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have a parish church, and dancing and merrymaking at the inn all night.
Next morning Berthold went to the priest. He wanted to marry Aga, but
the priest told him he was too young, too poor; he could come back again
in ten years! The poor lad is left speechless and does not know how to
explain _why_ he wants to be united for ever with his Aga. Sadly he
leaves the room, but out in the open air his spirit returns to him. On
the second day of the wedding feast there was no holding him. He was the
wildest and merriest of the lot. In the afternoon we all returned to
Winkelsteg in the forest.

1815.

I know I must begin with a church. And at last I have obtained the
baron's consent. I have designed the plan myself - it must be large
enough to hold all who are in need of comfort here, and bright and
cheerful, for there is darkness enough in the forest. And the steeple
must be slender like a finger pointing heavenwards. Three bells there
must be to announce the Trinity of God in one Person, and to sing the
song of faith, hope, and love. And an organ there must be, but no
pictures and gilding and show.

_Autumn_, 1816.

I have been taking a census. How very limited is their range of names.
They have no family names, and only some half dozen Christian names!
This must be altered. I must invent names for them, according to their
occupation or dwelling or character: Sepp Woodcutter, Hiesel
Springhutter, and so forth. They like their new names; only Berthold
gets angry and refuses to take a name. "A name for me? I want no name; I
am nobody. The priest won't let me marry. Call me Berthold Misery, or
call me Satan!"

_May_, 1817.

I have been ill - the result of being snowed up on the way home from a
visit to a forester who had been wounded by a poacher. The danger is
over now, but my eyes continue to suffer. The forest folk have been very
good to me, and much concerned about my progress. And now I am able to
go out again. To-day I was watching a spider in the thicket, when I saw
Aga rushing towards me. "Ah, it's you!" she cried. "You must help us. We
want to live in honour and decency. The priest won't marry us. You can
ask for our blessing." The next moment Berthold had joined her and they
were kneeling before me. And I pronounced the words which I had no right
to pronounce. I married them in the heart of the green forest.

_St. James's Day_, 1817.

Matthias's widow is in despair. Lazarus has disappeared. In a fit of
temper he threw a stone at her, then gave a wild yell and rushed away.
"It was a _small_ stone, but there is a heavy stone upon my heart,"
laments the mother; "his running away is the biggest stone he could have
thrown."

_St. Catherine's Day_, 1817.

Lazarus' sister found a letter pinned on to a stick on her father's
grave, which she often visits. It was from her brother, and told them
not to worry - he is "in the school of the Cross." And then there was
another letter to say that he was well, and thinking of them all. They
answered, imploring him to return, and fixed the note and a little cross
on the tomb. It is still there, and has never been opened.

_March_, 1818.

Berthold is gone among the wood-cutters, and has got his hut. A little
girl was born to Aga yesterday, and I was sent for to baptise it. I am
no priest, and must not steal a name from the calendar. So I called her
Forest Lily, and baptised her with the water of the priest.

_Summer_, 1818.

The first Sunday in these forests! The church is finished, and the bells
have summoned the people from the whole neighbourhood. The priest has
come from Heldenichlag to dedicate the church, and the schoolmaster to
play the organ. But some of the folk grumble because there is no inn by
the church; and I hear that the _grassteiger_ has applied for a spirit
license. This is the shadow of the church!

In the evening, as I went back to the church, I saw a youth, apparently
at prayer, who took to his heels the moment he found he was discovered.
I caught him up and recognised. Lazarus! But I could not get a word out
of him. I rang the church bells, and soon the lad was surrounded by the
astonished villagers. He only murmured, "Paulus, Paulus!" and refused to
take the proffered food, though he looked half starved. I took him back
to his mother the same evening.

_December_, 1818.

Lazarus must have been through a miraculous school. He has completely
lost his evil temper, but he refuses to speak clearly of his life during
the past year, though he mumbles of a rock-cave, a good dark man, of
penance, and of a crucifix. We have no priest. I have to look after the
church, ring the bells, play the organ, sing and conduct prayer on
Sundays. I hear bad news of Hermann, my old pupil. He is said to be
leading a wild life in the capital. I cannot believe it.

_Summer_, 1819.

And now we have a priest - as strange and mysterious as the altar
crucifix which I had taken to the church from the rock valley. On the
last day of the hay-month, when I entered the church to ring the bells,
I found "the Solitary" reading mass on the highest step of the altar. I
asked for an explanation, and he answered with a rusty voice that he
would tell me all next Saturday at a desolate place he appointed in the
forest.

The Solitary has told me the whole sad story of his life. He was born in
a palace, and had been rocked in a golden cradle. He had drained the cup
of pleasure to the very dregs, and then, prompted by his tutor, had
joined a religious order, taken the binding vow, and renounced his
fortune to the order. A girl, whom he had known before, implored him not
to leave her and her child in distress. It was too late - he was now
penniless and irrevocably bound. She drowned herself and haunted his
dreams, even after he had become a priest under the name of Paulus.
Blind obedience was exacted from him by his order, and when he refused
to betray a king's confession he was sent as missionary to India. After
his return he became a zealot, exacting severe penance from sinners, and
through his severity driving a man to suicide. In his remorse he, too,
had sought refuge in this wilderness, where no one knew him, and where
one day he found Lazarus, took him to his cave, and taught him to tame
his quick temper. I had always thought the first pastor at Winkelsteg
should be a repentant sinner, and not a just man. We have now our
priest.

_Winter_, 1830.

For more than ten years I have neglected my diary, partly because I was
no longer alone, but had a friend and companion in "the Solitary,"
partly because I was busy with the building of the schoolhouse. I have
my own ideas on education. The child is a book in which we read, and
into which we ought to write. They ought to hear of nought but the
beautiful, the good, the great. They ought to learn patriotism - not the
patriotism which makes them die, but that which makes them live for
their country.

Berthold has become a poacher. I have already had to intercede for him
with the gamekeeper. Then, one winter's night, Forest Lily, his
daughter, was sent out to beg some milk for the babies. Snow fell
heavily, and she did not return. For three days they searched, and
finally found her huddled up with a whole herd of deer in a snow-covered
thicket of dry branches - kept alive by the animals' warmth and the pot
of milk she was taking home. When Berthold heard that the forest animals
had saved his child, he smashed his gun against a rock, and shouted,
"Never again! never again!"

_Carnival Time_, 1832.

In the parsonage lies a farm-hand with a broken jaw. Drink and quarrel
and fight - it is ever the same. The priest has warned them often enough.
He has called the brandy-distiller a poison-brewer, and a few days ago
the distiller came to the parsonage, armed with a heavy stick. He poured
out his complaints. The priest was spoiling his honest business. What
was he to do? He took up a threatening attitude. "So you have come at
last," said Father Paulus; "I was going to come to you. So you won't
give them any more spirits - you are a benefactor of the community! I
quite agree with you. You will prepare medicines and oils and ointments
from the roots and resin? I'll help you, and in a few years you will be
a well-to-do man."

The distiller was speechless. He had said nothing of the sort, but it
all seemed so reasonable to him. He grumbled a few words, stumbled
across the threshold, and threw his stick away as far as it would fly.

_March 22_, 1832.

Our priest died to-day.

I can scarcely believe it. But there is no knocking at the window as I
pass the parsonage - no friendly face smiling at me. And I can scarcely
believe that he has gone.

_Ascension Day_, 1835.

A few days ago I had a letter from my former pupil, our present master.
He was ill, tired of the world, and wanted to find peace and rest in the
mountains. He remembered his old teacher, and asked me to be his guide.
I went to meet him, and he behaved so strangely that I thought I was
walking with a madman. On the second day he seemed better. He wanted to
ascend at once the highest peak, known as the "Grey Tooth." And as we
passed the dark mountain lake, we saw a beautiful young woman bathing.
She looked like a water-nymph. But when she saw us she disappeared under
the water, and did not show herself again. Was she drowning herself from
very modesty? I pulled her out of the water, we dressed her; then fear
gave her strength, she jumped up and ran away. It was my "Forest Lily."

Hermann no longer insisted on climbing the mountain. He came with me to
Winkelsteg, remained three days, made Berthold gamekeeper, and arranged
that he should forthwith marry Aga in our church. Before he left he said
to me: "She thought more of her maidenhood than of her life. I never
knew there were such women. This is a new world for me - I, too, belong
to the forest. I entrust her to you - teach her if she wants to learn,
and take care of her. And keep the secret If I can be cured, I shall
return."

_Summer_, 1837.

It has come to pass. Schrankenheim has broken through class prejudice.
Two days ago he was married to Forest Lily in our church. They have left
us, and have gone to the beautiful city of Salzburg.

The years pass in loneliness and monotony. Yet they have brought a great
change. A prosperous village now surrounds the church, and orchards
surround the village. And the folk are no longer savages. How smartly
they are now dressed on Sundays! The young people have more knowledge
than the old, but too little reverence for the old. But they still smoke
tobacco and drink spirits. What can an old schoolmaster do quite by
himself?

_Spring_, 1848.

Hermann's beautiful sister, she who turned my head so many years ago, is
coming here to seek refuge from the troubles in town, where they are
building barricades. I must see that everything is made pleasant and
comfortable for her.

_June_, 1848.

To-day she gave a dinner party, and invited the parson and the
innkeeper. And I was sent a piece of meat and a glass of wine. I gave it
to a beggar. So two beggars have received alms to-day. I hear they spoke
of me during dinner. She said I received charity from her father when I
was a poor student; then I ran away from school and returned as a
vagabond. So you know it now, Andreas Erdmann!

_Christmas Eve_, 1864.

I have not left the forest for fifty years. If I could only see the sea.
They say on a clear day you can see it from the "Grey Tooth."
To-morrow - -

Here the diary broke off abruptly. The next day being bright and sunny,
I engaged a lad to guide me on the deferred ascent. It was glorious. And
whilst my eyes were searching the far distance, my companion gave a
sudden scream, and pointed - at a human head protruding from the snow. He
recognised the schoolmaster. We dug him out of the hard snow and found
in his pocket a paper on which a shaky hand had written in pencil:
"Christmas Day. At sunset I beheld the sea and lost my eyesight"

* * * * *




JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU


The New Heloise


Jean Jacques Rousseau, born at Geneva on June 28, 1712, tells
the story of his own life in the "Confessions" (see LIVES AND
LETTERS, Vol. X). All his dreams of felicity having been
shattered, he took up his abode in Paris, where he made a poor
living by copying music. Hither, again, he returned after a
short stay in Venice, where he acted as secretary in the
Embassy. He now secured work on the great Encyclopaedia, and
became known, in 1749, by an essay on the arts and sciences,
in which he attacked all culture as an evidence and cause of
social degeneration. A successful opera followed in 1753; and
to the same year belongs his "Essay on Inequality among Men"
("Discours sur l'inégalité parmi les Hommes"), in which he
came forward as the apostle of the state of nature, and of
anarchy. His revolutionary ideas were viewed with great
displeasure by the authorities, and he fled in 1764 to
Switzerland; and in 1766, under the auspices of David Hume, to
England. Rousseau wrote "The New Heloise" ("La Nouvelle
Héloise") in 1756-7, while residing at the Hermitage at
Montmorency - an abode where, in spite of certain quarrels and
emotional episodes, he passed some of the most placid days of
his life. This book, the title of which was founded on the
historic love of Abelard and Heloise (see Vol. IX), was
published in 1760. Rousseau's primary intention was to reveal
the effect of passion upon persons of simple but lofty nature,
unspoiled by the artificialities of society. The work may be
described as a novel because it cannot very well be described
as anything else. It is overwhelmingly long and diffuse; the
slender stream of narrative threads its way through a
wilderness of discourses on the passions, the arts, society,
rural life, religion, suicide, natural scenery, and nearly
everything else that Rousseau was interested in - and his
interests were legion. "The New Heloise" is thoroughly
characteristic of the wandering, enthusiastic,
emotional-genius of its author. Several brilliant passages in
it are ranked among the classics of French literature; and of
the work as a whole, it may be said, judicially and without
praise or censure, that there is nothing quite like it in any
literature. Rousseau died near Paris, July 2, 1778.


_I. - "The Course of True Love"_


TO JULIE

I must escape from you, mademoiselle. I must see you no more.

You know that I entered your house as tutor to yourself and your cousin,
Mademoiselle Claire, at your mother's invitation. I did not foresee the
peril; at any rate, I did not fear it. I shall not say that I am now
paying the price of my rashness, for I trust I shall never fail in the
respect due to your high birth, your beauty, and your noble character.
But I confess that you have captured my heart. How could I fail to adore
the touching union of keen sensibility and unchanging sweetness, the
tender pity, all those spiritual qualities that are worth so much more
to me than personal charms?

I have lost my reason. I promise to strive to recover it. You, and you
alone, can help me. Forbid me from appearing in your presence, show this
letter if you like to your parents; drive me away. I can endure anything
from you. I am powerless to escape of my own accord.


FROM JULIE

I must, then, reveal my secret! I have striven to resist, but I am
powerless. Everything seems to magnify my love for you; all nature seems
to be your accomplice; every effort that I make is in vain. I adore you
in spite of myself.

I hope and I believe that a heart which has seemed to me to deserve the
whole attachment of mine will not belie the generosity that I expect of
it; and I hope, also that if you should prove unworthy of the devotion I
feel for you, my indignation and contempt will restore to me the reason
that my love has caused me to lose.


TO JULIE

Oh, how am I to realise the torrent of delights that pours into my
heart? And how can I best reassure the alarms of a timid and loving
woman? Pure and heavenly beauty, judge more truly, I beseech you, of the
nature of your power. Believe me, if I adore your loveliness, it is
because of the spotless soul of which that loveliness is the outward
token. When I cease to love virtue, I shall cease to love you, and I
shall no longer ask you to love me.


FROM JULIE

My friend, I feel that every day I become more attached to you; the
smallest absence from you is insupportable; and when you are not with me
I must needs write you, so that I may occupy myself with you
unceasingly.

My mind is troubled with news that my father has just told me. He is
expecting a visit from his old friend, M. de Wolmar; and it is to M. de
Wolmar, I suspect, that he designs that I should be married. I cannot
marry without the approval of those who gave me life; and you know what
the fury of my father would be if I were to confess my love for you - for
he would assuredly not suffer me to be united to one whom he deems my
inferior in that mere worldly rank for which I care nothing. Yet I
cannot marry a man I do not love; and you are the only man I shall ever
love.

It pains me that I must not reveal our secret to my dear mother, who
esteems you so highly; but would she not reveal it, from a sense of
duty, to my father? It is best that only my inseparable Cousin Claire
should know the truth.


FROM CLAIRE TO JULIE

I have bad news for you, my dear cousin. First of all, your love affair
is being gossipped about; secondly, this gossip has indirectly brought
your lover into serious danger.

You have met my lord Edouard Bomston, the young English noble who is now
staying at Vevay. Your lover has been on terms of such warm friendship
with him ever since they met at Sion some time ago that I could not
believe they would ever have quarrelled. Yet they quarrelled last night,
and about you.

During the evening, M. d'Orbe tells me, mylord Edouard drank freely, and
began to talk about you. Your lover was displeased and silent. Mylord
Edouard, angered at his coldness, declared that he was not always cold,
and that somebody, who should be nameless, caused him to behave in a
very different manner. Your lover drew his sword instantly; mylord
Edouard drew also, but stumbled in his intoxication, and injured his
leg. In spite of M. d'Orbe's efforts to reconcile them, a meeting was
arranged to take place as soon as mylord Edouard's leg was better.

You must prevent the duel somehow, for mylord Edouard is a dangerous
swordsman. Meanwhile, I am terrified lest the gossip about you should
reach your father's ears. It would be best to get your lover to go away
before any mischief comes to pass.


FROM JULIE TO MYLORD EDOUARD

I am told that you are about to fight the man whom I love - for it is
true that I love him - and that he will probably die by your hand. Enjoy
in advance, if you can, the pleasure of piercing the bosom of your
friend, but be sure that you will not have that of contemplating my
despair. For I swear that I shall not survive by one day the death of
him who is to me as my life's breath. Thus you will have the glory of
slaying with a single stroke two hapless lovers who have never willingly
committed a fault towards you, and who have delighted to honour you.


TO JULIE

Have no fear for me, dearest Julie. Read this, and I am sure that you
will share in my feelings of gratitude and affection towards the man
with whom I have quarrelled.

This morning mylord Edouard entered my room, accompanied by two
gentlemen. "I have come," he said, "to withdraw the injurious words that
intoxication led me to utter in your presence. Pardon me, and restore to
me your friendship. I am ready to endure any chastisement that you see
fit to inflict upon me."

"Mylord," I replied, "I acknowledge your nobility of spirit. The words
you uttered when you were not yourself are henceforth utterly
forgotten." I embraced him, and he bade the gentlemen withdraw.

When we were alone, he gave me the warmest testimonies of friendship;
and, touched by his generosity, I told him the whole story of our love.
He promised enthusiastically to do what he could to further our
happiness; and this is the nobler in him, inasmuch as he admitted that
he had himself conceived a tender admiration for you.


FROM JULIE

Dearest, the worst has happened. My father knows of our love. He came to
me yesterday pale with fury; in his wrath he struck me. Then, suddenly,
he took me in his arms and implored my forgiveness. But I know that he
will never consent to our union; I shall never dare to mention your name
in his presence. My love for you is unalterable; our souls are linked by
bonds that time cannot dissolve. And yet - my duty to my parents! How can
I do right by wronging them? Oh, pity my distraction!

It seems that mylord Edouard impulsively asked my father for his consent
to our union, telling him how deeply we loved each other, and that he
would mortally injure his daughter's happiness if he denied her wishes.
My father replied, in bitter anger, that he would never suffer his child
to be united to a man of humble birth. Mylord Edouard hotly retorted
that mere distinctions of birth were worthless when weighed in the scale
with true refinement and true virtue. They had a long and violent
argument, and parted in enmity.

I must take counsel with Cousin Claire, who never suffers her reason to
be clouded with those heart-torments of which I am the unhappy victim.


FROM CLAIRE TO JULIE

On learning of your distress, dear cousin, I made up my mind that your
lover must go away, for your sake and his own; I summoned M. d'Orbe and
mylord Edouard. I told M. d'Orbe that the success of his suit to me
depended on his help to you. You know that my friendship for you is
greater than any love can be. Mylord Edouard acted splendidly. He
promised to endow your lover with a third of his estate, and to take him
to Paris and London, there to win the distinction that his talents
deserve.

M. d'Orbe went to order a chaise, and I proceeded to your lover and told
him that it was his duty to leave at once. At first he passionately
refused, then he yielded to despair; then he begged to be allowed to see
you once more. I refused; I urged that all delays were dangerous. His
agony brought tears to my eyes, but I was firm. M. d'Orbe led him away;
mylord Edouard was waiting with the chaise, and they are now on the way
to Besançon and Paris.


_II. - The Separation_


TO JULIE

Why was I not allowed to see you before leaving? Did you fear that the
parting would kill me? Be reassured. I do not suffer - I think of you - I
think of the time when I was dear to you. Nay, you love me yet, I know
it. But why so cruelly drive me away? Say one word, and I return like
the lightning. Ah, these babblings are but flung into empty air. I shall
live and die far away from you - I have lost you for ever!


FROM MYLORD EDOUARD TO JULIE

Deep depression has succeeded violent grief in the mind of your lover.
But I can count upon his heart, it is a heart framed to fight and to
conquer.

I have a proposition to make which I hope you will carefully consider.
In your happiness and your lover's I have a tender and inextinguishable
interest, since between you I perceive a deeper harmony than I have ever
known to exist between man and woman. Your present misfortunes are due
to my indiscretion; let me do what I can to repair the fault.

I have in Yorkshire an old castle and a large estate. They are yours and


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Online LibraryVariousThe World's Greatest Books — Volume 07 — Fiction → online text (page 13 of 24)