Charles James Lever.

The adventures of Arthur O'Leary online

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appreciation ; and as for the wine, he drank it like a
Swahian, whole goblets full at a draught. At length,
holding up an empty ilask, he cried out, " Champagne! "
And away trotted the fat man to his cellar, rather sur-
prii^ed, it is true, how rapidly three flasks of his " Ai
Mousseux" had disappeared.

This was now the critical moment, and, with a half-
sigh of regret, the major leaped into the street, and the
first captain relieved the guard.

Poor fellow ! he was fearfully hungry, and helped him-
self to the first dish before him, and drank from the bottle
at his side, like one whose stomach had long ceased to be
pampered by delicacies.

" Du Heiligcr! " cried the host to himself, as he stood
behind his chair, and surveyed the performance. " Du
Heiliger! how he does eat, one wouldn't suppose he had
been at it these fifty minutes. Art ready for the capon
now?" continued he, as he removed the keel and floor-
timbers of a saddle of mutton.

" The capon," sighed the other ; " yes, the capon now."
Alas ! he knew that delicious dish was reserved for his
successor. And so it was ; before the host re-entered,
the second cajitain had filled his glass twice, and was
anxiously sitting in expectation of the capon.

Such a bird as it was! — a very sarcopliagus of truffles
— a mine of delicious dainties of every clime and cuisine !

"Good- eh?"

" Delicious ! " said the second captain, filling a bumpei,
and handing it to the host, while he clinked his own
against it in friendly guise.

" A pleasant fellow, truly," said the host, " and a social
— but. Lord, how he eats ! There go the wings and the
back ! Ilinimel und Erde ! if he isn't at the pasty now ! "


"Wine I " cried the Frenchman, striking the table with
the empty bottle, " Wine ! "

The host crossed himself, and went out in search of
more liquor, muttering, as he shuffled along, " What would
have become of me if I hadn't paid the indemnity ! "

The third captain was at his post before the host got
back, and whatever the perlbrmance of his predecessors, it
was nothing to his. The pasty disapjicared like magic,
the fricandeau seemed to have melted away like snow
before the sun ; while he drank indiscriminately Hock,
Hermitage, and Bordeaux, as though he were a camel
victualling himself for a three weeks' tramp in the desert.

The poor host now walked round the board, and sur-
veyed the debris of the feast with a sad heart. Of all
the joints which he hoped to have seen cold on the shelves
of his larder, some ruined fragments alone remained.
Here was the gable end of a turkey — -there the side- wall of a
sirloin ; on one side, t'c broken roof of a pasty ; on the other,
the bare joists of a rib of beef. It was the Pahiiyra of
things eatable, and a sad and melancholy sight to gaze on.

" What coines next, good host?" cried the third cap-
tain, as he wiped his lips with his napkin.

" Next ! " cried the host, in horror, " Hagel und regen !
thou canst not eat more, surely ? "

" I don't know that," replied the other, " the air of
these mountains freshens the appetite — I might pick a
little of something sweet."

With a groan of misery, the poor host placed a plum
pie before the all-devouring stranger, and then, as if to
see that no legerdemain was practised, stationed himself
directly in front, and watched every morsel, as he put it
into his mouth. No, the thing was all fair, he ate like
any one else, grinding his food and smacking his lips like
an" ordinary mortal. The host looked down on the floor,
and beneath the cloth of the table — what was that for ?
Did he suspect the stranger had a tail ?

"A glass of mulled claret with cloves!" said the
Frenchman, " and then you may bring the dessert."

" The Heavens be praised ! " cried the host, as he swept
the last fragments of the table into a wide tray, and left
the room.

E E 2


" E,'ad ! I thought you had foi-gotten me altogether,
captaiu," said a stout, fat fellow, as he squeezed himself
with ditficnlty through the wind(,\v, and took his seat at
the table. This was the quartermaster of the regiment, and
celebrated for his appetite throughout the whole brigade

*' Ach Gott, how he is swelled out ! " was the first
exclamation of the host, as he re-entered the room ; " and
no wonder either, when one thinks of what he has eaten."

" How now, what's this ? " shouted the quartermaster,
as he saw the dessert arranging on the table, " Sacre
tonnere ! what's all this ? "

" The dessert — if you can eat it," said the host, with a
deep sigh.

" Eat it !— no— how the devil should T ? "

" I thought not," responded the other, submissively,
•• I thought not ; even a shark will get gorged at last ! "

" Eh, what's that you say?" replied the quartermaster,
roughl}- ; " you don't expect a man to dine on figs and
walnuts, or dried prunes and olives, do you ? "

" Dine ! " shouted the host, " and have you not dined ? "

"No, miUe /joinhes, that I haven't, as you shall soon see?"

" Alle Gute Geisten lobeu den Hernn ! " said the host,
blessing himself; "an thou be'st the Satanus, I charge
thee, keep away ! "

A shout of laughter from without prevented the quarter-
master's reply to this exorcism being heard ; while the
trumpet sounded suddenly for " boot and saddle."

With a bottle of wine stuffed in each pocket, the
quartermaster rose from table, and hurried away to join companions, who had received sudden orders to push
forward towards Cassel ; and as the bewildered host stood
at his window, while the regiment filed past, each officer
saluted hira politely as they cried out in turn, " Adieu,
Monsieur! my compliments to the braten " — " the turkey
was delicious" — "the salmi perfect" — "thecapon glorious"
— " the venison a chef-d'oeuvre /" down to the fat quarter-
master, who, as he raised a flask to his lips, and shook his
head reproachfully, said, "Ah! you old screw, nothing
Detter than nuts and raisins to give a hungry man for his
dinner ! " And so they disappeared from the Platz, leaving
mine host in a maze of doubt and bewilderment, which it


took many a day and night's meditation to solve to his
own conviction.

Though 1 cannot promise myself that my reader will
enjoy this story as much as 1 did, I could almost vouch
for hi^ doing so if he heard it from the host of the
" Reuten Krantz" himself, told with the staid gravity of
German manner, and all the impressive seriousness of
one who saw in the whole adventure nothing ludicrous
whatever, but only a most unfair trick, that deserved the
stocks or the pillory.

He was indeed a character in his way; his whole life
had only room for three or four incidents, about and
around which his thoughts revolved, as on an axis, and
whose impression was too vivid to admit of any occurrence
usurping their place. When a boy, be had been in the habit
of acting as guide to the " Wartburg" to his father's guests
— for they were a generation of innkeepers time out of
mind — and even yet he spoke of those days with transport.

It was amusing, too, to hear him talk of Luther as
familiarly as though he had known him personally, men-
tioning little anecdotes of his career, and repeating his
0])inions as if they were things of yesterday ; but indeed
his mind had no more perspective than a Chinese tea-tray
— everything stood besides its neighbour, without shadow
or relief of any kind; and to hear him talk, you would
say that Melancthon and ]M;irshal Macdonald might have
been personal friends, and Martin Luther and Ney passed
an evening in the blue salon of the "Reuten Krantz." As
for Eisenach, and all about it, he knew as little as though
it were a city of Egypt. He hoped there was a public
library now — he knew there was in his father's time, but
the French used to make cartridges with the books in many
towns they passed through — perhaps they had done the
same here. These confounded French — they seemed some
way to fill every avenue of his brain ; there was no inlet of
his senses without a French sentinel on guard over it.

Now — for my sins, I suppose — it so chanced that I was
laid up here for several weeks with a return of an old
rheumatism I had contracted in one of my wanderings.
Books they brought me ; but, alas ! the only volumes a
German circulating library ever contains are translations


of the very worst French and English works. The wofi-
ther was, for the most part, rainy and broken ; and even
when my strength permitted me to venture into the
garden, I generally got soundly drenched before I reached
tlie house again. What insupportable ennui is that which
inhabits the inn of a little remote town, v^ere come few
travellers and no news! What a fearful blank in exist-
ence is such a place ! Just think of sitting in the little
silent and sanded parlour, with its six hard chairs, and
one straight old sofa, upholstei-ed with flock and fleas;
counting over the four prints in black wood frames upon
the walls. Scripture subjects, where Judith, with a
quilted petticoat and sabots, cuts the liead off a Holo-
lernes in buckskins and top-boots, and catches the blood
in a soup-tureen; an Abraham, with a horse-pistol, is
threatening a little Isaac in jacket and trousers, with a
most villanous expression about the corners of his eyes;
and the old looking-glass, cracked in the middle, and
representing your face in two hemispheres, with a nose and
one eye to each— the whole tinged with a verd antique
coloui-ing which makes you look like a man in bronze.

Outside the door, but near enough for every purpose of
annoyance, stands a great hulking old clock, that ticks
away incessantly — true type of time that passes on its
road whether you be sick or sorry, merry or mournful.
With what a burr the old fellow announces that he is
going to strike— it is like the asthmatic wheezing of some
invalid making an exertion beyond his strength ; and
then, the heavy plod of sabots back and forward through
the little hall, into the kitchen, and out again to the
stable-yard; with the shrill yell of some drabbled wench
screan)ing for " Johann," or " lacob ;" and all the little
platitudes of the menarje that reach you, seasoned from
time to time by the cijarse laughter of the boors, or the
squab! liing .sounds that issue streetwards, where some
vendoi- of " sclinaps" or " kirch-wasser" holds his tap.

What a dreary sensation comes over one, to tliink of
the people who pass their lives in such a place, with its
poor, little, misei-il^le interests and occupations, and how
one shudders at the bare idea of sinking down to the level
of such a stagnant pool — knowing the small notorieties,


and talkins; like them; and yet, with all thi- holy horror,
how rapidly and insensibly is such a change induced.
Every day rubs off some former prejudice, ana induca^
some new habit, and, as the eye of the prisoner in his
darksome dungeon learns to each object,
clear, as if in noon-day, so will tlie mind accommodate
itself to the moral gloom of such a cell as this, ay, and
take a vivid in eacli slight event that goes on
there, as though he were to the " manner born."

In a fortnight, or even less, I lay awake, conjectiiring
why the urchin who brought the mail from Gotha had
not arrived ; — before three weeks I participated in the
shock of the town, at the conduct of the Frow von Biit-
terwick, who raised the price of Schenkiii or Schwein-
fleisch, I forget which, by some decimal of a farthing;
and fully entei'ed into the distressed feelings of the in-
habitants, who foretold a European war from the fact that
a Prussian corporal, with a pack on his shoulders, was seen
passing through the town that morning before daybreak.

When I came to think over these things, I got into a
grievovis state of alai m. " Another week, Arthur," said
I, " and thou art done for; Eisenach may claim thee as

its own ; and the Grand Duke of , Heaven forgive

me ! but I forget the potentate of the realm ; he may sum-
mon thee to his counsels as the Hoch Wohlgeborner und
Gelehrter, Herr von O'Leary ; and thou mayest be found
here some half century hence, with a pipe in thy mouth,
and thy hands in th}' side pockets, discoursing fat conso-
nants, like any Saxon of tht-m all. Kun for it, man, run
for it ; away, with half a leg, if need be, out of the king-
dom with all haste; and if it be not larger than its neigh-
bours, a hop, step, and jump, ou^ht to suffice for it."

"Will any one tell me — I'll wager they cannot — wliy
it is, tliat if you pass a week or a month in any out-of-
the-way place, and either from sulk or sickness lead a
solitary kind of humdrum life, that when you are about
to take your leave, you find half the family in tears.
Every man, woman, and child think it incumbent on
them to sport a mourning tace. The host wnpes his eye
with the corner of the bill ; the waiter blows his nose in
the napkin ; the chambei-niU''J l"<-.'ds up her apron ; and


Boots, with a side wipe of his blacking hand, leaves his
countenance in a very tit state for the application of the
polishing brush. As for yourself, the position is awkward
beyond endurance.

That instant you feel sick of the whole household, from
the cellar to the garret. You had perilled your soul in
damning them all in turn ; and now it comes out that
you are the " enfant cheri " of the establishment. What
a base, black-hearted fellow you must be all the time; in
short, you feel it; otherwise, why is your finger exploring
so lo'sr in the recesses of your purse. Confound it, you
have been very harsh and hasty with the good people, and
they did their best after all.

Take up your abode at Mivart's or the " Clarendon;"
occn])y for the six months of winter the suite of apart-
ments at Crillon's or Meurice's ; engage the whole of the
"Schwann," at Vienna; ay, or even the " Grand Monarque,"
at Aix; and I'll wager my head you go forth at the end
of it without causing a sigh in the whole household.
Don't flatter yourself that Mivart will stand blubbering
over the bill, or ]\feurice be half choked with his sobs.
The " Schwann" doesn't care a feather of his wing, and as
for the " Grand Monarque," you might as well expect his
prototype would rise from the grave to embrace you. A
civil grin, that half implies, " You've been well plucked
here," is the extent of parting emotion, and a tear couldn't
be had for the price of Tokay.

Well, I bid adieu to the " Reuten Krantz," in a different
Bort of mood from what I expected. I shook the old
"Rue-branch " himself heartily by the hand, and having
distributed a cir.le of gratuities— for the sum total of
which I should have proba})ly been maltreated by a
London waiter— 1 took my staff and sallied forth towards
Weimar, accompanied by a shower of prayers and kind
wishes, that, whether sincere or not, made me feel
happier the whole day after.



I NARROWLY escaped being- sent to the guard-huuse for the
night, as I approaciicd Erfart; for, seeing that it was
near nine o'clock, when the gates of the fortress are
closed, 1 quickened my pace to a trot, not aware of the
" reglenient" which forbids any one to pass rapidly over
the drawbridges of a fortification. Now, though the rule
be an admii'able one when applied to those heavy dili-
gences, which, with three tons of |)as8engers, and .six of
Intruaefe, come lumberiiic: along the road, and niif^ht vrell
be supposed to shake the foundations of any breastwork
or barbican; yet, that any man of mortal mould, any mere
creature of the biped class- — even with two shirts and a
night-cap in his pack — could do this, is more than I can
conceive; and so it was, I ran, and if I did, a soldier ran
after me, three more followed him, and a corporal brought
up the rear, and, in fact, so imposing was the whole scene,
that any unprejudiced spectator, not over versed in military
tactics, niipht have imagined that T was about to storm
Ei'Iurt, and had stolen a march upon the garrison. After
all, the whole thing was pretty much like what Murat did
at Vienna, and perhaps it was that which alarmed them.

I saw I had committed a fault, but what it was I
couldn't even guess ; and as they all spoke together, and
such precious bad German, too, (did you ever know a
foreigner not complain of the abominable faults people
commit in speaking their own language !) that though I
cried " peccavi," I remembered myself, and did not volun-
teer any confessions of iniquity before I heard the special
indictment, and it seemed I had very little chance of
doing that, such was the confusion and uproar.

Now, there are two benevolent institutions in all law,
and, according, to these, a man may plead either " in
forma pauperis " or " in forma stultus." I took the latter
plea, and came off" triumphant; my sentence was j-ecorded
as a " Dummer Englander," and I went my way rejoicing.

Well, "I wish them luck of it!'' as we say in Ireland,


who have a fancy for taking fortified towns. Here wns 1
inside of one — the gates closed, locked, and barred be-
hind me, a wall of thirty feet high, and a ditcli of fifty
feet deep, to keep me in— and hang me if 1 could pene-
trate into the interior. I suppose 1 was in what is called
a pnrallel, and I walked along, turning into a hundred
little crooked corners and zig-zng contrivances, where an
embrasure, and a cannon in it, were sure to be found.
But as nothing are so like each other as stone walls, and
as I never, for the life of me, could know one seventy-
four pounder from another, I wandered about, very sadly
puzzled to ascertain if I had not been perambulating the
pame little space of ground for an ho<ir and a half. Egad !
thought I, if there were no better engineers in the world
than me, they might leave the gates wide open, and let the
guard go to bed. Hollo! herd's some one coming along —
that's fortunate, at last — and just tlien, a man wrapped in
a loose cloak, German fashion, passed close beside me.

" May I ask, mein Herr, which is the direction of the
town, and where I can find an inn?" said I, taking off my
liat most punctiliously — for although it was almost pitch-
dark, that courtesy cannot ever be omitted, and I have heard
of a German who never talked to himself withoutuncoveriug.

" Straightforward, and then to your left by the angle
of the citadel ; you can take a short cut through the
covered way "

" Heaven forbid ! " interrupted I ; " where all is fair
and open my chance is bad enough — there is no need of a
concealed passage to confuse me."

" Come with me, then," said he, laughing; " I perceive
you are a foreigner — this is somewhat longer, but I'll .^ee
you safe to the ' Kaiser,' where you'll find yourself very

My guide was an officer of the garrison, and seemed
consideiably flattered by the testimony I bore to the im-
pregnability of the fortress; describing as we went along,
for my better instruction, the various remarkable features
of the place. Lord, how weary I was of casemates and
embrasures, of bomb-proofs and culverins, half-moons and
platforms: and sis I continued, from politeness, to exprc.>,3
my surprise and wonderment, he took the more pains to


expound tliose hiddeu treasures ; and I verllj believe Jio
took me a mile out of my way to point out the place, iv
the dark, where a large gun lay, that took a charge of ono
hundred and seventy livres weight. I was now fairly
done up, and having sv/orn solemnly that the French
array dare not show their noses this side of the Rhine so
long as a corporal's guard remained at Erfurt, I begged
hard to have a peep at the " Kaiser."

" Won't you see the Rotlien Stein ? " said he.

" To-morrow, — if I survive," said I, dropping ray yoice
for the last words.

" Nor the Wundor Brucke? "

" With God's bleusing-, to-morrow, I'll visit them all ; T
came for the purpose." Heaven pardon the lie, I was
almost fainting.

" Be it so, then," said he, " we must go back again now.
We have come a good distance out of our roid."

With a heavy groan, 1 turned back; and if I did not
curse Vauban and Carnot, it was because i am a good
Christian, and of a most forgiving temper.

" Here we are now — this is the ' Kaiser,' " said he, as
after half an hour's sharp walking we stood within a huge
archway, dimly lighted by a great old-fashioned lantern.

" You stop ht-re some days, I think 3'ou said ? "

" Yes, for a fortnight ; or a week, at least "

" Well, if you'll permit me, I shall have great pleasure in
conducting you through the fortress to-morrow and nest
day. You can't see it all under two days, and even with that,
you'll have to omit the arsenals and the shot-batteries."

I expressed my most grateful acknowledgments, with
an inward vow that if I took refuge in the big mortar,
I'd not be caught by my friend the next morning,

" Good night, then," said he, with a polite bow. "Bis
!Morgen." — " Bis Morgen," repeated I, and entered the
" Kaiser."

The "Romischer Kaiser" was a great place once; but
now, alas! its " Diana is fallen!" Time was when two
emperors slept beneath its roof, and the ambassadors of
kings a'^^sembled within its walls. It was here Napoleon
exercised that wonderful spell of enchantment he pos-
sessed above all other men, aal so captivated the mini of


the Emperor Alexander, that not even all the subsequent
invasion of his empire, nor the disasters of Moscow, could
eradicate the impression. The Czar alone, of his enemies,
would have made terms with him in 1814; and when no
other voice was raised in his favour, Alexander's was
heard, commemorating their ancient friendship, and re-
calling the time when they had been like brothers. Erfurt
was the scene of their first friendship. ^^lany now living
have seen Napoleon with his arm linked within Alex-
ander's, as they walked along, and marked the spell-bound
attention of the Czar, as he listened to the burning words
and rapid eloquence of Buonaparte, who, with a policy all
his own, devoted himself completely to the young emperor,
and resolved on winning him over. They dined, and went
to tlie theatre together each evening; and the flattery of
this preference, so ostentatiously paraded by Napoleon,
had its full effect on the ardent imagination and chivalrous
heart of the youthful Czar.

Fetes, reviews, gala parties, and concerts, followed each
other in quick succession. The corps of the "rran9ais"
was brought expressly from Paris ; the ballet of the Opera
also came, and nothing was omitted which could amuse
the hours of Alexander, and testify the desire of his host
— for such Napoleon was — to entertain him with honour.
Little, then, did Napoleon dream that the frank-hearted
youth, who hung on every word he spoke, would one day
prove the most obstinate of all his enemies ; nor was it for
many a day after that he uttered in the bitter venom of
disappointment, when the rugged energy of the Muscovite
showed an indomitable front to the strengfth of his armies,
and was deaf to his attempted negotiations, " Scrape the
Russian, and you'll come down on the Tartar."

Alexander was indeed the worthy grandson of Catherine,
and, however a feeling of personal regard for Napoleon
existed through the vicissitudes of after-life, it is no less
true that the dissimulation of the Kussian had impo.sed
on the Corsican ; and that while Napoleon believed him all
his own, the duplicity of the Muscovite had over-reached
him. It was in reference to that interview and its pledged
good faith. Napoleon, in one of his cutting sarcasms, pro-
nounced him " Faux comme un Grec du Bas Empire."


Nothing troubled the happiness of the meeting at
ErI'urt. It was a joyous and a splendid lete, where, am'd
all the blandishments of luxury and pleasure, two great
kings divided, the world at their will. It was Constantino
and Charlemagne, who partitioned the East and West
between each other. The sad and sorrow-struck Kinsr of
Prussia came not there as at Tilsit; nor the fail Queen of
that unhappy kingdom, whose beauty and misfortunes
might well have claimed the compassion of the conqueror.

Never was Napoleon's character exhibited in a point of
view less amiable than in his relations with the Queen of
Prussia. If her position and her personal attractions had

Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe adventures of Arthur O'Leary → online text (page 38 of 40)