Charles James Lever.

The adventures of Arthur O'Leary online

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knew our land,' nor its language. One was suddenly
recalled to the recollection of that Saxon stock, from
which our common ancestry proceeded — the bond of union
between us — the soui'ce from which so many of the best
traits of English character take their origin. The lovo
of truth, the manly independence, the habits of patient
industry which we derived from our German blood, are
not inferior to the enterprising spirit and the chivalrous
daring of Norman origin.

But to return to the Hofrath, or Pi-ivy Councillor
Froriep, for so was he most rigidly styled. I remember
him so well as he used to come slowly down the garden-
walk, leaning on his sister's arm. He was the junior by
some years, but no one could have made the discovery
now ; the thing rested on tradition, howevei', and was not
disputed. The Fraulein Martha von Froriep was tho
Daguerreotype of her brother. To see them sitting oppo-
site each other was actually ludicrous ; not only were the
features alike, but the expressions tallied so completely, it
was as if one face reflected the other. Did the professor
look grave — the Fraulein Martha's face was Rerious. Did


he laup^li — straightway her features took a merry cast. If
his coti'ee was too hot, or did he burn his fingers with his
pipe, the old lady's sympathies were with him still. The
Siamese twins were on terms of distant acquaintanceship,
compared with the instinctive relation these -two boro
each other.

How was it possible, you will ask, that such an eternal
similarity should have marked their dispositions ? The
answer is an easy one. The Fraulein was deaf — perfectly
destitute of hearing. The last recorded act of her auditory
nerves was on the occasion of some public rejoicing, when,
twenty-four large guns were discharged in a few seconds
of time, and by the reverberation broke every window in
Gottingen ; the old lady, who was knitting at the time>
merely stopped her work and called out " Come in ! **
thinking it was a tap at the room-door. To her malady
•was it then owing if she so perfectly resembled the pro-
fessor, her brother. She Avatched him with an anxious
eye; his face was the dial that regulated every hour of
her existence ; and as the telegraph repeats the signal that
is made to it, yet knows not the interpretation of the sign,
BO did she signalize the passing emotions of his mind, long
perhaps after her own could take interest in the cause.

Nothing had a stranger effect, however, than to listen
to the pi'ofessor's conversation, to which the assent of the
deaf old laHy chimed in at short and regular intervals.
For years long she had been in the habit of corroborating'
everything he said, and continued the practice now from
habit. It was like a clock that struck the hour when,
all its machinery had run down. And so, whether the
Hofrath descanted on some learned question of Greek
particles, some much-disputed fact of ancient history, or,
as was more often the case, narrated with German broad-
ness some little anecdote of his student life, the old lady's
" Ja ! ja ! den sah Ich, selbst, da ! war Ich, auch ! " " Yes,
yes, I saw it myself; I was there, too," bore testimony ta
the truth of Tacitus or Heredotus, or, more precarious
still, to these little traits of her brother's 3-outhful exist-
ence, which, to say the least, were as well un corroborated »

The Hofrath had passed his life as a bachelor, a cir-
cumstance which could not fail to surprise, for his stories


were generally of his love adventures and perils ; and all
teemed with dissertations on the great susceptibility of
his heart, and his devoted admiration of female beauty —
weaknesses of which it was plain he felt vain, and loved
to hear authenticated by his old associates. In thia
respect Blumenbach indulged him perfectly ; now recall-
ing to his memory some tender scene, or some afflicting
separation, which invariably drew him into a story.

If these little reminiscences possessed not all the point
and interest of more adventurous histories, to me, at
least, they were more amusing by the force of truth, and
by the singular look, voice, and manner of him who
related them. Imagiue, then, a meagre old man, about
five feet two, whose head was a wedge with the thin side
foremost, the nose standing abruptly out, like the cut-
water of a man-o'-war gig ; a large mouth, forming a bold
semicircle, with the convexity downwards, the angles of
which were lost in a mass of wrinkles on his withered
cheeks ; two fierce-looking, fiery, little grey eyes set slant-
wise in his head without a vestige of eyelash over them ;
his hair, combed back with great precision, and tied
behind into a queue, had, from long pulling, gradually
drawn the eyebrows upwards to double their natural
height, where they remained fixed, giving to this uncouth
face an expression of everlasting surprise — in fact, he
appeared as if he were perpetually beholding the ghost of
somebody. His voice was a strange, unnatural, clattering
sound, as though the machinery of speech had been left a
long while without oiling, and could not work flippantly,
but, to be sure, the language was German, and that may
excuse much.

Such was the Herr Hofrath Froriep ; once, if you were
to believe himself, a lady-killer of the first water. Indeed,
still, when he stretched forth his thin and twisted shanks,
attired in satin shorts and black silk stockings, a gleam of
conscious pride would light up his features, and he would
seem to say to himself, " These legs might do some mis-
chief yet."

Caroline Pichler, the novelist, had been one of his loves,
and, if you believed himself, a victim to his fascinations.
However, another version of the tale had obtained cur


rency, aud was frequently alluded to by his companions at
those moments when a more boastful spirit than they
deemed suitable animated his discourse ; and at such times
I remarked that the Hofrath became unusually sensitive,
and anxious to change the subject.

It was one evening, when we sat somewhat later than
our wont in the garden, tempted by the delicious fragrance
of the flowers and the mild light of a new moon, that at
last the Hofrath's Wadchen made her appearance, lantern
in hand, to conduct him home. She carried on her arm a
mass of cloaks, shawls, aud envelopes that would have
clothed a procession, with which she proceeded leisurely
and artistically to dress up the professor and hia sister,
until the impression came over the bystanders tliat none
but she who hid them in that mountain of wearables would
ever be able to discover them aofain.

'' Ach Gott," exclaimed the llofrath, as she crowned
liim with a quilted nightcap, whose jaws descended and
fastened beneath the chin, like an antique helmet, leaving
the miserable old face, like an uncouth pattern, in the
middle of the Berlin embroidery — "Ach Gott, but for

" But for that ! " reiterated old Hausman, in a solemn
tone, as if he knew the secret grief his friend alluded to,
and gave him all his sympathy.

*' Sit down again, Froriep," said Blumenbach ; "it is an
hour too soon for young folk like us to separate. We'll
have a glass of Ilosenthaler, and you shall tell us that

" Be it so," said the Hofrath, as he made signs to the
iMiidchen that he would cast his skin. " Ich bin dabey !
I'm ready."

" Wi' tippenny we fear nae evil,

^Vi' usquebaugh we'd face the devil,"

quoth Burns ; and, surely, Tam's knowledge of human
nature took a wide circuit when he uttered the words.
The whole philosophy of temptation is comprised in the
distich, and the ad;ige of coming up "to a man's price"
has no happier illustration ; and certainly, had the poet
been a Bursche in Germany, he could not have conveyed
the " sliding-scale " of professors' agrccability under a more


suitable formula. He, who would be civil Avith a pipe,
becomes communicative with coffee, — brotherly with beer,
— but opens every secret of his nature under the high-
pressure power of a flask of Rhenish. The very smack of
the Hofrath's lips, as he drained his glass to the bottom,
and then exclaimed in a transport, " Er ist zum kissen, der
Wein ! " announced that the folding-doors of his heart
stood wide open, and that he might enter who would.

" Roseuthaler was Goethe's favourite," quoth Stro-
meyer ; " and he had a good taste in wine."

"Your gTcat folk ever," said Hausmau, "like to show
some decided preference to one vintage above the rest ;
Kapoleon adopted Chambertin, Jo.seph the Second drank
nothing but Tokav, and Peter the Great found brandy the
only fluid to his palate."

"A plague on their fancies," interrupted old Blumen-
bach. " Let us have the story."

"Ah! well, well," said the Hofrath, throwing up his
eyes with an air of sentimentalism, " so you shall. ' Love's
young dream ! ' was sweet, after all ! We were in the
Hartz," continued he, at once springing into his story with
a true Demosthenic abruptness — " we were in the Hartz
mountains, making a little tour, for it was ' semestre,' and
all the classes were closed in the University. There was
Tieck, and Feldtbourg the Dane, and Upsal, and old Lan-
gendorf of Jena, and Grotchen von Zobelschein, and Mina
Upsal, and Caroline, and Martha there — she, poor thing,
was getting deaf at the time, and could not take the same
pleasure as the rest of us: she was always stupid, you know."

Here he looked over at her, when she immediately
responded, —

" Ja, ja, Avhat he says is true."

" Each morning we used to set off up the mountains,
' botanizing and hammering among the limestone rocks,
and seeking for cryptogamia and felspar, lichens and
jungermannia, and primitive I'ock; mingling our little
diversions with pleasant talk about the poets, and reciting
verses to one another from Hans Sachs and the old
•writers, and chatting away about Schiller — the ' Lager '
was just come out, and more than one among us could
scarcely believe it was Frederick did it.


" Ticck and I soon found that we were rivals ; for heforo
a week each of ns was in love with Caroline. Now, Lud-
wig was a clever fellow, and had a thousand little v;ays of
ingratiating himself with a pretty woman — and a poetess
besides. He could come down every day to breakfast with
some ode or sonnet, or maybe a dream ; and then he was
read}- after dinner with his bit of poetry, which sometimes,
when he found a piano, he'd set to music ; or maybe in the
evening he'd invent one of those strange rigmarole stories
of his, about a blue-bottle fly, dying for love of a white
moth or some superannuated old drone bee, that retired
from public life, and spent his days reviling the rest of the
world. You know his nonsense well ; but, somehow, one
could not help listening, and, what's worse, feeling interest
in it. As for Caroline, she became crazed about gnats, and
spiders, and fleas, and would hear for whole days long the
stories of their loves and sorrows.

" For some time I bore up as well as I could. There
was a limit, Heaven be thanked, to that branch of the
creation, and as he had now got down to millepedes, I
trusted that before the week was over he'd have reached
mites — beyond which it was impossible he could be ex-
pected to proceed. Alas ! I little knew the resources of
his genius ; for one evening, when 1 thought him running
fast aground, he sat down in the midst of us, and began a
tale of the life and adventures of the Herr Baron von
Beetroot, in search of his lost love, the Fraulein von
Cucumber. This confounded narrative had its scene in an
old garden in Silesia, where there were incidents of real
beauty and interest interwoven, ay, and verses, that would
make your heart thrill. Caroline could evidently resist no j
longer. The Baron von Beetroot was ever uppermost in <
her mind, and if she ate ' gurkin-salade,' it brought the ;
tears into her eyes. In this sad strait, I wandered out
alone one evening, and, without knowing it, reached the
Rase !Miihle, near Oltdorf. There I went in and ordered
a .supper; but they had nothing but ' Thick milk'* and
' Kalte-schade.' No matter, thought I; a man in such

• Thick milk ; a mess of sour cream thickened with sugar and crumbs
of bread. " Kaite-f;cliade," the same species of abomination, the oniy
difference being beer, vice cream, for the fluid.


^ief as mine need little care what he eats ; and I ordered
both, that I might afterwards decide which l"d ]>refer.
They came, and were placed before me. Himmel ! und
Erde ! what did I do but eat the two ! beer and cream,
cream and beer, pepper and sugar, brown bread and nut-
meg ! Such was my abstraction, that I never noticed what
I was doing till I saw the two empty bowls before me.
*I am a dead Hofrath before day breaks,' said I, ' and I'll
make my will ;' but before I could put the plan into execu-
tion I became very ill, and they were obliged to carry me
to bed. From that moment my senses began to wander ;
exhaustion, sour beer, and despair, were all working within
me, and I was mad. It was a brief paroxysm, but a
fearful one. A hundred and fifty thousand ridiculous
fancies went at racing speed through my mind, and I
spent the night alternately laughing and crying. My
pipe, that lay on the chair beside the bed, figured in nearly
every scene, and performed a part in many a strange

" By noon the others learned where I was, and came
over to see me. After sitting for half an hour beside
me, they were going away, when I called Caroline and
Martha back. She blushed ; but, taking Martha's arm,
she seated herself upon a sofa, and asked in a timid voice
what I wished for.

" ' To hear me before I die,' replied I ; ' to listen to a
wonderful vision I have seen this night.'

" * A vision,' said Caroline — ' oh, what was it ? '

" * A beautiful and a touching one. Let me tell it to
you. I will call it, ' The never-to-be-lost-sight-of, though
not- the-less-on-that-account- to-be-concealed. Loves of the
Mug and the Meerschaum.'

" Caroline sprang to my side as I uttered these words,
and as she wiped the tears from, her eyes she sobbed
forth, —

" ' Let me but hear it — let me but hear it !'

" ' Sit down,' said I, taking her hand and pressing it to
my lips — ' sit down, and you shall.' With that I began
my tale. I suppose," continued the Hofrath, " you don't
wish to have the story ? "

" Gott bewahr! Heaven forbid," broke in the -whole


company in a breatli. " Leave the Mug aud the Meer-
schaum, and go on with Caroline."

" Well, from that hour her heart was mine. Ludwig
might call all the reptiles that ever crawled, every vege-
table that ever grew, to his aid — the victory was with
me. He saw it, and, irritated by defeat, returned to
Berlin without bidding ns even farewell, and we never
heard of him till we saw his new novel of 'Fortuuio.'
But to go on ; the day after Tieck left us was my birth-
day, and they all arranged to give me a little fete ; and
truly nothing could be prettier. The garden of the inn
was a sweet spot, and there was a large linden like this,
where the table was spread ; and there was a chair all
decked with roses and myrtle for me— Caroline herself
had done it ; and they had composed a little hymn in
honour of me, wherein were sundry compliments to my
distinction in science and poesy — the gilts of my mind
and the graces of my person. Ach, ja ! I was handsome

" Well, well, I must close my tale — I cannot bear to
think of it even now, Caroline came forward, dressed in
white, with a crown of roses and laurel leaves intertwined,
and approached me gracefully, as I sat waiting to receive
lier — all the rest ranged on either side of me.

* Auf seine stirne, wo, der licht- — '

* Upon tliat brow where shines the light *

said Caroline, raising the chaplet.

" ' Ach Du Heiliger ! ' screamed Martha, who only that
instant saw I was bareheaded, ' the dear man will catch
his death of cold ! ' and with that she snatched this con-
founded nightcap from her pocket, and rushing forward,
clapped it on my head before I could know it was done.
: I struggled and kicked, like one possessed, but it was
" of no use ; she had tied the strings in a black knot,
and they could neither bo loosened nor broken. ' Be
Ktill there,' said she ; ' thou knowest well that at fifty-
three ' You can conceive," said the Hofrath in a

parenthesis, " that her passion obliterated her memory.'*
—•At fifty-three one can't play the fool like at twenty.'^
"Ach, ja! it was over with me for ever. Caroline


Rcroamed at the cap, first langliing, then crying, and then
both — the rest nearly died of it, and so did I. Caroline
would never look at me after, and I came back home,
disappointed in my love — and all because of a woollen

When the Hofrath concluded, he poured the remainder
of the Rosenthaler into his glass, and bowing to each in
turn, wished us good night, while, taking the Fraulein
j\Iartha's arm, they both disappeared in the shade, as
the little party broke up and each wended his way


If I were not sketching a real personage, and retailing an
anecdote once heard, I should pronounce the Hofrath von
Floriep a fictitious character, for which reason I bear you
no ill-will if you incline to that opinion. I have no wit-
ness to call in my defence. There Avere bat two English-
men in Gottingcn, in my day — one of them is now no
more. Poor fellow ! he had just entered the army; his
regiment was at Corfu, and he was spending the six
months of his first leave in Germany. We chanced to
be fellow-travellers, and ended by becoming friends.
When he left me, it was for Vienna, from which, after a
short stay, he departed for Venice, where he purchased
a yacht, and with eight Greek sailors, sailed for a cruise
through the Ionian Islands. He was never seen alive
again ; his body, fearfully gashed and wounded, was dis-
covered on the beach at Zante. His murderers, for such
they were, escaped with the vessel, and never were cap-
tured. Should any " 61st" man throw his eye over these
pages he will remember that I speak of one beloved by
every one who knew him. With all the heroic daring of
the stoutest. heart, his nature was soft and gentle as a
child's. Poor G ! some of the happiest riomeuts of


my life were spent with you — some of tlie saddest in
thinking over your destiny.

You must take my word for the Hofrath, then, good
reader. They who read the modern novels of Germany
— the wild exaggerations of Fouque and Hoffman, Museua
and Tieck, will comprehend that the story of himself
has no extravagance whatever. To ascribe language and
human passions to the lower animals, and even to the in-
animate creation, is a favourite German notion, the indul-
gence of which has led to a great deal of that mysticism
we find in their writings ; and the secret sympathies of
cauliflowers and cabbages, for young ladies in love, is a
constant theme among this class of novelists.

A word now of the students, and I have done. What-
ever the absurdities in their code of honour, however
ludicrous the etiquette of the " comment," as it is called,
there is a world of manly honesty and trueheartedness
among them. There is nothing mean or low, nothing
dishonourable nor unworthy in the spirit of the Burschen-
schaft. Exaggerated ideas of their own importance — an
overweening sense of their value to the Vaterland — there
are in abundance, as well as a mass of crude, unsettled
notions about liberty, and the regeneration of Germany.
But, after all, these are harmless fictions ; they are not
allied to any evil passions at the time — they lead to no
bad results for the future. The murder of Kotzebue, and
the attempt on the life of Napoleon by Staps, were much
more attributable to the mad enthusiasm of the period
than to the principles of the student league. The spirit
of the nation revolted at the tyranny they had so long
submitted to, and these fearful crimes were the agonized
expression of endurance pushed to madness. Only they
who witnessed the frantic joy of the people, when the
tide of fortune turned against Napoleon, and his baffled
legions retreated through Germany, on their return from
the Russian campaign, can understand how deeply stored
were the wrongs for which they were now to exact ven-
geance. The "volker schlaght" — the "people's slaughter "
— as they love to call the terrible fight of Leipsic, was the
dreadful recompense of all their sufferings.

When the French Revolution first broke out, the Ger-


man students, like many wiser and more thinking heads
than theirs, in our own country, wore struck with the
great movement of a mighty people in their march to
liberty ; but when, disgusted with the atrocities that
followed, they afterwards beheld France the first to assail
the liberties and trample on the freedom of every other
country, they regarded her as a traitor to the cause she
once professed ; and while their apathy, in the early wars
of the republican armies marked their sympathy with the
wild notions of liberty, of which Frenchmen affected to
be the apostles in Europe — yet, when they saw the lust of
conquest and the passion for dominion usurp the place
of those high-sounding virtues — Liberie, ]£galUe, the
reverse was a tremendous one, and may well excuse, if
excuse were needful, the proud triumph of the German
armies, when they bivouacked in the streets of Paris.

The changed fortunes of the Continent have of course
obliterated every political feature in the student life of
Germany ; or, if such still exist, it takes the form merely
of momentary enthusiasm, in favour of some banished
professor, or a Burschen festival, in honour of some
martyr of the press. Still their ancient virtues survive,
and the German student is yet a type — one of the few
remaining — of the Europe of thirty years ago. Long may
he remain so, say I. Long may so interesting a land'
have its national good faith and brotherly affection rooted
in the minds of its youth. Long may the country of
Schiller, of Wieland, and of Goethe, possess the race of
those who can appreciate their greatness, or strive to-
emulate their fame.

I leave to others the task of chronicling their beer-
orgies, their wild festivals and their duels ; and thougb
not disposed to defend them on such charges, I might,
' were it not invidious, adduce instances, nearer hon^e, of
practices little more commendable. At those same i'es-
tivals, at many of which I have been present, I have heard
music that would shame most of our orchestras, and
listened to singing such as I have never heard surpassed,
except within "the walls of a grand opera ; and as to tlieir
duelling, the practice is bad enough, in all conscience, but
still I would mention one instance, of which I myself


was a witness, and perhaps even in so little fertile a field
we may find one grain of goodly promise.

Among my acquaintances in Gottingen were two stu-
dents, both Prussians, and both from the same small
town of Magdebourg. They had been school-fellows, and
came together to the University, where they lived toge-
ther on terms of brotherly afi'ection, which, even there,
where friendship takes all the semblance of a sacred com-
pact, was the subject of remark. Xever were two men
less alike, however, than these. Eisendecker was a bold,
hot-headed fellow, fond of all the riotous excesses of
Burschen life; his face, seamed with many a scar, declared
him a " hahn," as, in stiadent phrase, a confirmed duellist
is termed. He was ever foremost in each scheme of wild
adventure, and continually brought up before the senate
on some charge of insubordination. Von Miihry, his
companion, was exactly the opposite. His sobriquet — for
nearly every student had one — was " der Zahme — the
gentle," and never was any more appropriate. His dis-
position was mildness itself. He was very handsome,
almost girlish in his look, with large blue eyes, and fine,
soft silky hair, which, German like, he wore upon his
neck. His voice — the index of his nature — soft, low,
and musical, would have predisposed you at once in his
favour. Still, those disparities did not prevent the attach-
ment of the two youths; on the contrary, they seemed
rather to strengthen the bond between, — each, as it were,

Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe adventures of Arthur O'Leary → online text (page 27 of 40)