Prince Otto, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Bibliographical Postscript to Complete the Story

THE reader well informed in modern history will not require details as to the fate of the Republic. The best account is to be found in the memoirs of Herr Greisengesang (7 Bande: Leipzig), by our passing acquaintance the licentiate Roederer. Herr Roederer, with too much of an author’s licence, makes a great figure of his hero — poses him, indeed, to be the centre-piece and cloud-compeller of the whole. But, with due allowance for this bias, the book is able and complete.

The reader is of course acquainted with the vigorous and bracing pages of Sir John (2 vols., London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown). Sir John, who plays but a tooth-comb in the orchestra of this historical romance, blows in his own book the big bassoon. His character is there drawn at large; and the sympathy of Landor has countersigned the admiration of the public. One point, however, calls for explanation; the chapter on Grunewald was torn by the hand of the author in the palace gardens; how comes it, then, to figure at full length among my more modest pages, the Lion of the caravan? That eminent literatus was a man of method; ‘Juvenal by double entry,’ he was once profanely called; and when he tore the sheets in question, it was rather, as he has since explained, in the search for some dramatic evidence of his sincerity, than with the thought of practical deletion. At that time, indeed, he was possessed of two blotted scrolls and a fair copy in double. But the chapter, as the reader knows, was honestly omitted from the famous ‘Memoirs on the various Courts of Europe.’ It has been mine to give it to the public.

Bibliography still helps us with a further glimpse of our characters. I have here before me a small volume (printed for private circulation: no printer’s name; n.d.), ‘Poesies par Frederic et Amelie.’ Mine is a presentation copy, obtained for me by Mr. Bain in the Haymarket; and the name of the first owner is written on the fly-leaf in the hand of Prince Otto himself. The modest epigraph — ‘Le rime n’est pas riche’ — may be attributed, with a good show of likelihood, to the same collaborator. It is strikingly appropriate, and I have found the volume very dreary. Those pieces in which I seem to trace the hand of the Princess are particularly dull and conscientious. But the booklet had a fair success with that public for which it was designed; and I have come across some evidences of a second venture of the same sort, now unprocurable. Here, at least, we may take leave of Otto and Seraphina — what do I say? of Frederic and Amelie — ageing together peaceably at the court of the wife’s father, jingling French rhymes and correcting joint proofs.

Still following the book-lists, I perceive that Mr. Swinburne has dedicated a rousing lyric and some vigorous sonnets to the memory of Gondremark; that name appears twice at least in Victor Hugo’s trumpet-blasts of patriot enumeration; and I came latterly, when I supposed my task already ended, on a trace of the fallen politician and his Countess. It is in the ‘Diary of J. Hogg Cotterill, Esq.’ (that very interesting work). Mr. Cotterill, being at Naples, is introduced (May 27th) to ‘a Baron and Baroness Gondremark — he a man who once made a noise — she still beautiful — both witty. She complimented me much upon my French — should never have known me to be English — had known my uncle, Sir John, in Germany — recognised in me, as a family trait, some of his GRAND AIR and studious courtesy — asked me to call.’ And again (May 30th), ‘visited the Baronne de Gondremark — much gratified — a most REFINED, INTELLIGENT woman, quite of the old school, now, HELAS! extinct — had read my REMARKS ON SICILY— it reminds her of my uncle, but with more of grace — I feared she thought there was less energy — assured no — a softer style of presentation, more of the LITERARY GRACE, but the same firm grasp of circumstance and force of thought — in short, just Buttonhole’s opinion. Much encouraged. I have a real esteem for this patrician lady.’ The acquaintance lasted some time; and when Mr. Cotterill left in the suite of Lord Protocol, and, as he is careful to inform us, in Admiral Yardarm’s flag-ship, one of his chief causes of regret is to leave ‘that most SPIRITUELLE and sympathetic lady, who already regards me as a younger brother.’

This web edition published by:

eBooks@Adelaide
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/stevenson/robert_louis/s848pr/chapter23.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30