Edward Edgeworth.

Human German online

. (page 4 of 20)
Online LibraryEdward EdgeworthHuman German → online text (page 4 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


regicide ; compote of bilberries, or a mushy fruit
mus, which the competent Rumohr calls " on in-
trinsic as on historical grounds the most primi-



56 THE HUMAN GERMAN

tive of all evil sweets." And a globe of pastry with
whipped cream inside. This whipped cream haunts
you everywhere. You drink it in coffee and choco-
late ; eat it with ices and sweets ; and we have even
seen a diner drinking vinous Bowie from a glass held
in one hand, and eating cream from a spoon held in
the other.

Were we natives we should cheapen our daily
patronage of Herr Boltuch by joining his Round-
Table — his Stammtisch — and on paying in advance
for ten of his dinners we should get them at one and
a penny. He would give us ten medallions, each
with " Table-check " on the obverse and " J.B."
(for Joseph Boltuch) on the reverse, and when we
got out of tram-cars the medallions would roll about
the streets, and kindly policemen would help us to
pick them up.

Boltuch's is a typical Berlin suburban restaurant.
There is a Boltuch's at every street corner that is
not occupied by a tobacconist. Berlin, of course, has
eating places of nobler kind, though nowhere save
in a few hotels are restaurants even moderately dear.
Splendour and cheapness is Berlin's notion of joy :
there is a restaurant which cost £700,000 to build
where you can dine gorgeously and terribly for five
shillings. The drink at the dearer restaurants is
usually wine — a line of fifty pfennigs if you do not
drink. At Boltuch's it is beer. Once out of ten it



THE HUMAN INSIDE 57

is Munich beer ; mostly it is " light " (helles) beer,
brewed by Schultheiss or Patzenhofer, always better
than any British drink. There are places where you
can order a halfpennyworth of beer. It is called a
Pfiff. Drinks generally have queer names : Herr
Gamradt calls his favourite mixture of beer and
cognac " a little liaison " {ein kleines Verhaltnis).
But Berlin has grown luxurious, for the drink
which is truly Berlinese is drunk no more.
And with it has passed away a stage of Berlin
culture.

This was " white beer," which poets dithyrambised
as " The Cool Blonde." Die kuhle Blonde ! It is an
alcohol-poor beverage brewed of undercured malt
and bottled in stone. Experts drank it after taking
a " string " of kiimmel, for kiimmel, experts said,
whets the lips ; and made them better relish the
kiss of the Cool Blonde. Once you could tell Ber-
liners by their love of the Blonde. In this they
showed their Berlin individuality ; and cherished —
the Blonde cost a halfpenny — that Old-Prussian
Thrift, which Prince Biilow praised to the Reichstag
as a reason for wasting ten millions. In those days
Berlin was poor. Friends met underground in fly-
blown white-beer dens ; reasoned on high themes,
and quaffed hke Berserkers in Valhalla. It was an
age of high thinking and low drinking. Now so far
from summoning the Blonde in a Friedrichstadt



58 THE HUMAN GERMAN

restaurant few would notice her in a Rixdorf eating-
hell. Obese Berliners swill showy beers at a penny
or even ijd., while bargees, and cabman too old
to be trained as chauffeurs, consort with the Cool
Blonde.



CHAPTER V

THE HUMAN PARCEL

Is not this a lamentable thing that of the skin of an innocent Iamb
should be made parchment? {King Henry VI).

SINCE we settled down in Germany our talk
has been largely of food ; but this does not
kill variety in our symposia at Boltuch's.
For that I thank Letitia, who ever brings up themes
for ever new, thanks to a fertility in associating
incompatible notions which would puzzle Hume
and Condillac. Snow makes her think of washing
bills ; Schultheiss beer of topazes ; and when Otto,
the waiter, fell with a basket of forks she began
about Strauss' Electra.

While waiting yesterday for '' haddock with
mustard-butter " I took the Lokal-Anzeiger and read
aloud a sentence apparently harmless. " The Char-
lottenburg Town Council has purchased the Austrian
engineer Konop's invention for the electrical de-
struction of rats." Letita's face brightened. But
assuaging as is usually her dinner smile, this time
it presaged debates which spoiled two persons'
tempers.

59



60 THE HUMAN GERMAN

The subject was the high titles to which Prussia's
bureaucrats aspire. Herr Gamradt admits that
no German here can Hve without a title, description,
or combination of letters affixed to his name. A
distinguishing label is so essential to social validity
that the phrase has even been made, Der Paket-
mensch — the Human Parcel. The phrase-maker is
Herr Jegor Maschuv, who, in his lively but over-
praised Strayed Property, says, " This German was
a human parcel ; without a label he was irretrievably
lost."

The label obsession explains why the names of
nearly all persons who serve the State, and some
who merely serve themselves, are charged with
prefixes which have nothing in common with here-
ditary titles. Herr Gamradt says a similar system
obtains in Austria-Hungary, and in Russia, where
it is known as tschin. The feature of the official
titles is that they are borne before the name, and
that they always end with the word " Consilarius,"
which is, in German, Rat. In olden days it was spelt
Rath, but it is now mostly Rat ; and it was this
orthography which in Letitia's associating brain was
stirred by the rodentophobe Konop.

Herr Gamradt read me on this a useful lecture ;
but I recall only essentials. A minor bureaucrat may
be a mere Rat or Consilarius ; if higher in rank he
may be a Geheimer Rat or Privy Councillor ; still



THE HUMAN PARCEL 61

higher, he may be a Privy Upper Government
Councillor ; and when he scales the peak he may
be Actual Privy Upper Government Councillor.
With the last rank goes " Excellency/' When you
must write to an University rector as Excellency
Herr Actual Privy Upper Government Councillor
Professor Dr. Jur. Phil., Med., Sc, et Ing. Platfuss,
you understand the flourishing state of the commerce
in ink. Outside the State service distinguished
merchants get the honorary rank Commercial Coun-
cillor ; distinguished, and undistinguished, lawyers
and doctors, the ranks Justice Councillor, and
Sanitary Councillor. The bureaucrat's title may
show his horizontal speciality as well as his vertical
dignity. Instead of being merely a Privy Councillor,
which indicates rank, he may be Privy Admiralty
Councillor, or Privy Finance Councillor, this re-
vealing both rank and occupation. The minor
bureaucrat may be Post Office Councillor {Post-Rat),
or an Audit Councillor (Rechnungsrat) — in fact there
are a hundred and fifty rats, with tails differing in
longitude, as Herr Dr. Gamradt says, from Hofrat,
which means Aulic Councillor, to Oberlandeskultur-
gerichtsrat, which means Upper Land's Culture Court
Councillor. And since women, quite as much as men,
are human parcels ..."

** Very much so," says Letitia. '* Did you notice
Frau Zimkat's waist ? "



62 THE HUMAN GERMAN

the titles extend to them. Herr Privy Councillor
Rohl's wife is not plain Frau Rohl, but Frau Privy
Councillor Rohl. For women the longer titles are
shorn of some of their longitude — only a lover or a
borrower of money would address Frau Rohl as
Frau Upper Land's Culture Court Councillor Rohl.
While I was explaining this to Letitia an elderly
officer entered ; and Letitia, eyeing steadfastly his
nose, remembered a purple toque on the fourth floor
of Wertheim's. The exegesis ceased. From Wert-
heim's Letitia naturally got to bills ; and from bills she
approached the problem why half my letters come
to me addressed as "Herr Merchant Edgeworth."
" First place," she said, " you are not a merchant,
but a distinguished journahst ; and even if you were
a merchant, why should you be so addressed ? Also
— I want to get to the bottom — why are you entered
in the Berlin Directory as Edward Edgeworth, Mer-
chant ? Why don't you complain ? " "I did com-
plain." " And got an apology ? " " Yes, the
directory man smiled. He said few persons were
victims of such flattering mistakes." Herr Gamradt,
who joined us here, said that a German directory
compiler, wrapper-writer, or private correspondent
never rests until he finds a label for the man he
writes to ; and that sooner than leave you without
the humanising label he addresses you as " Herr
Merchant."



THE HUMAN PARCEL 68

The labelling of me as " Herr Merchant Edgeworth "
follows a newspaper and book practice of always
giving the human parcel's contents together with
its address. Your newspaper speaks not of Herr
Schwanitz the impresario, but of Herr Impresario
Schwanitz. In zeal for precision it goes still farther,
and tacks on the place of abode. So you have Herr
Impresario Schwanitz-Berlin ; Herr Artist Kamm-
holz-Munich ; Herr Reichstag-Deputy Miiller-
Meiningen. That is the national instinct to degrade
and subdue the mere human being, and to exalt the
human trade, the human place — to qualify the
immortal individual in terms of action and space.

Germans, Herr Gamradt says justly, are in one
respect less labelled than foreigners think. It is a
foreign delusion that most of their surnames are
preceded by " von." '* Your clever writers of
invasion novels," says ironic Herr Gamradt, " per-
sist in giving ' vons ' to Prussian lawyers, doctors,
tradesmen, and even navvies. That is as funny as
if a German described the curing of Lord Wilhelm
Smith, undertaker's assistant, by Dr. the Marquis
of Jones. The xenoculture — excuse my pedantry —
of you world-Britons makes us laugh." Herr
Gamradt points out that few men have " vons "
outside the squirearchy, army, and higher bureau-
cracy ; that the higher bureaucracy itself is two-
thirds bourgeois, and therefore un-von-ed. Nobles,



64 THE HUMAN GERMAN

he said, usually sign themselves "v.," not " von " ;
while the handful of non-noble " vons " write the
particle in full. These belong to bourgeois families
which long ago in some unrecorded way got the
" von," and now count it as part of their names.
They are classed as " particled bourgeois." It is a
misdemeanour for a bourgeois to appropriate the
" von " ; and the one man who did it unpunished
was Mr. Czolgosc Miiller, an American Ambassador
at the Court of Sarmatia, who felt that unparticled
" Miiller " — the joke-name of every comic journal —
went ill with the gold-lace uniform of a great
Republic.

The spleenful (he lived long in England) Herr
Prof. Dr. Scholermann of Weimar condemns the
craze for labels. He ascribes it to servility ; to a
national prejudice that no unlabelled citizen may
claim from his fellows respect. " Germans," says
this dry Anglophile, " live only from the grace of
others ; only when they can appear to the public
with a label do they feel that they have a pass
and a passport which are valid throughout the
Empire." Letitia agrees. She calls my attention
to labels even on lifeless clay. We were approaching
a tiny hollow in Friedenau, where enough water
collects in eight days' rain to wet a grasshopper's
thigh. A serious municipal workman was painting
on a prominent placard ** No Bathing Allowed."



THE HUMAN PARCEL 65

An urchin overtook us ; and flew headlong to the
assiduous painter.

** Herr Painter ! " he bawled.

'' What is it, laddie ? "

" Herr Painter, you've forgotten . . ."

" What have I forgotten, laddie ? "

** You've forgotten to paint ..."

" What have I forgotten to paint ? "

"You've forgotten to paint 'No Bathing Here*
on your paint-can."

Later, as we entered Boltuch's, we observed a
horse labelled " Vorsicht ! Schldger ! " which means
" Look Out ! A Kicker ! " and farther on a horse
labelled " Vorsicht ! Bissig ! "—" Look out ! A
Biter ! " Herr Gamradt says the horses do not
bite, and gives this curious origin. The black-
smith's apprentices Strolch and Strauch wanted to
come to Berlin. As they knew that the spread of
motoring had killed employment for blacksmiths,
they changed their profession. They forged a pair
of tongs with edges serrated like a horse's teeth.
Then they made for the capital. When they saw
a horse untended in Goltzstrasse Herr Strolch took
the tongs and nipped severely his comrade's arm.
Herr Strauch fainted. Crowds collected, bathed the
arm, collected money, and condemned the brewer
for not labelling his vicious horse. Damages were
given of £80 ; and a just judge said that for a black-



66 THE HUMAN GERMAN

smith to be bitten on the arm was particularly cruel.
Since then all Prussians have labelled their horses
**Look out! A Biter!" and "Look out! A
Kicker ! "

The Prussian human parcel excels the Russian,
which a proverb says is Body, Soul, and Passport.
Prussians, though they carry no passports, are Body,
Soul, and Label. The Russ surrenders his label in
death ; but the Prussian corpse keeps tightly tied
to his, lest undiscriminating Peter should order hell-
wards his honest Excellency Herr Privy Auhc
Councillor Liebelt-Hamburg in mistake for swindhng
Herr Commercial Councillor Liebelt-Bonn. News-
papers describe the dead with micrometrical pre-
cision. All round, Germans decease with more
dignity than Britons ; their coffins weigh tons ; in
death they are not divided from their titles ; their
obituary notices imply that a cataclysm has wiped
out all the family ; and the universal woe induced
revives those high speculations on cumulative com-
passion made by Immanuel Kant. On the next page
is a specimen.

The marriage notices are unsentimental, soldierly,
brief : " Herman Goldfisch — Else Strehblow : en-
gaged " is all you learn ; but births are announced
with grace and charm. Where the ungrateful Briton
grumpily says, " of a son," the human Pruss shares
his joy with|^humanity ; he often dwells on the



THE HUMAN PARCEL 67



DEATH NOTICE !

After grievous suffering died our beloved
Husband, Father, Brother, Stepfather,
Father-in-law, Uncle, Grandfather, and
Great-uncle

HERR COMMERCIAL COUNCILLOR WINE-
DEALER RICHARD HIRSCH

of Frankfurt-on-Main, Erfurt, London, Paris,
and Bordeaux, March 20, 1913.

His grievously stricken relatives :

Minna Hirsch, Widow.

Arthur Hirsch, a

Carl Hirsch, !- Sons and Daughter

Minna Warschauer, -'

Zachary Hirsch, Brother.

Wilhelm Brockmann, Stepson.

Erwin Warschauer, Son-in-Law,

Manfred Kuhn, Nephew.

Minna Warschauer, Granddaughter.

Max Landsberg-Bernauer, Grand-nephew.



babe's incomparable beauty ; and he seldom forgets
to speak of its perfect health. Even the most un-
emotional notice radiates with joy.

*' Walter and Emma Bartz, born Grosskopf,
announce with delight the birth of a sturdy youngster ;"

and the more emotional exhale genuine poetry and
humour :



" The joyous birth of a rosy Sunday maiden is announced
ultra-jubilantly by

Moritz Gerson,

And Wife, Fekla, born Remack."



68 THE HUMAN GERMAN



Instead of Cards !

Little Mary Has Come !
{Mariechen ist Da !)
Patent-lawyer Oskar Cosmann, and Wife.
Henny, born Zitko.



Naturally the human parcel, at birth publicly
stamped with certificates of charm, in death made
to impose with Privy Councillor's patent, is duly
labelled, stamped, and sealing-waxed on its way
through life's transitory post. Germany is the land
of orders and of order. No man is too base to earn,
or at least to get, a star, or a medallion. Every
January after the ceremony known as " Crown and
Orders' Festival," newspapers print sixteen pages,
each with many hundred names, of decorations and
decorated. Of course, there are not enough dis-
tinguished citizens for this ; but most of the
decorated are distinguished only by their undis-
tinction. Herr Gamradt thinks he is the one man
in the Empire who has been distinguished by
omission ; and he asks himself puzzledly : should
he be pleased or angry ?

All Germans in State employment have nearly as
good a right to decorations as they have to salaries ;
and they are promoted from one decoration to
another as indiscriminately as they are pushed
upward in salary-class. Like the Garter, there's no
damned merit about it. Anciennit'dt — ancientness,



THE HUMAN PARCEL 69

in English seniority — is the main thing that deter-
mines whether you are worthy of the first or merely
the fifth class of the Order of the Prussian Crown.
Haste to be ancient rends bureaucrats' souls. In
other lands ancientness is awaited with dread ; men
descend to hair-dyes ; and wailful letters signed
" Too Old at Forty " fly to the Daily Mail But
here Peter Pan is an ass, Tithonus a hero — he can
collect orders through eternity. There is danger in
this. Sea-green incorruptible bureaucrats who if
you offered them an unearned whisky would draw
themselves up proudly and say, " I have my salary ! "
have fallen out of zeal to be ancienter than their
years. A painful case was that of Herr Gamradt's
friend, Herr Chancellory-Councillor Tobusch, keeper
of the roll of ancientness in the Prussian State
Comptrol, who forged his own decent record " lo
years' service " into no ; and by this incontinence
of ambition was found ignominiously out.

Some say that bureaucrats get orders that they
may live down to their salaries ; others that they
may live up to their trades. The names of their
trades, that is. Vast as is the number of decorated
every year, it would not fill sixteen pages were it
not for the dignified length of the descriptions of the
decorated. A star, for instance, is granted to Herr
Dransfeld, whose post is Staatsschuldigungstilgungs-
kassegeldz'uhler. His business is to pay off the



70 THE HUMAN GERMAN

National Debt. And the list of starred and medalled
speaks of :

a Bahnunterhaltungsarbeiter — a roadmaintenance-

workman ;
a Fussgendarmeriewachtmeister — a f ootgendarmery-

sergeantmajor ;
a Reichsversicherungsamtkalkulator — an Imperial-

insuranceofficecalculator ;
an Obermilitdrintendanturregistrator — an overmili-

taryintendancyregistrar ;
and the official who gets the highest star of all,

the Vorsitzender der Einkommensteucrveranla-

gungskommission — the President of the Income-

taxassessmentcommission.

In matters of orders the State keeps its supcr-
scottish track. When the human parcel for the
last time opens and its contents fly heaven- or
hellwards, labelled Statcdehtamortisationofficemoney-
payer, the star or the medal returns to the fount of
honour, who regilds it splendidly and hands it to
some footgendarmerysergeantmajor newly come to
years of ancientness. Paradoxically, the one excep-
tion is for orders in brilliants. The super-scottish
State, which takes back the poor roadmaintenance-
workman's brazen disc, spends a whole thousand
pounds on the brilliants ; and has the grace not to
set them in the decoration, so that the decorated



THE HUMAN PARCEL 71

man promptly sells them and shines in paste. But
few reach brilliants. To get so far you must at least
be a Reichsmarineamtsverwaltungsdepartmentsdirektor.
As fruit of its fissiparous past and Particularist
present, Germany dazzles with orders. The twenty-
three States (three republics excluded) all have
orders. There are eighty. Prussia has a dozen,
Bavaria a lucky thirteen, Saxony eight, Lippe three ;
and since many orders have different classes, some
invisibly minute States can bestow fifteen decora-
tions. This refinement of decoration has merits.
There is no trade which has not its appropriate star.
But jealousy results — a Post Councillor, whose
breast blazes the Fourth Class of the Order of the
Bear of Anhalt, nods coldly to a Stater ailway-
permanentw ay auxiliary repairer, who has only reached
the Fifth Class of the Second Division of the Griffin
Order of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. There are under-
takers with the Cross of Honour of Reuss of the
Younger Line ; and watchmakers with the House
Order of Watchfulness of the Saxe-Weimar White
Falcon. Even lackeys of non-sovereign serenities
have a chance. There is the Order of the House of
Phoenix of Hohenlohe, though Hohenlohe was con-
sumed when Napoleon built the Rhine Confedera-
tion, and, unhke the phoenix, remains dead in the
ash.

In the multitude of orders is likeness, but no



72 THE HUMAN GERMAN

wisdom ; and confusion comes. All are neatly
made, polished, glittering, and stickly bright ; and
most are Maltese crosses with crowns on top ;
differences only in details ; and little to distinguish
them save mottoes : " Fidehtas," " Fiir Badens
Ehre," and "Si Deus nobiscum quis contra nos ? "
No brain is enough to distinguish ; no breast is broad
enough to wear them all. Yet it is said that the
monarch who symbolises the union of Germany has
a right to forty. Naturally trouble comes. In fact
Letitia read in the Great Neck (L.I.) Democrat around
this a story, certainly untrue, which might, however,
have happened were order not kept among orders as
it happily is :

The sovereign who symbolises the union of Ger-
many possesses the honourable Hubert Order of
Bavaria, which dates from remote 1444. He treasures
it so highly that he does not know its face. It is an
attractive gold-rimmcd Maltese cross with a scarlet
circle inside. And His Majesty resolved to put it on
when he went to Munich in April. There is also the
honourable Order of the Wiirttembcrg Crown, which
is likewise an attractive gold-rimmed Maltese cross
with a scarlet circle inside. The difference is small.
Through inexphcable disorder among his orders, the
sovereign was wearing the Wiirttembcrg cross when
he sprang from his train in Munich on April the ist,
1910.



THE HUMAN PARCEL 73

Of course the Regent smiled ; and pushed aside
his cloak to show that he was wearing the Prussian
order, Black Eagle. But Herr Eveningnewspaper-
juniorreporter Tietz of the Munchner Kohlblatt,
who had been let into the station on condition he
wore white kid gloves and came no nearer than
35 m. 19I cm. to the Crowned Gentry, was properly
wroth. He prepared an article proclaiming that
Wiirttemberg is the fourth State in the Empire, and
Bavaria the second (" morally and in esteem," he
said, " the first ") ; and he explained at length that
the Hubert Order has green in the centre, while the
Wiirttemberg rival has a gilded anchor. He com-
plained that the Head of Allied and Federated (not
vassal) Germany took care not to blunder when he
visited foreign monarchs ; he knew at a glance the
Spanish Golden Fleece and the Russian St. Andrew,
he could even tell the Montenegrin House Order of
Peter. But he could not distinguish the honourable
Order of Hubert, which glowed on the breasts of
princes and paladins in an age when Prussia's
Hohenzollerns were South German boors.



CHAPTER VI

THE HUMAN INFANT

When the brisk minor pants for twenty-one {Pope).

WE haven't seen for weeks Heir Adolph
Bublitz. The loss is ours. Letitia
hked him from the first for his honest
Anglomania, and praised him to friends as the most
dihgent, ambitious young German we know. Herr
Adolph's father is a moderately wealthy banker of
Frankfurt-on-Main, who sent his twenty-five-year-
old son to study the ways of Das Grosskapital as
unpaid clerk in the Deutsche Bank. Young Bublitz
was a well-bred, well-educated boy ; he had studied
law at Heidelberg ; spoke excellent French ; and
some day hoped, he said, to master Spanish — his
father did business with La Plata, also, I think, with
Bucharest. His English was bad. As our German
is execrable (we have been here barely seven years)
we wanted to talk French to him ; but this was
baffled by his passion for English culture and the
English tongue. " I loave England," he said at our
first meeting. " I was England twice. I loave the
hawthorn railings, the race-course concurrences, the

74



THE HUMAN INFANT 75

fat sheep which feeds on the knights' country
proprieties. I see from street the opening of House
of Lords with thick procedure of noble country
landlord and his beauteous landladies. May I make
visit, yes ? "

I shared Letitia's sympathy for Herr Bublitz.
He was modest, animated, intelligent ; good-looking
also in his way, clean-shaven in accord with his
English prejudice ; and had it not been for the
suspicion of a double chin I should have taken him
for a Briton. He liked, he said, to wear an English
sacco-suit. At West-End golf links he played twice
a week, always (though with scientific earnestness)
with good-humour and a drollish bold-brigand's
pose. All round he was German in the nobler sense
— industrious, practical, thrifty, sharp to let no
opportunity pass that would bring him useful
acquaintances or cultivate his mind. Once he
brought to our house his cousin, Herr Cand. Jur.
Schwiglewski, a boy as charming as himself ; but


1 2 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryEdward EdgeworthHuman German → online text (page 4 of 20)