Paul Heyse.

In Paradise: A Novel. Vol. II online

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


No. XII.

* * * * *




I. _SAMUEL BROHL AND COMPANY_. A Novel. From the French of Victor
Cherbuliez. 1 vol., 16mo. Paper cover, 60 cents; cloth, $1.00.

II. _GERARD'S MARRIAGE_. A Novel. From the French of André Theuriet.
Paper cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

III. _SPIRITE_. A Fantasy. From the French of Théophile Gautier. Paper
cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

IV. _THE TOWER OF PERCEMONT_. From the French of George Sand. Paper
cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

V. _META HOLDENIS_. A Novel. From the French of Victor Cherbuliez.
Paper cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

VI. _ROMANCES OF THE EAST_. From the French of Comte de Gobineau. Paper
cover, 60 cents; cloth, $1.00.

VII. _RENEE AND FRANZ_ (Le Bleuet). From the French of Gustave Haller.
Paper cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

VIII. _MADAME GOSSELIN_. From the French of Louis Ulbach. Paper cover,
60 cents; cloth, $1.00.

IX. _THE GODSON OF A MARQUIS_. From the French of André Theuriet. Paper
cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

X. _ARIADNE_. From the French of Henry Greville. Paper cover, 50 cents;
cloth, 75 cents.

XI. _SAFAR-HADGI_; or, Russ and Turcoman. From the French of Prince
Lubomirski. Paper cover, 60 cents; cloth, $1.00.

XII. _IN PARADISE_. From the German of Paul Heyse. 2 vols. Per vol.,
paper cover, 60 cents; doth, $1.00.

XIII. _REMORSE_. A Novel. From the French of Th. Bentzon. Paper cover,
50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

XIV. _JEAN TETEROL'S IDEA_. A Novel. From the French of Victor
Cherbuliez. Paper cover, 60 cents; doth, $1.00.

XV. _TALES FROM THE GERMAN OF PAUL HEYSE_. Paper cover, 60 cents;
cloth, $1.00.

XVI. _THE DIARY OF A WOMAN_. From the French of Octave Feuillet. Paper
cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.











A mile or two from Starnberg, on the shore of the beautiful lake,
stands a plain country-house, whose chief ornament is a shady and
rather wild little park of beeches and cedars. This stretches from the
highway that connects Starnberg with the castle and fishermen's huts of
Possenhofen, down to the lake - a narrow strip of woodland, separated
only by picket fences from the neighboring gardens, so that a person
wandering about in it is scarcely aware of its boundaries. The
house itself is equally small and simple, and contains, besides one
good-sized apartment, with several sleeping-rooms to the right and
left, only a turret-room in the upper story, whose great north window
shows at the first glance that it is a studio. From it can be seen,
over the tops of the cedars, a bit of the lake, and beyond it the white
houses and villas of Starnberg, at the foot of the height from
whose summit the old ducal castle - now converted into a provincial
court-house - rises like a clumsy, blunt-cornered box.

Some years before, a landscape painter had built this modest summer
nest, and had made his studies of cloud and atmosphere from this turret
window. When he died, childless, his widow had made haste to offer the
property to the one among her husband's acquaintances who passed for a
Cr[oe]sus; thus it was that the villa came into the possession of
Edward Rossel, to the great surprise and amusement of all his friends.
For our Fat Rossel was known as an incorrigible and fanatical despiser
of country life, who was never tired of ridiculing the passion of the
Munichers for going into the mountains for refreshment in summer, and
who preferred, even in the hottest weather, when none of his friends
could hold out in the city any longer, to do without society altogether
rather than to give up the comforts of his city home even for a few

He maintained that this sentimental staring at a mountain or woodland
landscape, this going into ecstasies over a green meadow or a bleak
snow-field, this adoration of the rosy tints of sunrise and sunset, and
all the other species of modern nature-worship, were nothing more or
less than a disguised form of commonplace, thoughtless indolence, and
as such certainly not to be condemned, particularly by so zealous a
defender of _dolce far niente_ as himself. But they must not suppose
that this particular form of idleness was the highest and worthiest of
human conditions; at the best the benefit which the mind and soul
derived from it was not greater than if one should look over a book of
pictures, or listen for hours to dance-music. Let them drivel as much
as they liked about the sublimity, beauty, and poetry of Nature, she is
and remains merely the scenery, and the stage of this world first
begins to repay the price of admission when human figures make their
appearance upon it. He did not envy the simplicity of a man who would
be willing to sit in the parquet all the evening, staring at the empty
scene, studying the woodland or mountain decorations, and listening to
the voice of the orchestra.

To this the enthusiastic admirers of Nature always responded: It was
well known that his ill-will toward Nature arose from the fact that no
provision had been made for a comfortable sofa and a French cook at all
the beautiful spots. He never made the slightest attempt to defend
himself against these hits, but, on the contrary, he maintained in all
seriousness, and with much ingenuity, his argument that a thinking
being could derive more enjoyment of Nature, and a deeper insight into
the greatness and splendor of the creation, from a _pâte de foie gras_
than from watching a sunrise on the Rigi, with sleepy eyes, empty
stomach, and half-frozen limbs enveloped in a ridiculous blanket - a
melancholy victim, like his neighbors, to Alpine insanity. Whereupon he
would cite the ancient races who had never known such an exaggerated
estimate of landscape Nature, and yet, for all that, had possessed the
five senses in enviable purity and perfection, and had been very
intellectual besides. It is true, they had not known the celebrated
"Germanic sentiment;" but there was every probability that the decline
of the arts dated from the uprisal and spread of this epidemic, for
which reason it was particularly out of place for artists to favor this
sort of _Berghuberei_ (as the Munichers call the country fever), with
the exception, of course, of those who get their living by it - the
landscape, animal, and peasant painters - a degenerate race of whom Fat
Rossel never spoke without drawing down the corners of his mouth.

But much as he liked to disparage German sentiment, he could not find
it in his heart to refuse the widow of the landscape-painter when she
offered him the house on the lake for a price that could hardly be
called low. Without any further inspection of the place he concluded
the bargain, and, without changing a muscle, quietly suffered the
malicious laughter which burst upon him from all sides to die out. "To
possess something," he said, calmly, "was not at all the same thing as
to be possessed by something." For that reason he would not need to
join in their raving, merely because he found himself among people who
were crazy and enraptured. And, true to his theory, whenever he was at
his villa he pursued his usual comfortable sybarite life, and
maintained that Nature had very great charms if one only looked at it
with one's back.

He had had the house, which was built in a rustic style, most
comfortably fitted up, with a great variety of sofas, rugs, and
easy-chairs, and always had this or that friend with him as a guest; so
that even the studio above the tree-tops, in which he himself never set
foot, was not altogether lost to its proper use. Heavenly repose, he
used to say, would not be nearly as sublime if there were not mortals
in the world to bestir themselves and cultivate the field of art with
the sweat of their brows.

Now, this year he had taken his æsthetical opposite, good Philip
Emanuel Kohle, out with him; had quartered him in the chamber to the
left of the little dining-room - he himself occupying the one on the
right - and it is almost unnecessary to add, had given him the exclusive
use of the studio. For the rest, they only met at dinner and supper,
since the morning slumbers of the host lasted too long for the
industrious guest to wait breakfast for him. Moreover, they could never
come together without getting into some discussion, which was always
welcome to Rossel, and, as he asserted, highly favorable to his
digestion at any time of the day except in the morning. The more he saw
of him the more pleasure Rossel took in this singular, self-communing
man, who, bloodless, insignificant-looking, and unsophisticated as he
seemed, bore about with him a truly royal self-respect, and the
consciousness of immeasurable joys and possessions, without for a
moment demanding that any mortal being should acknowledge his inherent
sovereign rights.

Then, too, though he was so unassuming and so thankful for proffered
friendship, he conducted himself toward his host with perfect freedom,
for he held the most sublime doctrines in regard to the earthly goods
that were lacking in his own case, but were so richly at the disposal
of his friend.

A little veranda, with a roof supported on wooden pillars and overgrown
with wild grape-vines, had been built out into the lake. A table and a
few garden-chairs stood upon it, and from it one could look far away
over the beautiful, unruffled water and the distant mountains. At night
it was delicious to lean over the balustrade and see the moon and stars
dancing in the waves. The nights were still warm, and the scent of the
roses was wafted over from the garden; on a day like this one could sit
in the open air until midnight.

Fat Rossel had seated himself in an American rocking-chair, with his
back toward the lake; a narghili stood by his side, and on the table,
in a cooler, was a bottle of Rhine wine, from which he filled his own
and his friend's glass from time to time. Kohle sat opposite him, his
elbows resting on the table, his shabby black hat pulled down over his
forehead, from beneath which his eyes gleamed fixedly and earnestly out
of the shadow like those of some night-bird. They appeared to be
magically attracted by the lines of silver that furrowed the lake, and
it was only when he spoke that he slowly raised them to the level of
his friend's high, white forehead, from which the fez was pushed back.
Rossel wore his Persian dressing gown, and his silky black beard hung
picturesquely down upon his breast. Even in the moonlight Kohle looked
very shabby in comparison with him, like a dervish by the side of an
emir. The truth was, Kohle had but one coat for all times of the day
and year.

"You may say what you like, my dear friend," said Fat Rossel,
concluding a rather long dispute about the difference in character
between the North and South Germans - he himself was from Passau and
Kohle from Erfurth - "there is one talent you people on the other side
of the Main are lacking in; you can swim excellently, but you can't lie
on your back and let yourself drift. Didn't I drag you put here to this
tiresome summer retreat because your aspect had become positively
unbearable to a flesh-painter, your skin having dried to a respectable
parchment, and you standing in danger of composing yourself into an
early grave? And now you don't do anything better out here; but consume
one yard of paper after another, while the shadows in your face grow
blacker from day to day. Why are you in such haste, my dear Kohle, to
produce things for which no one in the world is waiting?"

Kohle's pale face never moved a muscle. He slowly drank a few drops of
wine from his glass, and then said, calmly:

"Forbid the silkworm to spin!"

"You forget, my dear godfather, that the worm you cite as your model
has at least the excuse that it spins silk. If you could get so far as
to do that, the thing would have a practical purpose. But your
spinning - "

"Now you are talking again against your better convictions,"
interrupted the other, coolly, "There are more than enough people
nowadays who pursue their so-called art for a practical purpose. Just
listen once when our colleagues talk about their 'interests.' One would
imagine he was at the Bourse: for this picture, five thousand gulden;
for that, ten thousand, or even twenty and twenty-five thousand; and
that a certain artist has an annual income of so and so much, and owns
several houses besides - these things make up the motive power of an
incredible number of them. Their pictures have no longer a value, but
merely a price. How to go to work and make an equal amount from the
fabrication of painted canvas, that is the pivot on which all the labor
of an artist's fancy turns, instead of steering straight for the thing
itself, as it ought by rights to do. Well, I have nothing in common
with this worm that nourishes itself by crawling about in the dust. But
what does it matter to me whether I spin silk, or only a plain thread
that delights me alone, and from which I can beat my wings and soar
away into space?"

"You are a thousand times too good for this century of banks and
bourses, my dear enthusiast!" cried Rossel, with a sigh of honest
admiration. "But, even though you despise the golden fruit on the tree
of life, still all sorts of other things flourish there, which even the
best of men need not be ashamed to find beautiful and desireable: for
instance, fame or love, upon which you also turn your back with sublime
contempt. Your life is quite as earnest as your art, and yet you know
what Schiller says. If you go on in this way a few years longer, your
flame of life will have consumed all its wick; and the magic-lantern
pictures which the light has thrown on the dark background of your
existence will go down with you into eternal night."

"No!" cried the other, and his yellow face lit up with a red flush. "I
do not feel this fear! _Non omnis moriar!_ Something of me will be left
behind; and though you may be right that no glory will come to me
during my life, a soft shimmer of posthumous fame will warm my bones
under the ground, of that I am certain. For better times are coming, or
else may God take pity on this wretched world, and dash it to pieces
before it becomes one vast dung-heap from which no living flower will
spring. Many a day when I have begun to lose faith, amid the
wretchedness of the present, I have repeated to myself those comforting
verses of Hölderlin's about the future of mankind."

"Now don't bring in your Hölderlin as a bondsman for yourself," cried
Rossel. "To be sure, he was just as unpractical and as little suited to
the times as you; and, moreover, one of those erratic fellows who have
strayed out of the grand Greek and heathen worlds, and lost themselves
in our shallow present - an artist for art's sake, a dreamer and
ghost-seer in broad daylight. But for all that, he knew very well what
makes life worth living; and though he despised gold, and did not run
after fame very eagerly, he took love so seriously that he even lost
his reason over it. But you, my dear Philip Emanuel - "

"Are you so certain that I am not on the straight road to it?" Kohle
interrupted, with a peculiar, half-shy, half-bashful smile. "It is
true, neither this nor that particular beautiful woman has caused me to
tremble for the little sense I possess. But the woman and the beauty
which I, being what I am - "

He broke off, and turned round in his chair, so as to present only his
profile to his friend.

"I don't understand you, godfather."

"The thing is simple enough, I have never found a beautiful woman who
claimed so little of a suitor as to be willing to take up with my
insignificant self; that is to say - for I despise alms - who could
seriously be satisfied with this drab-tinted sketch of a human figure
that bears my name. And as I am too ignorant of the art of making the
best of it, and seeking out a sweetheart who shall be suited to me in
all ways and shall bear the stamp of the same manufactory, I stand but
a poor chance so far as love is concerned. You will laugh at me,
Rossel, but, in solemn earnest, the Venus of Milo would not be
beautiful enough for me."

A short pause ensued. Then Rossel said: "If I understand you rightly, I
must confess that I don't understand you at all. Besides, your estimate
of woman is quite wrong. What you want is a husband; some one who shall
show you that she is lord and master, and not a mere puppet. Put aside
both your humility and your arrogance, and pitch in whenever you
stumble upon a cheerful life. However, do just as you see fit. Who
knows but what some time the Venus of Milo herself will take pity on
you for having passed over all lesser women-folk in order to wait for
the goddess?"

"And what if she has already appeared to me, ay, has visited me day by
day up there above the tree-tops?" said Kohle, with a mysterious smile.

He pointed with his hand toward the studio, whose window sparkled
softly in the starlight.

Rossel stared at him in amazement.

"You fear I am on the point of breaking into a divine frenzy," laughed
the little man. "But I haven't yet confounded dreams and reality. That
I have seen her, and have learned from her all sorts of things that
other mortals do not yet know, is certain. But I believe myself that I
only dreamed all this. It was on my very first morning out here. The
evening before I had been reading the _Last Centaur_. The birds woke me
very early, and then I lay for a few hours with closed eyes, and the
whole story passed before me in a continuous train."

"What story?"

"I am now at work sketching it, after my own fashion, against which you
will protest again. There is a cyclus of six or eight pictures - shall I
tell you the story just as I am building it up in outline? It ought
properly to be told in verse, but I am no poet. Enough, the scene opens
with a mountain-cliff somewhere or other, the Hoesselberg, let us say,
or any other mythological fastness in which a goddess could have lived
apart from the world for a few centuries. From out it steps our dear
Venus of Milo in proper person, leading by the hand a half-grown boy,
who is no less a person than the little Amor. They are both but
scantily clad, and gaze around with wondering eyes upon a world that
has greatly changed since last they saw it. A city lies before them,
with battlements and towers of strange shape standing out against the
sky. Horsemen and pedestrians are coming out of the gate, dressed in
bright-colored garments of a peculiar cut, which were nowhere in
fashion in the world when the old gods were worshiped. The sky is
clouded over, and a drizzling rain is gently falling, which forces the
lady and her little boy to seek another place of refuge, since they can
no longer find their way back to their old retreat. Yet they lack the
courage to enter the town, with its swarming mass of human beings. But
in the mountain over across the valley stands a high stone building,
from which a tower, with a beautiful chime of bells, seems to ring out
over the land an invitation for all men to draw near. It is true, this
cannot be expressed in the sketch, but then the cloister over on the
hill must have something homelike about it, so that everybody will
understand why the fugitives, standing below in the rain, under shelter
of a laurel bush, are gazing up at it with longing eyes. And now,
when the sun breaks forth again, they muster up their courage and knock
at the cloister gate. The nuns rush out at the cry their sister
gate-keeper utters when she sees this queenly woman, with the
black-eyed child of the gods, standing on the threshold, both half
naked, and with their blonde hair falling about their shoulders. Then,
too, as is natural, the nun understands no Greek, which would have
enabled her to interpret the stranger's request for hospitality; nor
can the abbess herself make out anything more as to the strangers'
origin and character. But of one thing she is certain - this is not a
strolling beggar of the usual sort. Thus, in the third picture, we see
Madame Venus sitting in the refectory seeking to still her hunger; but
the food is too coarse for her, and she tastes nothing but the cloister
wine. They offer her a coarse, woolen nun's-dress, which, however, she
scorns to wear. The only other dress they have on hand is the thin gown
belonging to a beggar who died in the cloister a short time before.
This she consents to put on; and although, here and there, her
beautiful white skin peeps through a tear in the old rags, she seems to
think this better than to be confined in the black shroud of the
sisters. Her little boy has also been provided with a shirt, and is now
being passed around from hand to hand, and lap to lap; for each of the
nuns is eager to caress him. While they are sitting thus, on the best
of terms, the priest of the place comes to have a talk with the abbess.
He suspects something wrong, and stands on the threshold, dumb with
amazement, and devours this strange beggar-woman with his eyes. But the
little rascal of a boy goes up to him, and succeeds in making his
reverence fall over head and ears in love with the strange lady, and
scatter his older sentiments for the abbess to the four winds. A fourth
sheet shows him as he strolls up and down the little cloister garden
with Madame Venus, passionately declaring his love. At the window
stands the pious mother of the convent, torn with jealousy; and it
requires little imagination to foresee that her ecclesiastical friend
has hardly turned his back before this dangerous guest is, under one
pretext or another, thrust rudely forth into the wide world again, with
her little boy - who is tired, and would have liked to sleep instead of
having to wander about in the stormy night. But a house or hut is
nowhere to be found, while, on the other hand, suspicious-looking
groups pass by them: gypsies, who cast covetous eyes at the beautiful
child; and one of them - a wicked, toothless old hag - actually catches
him by the skirts of his little gown. But, fortunately, he glides out
of her hands like an eel, and flies into the thicket, and his mother
after him: who is so lost in thought that she scarcely heeds the
danger. 'Where can all the others have gone?' is the question over
which she broods ceaselessly.

"I don't know yet, myself, whether I shall show any more of her
adventures by the way. Every day something new occurs to me, with which
I might illustrate, both humorously and seriously, how, homeless and an
outcast, this beauty had to beg her way through this sober world of
ours. But, whenever she appeared at the door of simple and natural
beings, she needed to utter no word, and not even to stretch out her
hand. She touched the hearts of all; and every one - though here and
there with a secret shudder - gave her from his poverty as much
as he could spare. Young people, upon whom she had bestowed but a
single glance, left house, and home, and calling, and wandered after
her - through populous regions as well as through the wilderness - until,
in their dreamy blindness, they fell over steep precipices, or into
raging torrents, or came to an untimely end in one way or another. But
she herself, growing sadder and sadder, wandered along her way, and
thought of the times when the mortals who beheld her grew blissful and
happy and not wretched, and when they gave banquets in her honor, and
laid the most beautiful gifts at her feet; then she was a goddess, with

Online LibraryPaul HeyseIn Paradise: A Novel. Vol. II → online text (page 1 of 28)