Charles James Lever.

The adventures of Arthur O'Leary online

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to the associations of the spot ; while my very servants,
regarding me only as a show part of the establishment,
neglected their duties on every side, and betook themselves
to ciceroneship, each allocating his peculiar territory to
himself, like the people who show the lions and the armour
in tlie Tower.

" No weather was either too hot or too cold, too sultry
or too boisterous, no hour too late or too early, no day was
sacred. If the family were at prayers, or at dinner, or at
breakfast, or in bed, it mattered not? they had como
many miles to see the chateau, and see it they would.

"'Alas!' thought I, ' if, as some learned persons sup-
pose, individuals be recognizable in the next world, what
a melancholy time of it will be yours, poor Vandyck ! If
tiiey make all this hubbub about the house 3'ou lived in,
what will they do about your fleshy tabernacle ?'

" As the seuscn advanced, the crowds increased, and as


antumn "began, the conflicting currents to anj from tlio
Rhine all met in my bedroom. There took place all the
rendezvous of Europe. Runaway daughters there first
repented in papa's arms, and profligate sons promised
amendment for the future. Myself and my wife were
passed by unnoticed and disregarded amid this tumult of
recognition and salutation. We were emaciated like
skeletons; our meals we ate when we could, like soldiers
on a retreat ; and we slept in our clothes, not knowing at
what moment the enemy might be upon us. Locks, bolts,
and bars were ineffectual ; our resistance only increased
curiosity, and our garrison was ever open to bribery.

" It was to no purpose that I broke the windows to lefc
in the north wind and acute rheumatism : to little good
did I try an alarm of fire every day about two, when the
house was fullest; and I failed signally in terrifying my
torturers when I painted the gardener's wife sky-blue,
and had her placed in the hall, with a large label over the
bed, ' collapsed cholera.' Bless your heart ! the tourist
cares for none of these ; and I often think it would have
saved English powder and shot to have exported half a
dozen of them to the East for the siege of Seringapatam.
Had they been only told of an old picture, a tea-pot, a
hearth-brush, or a candlestick that once belonged to God-
frey de Bouillon or Peter the Hermit, they would have
stormed it under all the fire of Egypt! Well, it's all
over at last, human patience could endure no longer. We
escaped by night, got away by stealth to Ghent, took post
horses in a feigned name, and fled from the Chateau de
Vandyck, as from the plague. Determined no longer to
trust to chances, I have built a cottage myself, which has
no historic associations further back than six weeks ago ;
and fearful even of being known as the ci-devant possessor
of the chateau, never confess to have been in Ghent in
my life, and if Vandyck be mentioned, ask if he is not the
postmaster at Tervueren.

" Here, then, I conclude my miseries. I cannot tell
what may be the pleasure that awaits the live ' lion,' but
I envy no man the delights that fall to his lot who
inhabits the den of the dead one."




When I look at the licading of this chapter, and read
there the name of a little town upon the Rhine — which,
doubtless, there is not one of my readers has not visited
— and reflect on how ^vorn the track, how beaten the path,
I have been guiding them on so long, I really begin to
feel somewhat faint-hearted. Have we not all seen
Brussels and Antwerp, Waterloo and Quatre Bras ? Are
we not acquainted mth Belgium, as well as we are with
Middlesex — don't we know the whole country, from its
cathedrals down to Sergeant Cotton— and what do we
want with Mr. O'Leary here ? And the Rhine — bless the
dear man ! — have we not steamed it up and down in every
dampschiffe of the rival companies ? The Drachcnfels and
at. Goar, the Caub and Bingen, arc familiar to our e^'es
as Chelsea and Tilbury Fort. True, all true, mesdames
and messieurs — I have been your fellow-traveller myself
I have watched you pattering along, John Murray in
hand, through every narrow street and ill-paved square,
conversing with your commissionaire, in such French
as it pleased God, and receiving his replies in equivalent
English. I have seen you at table dliote, vainly in search
of what you deemed eatable — hungry and thirsty in the
midst of plenty ; I have beheld you yawning at the opera,
and grave at the Vaudeville; and I knew you wei-e
making your summer excursion of pleasure, " doing your
BeU;ium and Germany," like men who would not be
behind their neighbours. And still, with all tliis fatigue
of sea and land — this rough-riding and railroading — tliis
penance of short bed, and shorter board — though you
studied your handbook from the Scheldt to SchafThausen,
you came Ijack with little more knowledge of the Con-
tinent than when you left home. It is true, your son
Thomas, that lamb-like scion of your stock, with light eyes
and hair, has been initiated into the mysteries of rourje-


etnoir and roulette \ " madame," your wife, has ob-
tained a more extravagant sense of what is becoming in
costume ; your daughter has had her mind opened to the
fascinations of a French cscroc, or a " refugee Pole ; ''
and you, yourself, somewhat the worse for your change of
habits, have found the salads of Germany imparting a
tinge of acidity to your disposition. These are, doubtless,
valuable imports to bring back ; not the less so, that they
are duty free. Yet, after all, "joy's recollection is no
longer joy ; " and I doubt if the retrospect of your wan-
derings be a repayment for their fatigues.

It is one o'clock, and you can't do better than sit down
to the table d'hote — call it breakfast, if your prejudices
run high, and take your place. I have supposed you at
"Die Sterne," "The Star," in the little square of the
town — and, certes, you might be less comfortably housed.
The cuisine is excellent, both French and German, and
the wines delicious. The company, at first blush, might
induce you to step back, under the impression that you
had mistaken the salon, and accidentally fallen upon a
military mess. They arc nearly all officers of the cavalry
regiments garrisoned at Bonn, well-looking and well-
dressed fellows — stout, bronzed, and soldier-like — and
wearing their moustaches like men who felt hair on the
upper lip a birthright. If a little too noisy and up-
roarious at table, it proceeds not from any quarrelsome
spirit — tlie fault, in a great measm-e, lies with the lan-
guage. German, except spoken by a Saxon Madchen,
invariably suggests the idea of a row, to an uninterested
bystander; and if Goethe himself were to recite his
ballads before an English audience, I'd venture long odds
tliey'd accuse him of blasphemy. Welsh and Irish are
soft zephyrs compared to it.

A stray Herr baron or two — large, portly, responsible-
looking men, with cordons at their button-holes, and pipe-
sticks projecting from their breast-pockets ; and a sprink-
ling of students of the higher class — it is too dear for
the others — make up the party. Of course, there are
Eng^lish — but my present business is not with them.

By the time you have arrived at the " Rae-braten, with
capers," which — on a fair average, taken in the months of


spring and summer — may be after about an hour and a
half's diligent performance — you'll have more time to
survey the partvi who by this time are clinking their
glasses, and drinking hospitably to each other in cham-
pagne — for there is always some newly returned comrade
to be feted — or a colonel's birthday, or a battle, a poet, or
some sentimentalism about the Rhine or the Fatherland,
to be celebrated. Happy, joyous spirits, removed equally
from the contemplation of vast wealth, or ignominious
poverty ! The equality so much talked of in France is-
really felt in Grermany, and, however the exclusives of
Berlin and Vienna, or the still more exalted coteries of
Baden or Darmstadt, rave of the fourteen quarterings,
which give the entree to their salons, the nation has no
sympathy with -these follies. The unaffected, simple-
minded, primitive German has no thought of assuming*
an air of distance to one his inferior in rank : and I have
myself seen a sovereign prince take his place at table
dhote, beside the landlord, and bob-nob with him, cor-
dially, during dinner.

I do not mean to say that the German has no respect
for rank ; on the contrary, none more than he looks up
to aristocracy, and reveres its privileges ; but he does s»
from its association with the greatness of his Fatherland.
The great names of his nobles recall those of the heroea
and sages of whom the traditions of the country bear
record — they are the watchwords of German liberty, or
German glory — they are the monuments of which he feela
proudest. His reverence for their descendants is not
tinged with any vulgar desire to be thought their equal
or their associate — far from it, he has no such yearnings.
His own position could never be affected by anything iu
theirs. The skipper of the fi.shing-cra(t might join convoy
with tlic great fleet — but he knows that he only com-
mands a shallop after all. And this, be it remarked, is a
very different feeling from what we occasionally see,
nearer liome. 1 have seen a good deal of studeut-life iui
Germany, and never witnessed anything approaching that
process so significantly termed " tuft-hunting" witli us ;
perhaps it may be alleged in answer, that rank and i-iches,
so generally allied in this couutry, are not so there ; and,


consequently, much of what t-he world deems the pres-
tige of condition, is wanting to create that respect.
Doubtless this is, to a certain extent, true; but I have
seen the descendants of the most distinguished houses in
Germany mixing with the students of a very humble
walk, on terms the most agreeable and fiiniiliar — assuming
nothing themselves, and, certainly, receiving no marks of
peculiar favour or deference from their companions.
When one knows something of German character, this
does not surprise. As a people, highly imaginative and
poetic in temperament — dreamy and contemplative —
ialling back rather on the past than facing the future —
they are infinitely more assailable by souvenirs than pro-
mises ; and in this wise, the ancient fame of a Hohen-
Btauffen has a far firmer hold on the attachment of a
Prussian, than the hopes he may conceive from his suc-
cessor. It was by recalling to tlie German youth the
once gloi-ies of the fatherland, that the beautiful Queen
of that country revived the drooping spirit of the nation.
It was over the tomb of the Great Frederick the monarch
swore to his alliance with Alexander, against the invading
legions of France. The songs of Uhland and Goethe, the
lyrics of Burgher and Korner, have their source and spirit
in the heartfelt patriotism of the people. The great fea-
tures of the land, and the more striking traits of national
character, are inextricably woven in their writings, as if
allied to each other ; and the Rhine, and the male energy
of German blood, their native mountains, and their native
virtues, are made to reciprocate with one another ; and
thus the eternal landmarks of Germany are consecrated
as the altars of its faithfulness and its truth.

The students are a means of perpetuating these notions.
The young German is essentially romantic. A poet and
ft patriot, his dreams are of the greatness of his fatherland
—of its high mission among the nations of Europe ; and
however he may exaggerate the claims of his country, or
over-rate his own efforts in her cause, his devotion is a
noble one ; and, when sobered down by experience and
years, gives to Germany that race of faithful and high-
souled people — the best guardians of her liberty, and the
most attached defenders of her soil.



A great deal of onouvaise plaismitcrie lias been
expended by French and English authors on the subject
of the German student. The theme was perhaps an
inviting one. Certainly nothing was easier than to ridi-
cule absurdities in their manner, and extravagancies in
their costume. Their long pipes and their long beards —
their long skirts, and long boots, and long sabres — their
love of beer, and their law-code of honour, Russell, in
his little work on Germany — in many respects the only
English book worth reading on that country — has been
most unjustly severe upon thcra. As to French authors,
one never expects truth from them, except it slip out,
unconsciously, in a work of fiction. Still, they have dis-
played a more than common spirit of detraction when
speaking of the German student. The truth is, they
cannot forget the part these same youths performed, in
repelling tlic French invasion of their country. The spirit
evoked by Korncr, and responded to from the Hartz to the
Black Forest, was the death-note to the dominant tyranny
of France. The patriotism which in the Basque provinces
called into existence the wild Guerillas, and in the Tyrol
created the Jjiger-bund ; in more cultivated Germany
elicited .that race of poets and warriors whose war-songs
aroused the nation from its sleep of slavery, and called
them to avenge the injuries of their nation.

Laugh, then, if you will, at the strange figures, whoso
uncouth costumes of cap and jack-boot bespeak them a
hybrid between a civilian and a soldier. The exterior is,
after all, no bad tj'pe of what lies within — its contradic-
tious are indeed scarcely as great. The spectacles and
moustaches — the note-book beneath tlie arm, and the sabre
at tlie side— the ink-bottle at the buttonhole, and the
spurs jingling at the heels — are all the outward signs of
that extraordinary mixture of patient industry and hot-
headed enthusiasm — of deep thought and impetuous rash-
ness — of mattei'-of-fact shrewdness and poetic fervour, and,
lastly, of the most forgiving temper, allied to an uncon-
querable propensity for duelling. Laugh if you will at
him — Init he is a fine fellow for all that ; and despite all
the contrarieties of his nature, has the seed of those
virtues which, in the peaceful life of his native country.


grow np into the ripe fruits of manly truth and

I wish you then to think well of the Bursche, and for-
give the eccentricities into which a college life, and a most
absurd doctrine of its ordinances, will now and then lead
him. That wild-looking youth, for all that he has a sabrc-
wound across his cheek, and wears his neck bare, like a
Malay — despite his savage moustache and his lowering
look, has a soft heart, though it beats behind that mass of
nonsensical braiding. He could recite you, for hours long,
the ballads of Schiller, and the lyrics of Uhland ; ah ! and
sing for you, too, with no mean skill, the music of Spohr
and Weber, accompanying himself the while on the piano,
Avith a touch that would make your heart thrill ; and I
am not sure that, even in his wildest moments of enthu-
siastic folly, he is not nearly as much an object of hope to
his country, as though he were making a "book" on the
"Derby," or studying "the odds" among the legs at

Above all things, I would beg of you, don't be too hasty
in judging him. Put not much trust in half what English
writers lay to his charge — believe not one syllable of any
Frenchman on the subject — no ! not even that estimable
Alexandre Dumas, who represents the "Student" as
demanding alms on the high-road — thus confounding him
with the " Lehr- Junker" — tlie travelling apprentice — who,
by the laws of Germany, is obliged to spend two years in
wandering through different countries, before he is per-
mitted to reside permanently in his own. The blunder
would have been too gross for anything but a Frenchman
and a Parisian ; but the Rue St. Denis covers a multitude
of mistakes, and the Boulevard de Montmartre is a dis-
pensation to all truth.

Howitt, if you can read a heavy book, will tell you
nearly everything a looJc can tell ; but setting a Quaker
to describe Burschen life, was pi*etty much like sending a
Hindoo to report at a county meeting.

Now all this time we have been wandering; from Bonn,
and its gardens, sloping down into the very Rhine, and its
beautiful park, the once pleasure-ground of that palace
which now forms the building of the TJniversitv. There

U 2


are few sweeter spots than this. You have escaped from
the loug, low swamps of Holland — you have left behind
you the land of marsh and fog — and already the moun-
tainous region of Germany breaks on the view : the
Sieben Gebirge are in sight, and the bold Drachenfels,
with its ruined tower on its summit — an earnest of the
glorious scenery to come. The river itself looks brighter
and fi'esher — its eddies seem to sparkle with a lustre they
know not when circling along the swampy shores of

Besides, there is really something in a name, and the
sound of " Deutschland " is pleasanter than that of the
country of " dull fogs and dank ditches ; " and although
I would not have you salute it, like Voltaire —

"Adieu ! canaille — canards— canaux !"

still be thankful for being where you are, take your coffee,
and let us have a ramble through the Park.

Alas ! the autumn is running into the winter — each
breeze that sighs along the ground is the dirge over the
dead leaves that lie strewn around us. The bare branches
throw their gaunt arms to and fro as the cold grey clouds
flit past. The student, too, has donned his fur-lined
mantle, and strides along, with cap bent down, and hurried

But a few weeks since and these alleys were crowded
hj gay and smiling groups, lingering beneath the shadow
■of tall trees, and listening to the Jager band that played
in yonder pavilion. The grey-haired professor moved
slowly along, uncovering his venerable head as some
student passed, and respectfully saluting him ; and there,
too, walked his fair daughters, the " frauleins with the
yellow hair!" How calmly sweet their full blue eyes!
how gentleness is written in their quiet gait ! Yet, see !
as each bar of the distant waltz is heard beating on the
ear, how their footsteps keep time and mark the measure.
Alas ! the summer hours have fled, and with them those
calm nights, when, by the flickering moon, the path-
ways echoed to the steps of lingering feet now homeward

I never can visit a University town in Germany without


a sigli after tlie time when I was myself a Bursclie, reafl
myself to sleep each night with Ludwig Tieck, and sported
two broadswords crosswise above my chimney.

I was a student of Gottingen — the Georgia Augusta^ —
and in the days I speak of — I know not well what King
Ernest has done since — it was rather a proud thing to be
" eiu Gottinger Bursche ; " there was considered some-
thing of style to appertain to it above the other Universi-
ties ; and we looked down upon a Heidelberger, or a Halle
man as only something above a " Philister." The pro-
fessors had given a great celebrity to the University too ;
there was Stromeyerin chemistry, and Hausraan in philo-
logy ; Behr in Greek ; Shrader in botany ; and, greater
than all, old Blumenbach himself, lecturing four daj's each
week on everything he could think of — natural philo-
sophy, physics, geography, anatomy, physiology, optics,
colours, metallurgy, magnetism, and the whale tishery in
the South Seas — making the most abstruse and grave sub-
jects interesting by the charm of his manner, and elevating
trivial topics into consequence by their connection with
weightier matters. He was the only lecturer I ever heai'd
of who concluded his hour to the regret of his hearei-s,
and left them longing for the continuation; anecdote and
illustration fell from him with a profusion almost incon-
ceivable and perfectly miraculous, when it is borne in
mind that he rarely was known to repeat himself in a
figure, and more rarely still in a story, and when he has
detected himself in this latter he would suddenly stop
short, with an " Ach Gott, I'm growing old," and imme-
diately turn into another channel, and by some new and
xinheard-of history, extiicate himself from his diflBculty.

With all the learning of a Buffon and a Cuvier, he was
simple and unaffected as a child. His little receptions in
the summer months were held in his garden ; I have him
before me this minute, seated under the wide- spreading
linden tree, with his little table before him, holding his
coffee and a few books ; his long hair, white as snow,
escaping beneath his round cap of dark green velvet,
falling loosely on his shoulders, and his large grey eyes,
now widely opened with astonishment at some piece of
intelligence a boy would have heard without amazement,


then twinkling with sly humoui' at the droll thoughts
passing through his mind ; while around him sat his
brother professors and their families, chatting pleasantly
over the little news of their peaceful community — the
good Vraus knitting and listening, and the Frauleius
demurely sitting by, wearing a look of mock attention to
some learned dissertation, and ever and anon stealing a
sly glance at tlio handsome youth who was honoured by
an invitation to the soiree. How charming, too, to hear
them speak of the great men of the land as their old
fx-iends and college companions ! It was not the author
of " Wallenstein " and "Don Carlos," but Frederick
Schiller, the student of medicine, as they knew him in
his boyhood — bold, ardent, and ambitious — toiling along
a path he loved not, and feeling -within him the working of
that great genius which, one day, was to make him the pride
of his fatherland; and Wieland — sti^ange and eccentric —
old in his youth, with the innocence of a child and the
"VN'isdom of a sage ; and Hoffman — the victim of his gloomy
imagination, whose spectral shapes and dark warnings
were not the forced eflToi-ts of his brain, but the com-
panions of his wanderings — the beings of his sleep. How
did they jest with him on his half-crazed notions, and
laugh at his eccentricities. It was strange to hear them
tell of going home with Hummel, then a mere boy, and
how, as the evening closed in, he sat down to the piano-
forte, and played and sung, and played again for hours
long, now exciting their wonder by passages of brilliant
and glittering effect, now knocking at their heai-ts by
tones of plaintive beauty. There was a little melody he
played the night they spoke of — some short and touching
ballad — the inspiration of the moment — made on the
approaching departure of some one amongst them, which,
many years after in " Fidelio," called down thunders of
applause ; mayhap the tribute of his first audience was a
Bweeter homage after all.

While tlius tliey chatted on, the great world without
and all its mighty interests seemed forgotten by them.
France might have taken another choleric fit, and been in
march upon the Rhine ; England might have once more
covered the ocean with her fleets, and scattered to the


^vaves the wreck of another Trafalgar ; Russia miji^ht be
pouring- down her liordes from the Don and Dnieper;
little chance had they of knowinj^ aught of these tilings!
The orchards that surrounded the ramparts shut out tlio
rest of Europe, and they lived as remote from all the colli-
sions of politics and the strife of nations as though tho
University had been in another planet.

I must not forget the old Hofrath Froriep, Ordentliche-
Professor von — Heaven knows what. No one ever saw his
collegium (lecture-room), no one ever heard him lecture.
He had been a special tutor to the princes — as the Dukes
of Cumberland aiid Cambridge were then called, about
forty years ago — and he seemed to live upon the memory
of those great days, when a " Royal Highness " took notes
beside his chair, and when he addressed his class " Princes
and Gentlemen ! " What pride he felt in his clasp of tho
Gaelph, and an autograph letter of the " Herzog von Cla-
rence,'' who once paid him a visit at his hoase in Gottingen!

It was a strange thing to hear the royal family of
England spoken thus of among foreigners, who neither

Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe adventures of Arthur O'Leary → online text (page 26 of 40)