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The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
You must of course, indulgent reader, have heard a good deal about the remarkable old commercial town of Dantzic. Perhaps you may be acquainted from abundant descriptions with all the sights to be seen there; but I should like it best of all if you have ever been there yourself in former times, and seen with your own eyes the wonderful hall into which I will now take you — I mean Arthur’s Hall.2
At the hour of noon the hall was crammed full of men of the most diverse nations, all pushing about and immersed to the eyes in business, so that the ears were deafened by the confused din. But when the exchange hours were over, and the merchants had gone to dinner, and only a few odd individuals hurried through the hall on business (for it served as a means of communication between two streets), that I dare say was the time when you, gracious reader, liked to visit Arthur’s Hall best, whenever you were in Dantzic. For then a kind of magical twilight fell through the dim windows, and all the strange reliefs and carvings, with which the wall was too profusely decorated, became instinct with life and motion. Stags with immense antlers, together with other wonderful animals, gazed down upon you with their fiery eyes till you could hardly look at them; and the marble statue of the king, also in the midst of the hall, caused you to shiver more in proportion as the dusk of evening deepened. The great picture representing an assemblage of all the Virtues and Vices, with their respective names attached, lost perceptibly in moral effect; for the Virtues, being high up, were blended unrecognisably in a grey mist, whilst the Vices — wondrously beautiful ladies in gay and brilliant costumes — stood out prominently and very seductively, threatening to enchant you with their sweet soft words. You preferred to turn your eyes upon the narrow border which went almost all round the hall, and on which were represented in pleasing style long processions of gay-uniformed militia of the olden time, when Dantzic was an Imperial town. Honest burgomasters, their features stamped with shrewdness and importance, ride at the head on spirited horses with handsome trappings, whilst the drummers, pipers, and halberdiers march along so jauntily and life-like, that you soon begin to hear the merry music they play, and look to see them all defile out of that great window up there into the Langemarkt.3
While, then, they are marching off, you, indulgent reader — if you were, that is, a tolerable sketcher — would not be able to do otherwise than copy with pen and ink yon magnificent burgomaster with his remarkably handsome page. Pen and ink and paper, provided at public cost, were always to be found lying about on the tables; accordingly the material would be all ready at hand, and you would have felt the temptation irresistible. This you would have been permitted to do, but not so the young merchant Traugott, who, on beginning to do anything of this kind, encountered a thousand difficulties and vexations. “Advise our friend in Hamburg at once that that business has been settled, my good Herr Traugott,” said the wholesale and retail merchant, Elias Roos, with whom Traugott was about to enter upon an immediate partnership, besides marrying his only daughter, Christina. After a little trouble, Traugott found a place at one of the crowded tables; he took a sheet of paper, dipped his pen in the ink, and was about to begin with a free caligraphic flourish, when, running over once more in his mind what he wished to say, he cast his eyes upwards. Now it happened that he sat directly opposite a procession of figures, at the sight of which he was always, strangely enough, affected with an inexplicable sadness. A grave man, with something of dark melancholy in his face, and with a black curly beard and dressed in sumptuous clothing, was riding a black horse, which was led by the bridle by a marvellous youth: his rich abundance of hair and his gay and graceful costume gave him almost a feminine appearance. The face and form of the man made Traugott shudder inwardly, but a whole world of sweet vague aspirations beamed upon him from the youth’s countenance. He could never tear himself away from looking at these two; and hence, on the present occasion, instead of writing Herr Elias Roos’s letter of advice to Hamburg, he sat gazing at the wonderful picture, absently scribbling all over his paper. After this had lasted some time, a hand clapped him on the shoulder from behind, and a gruff voice said, “Nice — very nice; that’s what I like; something maybe made of that.” Traugott, awakening out of his dreamy reverie, whisked himself round; but, as if struck by a lightning flash, he remained speechless with amazement and fright, for he was staring up into the face of the dark melancholy man who was depicted on the wall before him. He it was who uttered the words stated above; at his side stood the delicate and wonderfully beautiful youth, smiling upon him with indescribable affection. “Yes, it is they — the very same!” was the thought that flashed across Traugott’s mind. “I expect they will at once throw off their unsightly mantles and stand forth in all the splendours of their antique costume.” The members of the crowd pushed backwards and forwards amongst each other, and the strangers had soon disappeared in the crush; but even after the hours of ‘Change were long over, and only a few odd individuals crossed the hall, Traugott still remained in the self-same place with the letter of advice in his hand, as though he were converted into a solid stone statue.
At length he perceived Herr Elias Roos coming towards him with two strangers. “What are you about, cogitating here so long after noon, my respected Herr Traugott?” asked Elias Roos; “have you sent off the letter all right?” Mechanically Traugott handed him the paper; but Herr Elias Roos struck his hands together above his head, stamping at first gently, but then violently, with his right foot, as he cried, making the hall ring again, “Good God! Good God! what childish tricks are these? Nothing but sheer childishness, my respected Traugott — my good-for-nothing son-inlaw — my imprudent partner. Why, the devil must be in your honour! The letter — the letter! O God! the post!” Herr Elias Roos was almost choking with vexation, whilst the two strangers were laughing at the singular letter of advice, which could hardly be said to be of much use. For, immediately after the words, “In reply to yours of the 20th inst. respecting ——” Traugott had sketched the two extraordinary figures of the old man and the youth in neat bold outlines. The two strangers sought to pacify Herr Elias Roos by addressing him in the most affectionate manner; but Herr Elias Roos tugged his round wig now on this side and now on that, struck his cane against the floor, and cried, “The young devil! — was to write letter of advice — makes drawings — ten thousand marks gone — dam!” He blew through his fingers and then went on lamenting, “Ten thousand marks!” “Don’t make a trouble of it, my dear Herr Roos,” said at length the elder of the two strangers. “The post is of course gone; but I am sending off a courier to Hamburg in an hour. Let me give him your letter, and it will then reach its destination earlier than it would have done by the post” “You incomparable man!” exclaimed Herr Elias, his face a perfect blaze of sunshine. Traugott had recovered from his awkward embarrassment; he was hastening to the table to write the letter, but Herr Elias pushed him away, casting a right malicious look upon him, and murmuring between his teeth, “No need for you, my good son!”
Whilst Herr Elias was studiously busy writing, the elder gentleman approached young Traugott, who was standing silent with shame, and said to him, “You don’t seem to be exactly in your place, my good sir. It would never have come into a true merchant’s head to make drawings instead of writing a business letter as he ought” Traugott could not help feeling that this reproach was only too well founded. Much embarrassed, he replied, “By my soul, this hand has already written many admirable letters of advice; it is only, occasionally that such confoundedly odd ideas come into my mind.” “But, my good sir,” continued the stranger smiling, “these are not confoundedly odd ideas at all. I can really hardly believe that all your business letters taken together have been so admirable as these sketches, outlined so neatly and boldly and firmly. There is, I am sure, true genius in them.” With these words the stranger took out of Traugott’s hand the letter — or rather what was begun as a letter but had ended in sketches — carefully folded it together, and put it in his pocket. This awakened in Traugott’s mind the firm conviction that he had done something far more excellent than write a business letter. A strange spirit took possession of him; so that, when Herr Elias Roos, who had now finished writing, addressed him in an angry tone, “Your childish folly might have cost me ten thousand marks,” he replied louder and with more decision than was his habit, “Will your worship please not to behave in such an extraordinary way, else I will never write you another letter of advice so long as I live, and we will separate.” Herr Elias pushed his wig right with both hands and stammered, as he stared hard at Traugott, “My estimable colleague, my dear, dear son, what proud words you are using!” The old gentleman again interposed, and a few words sufficed to restore perfect peace; and so they all went to Herr Elias’s house to dinner, for he had invited the strangers home with him. Fair Christina received them in holiday attire, all clean and prim and proper; and soon she was wielding the excessively heavy silver soup-ladle with a practised hand.
Whilst these five persons are sitting at table, I could, gracious reader, bring them pictorially before your eyes; but I shall only manage to give a few general outlines, and those certainly worse than the sketches which Traugott had the audacity to scribble in the inauspicious letter; for the meal will soon be over; and besides, I am urged by an impulse I cannot resist to go on with the remarkable history of the excellent Traugott, which I have undertaken to relate to you.
That Herr Elias Roos wears a round wig you already know from what has been stated above; and I have no need to add anything more; for after what he has said, you can now see the round little man with his liver-coloured coat, waistcoat, and trousers, with gilt buttons, quite plainly before your eyes. Of Traugott I have a very great deal to say, because this is his history which I am telling, and so of course he occurs in it. If now it be true that a man’s thoughts and feelings and actions, making their influence felt from within him outwards, so model and shape his bodily form as to give rise to that wonderful harmony of the whole man, that is not to be explained but only felt, which we call character, then my words will of themselves have already shown you Traugott himself in the flesh. If this is not the case, then all my gossip is wasted, and you may forthwith regard my story as unread. The two strangers are uncle and nephew, formerly retail dealers, but now merchants trading on their gains, and friends of Herr Elias Roos, that is to say, they had a good many business transactions together. They live at Königsberg, dress entirely in the English fashion, carry about with them a mahogany boot-jack which has come from London, possess considerable taste for art, and are, in a word, experienced, well-educated people. The uncle has a gallery of art objects and collects hand-sketches (witness the pilfered letter of advice).
But properly my chief business was to give you, kindly reader, a true and life-like description of Christina; for her nimble person will, I observe, soon disappear; and it will be as well for me to get a few traits jotted down at once. Then she may willingly go! Picture to yourself a medium-sized stoutish female of from two to three and twenty years of age, with a round face, a short and rather turned-up nose, and friendly light-blue eyes, which smile most prettily upon everybody, saying, “I shall soon be married now.” Her skin is dazzling white, her hair is not altogether of a too reddish tinge; she has lips which were certainly made to be kissed, and a mouth which, though indeed rather wide, she yet screws up small in some extraordinary way, but so as to display then two rows of pearly teeth. If we were to suppose that the flames from the next-door neighbour’s burning house were to dart in at her chamber-window, she would make haste to feed the canary and lock up the clean linen from the wash, and then assuredly hasten down into the office and inform Herr Elias Roos that by that time his house also was on fire. She has never had an almond-cake spoilt, and her melted-butter always thickens properly, owing to the fact that she never stirs the spoon round towards the left, but always towards the right. But since Herr Elias Roos has poured out the last bumper of old French wine, I will only hasten to add that pretty Christina is uncommonly fond of Traugott because he is going to marry her; for what in the name of wonder should she do if she did not get married?
After dinner Herr Elias Roos proposed to his friends to take a walk on the ramparts. Although Traugott, whose mind had never been stirred by so many wonderful and extraordinary things as today, would very much have liked to escape the company, he could not contrive it; for, just as he was going out of the door, without having even kissed his betrothed’s hand, Herr Elias caught him by the coat-tails, crying, “My honoured son-inlaw, my good colleague, but you’re not going to leave us?” And so he had to stay.
A certain professor of physics once stated the theory that the Anima Mundi, or Spirit of the World, had, as a skilful experimentalist, constructed somewhere an excellent electric machine, and from it proceed certain very mysterious wires, which pass through the lives of us all; these we do our best to creep round and avoid, but at some moment or other we must tread upon them, and then there passes a flash and a shock through our souls, suddenly altering the forms of everything within them. Upon this thread Traugott must surely have trod in the moment that he was unconsciously sketching the two persons who stood in living shape behind him, for the singular appearance of the strangers had struck him with all the violence of a lightning-flash; and he now felt as if he had very clear conceptions of all those things which he had hitherto only dimly guessed at and dreamt about. The shyness which at other times had always fettered his tongue so soon as the conversation turned upon things which lay concealed like holy secrets at the bottom of his heart had now left him; and hence it was that, when the uncle attacked the curious half-painted, half-carved pictures in Arthur’s Hall as wanting in taste, and then proceeded more particularly to condemn the little pictures representing the soldiers as being whimsical, Traugott boldly maintained that, although it was very likely true that all these things did not harmonize with the rules of good taste, nevertheless he had experienced, what indeed several others had also experienced, viz., a wonderful and fantastic world had been unfolded to him in Arthur’s Hall, and some few of the figures had reminded him in even lifelike looks, nay, even in plain distinct words, that he also was a great master, and could paint and wield the chisel as well as the man out of whose unknown studio they themselves had proceeded Herr Elias certainly looked more stupid than usual whilst the young fellow was saying such grand things, but the uncle made answer in a very malicious manner, “I repeat once more, I do not comprehend why you want to be a merchant, why you haven’t rather devoted yourself altogether to art.”
Traugott conceived an extreme repugnance to the man, and accordingly he joined the nephew for the walk, and found his manner very friendly and confidential. “O Heaven!” said the latter, “how I envy you your beautiful and glorious talent! I wish I could only sketch like you! I am not at all wanting in genius; I have already sketched some deucedly pretty eyes and noses and ears, ay, and even three or four entire heads; — but, dash it all! the business, you know! the business!” “I always thought,” said Traugott, “that as soon as a man detected the spark of true genius — of a genuine love for art — within him, he ought not to know anything about any other business.” “You mean he ought to be an artist!” rejoined the nephew. “Ah! how can you say so? See you here, my estimable friend! I have, I believe, reflected more upon these things than many others; in fact, I am such a decided admirer of art, and have gone into the real essential nature of the thing far deeper than I am even able to express, and so I can only make use of hints and suggestions.” The nephew, as he expressed these opinions, looked so learned and so profound that Traugott really began to feel in awe of him. “You will agree with me,” continued the nephew, after he had taken a pinch of snuff and had sneezed twice, “you will agree with me that art embroiders our life with flowers; amusement, recreation after serious business — that is the praiseworthy end of all effort in art; and the attainment of this end is the more perfect in proportion as the art products assume a nearer approach to excellence. This end is very clearly seen in life; for it is only the man who pursues art in the spirit I have just mentioned who enjoys comfort and ease; whilst these for ever and eternally flee away from the man who, directly contrary to the nature of the case, regards art as a true end in itself — as the highest aim in life. And so, my good friend, don’t take to heart what my uncle said to try and persuade you to turn aside from the serious business of life, and rely upon a way of employing your energies which, if without support, will only make you stagger about like a helpless child.” Here the nephew paused as if expecting Traugott’s reply; but Traugott did not know for the life of him what he ought to say. All that the nephew had said struck him as indescribably stupid talk. He contented himself with asking, “But what do you really mean by the serious business of life?” The nephew looked at him somewhat taken aback. “Well, by my soul, you can’t help conceding to me that a man who is alive must live, and that’s what your artist by profession hardly ever succeeds in doing, for he’s always hard up.” And he went on with a long rigmarole of bosh, which he clothed in fine words and stereotyped phrases. The end of it all appeared to be pretty much this — that by living he meant little else than having no debts but plenty of money, plenty to eat and drink, a beautiful wife, and also well-behaved children, who never got any grease-stains on their nice Sunday-clothes, and so on. This made Traugott feel a tightness in his throat, and he was glad when the clever nephew left him, and he found himself alone in his own room.
“What a wretched miserable life I lead, to be sure!” he soliloquised. “On beautiful mornings in the glorious golden spring-time, when into even the obscure streets of the town the warm west wind finds its way, and its faint murmurings and rustlings seem to be telling of all the wonders which are to be seen blooming in the woods and fields, then I have to crawl down sluggishly and in an ill-temper into Herr Elias Roos’s smoke-begrimed office. And there sit pale faces before huge ugly-shaped desks; all are working on amidst gloomy silence, which is only broken by the rustle of leaves turned over in the big books, by the chink of money that is being counted, and by unintelligible sounds at odd intervals. And then again what work it is! What is the good of all this thinking and all this writing? Merely that the pile of gold pieces may increase in the coffers, and that the Fafnir’s4 treasure, which always brings mischief, may glitter and sparkle more and more! Oh, how gladly a painter or a sculptor must go out into the air, and with head erect imbibe all the refreshing influences of spring, until they people the inner world of his mind with beautiful images pulsing with glad and energetic life! Then from the dark bushes step forth wonderful figures, which his own mind has created, and which continue to be his own, for within him dwells the mysterious wizard power of light, of colour, of form; hence he is able to give abiding shape to what he has seen with the eye of his mind, in that he represents it in a material substitute. What is there to prevent me tearing myself loose from this hated mode of life? That remarkable old man assured me that I am called to be an artist, and still more so did the nice handsome youth. For although he did not speak a word, it yet somehow struck me that his glance said plainly what I had for such a long time felt like a vague emotional pulsation within me, and what, oppressed by a multitude of doubts, has hitherto been unable to rise to the level of consciousness. Instead of going on in this miserable way, could I not make myself a good painter?”
Traugott took out all the things that he had ever drawn and examined them with critical eyes. Several things looked quite different today from what they had ever done before, and that not worse, but better. His attention was especially attracted by one of his childish attempts, of the time when he was quite a boy; it was a sketch of the old burgomaster and the handsome page, the outlines very much wanting in firmness, of course, but nevertheless recognisable. And he remembered quite well that these figures had made a strange impression upon him even at that time, and how one evening at dusk they enticed him with such an irresistible power of attraction, that he had to leave his playmates and go into Arthur’s Hall, where he took almost endless pains to copy the picture. The contemplation of this drawing filled him with a feeling of very deep yearning sadness. According to his usual habit, he ought to go and work a few hours in the office; but he could not do it; he went out to the Carlsberg5 instead. There he stood and gazed out over the heaving sea, striving to decipher in the waves and in the grey misty clouds which had gathered in wonderful shapes over Hela,6 as in a magic mirror, his own destiny in days to come.
Don’t you too believe, kindly reader, that the sparks which fall into our hearts from the higher regions of Love are first made visible to us in the hours of hopeless pain? And so it is with the doubts that storm the artist’s mind. He sees the Ideal and feels how impotent are his efforts to reach it; it will flee before him, he thinks, always unattainable. But then again he is once more animated by a divine courage; he strives and struggles, and his despair is dissolved into a sweet yearning, which both strengthens him and spurs him on to strain after his beloved idol, so that he begins to see it continually nearer and nearer, but never reaches it.
Traugott was now tortured to excess by this state of hopeless pain. Early next morning, on again looking over his drawings, which he had left lying on the table he thought them all paltry and foolish, and he now called to mind the oft-repeated words of one of his artistic friends, “A great deal of the mischief done by dabblers in art of moderate abilities arises from the fact that so many people take a somewhat keen superficial excitement for a real essential vocation to pursue art.” Traugott felt strongly urged to look upon Arthur’s Hall and his adventure with the two mysterious personages, the old man and the young one, for one of these states of superficial excitement; so he condemned himself to go back to the office again; and he worked so assiduously at Herr Elias Roos’s, without heeding the disgust which frequently so far overcame him that he had to break off suddenly and rush off out into the open air. With sympathetic concern, Herr Elias Roos set this down to the indisposition which, according to his opinion, the fearfully pale young man must be suffering from.
Some time passed; Dominic’s Fair7 came, after which Traugott was to marry Christina and be introduced to the mercantile world as Herr Elias Roos’s partner. This period he regarded as that of a sad leave-taking from all his high hopes and aspirations; and his heart grew heavy whenever he saw dear Christina as busy as a bee superintending the scrubbing and polishing that was going on everywhere in the middle story, folding curtains with her own hands, and giving the final polish to the brass pots and pans, &c.
One day, in the thick of the surging crowd of strangers in Arthur’s Hall, Traugott heard close behind him a voice whose well-known tones made his heart jump. “And do you really mean to say that this stock stands at such a low figure?” Traugott whisked himself quickly round, and saw, as he had expected, the remarkable old man, who had appealed to a broker to get him to buy some stock, the price of which had at that moment fallen to an extremely low figure. Behind the old man stood the youth, who greeted Traugott with a friendly but melancholy smile. Then Traugott hastened to address the old man. “Excuse me, sir; the price of the stock which you are desirous of selling is really no higher than what you have been told; nevertheless, it may with confidence be anticipated that in a few days the price will rise considerably. If, therefore, you take my advice, you will postpone the conversion of your stock for a little time longer.” “Eh! sir?” replied the old man rather coldly and roughly, “what have you to do with my business? How do you know that just now a silly bit of paper like this is of no use at all to me, whilst ready money is what I have great need of?” Traugott, not a little abashed because the old man had taken his well-meant intention in such ill part, was on the point of retiring, when the youth looked at him with tears in his eyes, as if in entreaty. “My advice was well meant, sir,” he replied quickly; “I cannot suffer you to inflict upon yourself an important loss. Let me have your stock, but on the condition that I afterwards pay for it the higher price which it will be worth in a few day’s time.” “Well, you are an extraordinary man,” said the old man. “Be it so then; although I can’t understand what induces you to want to enrich me.” So saying, he shot a keen flashing glance at the youth, who cast down his beautiful blue eyes in shy confusion. They both followed Traugott to the office, where the money was paid over to the old man, whose face was dark and sullen as he put it in his purse. Whilst he was doing so, the youth whispered softly to Traugott, “Are you not the gentleman who was sketching such pretty figures several weeks ago in Arthur’s Hall?” “Certainly I am,” replied Traugott, and he felt how the remembrance of the ridiculous episode of the letter of advice drove the hot blood into his face. “Oh then, I don’t at all wonder,” the youth was continuing, when the old man gave him an angry look, which at once made him silent. In the presence of these strangers Traugott could not get rid of a certain feeling of awkward constraint; and so they went away before he could muster courage enough to inquire further into their circumstances and mode of life.
In fact there was something so quite out of the ordinary in the appearance of these two persons that even the clerks and others in the office were struck by it. The surly book-keeper had stuck his pen behind his ear, and leaning on his arms, which he clasped behind his head, he sat watching the old man with keen glittering eyes. “God forgive me,” he said when the strangers had left the office, “if he didn’t look like an old picture of the year 1400 in St. John’s parish church, with his curly beard and black mantle.” Herr Elias set him down without more ado as a Polish Jew, notwithstanding his noble bearing and his extremely grave old-German face, and cried with a simper, “Silly fellow! sells his stock now; might make at least ten per cent, more in a week.” Of course he knew nothing about the additional price which had been agreed upon, and which Traugott intended to pay out of his own pocket. And this he really did do when some days later he again met the old man and the youth in Arthur’s Hall.
The old man said, “My son has reminded me that you are an artist also, and so I will accept what I should have otherwise refused.” They were standing close beside one of the four granite pillars which support the vaulted roof of the hall, and immediately in front of the two painted figures which Traugott had formerly sketched in the letter of advice. Without reserve he spoke of the great resemblance between these figures and the old man himself and the youth. The old man smiled a peculiar smile, and laying his hand on Traugott’s shoulder, said in a low and deliberate tone, “Then you didn’t know that I am the German painter Godofredus Berklinger, and that it was I who painted the pictures which seem to give you so much pleasure, a long time ago, whilst still a learner in art. That burgomaster I copied in commemoration of myself, and that the page who is leading the horse is my son you can of course very easily see by comparing the faces and figures of the two.” Traugott was struck dumb with astonishment. But he very soon came to the conclusion that the old man, who took himself to be the artist of a picture more than two hundred years old must be labouring under some peculiar delusion. The old man went on, lifting up his head and looking proudly about him, “Ay, that was an artistic age if you like — glorious, vigorous, flourishing, when I decorated this hall with all these gay pictures in honour of the wise King Arthur and his Round Table. I verily believe that the tall stately figure who once came to me as I was working here, and exhorted me to go on and gain my mastership — for at that time I had not reached that dignity — was King Arthur himself.” Here the young man interposed, “My father is an artist, sir, who has few equals; and you would have no cause to be sorry if he would allow you to inspect his works.” Meanwhile the old man was taking a turn through the hall, which had now become empty; he now called to the youth to go, and then Traugott begged him to show him his pictures. The old man fixed his eyes upon him and regarded him for some time with a keen and searching glance, and at length said with much gravity, “You are, I must say, rather audacious to be wanting to enter the inner shrine before you have begun your probationary years. But — be it so! If your eyes are still too dull to see, you may at least dimly feel. Come and see me early tomorrow morning,” and he indicated where he lived. Next morning Traugott did not fail to get away from business early and hasten to the retired street where the remarkable old man lived. The youth, dressed in old-German style, opened the door to receive him and led him into a spacious room, in the centre of which he found the old man sitting on a little stool in front of a large piece of outstretched grey primed canvas. “You have come exactly at the right time, sir,” the old man cried by way of greeting, “for I have just put the finishing-touch to yon large picture, which has occupied me more than a year and cost me no small amount of trouble. It is the fellow of a picture of the same size, representing ‘Paradise Lost,’ which I completed last year and which I can also show you here. This, as you will observe, is ‘Paradise Regained,’ and I should be very sorry for you if you begin to put on critical airs and try to get some allegory out of it Allegorical pictures are only painted by duffers and bunglers; my picture is not to signify but to be . You perceive how all these varied groups of men and animals and fruits and flowers and stones unite to form one harmonic whole, whose loud and excellent music is the divinely pure chord of glorification.” And the old man began to dwell more especially upon the individual groups; he called Traugott’s attention to the secrets of the division of light and shade, to the glitter of the flowers and the metals, to the singular shapes which, rising up out of the calyx of the lilies, entwined themselves about the forms of the divinely beautiful youths and maidens who were dancing to the strains of music, and he called his attention to the bearded men who, with all the strong pride of youth in their eyes and movements, were apparently talking to various kinds of curious animals. The old man’s words, whilst they grew continually more emphatic, grew also continually more incomprehensible and confused. “That’s right, old greybeard, let thy diamond crown flash and sparkle,” he cried at last, riveting a fixed but fiery glance upon the canvas. “Throw off the Isis veil which thou didst put over thy head when the profane approached thee. What art thou folding thy dark robe so carefully over thy breast for? I want to see thy heart; that is the philosopher’s stone through which the mystery is revealed. Art thou not I? Why dost thou put on such a bold and mighty air before me? Wilt thou contend with thy master? Thinkest thou that the ruby, thy heart, which sparkles so, can crush my breast? Up then — step forward — come here! I have created thee, for I am”—— Here the old man suddenly fell on the floor like one struck by lightning. Whilst Traugott lifted him up, the youth quickly wheeled up a small arm-chair, into which they placed the old man, who soon appeared to have fallen into a gentle sleep.
“Now you know, my kind sir, what is the matter with my good old father,” said the youth softly and gently. “A cruel destiny has stripped off all the blossoms of his life; and for several years past he has been insensible to the art for which he once lived. He spends days and days sitting in front of a piece of outstretched primed canvas, with his eyes fixed upon it in a stare; that he calls painting. Into what an overwrought condition the description of such a picture brings him, you have just seen for yourself. Besides this he is haunted by another unhappy thought, which makes my life to be a sad and agitated one; but I regard it as a fatality by which I am swept along in the same stream that has caught him. You would like something to help you to recover from this extraordinary scene; please follow me then into the adjoining room, where you will find several pictures of my father’s early days, when he was still a productive artist.”
And great was Traugott’s astonishment to find a row of pictures apparently painted by the most illustrious masters of the Netherlands School. For the most part they represented scenes taken from real life; for example, a company returning from hunting, another amusing themselves with singing and playing, and such like subjects. They bore evidences of great thought, and particularly the expression of the heads, which were realised with especially vigorous life-like power. Just as Traugott was about to return into the former room, he noticed another picture close beside the door, which held him fascinated to the spot. It was a remarkably pretty maiden dressed in old-German style, but her face was exactly like the youth’s, only fuller and with a little more colour in it, and she seemed to be somewhat taller too. A tremor of nameless delight ran through Traugott at the sight of this beautiful girl. In strength and vitality the picture was quite equal to anything by Van Dyk. The dark eyes were looking down upon Traugott with a soft yearning look, whilst her sweet lips appeared to be half opened ready to whisper loving words. “O heaven! Good heaven!” sighed Traugott with a sigh that came from the very bottom of his heart; “where — oh! where can I find her?” “Let us go,” said the youth. Then Traugott cried in a sort of rapturous frenzy, “Oh! it is indeed she! — the beloved of my soul, whom I have so long carried about in my heart, but whom I only knew in vague stirrings of emotion. Where — oh! where is she?” The tears started from young Berklinger’s eyes; he appeared to be shaken by a convulsive and sudden attack of pain, and to control himself with difficulty. “Come along,” he at length said, in a firm voice, “that is a portrait of my unhappy sister Felicia.8 She has gone for ever. You will never see her.”
Like one in a dream, Traugott suffered himself to be led into the other room. The old man was still sleeping; but all at once he started up, and staring at Traugott with eyes flashing with anger, he cried, “What do you want? What do you want, sir?” Then the youth stepped forward and reminded him that he had just been showing his new picture to Traugott, had he forgotten? At this Berklinger appeared to recollect all that had passed; it was evident that he was much affected; and he replied in an undertone, “Pardon an old man’s forgetfulness, my good sir.” “Your new piece is an admirable — an excellent work. Master Berklinger,” Traugott proceeded; “I have never seen anything equal to it. I am sure it must cost a great deal of study and an immense amount of labour before a man can advance so far as to turn out a work like that. I discern that I have an inextinguishable propensity for art, and I earnestly entreat you, my good old master, to accept me as your pupil; you will find me industrious.” The old man grew quite cheerful and amiable; and embracing Traugott, he promised that he would be a faithful master to him.
Thus it came to pass that Traugott visited the old painter every day that came, and made very rapid progress in his studies. He now conceived an unconquerable disgust of business, and was so careless that Herr Elias Roos had to speak out and openly find fault with him; and finally he was very glad when Traugott kept away from the office altogether, on the pretext that he was suffering from a lingering illness. For this same reason the wedding, to Christina’s no little annoyance, was indefinitely postponed. “Your Herr Traugott seems to be suffering from some secret trouble,” said one of Herr Elias Roos’s merchant-friends to him one day; “perhaps it’s the balance of some old love-affair that he’s anxious to settle before the wedding-day. He looks very pale and distracted.” “And why shouldn’t he then?” rejoined Herr Elias. “I wonder now,” he continued after a pause — “I wonder now if that little rogue Christina has been having words with him? My book-keeper — the love-smitten old ass — he is always kissing and squeezing her hand. Traugott’s devilishly in love with my little girl, I know. Can there be any jealousy? Well, I’ll sound my young gentleman.”
But however carefully he sounded he could find no satisfactory bottom, and he said to his merchant-friend, “That Traugott is a most peculiar fellow; well, I must just let him go his own way; though if he had not fifty thousand thalers in my business I know what I should do, since now he never does a stroke of anything.”
Traugott, absorbed in art, would now have led a real bright sunshiny life, had his heart not been torn with passionate love for the beautiful Felicia, whom he often saw in wonderful dreams. The picture had disappeared; the old man had taken it away; and Traugott durst not ask him about it without risk of seriously offending him. On the whole, old Berklinger continued to grow more confidential; and instead of taking any honorarium for his instruction, he permitted Traugott to help out his narrow house-keeping in many ways. From young Berklinger Traugott learned that the old man had been obviously taken in in the sale of a little cabinet, and that the stock which Traugott had realised for them was all that they had left of the price received for it, as well as all the money they possessed. But it was only seldom that Traugott was allowed to have any confidential conversation with the youth; the old man watched over him with the most singular jealousy, and at once scolded him sharply if he began to converse freely and cheerfully with their friend. This Traugott felt all the more painfully since he had conceived a deep and heart-felt affection for the youth, owing to his striking likeness to Felicia. Indeed he often fancied, when he stood near the young man, that he was standing beside the picture he loved so much, now alive and breathing, and that he could feel her soft breath on his cheek; and then he would like to have drawn the youth, as if he really were his darling Felicia herself, to his swelling heart.
Winter was past; beautiful spring was filling the woods and fields with brightness and blossoms. Herr Elias Roos advised Traugott either to drink whey for his health’s sake or to go somewhere to take the baths. Fair Christina was again looking forward with joy to the wedding, although Traugott seldom showed himself — and thought still less of his relations with her.
Once Traugott was confined to the office the whole day long, making a requisite squaring up of his accounts, &c.; he had been obliged to neglect his meals, and it was beginning to get very dark when he reached Berklinger’s remote dwelling. He found nobody in the first room, but from the one adjoining he heard the music of a lute. He had never heard the instrument there before. He listened; a song, from time to time interrupted, accompanied the music like a low soft sigh. He opened the door. O Heaven! with her back towards him sat a female figure, dressed in old-German style with a high lace ruff, exactly like the picture. At the noise which Traugott unavoidably made on entering, the figure rose, laid the lute on the table, and turned round. It was she, Felicia herself! “Felicia!” cried Traugott enraptured; and he was about to throw himself at the feet of his beloved divinity when he felt a powerful hand laid upon his collar behind, and himself dragged out of the room by some one with the strength of a giant. “You abandoned wretch! you incomparable villain!” screamed old Berklinger, pushing him on before him, “so that was your love for art? Do you mean to murder me?” And therewith he hurled him out at the door, whilst a knife glittered in his hand. Traugott flew downstairs and hurried back home stupefied; nay, half crazy with mingled delight and terror.
He tossed restlessly on his couch, unable to sleep. “Felicia! Felicia!” he exclaimed time after time, distracted with pain and the pangs of love. “You are there, you are there, and I may not see you, may not clasp you in my arms! You love me, oh yes! that I know. From the pain which pierces my breast so savagely I feel that you love me.”
The morning sun shone brightly into Traugott’s chamber; then he got up, and determined, let the cost be what it might, that he would solve the mystery of Berklinger’s house. He hurried off to the old man’s, but his feelings may not be described when he saw all the windows wide open and the maid-servants busy sweeping out the rooms. He was struck with a presentiment of what had happened. Berklinger had left the house late on the night before along with his son, and was gone nobody knew where. A carriage drawn by two horses had fetched away the box of paintings and the two little trunks which contained all Berklinger’s scanty property. He and his son had followed half an hour later. All inquiries as to where they had gone remained fruitless: no livery-stable keeper had let out horses and carriage to persons such as Traugott described, and even at the town gates he could learn nothing for certain; — in short, Berklinger had disappeared as if he had flown away on the mantle9 of Mephistopheles.
Traugott went back home prostrated by despair. “She is gone! She is gone! The beloved of my soul! All — all is lost!” Thus he cried as he rushed past Herr Elias Roos (for he happened to be just at that moment in the entrance hall) towards his own room. “God bless my soul!” cried Herr Elias, pulling and tugging at his wig. “Christina! Christina!” he shouted, till the whole house echoed. “Christina! You disgraceful girl! My good-for-nothing daughter!” The clerks and others in the office rushed out with terrified faces; the book-keeper asked amazed, “But Herr Roos?” Herr Roos, however, continued to scream without stopping, “Christina! Christina!” At this point Miss Christina stepped in through the house-door, and raising her broad-brimmed straw-hat just a little and smiling, asked what her good father was bawling in this outrageous way for. “I strictly beg you will let such unnecessary running away alone,” Herr Elias began to storm at her. “My son-inlaw is a melancholy fellow and as jealous as a Turk. You’d better stay quietly at home, or else there’ll be some mischief done. My partner is in there screaming and crying about his betrothed, because she will gad about so.” Christina looked at the book-keeper astounded; but he gave a significant glance in the direction of the cupboard in the office where Herr Roos was in the habit of keeping his cinnamon water. “You’d better go in and console your betrothed,” he said as he strode away. Christina went up to her own room, only to make a slight change in her dress, and give out the clean linen, and discuss with the cook what would have to be done about the Sunday roast-joint, and at the same time pick up a few items of town-gossip, then she would go at once and see what really was the matter with her betrothed.
You know, kindly, reader, that we all of us, when in Traugott’s case, have to go through our appointed stages; we can’t help ourselves. Despair is succeeded by a dull dazed sort of moody reverie, in which the crisis is wont to occur; and this then passes over into a milder pain, in which Nature is able to apply her remedies with effect.
It was in this stage of sad but beneficial pain that, some days later, Traugott again sat on the Carlsberg, gazing out as before upon the sea-waves and the grey misty clouds which had gathered over Hela; but he was not seeking as before to discover the destiny reserved for him in days to come; no, for all that he had hoped for, all that he had dimly dreamt of, had vanished. “Oh!” said he, “my call to art was a bitter, bitter deception. Felicia was the phantom who deluded me into the belief in that which never had any other existence but in the insane fancy of a fever-stricken mind. It’s all over. I will give it all up, and go back — into my dungeon. I have made up my mind; I will go back.” Traugott again went back to his work in the office, whilst the wedding-day with Christina was once more fixed. On the day before the wedding was to come off, Traugott was standing in Arthur’s Hall, looking, not without a good deal of heart-rending sadness, at the fateful figures of the old burgomaster and his page, when his eye fell upon the broker to whom Berklinger was trying to sell his stock. Without pausing to think, almost mechanically in fact, he walked up to him and asked, “Did you happen to know the strikingly curious old man with the black curly beard who some time ago frequently used to be seen here along with a handsome youth?” “Why, to be sure I did,” answered the broker; “that was the crack-brained old painter Gottfried Berklinger.” “Then don’t you know where he has gone to and where he is now living?” asked Traugott again. “Ay, that I do,” replied the broker; “he has now for a long time been living quietly at Sorrento along with his daughter.” “With his daughter Felicia?” asked Traugott so vehemently and so loudly that everybody turned round to look at him. “Why, yes,” went on the broker calmly, “that was, you know, the pretty youth who always followed the old man about everywhere. Half Dantzic knew that he was a girl, notwithstanding that the crazy old fellow thought there was not a single soul could guess it. It had been prophesied to him that if his daughter were ever to get married he would die a shameful death; and accordingly he determined never to let anybody know anything about her, and so he passed her off everywhere as his son.” Traugott stood like a statue; then he ran off through the streets — away out of the town-gates — into the open country, into the woods, loudly lamenting, “Oh! miserable wretch that I am! It was she — she, herself; I have sat beside her scores and hundreds of times — have breathed her breath — pressed her delicate hands — looked into her beautiful eyes — heard her sweet words — and now I have lost her! No; not lost I will follow her into the land of art. I acknowledge the finger of destiny. Away — away to Sorrento.”
He hurried back home. Herr Elias Roos got in his way; Traugott laid hold of him and carried him along with him into the room. “I shall never marry Christina, never!” he screamed. “She looks like Voluptas (Pleasure) and Luxuries (Wantonness), and her hair is like that of Ira (Wrath), in the picture in Arthur’s Hall. O Felicia! Felicia! My beautiful darling! Why do you stretch out your arms so longingly towards me? I am coming, I am coming. And now let me tell you, Herr Elias,” he continued, again laying hold of the pale merchant, “you will never see me in your damned office again. What do I care for your cursed ledgers and day-books? I am a painter, ay, and a good painter too. Berklinger is my master, my father, my all, and you are nothing — nothing at all.” And therewith he gave Herr Elias a good shaking. Herr Elias, however, began to shout at the top of his voice, “Help! help! Come here, folks! Help! My son-inlaw’s gone mad. My partner’s in a raging fit Help! help!” Everybody came running out of the office. Traugott had released his hold upon Elias and now sank down exhausted in a chair. They all gathered round him; but when he suddenly leapt to his feet and cried with a wild look, “What do you all want?” they all hurried off out of the room in a string, Herr Elias in the middle.
Soon afterwards there was a rustling of a silk dress, and a voice asked, “Have you really gone crazed, my dear Herr Traugott, or are you only jesting?” It was Christina. “I am not the least bit crazed, my angel,” replied Traugott, “nor is it one whit truer that I am jesting. Pray compose yourself, my dear, but our wedding won’t come off tomorrow; I shall never marry you, neither tomorrow, nor at any other time.” “There is not the least need of it,” said Christina very calmly. “I have not been particularly pleased with you for some time, and some one I know will value it far differently if he may only lead home as his bride the rich and pretty Miss Christina Roos. Adieu!” Therewith she rustled off. “She means the book-keeper,” thought Traugott. As soon as he had calmed down somewhat he went to Herr Elias and explained to him in convincing terms that he need not expect to have him either as his son-inlaw or as his partner in the business. Herr Elias reconciled himself to the inevitable; and repeated with downright honest joy in the office again and again that he thanked God to have got rid of that crazy-headed Traugott — even after the latter was a long, long way distant from Dantzic.
On at length arriving at the longed-for country, Traugott found a new life awaiting him, bright and brilliant. At Rome he was introduced to the circle of the German colony of painters and shared in their studies. Thus it came to pass that he stayed there longer than would seem to have been permissible in the face of his longing to find Felicia again, by which he had hitherto been so restlessly urged onwards. But his longing was now grown weaker; it shaped itself in his heart like a fascinating dream, whose misty shimmer enveloped his life on all sides, so that he believed that all he did and thought, and all his artistic practice, were turned towards the higher supernatural regions of blissful intuitions. All the female figures which his now experienced artistic skill enabled him to create bore lovely Felicia’s features. The young painters were greatly struck by the exquisitely beautiful face, the original of which they in vain sought to find in Rome; they overwhelmed Traugott with multitudes of questions as to where he had seen the beauty. Traugott however was very shy of telling of his singular adventure in Dantzic, until at last, after the lapse of several months, an old Königsberg friend, Matuszewski by name, who had come to Rome to devote himself entirely to art, declared joyfully that he had seen there — in Rome, the girl whom Traugott copied in all his pictures. Traugott’s wild delight may be imagined. He no longer concealed what it was that had attracted him so strongly to art, and urged him on with such irresistible power into Italy; and his Dantzic adventure proved so singular and so attractive that they all promised to search eagerly for the lost loved one.
Matuszewski’s efforts were the most successful. He had soon found out where the girl lived, and discovered moreover that she really was the daughter of a poor old painter, who just at that period was busy putting a new coat on the walls of the church Trinita del Monte. All these things agreed nicely. Traugott at once hastened to the church in question along with Matuszewski; and in the painter, whom he saw working up on a very high scaffolding, he really thought he recognised old Berklinger. Thence the two friends hurried off to the old man’s dwelling, without having been noticed by him. “It is she,” cried Traugott, when he saw the painter’s daughter standing on the balcony, occupied with some sort of feminine work. “Felicia, my Felicia!” he exclaimed aloud in his joy, as he burst into the room. The girl looked up very much alarmed. She had Felicia’s features; but it was not Felicia. In his bitter disappointment poor Traugott’s wounded heart was rent as if from innumerable dagger-thrusts. In a few words Matuszewski explained all to the girl. In her pretty shy confusion, with her cheeks deep crimson, and her eyes cast down upon the ground, she made a marvellously attractive picture to look at; and Traugott, whose first impulse had been quickly to retire, nevertheless, after casting but a single pained glance at her, remained standing where he was, as though held fast by silken bonds. His friend was not backward in saying all sorts of complimentary things to pretty Dorina, and so helped her to recover from the constraint and embarrassment into which she had been thrown by the extraordinary manner of their entrance. Dorina raised the “dark fringed curtains of her eyes” and regarded the stranger with a sweet smile, and said that her father would soon come home from his work, and would be very pleased to see some German painters, for he esteemed them very highly. Traugott was obliged to confess that, exclusive of Felicia, no girl had ever excited such a warm interest in him as Dorina did. She was in fact almost a second Felicia; the only differences were that Dorina’s features seemed to him less delicate and more sharply cut, and her hair was darker. It was the same picture, only painted by Raphael instead of by Rubens.
It was not long before the old gentleman came in; and Traugott now plainly saw that he had been greatly misled by the height of the scaffolding in the church, on which the old man had stood. Instead of his being the strong Berklinger, he was a thin, mean-looking little old man, timid and crushed by poverty. A deceptive accidental light in the church had given his clean-shaved chin an appearance similar to Berklinger’s black curly beard. In conversing about art matters the old man unfolded considerable ripe practical knowledge; and Traugott made up his mind to cultivate his acquaintance; for though his introduction to the family had been so painful, their society now began to exercise a more and more agreeable influence upon him.
Dorina, the incarnation of grace and child-like ingenuousness, plainly allowed her preference for the young German painter to be seen. And Traugott warmly returned her affection. He grew so accustomed to the society of the pretty child (she was but fifteen), that he often spent the whole day with the little family; his studio he transferred to the spacious apartment which stood empty next their rooms; and finally he established himself in the family itself. Hence he was able of his prosperity to do much in a delicate way to relieve their straitened circumstances; and the old man could not very well think otherwise than that Traugott would marry Dorina; and he even said so to him without reservation. This put Traugott in no little consternation: for he now distinctly recollected the object of his journey, and perceived where it seemed likely to end. Felicia again stood before his eyes instinct with life; but, on the other hand, he felt that he could not leave Dorina. His vanished darling he could not, for some extraordinary reason, conceive of as being his wife. She was pictured in his imagination as an intellectual vision, that he could neither lose nor win. Oh! to be immanent in his beloved intellectually for ever! never to have her and own her physically! But Dorina was often in his thoughts as his dearly loved wife; and as often as he contemplated the idea of again binding himself in the indissoluble bonds of betrothal,10 he felt a delicious tremor run through him and a gentle warmth pervade his veins; and yet he regarded it as unfaithfulness to his first love. Thus Traugott’s heart was the scene of contest between the most contradictory feelings; he could not make up his mind what to do. He avoided the old painter; and he accordingly feared Traugott intended to receive his dear child. He had moreover already spoken of Traugott’s wedding as a settled thing; and it was only under this impression that he had tolerated Dorina’s familiar intimacy with Traugott, which otherwise would have given the girl an ill name. The blood of the Italian boiled within him, and one day he roundly declared to Traugott that he must either marry Dorina or leave him, for he would not tolerate this familiar intercourse an hour longer. Traugott was tormented by the keenest annoyance as well as by the bitterest vexation. The old man he viewed in the light of a vile match-maker; his own actions and behaviour were contemptible; and that he had ever deserted Felicia he now judged to be sinful and abominable. His heart was sore wounded at parting from Dorina; but with a violent effort he tore himself free from the sweet bonds. He hastened away to Naples, to Sorrento.
He spent a whole year in making the strictest inquiries after Berklinger and Felicia; but all was in vain; nobody knew anything about them. The sole gleam of intelligence that he could find was a vague sort of presumption, which was founded merely upon the tradition that an old German painter had been seen in Sorrento several years before — and that was all. After being driven backwards and forwards like a boat on the restless sea, Traugott at length came to a stand in Naples; and in proportion as his industry in art pursuits again awakened, the longing for Felicia which he cherished in his bosom grew softer and milder. But he never saw any pretty girl, if she was the least like Dorina in figure, movement, or bearing, without feeling most bitterly the loss of the dear sweet child. Yet when he was painting he never thought of Dorina, but always of Felicia; she continued to be his constant ideal.
At length he received letters from his native town. Herr Elias Roos had departed this life, his business agent wrote, and Traugott’s presence was required in order to settle matters with the book-keeper, who had married Miss Christina and undertaken the business. Traugott hurried back to Dantzic by the shortest route.
Again he was standing in Arthur’s Hall, leaning against the granite pillar, opposite the burgomaster and the page; he dwelt upon the wonderful adventure which had had such a painful influence upon his life; and, a prey to deep and hopeless sadness, he stood and looked with a set fixed gaze upon the youth, who greeted him with living eyes, as it were, and whispered in a sweet and charming voice, “And so you could not desert me then after all?”
“Can I believe my eyes? Is it really your own respected self come back again safe and sound, and quite cured of your unpleasant melancholy?” croaked a voice near Traugott. It was the well-known broker. “I have not found her,” escaped Traugott involuntarily. “Whom do you mean? Whom has your honour not found?” asked the broker. “The painter Godofredus Berklinger and his daughter Felicia,” rejoined Traugott. “I have searched all Italy for them; not a soul knew anything about them in Sorrento.” This made the broker open his eyes and stare at him, and he stammered, “Where do you say you have searched for Berklinger and Felicia? In Italy? in Naples? in Sorrento?” “Why, yes; to be sure,” replied Traugott, very testily. Whereupon the broker struck his hands together several times in succession, crying as he did so, “Did you ever now? Did you ever hear tell of such a thing? But Herr Traugott! Herr Traugott!” “Well, what is there to be so much astonished at?” rejoined Traugott, “don’t behave in such a foolish fashion, pray. Of course a man will travel as far as Sorrento for his sweetheart’s sake. Yes, yes; I loved Felicia and followed her.” But the broker skipped about on one foot, and continued to say, “Well, now, did you ever? did you ever?” until Traugott placed his hand earnestly upon his arm and asked, “Come, tell me then, in heaven’s name! what is it that you find so extraordinary?” The broker began, “But, my good Herr Traugott, do you mean to say you don’t know that Herr Aloysius Brandstetter, our respected town-councillor and the senior of our guild, calls his little villa, in that small fir-wood at the foot of Carlsberg, in the direction of Conrad’s Hammer, by the name of Sorrento? He bought Berklinger’s pictures of him and took the old man and his daughter into his house, that is, out to Sorrento. And there they lived for several years; and if you, my respected Herr Traugott, had only gone and planted your own two feet on the middle of the Carlsberg, you could have had a view right into the garden, and could have seen Miss Felicia walking about there dressed in curious old-German style, like the women in those pictures — there was no need for you to go to Italy. Afterwards the old man — but that is a sad story” “Never mind; go on,” said Traugott, hoarsely. “Yes,” continued the broker. “Young Brandstetter came back from England, saw Miss Felicia, and fell in love with her. Coming unexpectedly upon the young lady in the garden, he fell upon his knees before her in romantic fashion, and swore that he would wed her and deliver her from the tyrannical slavery in which her father kept her. Close behind the young people, without their having observed it, stood the old man; and the very self-same moment in which Felicia said, ‘I will be yours,’ he fell down with a stifled scream, and was dead as a door nail. It’s said he looked very very hideous — all blue and bloody, because he had by some inexplicable means burst an artery. After that Miss Felicia could not bear young Brandstetter at all, and at last she married Mathesius, criminal and aulic counsellor, of Marienwerder. Your honour, as an old flame, should go and see the Frau Kriminalräthin . Marienwerder is not so far, you know, as your real Italian Sorrento. The good lady is said to be very comfortable and to have enriched the world with divers children.”
Silent and crushed, Traugott hastened from the Hall. This issue of his adventure filled him with awe and dread. “No, it is not she — it is not she!” he cried. “It is not Felicia, that divine image which enkindled an infinite longing in my bosom, whom I followed into yon distant land, seeing her before me everywhere where I went like my star of fortune, twinkling and glittering with sweet hopes. Felicia — Kriminalräthin Mathesius! Ha! Ha! Ha! — Kriminalräthin Mathesius!” Traugott, shaken by extreme sensations of misery, laughed aloud and hastened in his usual way through the Oliva Gate along the Langfuhr11 to the Carlsberg. He looked down into Sorrento, and the tears gushed from his eyes. “Oh!” he cried, “Oh! how deep, how incurably deep an injury, O thou eternal ruling Power, does thy bitter irony inflict upon poor man’s soft heart! But no, no! But why should the child cry over the incurable pain when instead of enjoying the light and warmth he thrusts his hand into the flames? Destiny visibly laid its hand upon me, but my dimmed vision did not recognise the higher nature at work; and I had the presumption to delude myself with the idea that the forms, created by the old master and mysteriously awakened to life, which stepped down to meet me, were my own equals, and that I could draw them down into the miserable transitoriness of earthly existence. No, no, Felicia, I have never lost you; you are and will be mine for ever, for you yourself are the creative artistic power dwelling within me. Now — and only now have I first come to know you. What have you — what have I to do with the Kriminalräthin Mathesius? I fancy, nothing at all.”
“Neither did I know what you should have to do with her, my respected Herr Traugott,” a voice broke in. Traugott awakened out of his dream. Strange to say, he found himself, without knowing how he got there, again leaning against the granite pillar in Arthur’s Hall. The person who had spoken the abovementioned words was Christina’s husband. He handed to Traugott a letter that had just arrived from Rome. Matuszewski wrote:—
“Dorina is prettier and more charming than ever, only pale with longing for you, my dear friend. She is expecting you every hour, for she is most firmly convinced that you could never be untrue to her. She loves you with all her heart. When shall we see you again?”
“I am very pleased that we settled all our business this morning,” said Traugott to Christina’s husband after he had read this, “for tomorrow I set out for Rome, where my bride is most anxiously longing for me.”
1 Written for the Urania for 1817.
2 The Artushof or Junkerhof derives its names from its connection with the Arthurian cycle of legends, and from the fact that there the Stadtjunker, or wealthy merchants of Dantzic, used formerly to meet both to transact business and for the celebration of festive occasions. It has been used as an exchange since 1742. The site of the present building was occupied by a still older one down to 1552, and to this the hall, which is vaulted and supported on four slender pillars of granite, belongs architecturally. It was very quaintly decorated with pictures, statues, reliefs, &&, both of Christian and Pagan traditions.
3 A broad street crossing Dantzic in an east-to-west direction.
4 In Scandinavian mythology, Fafnir, the worm, became the owner of the treasure which his father, Hreidmar, had exacted as blood-money from Loki, because he had slain Hreidmar’s son Otur, the sea-otter. This treasure Loki had taken by violence from its rightful owner, a dwarf, who in revenge prophesied that the possession of the treasure should henceforward be fraught with dire mischief to every successive owner of it.
5 A hill to the north-west of Dantzic, affording a splendid view of the Gulf of Dantzic.
6 A long narrow spit of land projecting from the coast at a point north of Dantzic in a south-south-east direction into the Gulf of Dantzic.
7 August 4th.
8 The name in the text is Felizitas — Felicity; Felicia has been adopted in the translation as being the nearest approach to it. Felicity would in all probability be extremely strange to English ears, besides being liable to lead to ambiguities.
9 A mode of aërial conveyance made use of on occasion by the personage named, in the popular Faust legend.
10 In Germany the betrothal is a more significant act than in England, and by some regarded as more sacred and binding than the actual marriage ceremony.
11 A suburb of Dantzic, on the N. W., 3–1/2 miles nearer than Carlsberg; it is connected with the city by a double avenue of fine limes.
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