily, too, he had many crosses to encounter,
some of which afflidted him considerably; and,
such true confidence subsisting between us, he
intrusted me with all. His negotiations for
entering on foreign service were not more for-
tunate; all this I felt deeply on his account
and mine; all this too I ultimately carried to
the place where my petitions had already been
so well received.
The softer these experiences w^ere, the
which lasted nearly all the second year of my
attachment to Narciss. I might have ended
the investigation sooner, for it was not long
till I had got upon the proper trace; but I
would not confess it, and I sought a thousand
outlets.
I very soon discovered that the straight di-
redtion of my soul was marred by foolish dis-
sipations, and employment with unworthy
things. The how and the where were clear
enough to me. Yet by what means could I
help myself, or extricate my mind from the
calls of a world where everything was either
cold indifference or hot insanity? Gladly
would I have left things standing as they were,
263