Friedrich Spielhagen.

Hammer and Anvil: A Novel online

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2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].


* * * * *



_12mo, cloth, uniform in size and style, per vol._, $2.00.





The above translated by Prof. SCHELE DE VERE.


Translated by WM. HAND BROWNE.




* * * * *


"Such a novel as no English author with whom we are acquainted could
hare written, and no American author except Hawthorne. What separates
it from the multitude or American and English novels is the perfection
of its plot, and its author's insight into the souls of his
characters.... If Germany is poorer than England, as regards the number
of its novelists, it is richer when we consider the intellectual value
of their works. If it has not produced a Thackeray, or a Dickens, it
has produced, we venture to think, two writers who are equal to them in
genius, and superior to them in the depth and spirituality of their
art - Auerbach and Spielhagen." - _Putnam's Magazine_.

"The name is suggested by a passage In Goethe, which serves as a
motto to the book. Spielhagen means to illustrate what Goethe speaks
of - natures not In full possession of themselves, 'who are not equal to
any situation in life, and whom no situation satisfies' - the Hamlet of
our latest civilization. With these he deals in a poetic, ideal
fashion, yet also with humor, and, what is less to be expected in a
German, with sparkling, flashing wit, and a cynical vein that reminds
one of Heine. He has none of the tiresome detail of Auerbach, while he
lacks somewhat that excellent man's profound devotion to the moral
sentiment. There is more depth of passion and of thought in Spielhagen,
together with a French liveliness by no means common in German
novelists.... At any rate, they are vastly superior to the bulk of
English novels which are annually poured out upon us - as much
above Trollope's as Steinberger Cabinet is better than London
porter. - _Springfield Republican_.

"The reader lives among them (the characters) as he does among his
acquaintances, and may plead each one's case as plausibly to his own
judgment as he can those of the men whose mixed motives and actions he
sees around him. In other words, these characters live, they are men
and women, and the whole mystery of humanity is upon each of them. Has
no superior in German romance for its enthusiastic and lively
descriptions, and for the dignity and the tenderness with which its
leading characters are invested." - _New York Evening Post_.

"He strikes with a blow like a blacksmith, making the sparks fly and
the anvil ring. Terse, pointed, brilliant, rapid, and no dreamer, he
has the best traits of the French manner, while in earnestness and
fulness of matter he is thoroughly German. One sees, moreover, in his
pages, how powerful is the impression which America has of late been
making upon the mind of Europe." - _Boston Commonwealth_.

"The work is one of immense vigor; the characters are extraordinary,
yet not unnatural; the plot is the sequence of an admirably-sustained
web of incident and action. The portraitures of characteristic foibles
and peculiarities remind one much of the masterhand of the great
Thackeray. The author Spielhagen In Germany ranks very much as
Thackeray does with us, and many of his English reviewers place him at
the head and front of German novelists." - _Troy Daily Times_.

"His characters have, perhaps, more passion, and act their parts with
as much dramatic effect as those which have passed under the hand of
Auerbach." - _Cincinnati Chronicle_.

The N. Y. Times, of Oct. 23d, in a long Review of the above two works,
says: "The descriptions of nature and art, the portrayals of character
and emotion, are always striking and truthful. As one reads, there
grows upon him gradually the conviction that this is one of the
greatest of works of fiction.... No one, that is not a pure _egoiste_,
can read _Problematic Characters_ without profound and even solemn
interest. It is altogether a tragic work, the tragedy of the nineteenth
century - greater in its truth and earnestness, and absence of _Hugoese_
affectation, than any tragedy the century has produced. It stands far
above any of the productions of either _Freytag_ or _Auerbach_."

* * * * *

_LEYPOLDT & HOLT, Publishers_,



_A Novel_



_Author's Edition_.

25 Bond Street





_Author's Edition_.

25 Bond Street

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States
for the Southern District of New York.

AUBURN, N. Y. _81, 83, and 85 Centre Street_,




We were standing in a deep recess at the open window of our class-room.
The sparrows were noisily chattering in the school-yard, and some
scattered rays of the late summer sun glanced past the old gray walls
down to the grass-grown pavement; from the class-room, which was
high-ceilinged, sunless, and ill-ventilated, came the buzzing sound of
repressed talk from our schoolfellows, who were all in their places,
bent over their Sophocles, and watching for the arrival of the "old
man," who was looked for every moment.

"At the worst, you can shuffle through somehow," I was saying, when the
door opened and he came in.

_He_ - Professor Lederer, Provisory Director of the Gymnasium, and
Ordinarius of the first form,[1] "the old man," as we used to call
him - was in reality not exactly old, but a man past the middle of the
forties, whose small head, already turning gray, rested upon a stiff
white cravat, and whose tall and extraordinarily lean figure was
buttoned up, from one year's end to the other, summer and winter, in a
coat of the finest and glossiest black. His slender hands, of which he
took extreme care, with their long and tapering fingers - when twitching
nervously, as they had a habit of doing, close under my eyes - had
always a sort of fascination for me, and more than once I could
scarcely resist the temptation to seize one of those artistic-looking
hands and crush it in my own coarse brown fist.

Professor Lederer always paced the distance from the door to his desk
in twelve measured, dignified strides, head and eyes a little drooped,
with the austere look of intensest meditation; like a priest
approaching the sacrificial altar, or a Caesar entering the senate - at
all events like a being who, far removed from the modern plebeian
sphere, walked day by day in the light of the sun of Homer, and was
perfectly aware of the majestic fact. So it was never a judicious
proceeding to try to detain this classical man upon this short journey,
and in most cases a prohibitory gesture of his hand checked the
attempt; but the sanguine Arthur was so sure that his request would not
be refused, that he ventured it, reckless of further consequences. So,
stepping out in front of the professor, he asked for a holiday for the
day, which was Saturday.

"Certainly not," said the professor.

"To go sailing," urged Arthur, not in the least deterred by the
stern tone of the professor, for my friend Arthur was not easily
abashed - "to go in my uncle's steamboat to examine the oyster-beds
which my uncle planted two years ago. I have a note from my father, you
know, professor," and he produced the credential in question.

"Certainly not!" repeated the professor. His pale face flushed a little
with irritation; his white hand, from which he had drawn his black
glove, was extended towards Arthur with a classical minatory gesture;
his blue eyes deepened in hue, like the sea when a cloud-shadow passes
over it.

"Certainly not!" he exclaimed for the third time, strode past Arthur to
his desk, and after silently folding his white hands, explained that he
was too much excited to begin with the customary prayers. And presently
followed a stammering philippic - the professor always stammered when
irritated - against that pest of youth, worldliness and hankering after
pleasure, which chiefly infected precisely those upon whom rested the
smallest portion of the spirit of Apollo and Pallas Athené. "He was a
mild and humane man," he said, "and well mindful of the words of the
poet, that it was well to lay seriousness aside at the proper time and
place; ay, even at times to quaff the wine-cup and move the feet
in the dance; but then the cause should be sufficient to justify the
license - a Virgil must have returned from a far-off land, or a
Cleopatra have freed the people from imminent peril by her voluntary,
yet involuntary death. But how could any one who notoriously was one of
the worst scholars - yes, might be styled absolutely the worst, unless
one other" - here the professor gave a side-glance at me - "could claim
this evil pre-eminence - how could such a one dare to clutch at a
garland which should only encircle a brow dripping with the sweat of
industry! Was he, the speaker, too strict? He thought not. Assuredly,
no one could wish it more earnestly than he, and no one would rejoice
more heartily than he, if the subject of his severe rebuke would even
now give the proof of his innocence by translating without an error the
glorious chorus of the _Antigone_, which was the theme of the morning's
lecture. Von Zehren, commence!"

Poor Arthur! I still see, after the lapse of so many years, his
beautiful, but even then somewhat worn face, striving in vain to hold
fast upon its lips the smile of aristocratic indifference with which he
had listened to the professor's rebuke, as he took the book and read,
not too fluently, a verse or two of the Greek. Even in this short
reading the scornful smile gradually faded, and he glanced from under
his dropped lids a look of beseeching perplexity towards his neighbor
and Pylades. But how was it possible for me to help him; and who knew
better than he how impossible it was? So the inevitable came to pass.
He turned the "shaft of Helios" into a "shield of Æolus," and blundered
on in pitiable confusion. The others announced their better knowledge
by peals of laughter, and a grim smile of triumph over his discomfiture
even played over the grave features of the professor.

"The curs!" muttered Arthur with white lips, as he took his seat after
the recitation had lasted a couple of minutes. "But why did you not
prompt me?"

I had no time to answer this idle question, for it was now my turn. But
I had no notion of making sport for my comrades by submitting to be
classically racked; so I declared that I was even less prepared than my
friend, and added that I trusted this testimony would corroborate the
charge that the professor had been pleased to bring against me.

I accompanied these words with a threatening look at the others, which
at once checked their mirth; and the professor, either thinking he had
gone far enough, or not deigning to notice my insolent speech, turned
away with a shrug of the shoulders, and contented himself with treating
us with silent contempt for the rest of the recitation, while towards
the others he was unusually amiable, enlivening the lesson by sallies
of the most classical and learned wit.

No sooner had the door closed behind him, than Arthur stood up before
the first form and said:

"You fellows have behaved meanly again, as you always do; but as for
me, I have no notion of staying here any longer. The old man will not
be back any more to-day; and if the others ask for me, say I am sick."

"And for me too," cried I, stepping up to Arthur and laying my arm on
his shoulder. "I am going with him. A fellow that deserts his friend is
a sneak."

A moment later we had dropped from the window twelve feet into the
yard, and crouching between two buttresses that the professor might not
espy us as he went out, we consulted what was next to be done.

There were two ways of getting out of the closed court in which we now
were: either to slip through the long crooked corridors of the
gymnasium - an old monastery - and so out into the street; or to go
directly through the professor's house, which joined the yard at one
corner, and thence upon the promenade, which nearly surrounded the
town, and had in fact been constructed out of the old demolished
town-walls. The first course was hazardous, for it often happened that
a pair of teachers would walk up and down the cool corridors in
conversation long after the regular time for the commencement of the
lessons, and we had no minute to lose in waiting. The other was still
more dangerous, for it led right through the lion's den; but it was far
shorter, and practicable every moment, so we decided to venture it.

Creeping close to the wall, right under the windows of our class-room,
in which the second lesson had already begun, we reached the narrow
gate that opened into the little yard of the professor's house. Here
all was quiet; through the open door we could see into the wide hall
paved with slabs of stone, where the professor, who had just returned,
was playing with his youngest boy, a handsome black-haired little
fellow of six years, chasing him with long strides, and clapping his
white hands. The child laughed and shouted, and at one time ran out
into the yard, directly towards where we were hidden behind a pile of
firewood - two more steps of the little feet, and we should have been

I have often thought, since that time, that on those two little steps,
in reality, depended nothing less than the whole destiny of my life. If
the child had discovered us, we had only to come forward from behind
the wood-pile, which every one had to pass in going from the gymnasium
to the director's house, as two scholars on their way to their teacher
to ask his pardon for their misbehavior. At least Arthur confessed to
me that this idea flashed into his mind as the child came towards us.
Then there would have been another reprimand, but in a milder tone, for
the professor was a kind man at the bottom of his heart; we should have
gone back to the class-room, pretended to our schoolmates that our
running away was only a joke, and - well, I do not know what would have
happened then; certainly not what really did happen.

But the little trotting feet did not come to us; the father, following
with long strides, caught the child and tossed it in the air till the
black curls glistened in the sunshine, and then carried it back,
caressing it, to the house, where Mrs. Professor now appeared at the
door, with her hair in papers, and a white apron on; and then father,
mother, and child disappeared. Through the open door we could see that
the hall was empty - now or never was the time.

With beating hearts, such as only beat in the breasts of school-boys
bent on some dangerous prank, we stole to the door through the silent
hall where the motes were sparkling in the sunbeams that slanted
through the gothic windows. As we opened the house-door, the bell gave
a clear note of warning; but even now the leafy trees of the promenade
were beckoning to us; in half a minute we were concealed by the thick
bushes, and hastening with rapid steps, that now and then quickened to
a half run, towards the port.

"What will you say to your father?" I asked.

"Nothing at all, because he will ask no questions," Arthur replied; "or
if he does, I will say that I was let off; what else? It will be
capital; I shall have splendid fun."

We kept on for a while in silence. For the first time it occurred to me
that I had run away from school for just nothing at all. If Arthur came
in for a couple of days in the dungeon, he, at all events, would have
had "splendid fun," and thus, for him at least, there was some show of
reason in the thing. His parents, too, were very indulgent; his share
of the danger was as good as none, while I ran all the risk of
discovery and punishment without the least compensation; and my stern
old father was a man who understood no trifling, least of all in
matters of this sort. So once again, as many times before, I had helped
to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for somebody else. However, what
did it matter? Here, under the rustling trees, after our brisk race, it
was more pleasant than in the stifling class-room; and for me, in those
times, every silly, venturesome frolic had a pleasure in itself. So I
felt it a special piece of magnanimity on the part of my usually
selfish friend, when he suddenly said:

"Look here, George, you shall come too. Uncle charged me particularly
to bring as many friends as I could. I tell you it will be splendid.
Elise Kohl and Emilie Heckepfennig are going with us. For once I shall
leave Emilie to you. And then the oysters, and the champagne, and the
pineapple punch - yes, you certainly must come."

"And my father?" I said; but I only said it, for my resolution to be
one of the party was already taken. Emilie Heckepfennig - Emilie, with
her little turned-up nose and laughing eyes, who had always shown me a
decided preference; and recently, at forfeits, had given me a hearty
kiss, to which she was in no wise bound, and whom Arthur, the coxcomb,
was going to leave especially to me! Yes, I must go along, happen what

"Can I go as I am, do you think?" I asked, suddenly halting, with a
glance at my dress, which was plain and neat, it is true - I was always
neat - but not exactly the thing for company.

"Why not?" said Arthur. "What difference does it make? And, besides, we
have not a minute to spare."

Arthur, who was in his best clothes, had not looked at me, nor
slackened his pace in the least. We had not a minute to spare, that was
true enough, for as slipping through some narrow alleys we reached the
harbor, we heard the bell ringing on board the steamer that was lying
at the wharf just ready to start. The sturdy figure of the captain was
seen standing upon the paddle-box. We pushed through the crowd on the
wharf, ran up the gang-plank, which they were just hauling in, and
mingled with the gay throng on deck, as the wheels began to turn.


"How you startled me!" said Frau von Zehren, seizing her son by both
hands. "We began to think, what was really impossible, that Professor
Lederer had refused you permission. You see now, Zehren, that I was

"Well, it is all right now," replied the steuerrath.[2] "The young
ladies were inconsolable at the prospect of your absence Arthur - or am
I saying too much, Fräulein Emilie and Fräulein Elise?" and the
steuerrath turned with a polite wave of his hand to the young ladies,
who tittered and nodded their dark broad-brimmed straw-hats at each

"And now you must speak to your uncle," he went on; "but where is your
uncle, then?" and he ran his eye over the company that was moving about
the deck.

The Commerzienrath Streber came bouncing up. His little, light-blue
eyes glittered under bushy gray brows, the long peak of his
old-fashioned cap was pushed back from his bald forehead, the left
sleeve of his loose blue frock-coat, with gold buttons, had slipped
half off his shoulder, as he hurried along on his little legs, cased in
yellow nankeen trousers:

"Where has that rascal John put the - - ?"

"Allow me, brother-in-law, to present my Arthur - - ."

"Very good," cried the commerzienrath, without even giving a look at
the presentee. "Aha! there the villain is!" and he made a dart at his
servant, who was just coming up the companion-way with a tray of

The steuerrath and his lady exchanged a look, in which "the old brute,"
or some similarly flattering expression, was plainly legible. Arthur
had joined the young ladies and said something at which they burst out
laughing and rapped him with their parasols; I, whom nobody seemed to
notice, turned away and went on the more quiet forward deck, where I
found a seat upon a coil of rope, and leaning my back against the
capstan, looked out upon the bright sky and the bright sea.

In the meantime the boat had left the harbor, and was moving down with
the coast on our larboard, where the red roofs of the fishermen's
cottages shone through the trees and bushes; while on the narrow strip
of level beach here and there figures were seen, seafaring folks
probably, or sea-bathers, who were watching the steamer go by. To our
right the shore receded, so that it was only just possible to
distinguish it from the water; before us, but at a still more remote
distance, gleamed the chalk-coast of the neighboring island over the
blue expanse of sea, which now began to roughen a little under a
fresher breeze, while countless flocks of seabirds now flew up from the
approach of the puffing steamer, and now, with their cunning heads
turned towards us, sported on the waves and filled the air with their
monotonous cries.

It was a bright and lovely morning; but though I saw its beauty, it
gave me no pleasure. I felt singularly dejected. Had the _Penguin_
that, with a sluggishness altogether at variance with her name, was
slowly toiling through the water, been a beautiful swift clipper, bound
for China or Buenos Ayres, or somewhere thousands of miles away, and I
a passenger with a great purse of gold, or even a sailor before the
mast, with the assurance that I should never again set eyes on the
hateful steeples of my native town, I should have been light-hearted
enough. But now! what was it then that made me so low-spirited? The
consciousness of my disobedience? Dread of the disagreeable
consequences, now, to all human foresight, inevitable? Nothing of the
sort. The worst could only be that my stern father would drive me from
his house, as he had already often enough threatened to do; and this
possibility I regarded as a deliverance from a yoke which seemed to
grow more intolerable every day; and as the idea arose in my mind, I
welcomed it with a smile of grim satisfaction. No, it was not that.
What then?

Well, to have run away from school with an ardor as if some glorious
prize was to be won, and then, in a merry company, on the deck of a
steamboat, to sit away by myself on a coil of rope, not one of the
gentlemen or ladies taking the slightest notice of me, and with not
even the prospect that the waiter, with the caviar-rolls and port wine,
would at last come round to me! This last neglect, to tell the honest
truth, for the moment afflicted me most sorely of all. My appetite, as
was natural for a robust youth of nineteen, was always of the best,
and now by the brisk run from school to the harbor and the fresh
sea-breeze, it was sharpened to a distressing keenness.

I stood up in a paroxysm of impatience, but quickly sat down again. No,

Online LibraryFriedrich SpielhagenHammer and Anvil: A Novel → online text (page 1 of 62)