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First Book

On the 28th of August, 1749, at mid-day, as the clock struck twelve, I
came into the world, at Frankfort-on-the-Main. My horoscope was
propitious: the sun stood in the sign of the Virgin, and had culminated
for the day; Jupiter and Venus looked on him with a friendly eye, and
Mercury not adversely; while Saturn and Mars kept themselves
indifferent; the moon alone, just full, exerted the power of her
reflection all the more, as she had then reached her planetary hour. She
opposed herself, therefore, to my birth, which could not be accomplished
until this hour was passed.

These good aspects, which the astrologers managed subsequently to reckon
very auspicious for me, may have been the causes of my preservation;
for, through the unskilfulness of the midwife, I came into the world as
dead; and only after various efforts was I enabled to see the light.
This event, which had put our household into sore straits, turned to the
advantage of my fellow-citizens, inasmuch as my grandfather, the
/Schultheiss/ [Footnote: A chief judge or magistrate of the town.],
John Wolfgang Textor, took occasion from it to have an /accoucheur/
appointed, and to introduce, or revive, the tuition of midwives, which
may have done some good to those who were born after me.

When we desire to recall what happened to us in the earliest period of
youth, it often happens that we confound what we have heard from others
with that which we really possess from our own direct experience.
Without, therefore, instituting a very close investigation into the
point, which, after all, could lead to nothing, I am conscious that we
lived in an old house, which, in fact, consisted of two adjoining
houses, that had been opened into each other. A winding staircase led to
rooms on different levels, and the unevenness of the stories was
remedied by steps. For us children,--a younger sister and myself,--the
favorite resort was a spacious floor below, near the door of which was a
large wooden lattice that allowed us direct communication with the
street and open air. A bird-cage of this sort, with which many houses
were provided, was called a frame (/Geräms/). The women sat in it
to sew and knit; the cook picked her salad there; female neighbors
chatted with each other; and the streets consequently, in the fine
season, wore a southern aspect. One felt at ease while in communication
with the public. We children, too, by means of these frames, were
brought into contact with our neighbors, of whom three brothers Von
Ochsenstein, the surviving sons of the deceased /Schultheiss/,
living on the other side of the way, won my love, and occupied and
diverted themselves with me in many ways.

Our family liked to tell of all sorts of waggeries to which I was
enticed by these otherwise grave and solitary men. Let one of these
pranks suffice for all. A crockery-fair had just been held, from which
not only our kitchen had been supplied for a while with articles for a
long time to come, but a great deal of small gear of the same ware had
been purchased as playthings for us children. One fine afternoon, when
every thing was quiet in the house, I whiled away the time with my pots
and dishes in the frame, and, finding that nothing more was to be got
out of them, hurled one of them into the street. The Von Ochsensteins,
who saw me so delighted at the fine smash it made, that I clapped my
hands for joy, cried out, "Another." I was not long in flinging out a
pot; and, as they made no end to their calls for more, by degrees the
whole collection, platters, pipkins, mugs and all, were dashed upon the
pavement. My neighbors continued to express their approbation, and I was
highly delighted to give them pleasure. But my stock was exhausted; and
still they shouted, "More." I ran, therefore, straight to the kitchen,
and brought the earthenware, which produced a still livelier spectacle
in breaking; and thus I kept running backwards and forwards, fetching
one plate after another, as I could reach it from where they stood in
rows on the shelf. But, as that did not satisfy my audience, I devoted
all the ware that I could drag out to similar destruction. It was not
till afterwards that any one appeared to hinder and forbid. The mischief
was done; and, in place of so much broken crockery, there was at least a
ludicrous story, in which the roguish authors took special delight to
the end of their days.

My father's mother, for it was her house in which we dwelt, lived in a
large back-room directly on the ground-floor; and we were accustomed to
carry on our sports even up to her chair, and, when she was ill, up to
her bedside. I remember her, as it were, a spirit,--a handsome, thin
woman, always neatly dressed in white. Mild, gentle, and kind, she has
ever remained in my memory.

The street in which our house was situated passed by the name of the
Stag-Ditch; but, as neither stags nor ditches were to be seen, we wished
to have the term explained. They told us that our house stood on a spot
that was once outside the city, and that, where the street now was,
there had formerly been a ditch, in which a number of stags were kept.
These stags were preserved and fed here because the senate, every year,
according to an ancient custom, feasted publicly on a stag, which was
therefore always at hand in the ditch for such a festival, in case
princes or knights interfered with the city's right of chase outside, or
the walls were encompassed or besieged by an enemy. This pleased us
much, and we wished that such a lair for tame animals could have been
seen in our times.

The back of the house, from the second story particularly, commanded a
very pleasant prospect over an almost immeasurable extent of neighboring
gardens, stretching to the very walls of the city. But, alas! in
transforming what were once public grounds into private gardens, our
house, and some others lying towards the corner of the street, had been
much stinted; since the houses towards the horse-market had appropriated
spacious out-houses and large gardens to themselves, while a tolerably
high wall shut us out from these adjacent paradises.

On the second floor was a room which was called the garden-room, because
they had there endeavored to supply the want of a garden by means of a
few plants placed before the window. As I grew older, it was there that
I made my favorite, not melancholy, but somewhat sentimental, retreat.
Over these gardens, beyond the city's walls and ramparts, might be seen
a beautiful and fertile plain, the same which stretches towards Höchst.
In the summer season I commonly learned my lessons there, and watched
the thunderstorms, but could never look my fill at the setting sun,
which went down directly opposite my windows. And when, at the same
time, I saw the neighbors wandering through their gardens, taking care
of their flowers, the children playing, parties of friends enjoying
themselves, and could hear the bowls rolling and the ninepins dropping,
it early excited within me a feeling of solitude, and a sense of vague
longing resulting from it, which, conspiring with the seriousness and
awe implanted in me by nature, exerted its influence at an early age,
and showed itself more distinctly in after-years.

The old, many-cornered, and gloomy arrangement of the house was,
moreover, adapted to awaken dread and terror in childish minds.
Unfortunately, too, the principle of discipline, that young persons
should be early deprived of all fear for the awful and invisible, and
accustomed to the terrible, still prevailed. We children, therefore,
were compelled to sleep alone; and when we found this impossible, and
softly slipped from our beds, to seek the society of the servants and
maids, our father, with his dressing-gown turned inside out, which
disguised him sufficiently for the purpose, placed himself in the way,
and frightened us back to our resting-places. The evil effect of this
any one may imagine. How is he who is encompassed with a double terror
to be emancipated from fear? My mother, always cheerful and gay, and
willing to render others so, discovered a much better pedagogical
expedient. She managed to gain her end by rewards. It was the season for
peaches, the plentiful enjoyment of which she promised us every morning
if we overcame our fears during the night. In this way she succeeded,
and both parties were satisfied.

In the interior of the house my eyes were chiefly attracted by a series
of Roman views, with which my father had ornamented an ante-room. They
were engravings by some of the accomplished predecessors of Piranesi,
who well understood perspective and architecture, and whose touches were
clear and excellent. There I saw every day the Piazza del Popolo, the
Colosseum, the Piazza of St. Peter's, and St. Peter's Church, within and
without, the castle of St. Angelo, and many other places. These images
impressed themselves deeply upon me, and my otherwise very laconic
father was often so kind as to furnish descriptions of the objects. His
partiality for the Italian language, and for every thing pertaining to
Italy, was very decided. A small collection of marbles and natural
curiosities, which he had brought with him thence, he often showed to
us; and he devoted a great part of his time to a description of his
travels, written in Italian, the copying and correction of which he
slowly and accurately completed, in several parcels, with his own hand.
A lively old teacher of Italian, called Giovinazzi, was of service to
him in this work. The old man, moreover, did not sing badly, and my
mother every day must needs accompany him and herself upon the
clavichord; and thus I speedily learned the "Solitario bosco ombroso,"
so as to know it by heart before I understood it.

My father was altogether of a didactic turn, and in his retirement from
business liked to communicate to others what he knew or was able to do.
Thus, during the first years of their marriage, he had kept my mother
busily engaged in writing, playing the clavichord, and singing, by which
means she had been laid under the necessity of acquiring some knowledge
and a slight readiness in the Italian tongue.

Generally we passed all our leisure hours with my grandmother, in whose
spacious apartment we found plenty of room for our sports. She contrived
to engage us with various trifles, and to regale us with all sorts of
nice morsels. But, one Christmas evening, she crowned all her kind deeds
by having a puppet-show exhibited before us, and thus unfolding a new
world in the old house. This unexpected drama attracted our young minds
with great force; upon the boy particularly it made a very strong
impression, which continued to vibrate with a great and lasting effect.

The little stage, with its speechless personages, which at the outset
had only been exhibited to us, but was afterwards given over for our own
use and dramatic vivification, was prized more highly by us children, as
it was the last bequest of our good grandmother, whom encroaching
disease first withdrew from our sight, and death next tore away from our
hearts forever. Her departure was of still more importance to our
family, as it drew after it a complete change in our condition.

As long as my grandmother lived, my father had refrained from changing
or renovating the house, even in the slightest particular; though it was
known that he had pretty large plans of building, which were now
immediately begun. In Frankfort, as in many other old towns, when
anybody put up a wooden structure, he ventured, for the sake of space,
to make, not only the first, but each successive, story project over the
lower one, by which means narrow streets especially were rendered
somewhat dark and confined. At last a law was passed, that every one
putting up a new house from the ground, should confine his projections
to the first upper story, and carry the others up perpendicularly. My
father, that he might not lose the projecting space in the second story,
caring little for outward architectural appearance, and anxious only for
the good and convenient arrangement of the interior, resorted to the
expedient which others had employed before him, of propping the upper
part of the house, until one part after another had been removed from
the bottom upwards, and a new house, as it were, inserted in its place.
Thus, while comparatively none of the old structure remained, the new
one merely passed for a repair. Now, as the tearing down and building up
was done gradually, my father determined not to quit the house, that he
might better direct and give his orders; as he possessed a good
knowledge of the technicalities of building. At the same time, he would
not suffer his family to leave him. This new epoch was very surprising
and strange for the children. To see the rooms in which they had so
often been confined and pestered with wearisome tasks and studies, the
passages they had played in, the walls which had always been kept so
carefully clean, all falling before the mason's hatchet and the
carpenter's axe,--and that from the bottom upwards; to float as it were
in the air, propped up by beams, being, at the same time, constantly
confined to a certain lesson or definite task,--all this produced a
commotion in our young heads that was not easily settled. But the young
people felt the inconvenience less, because they had somewhat more space
for play than before, and had many opportunities of swinging on beams,
and playing at see-saw with the boards.

At first my father obstinately persisted in carrying out his plan; but
when at last even the roof was partly removed, and the rain reached our
beds, in spite of the carpets that had been taken up, converted into
tarpaulin, and stretched over as a defense, he determined, though
reluctantly, that the children should be intrusted for a time to some
kind friends, who had already offered their services, and sent to a
public school.

This transition was rather unpleasant; for, when the children, who had
all along been kept at home in a secluded, pure, refined, yet strict
manner, were thrown among a rude mass of young creatures, they were
compelled unexpectedly to suffer every thing from the vulgar, bad, and
even base, since they lacked both weapons and skill to protect

It was properly about this period that I first became acquainted with my
native city, which I strolled over with more and more freedom, in every
direction, sometimes alone, and sometimes in the company of lively
companions. To convey to others in any degree the impression made upon
me by these grave and revered spots, I must here introduce a description
of my birthplace, as in its different parts it was gradually unfolded to
me. What I liked more than any thing was, to promenade on the great
bridge spanning the Main. Its length, its firmness, and its fine
appearance, rendered it a notable structure; and it was, besides, almost
the only memorial left from ancient times of the precautions due from
the civil government to its citizens. The beautiful stream above and
below bridge attracted my eye; and, when the gilt weathercock on the
bridge-cross glittered in the sunshine, I always had a pleasant feeling.
Generally I extended my walk through Sachsenhausen, and for a
/Kreutzer/ was ferried comfortably across the river. I was now

again on this side of the stream, stole along to the wine-market, and
admired the mechanism of the cranes when goods were unloaded.

But it was particularly entertaining to watch the arrival of the market-
boats, from which so many and such extraordinary figures were seen to
disembark. On entering the city, the Saalhof, which at least stood on
the spot where the castle of Emperor Charlemagne and his successors was
reported to have been, was greeted every time with profound reverence.
One liked to lose one's self in the old trading-town, particularly on
market-days, among the crowd collected about the church of St.
Bartholomew. From the earliest times, throngs of buyers and sellers had
gathered there; and the place being thus occupied, it was not easy in
later days to bring about a more roomy and cheerful arrangement. The
booths of the so-called /Pfarreisen/ were very important places for
us children, and we carried many a /Batzen to them in order to
purchase sheets of colored paper stamped with gold animals; though one
could but seldom make his way through the narrow, crowded, and dirty
market-place. I call to mind, also, that I always flew past the
adjoining meat-stalls, narrow and disgusting as they were, in perfect
horror. On the other hand, the Roman Hill (/Romerberg/) was a most
delightful place for walking. The way to the New-Town, along by the new
shops, was always cheering and pleasant; yet we regretted that a street
did not lead into the Zeil by the Church of Our Lady, and that we always
had to go a roundabout way by the /Hasengasse/ or the Catherine
Gate. But what chiefly attracted the child's attention, were the many
little towns within the town, the fortresses within the fortress; viz.,
the walled monastic enclosures, and several other precincts, remaining
from earlier times, and more or less like castles,--as the Nuremberg
Court, the Compostella, the Braunfels, the ancestral house of the family
of Stallburg, and several strongholds, in later days transformed into
dwellings and warehouses. No architecture of an elevating kind was then
to be seen in Frankfort; and every thing pointed to a period long past
and unquiet, both for town and district. Gates and towers, which defined
the bounds of the old city,--then, farther on again, gates, towers,
walls, bridges, ramparts, moats, with which the new city was
encompassed,--all showed, but too plainly, that a necessity for guarding
the common weal in disastrous times had induced these arrangements, that
all the squares and streets, even the newest, broadest, and best laid
out, owed their origin to chance and caprice, and not to any regulating
mind. A certain liking for the antique was thus implanted in the boy,
and was specially nourished and promoted by old chronicles and woodcuts,
as, for instance, those of Grave relating to the siege of Frankfort. At
the same time a different taste was developed in him for observing the
conditions of mankind in their manifold variety and naturalness, without
regard to their importance or beauty. It was, therefore, one of our
favorite walks, which we endeavored to take now and then in the course
of a year, to follow the circuit of the path inside the city-walls.
Gardens, courts, and back buildings extend to the /Zwinger/; and we
saw many thousand people amid their little domestic and secluded
circumstances. From the ornamental and show gardens of the rich, to the
orchards of the citizen, anxious about his necessities; from thence to
the factories, bleaching-grounds, and similar establishments, even to
the burying-grounds,--for a little world lay within the limits of the
city,--we passed a varied, strange spectacle, which changed at every
step, and with the enjoyment of which our childish curiosity was never
satisfied. In fact, the celebrated Devil-upon-two-sticks, when he lifted
the roofs of Madrid at night, scarcely did more for his friend than was
here done for us in the bright sunshine and open air. The keys that were
to be made use of in this journey, to gain us a passage through many a
tower, stair, and postern, were in the hands of the authorities, whose
subordinates we never failed to coax into good humor.

But a more important, and in one sense more fruitful, place for us, was
the city-hall, named from the Romans. In its lower vault-like rooms we
liked but too well to lose ourselves. We obtained an entrance, too, into
the large and very simple session-room of the council. The walls as well
as the arched ceiling were white, though wainscoted to a certain height;
and the whole was without a trace of painting, or any kind of carved
work; only, high up on the middle wall, might be read this brief

"One man's word is no man's word:
Justice needs that both be heard."

After the most ancient fashion, benches were ranged around the
wainscoting, and raised one step above the floor for the accommodation
of the members of the assembly. This readily suggested to us why the
order of rank in our senate was distributed by benches. To the left of
the door, on the opposite corner, sat the /Schöffen/; in the corner
itself the /Schultheiss/, who alone had a small table before him;
those of the second bench sat in the space to his left as far as the
wall to where the windows were; while along the windows ran the third
bench, occupied by the craftsmen. In the midst of the hall stood a table
for the registrar (/Protoculführer/).

Once within the /Römer/, we even mingled with the crowd at the
audiences of the burgomasters. But whatever related to the election and
coronation of the emperors possessed a greater charm. We managed to gain
the favor of the keepers, so as to be allowed to mount the new gay
imperial staircase, which was painted in fresco, and on other occasions
closed with a grating. The election-chamber, with its purple hangings
and admirably fringed gold borders, filled us with awe. The
representations of animals, on which little children or genii, clothed
in the imperial ornaments and laden with the insignia of the empire,
made a curious figure, were observed by us with great attention; and we
even hoped that we might live to see, some time or other, a coronation
with our own eyes. They had great difficulty to get us out of the great
imperial hall, when we had been once fortunate enough to steal in; and
we reckoned him our truest friend, who, while we looked at the half-
lengths of all the emperors painted around at a certain height, would
tell us something of their deeds.

We listened to many a legend of Charlemagne. But that which was
historically interesting for us began with Rudolph of Hapsburg, who by
his courage put an end to such violent commotions. Charles the Fourth
also attracted our notice. We had already heard of the Golden Bull, and
of the statutes for the administration of criminal justice. We knew,
too, that he had not made the Frankforters suffer for their adhesion to
his noble rival, Emperor Gunther of Schwarzburg. We heard Maximilian
praised, both as a friend to mankind, and to the townsmen, his subjects,
and were also told that it had been prophesied of him he would be the
last emperor of a German house, which unhappily came to pass, as after
his death the choice wavered only between the king of Spain
(/afterwards/), Charles V., and the king of France, Francis I. With
some anxiety it was added, that a similar prophecy, or rather
intimation, was once more in circulation; for it was obvious that there
was room left for the portrait of only one more emperor,--a circumstance
which, though seemingly accidental, filled the patriotic with concern.

Having once entered upon this circuit, we did not fail to repair to the
cathedral, and there visit the grave of that brave Gunther, so much
prized both by friend and foe. The famous stone which formerly covered
it is set up in the choir. The door close by, leading into the conclave,
remained long shut against us, until we at last managed, through the
higher authorities, to gain access to this celebrated place. But we
should have done better had we continued as before to picture it merely
in our imagination; for we found this room, which is so remarkable in
German history, where the most powerful princes were accustomed to meet
for an act so momentous, in no respect worthily adorned, and even
disfigured with beams, poles, scaffolding, and similar lumber, which
people had wanted to put out of the way. The imagination, for that very
reason, was the more excited and the heart elevated, when we soon after
received permission to be present in the city-hall, at the exhibition of
the Golden Bull to some distinguished strangers.

The boy then heard, with much curiosity, what his own family, as well as
other older relations and acquaintances, liked to tell and repeat; viz.,
the histories of the two last coronations, which had followed close upon
each other; for there was no Frankforter of a certain age who would not
have regarded these two events, and their attendant circumstances, as
the crowning glory of his whole life. Splendid as had been the
coronation of Charles Seventh, during which particularly the French
ambassador had given magnificent feasts at great cost and with
distinguished taste, the results were all the more afflicting to the
good emperor, who could not preserve his capital Munich, and was
compelled in some degree to implore the hospitality of his imperial

Although the coronation of Francis First was not so strikingly splendid
as the former one, it was dignified by the presence of the Empress Maria
Theresa, whose beauty appears to have created as much impression on the
men as the earnest and noble form and the blue eyes of Charles Seventh
on the women. At any rate, both sexes vied with each other in giving to
the attentive boy a highly favorable opinion of both these personages.
All these descriptions and narratives were given in a serene and quiet
state of mind; for the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle had, for the moment, put
an end to all feuds: and they spoke at their ease of past contests, as
well as of their former festivities,--the battle of Dettingen for
instance, and other remarkable events of by-gone years; and all that was
important or dangerous seemed, as generally happens when a peace has
been concluded, to have occurred only to afford entertainment to
prosperous and unconcerned people.

Half a year had scarcely passed away in this narrow patriotism before
the fairs began, which always produced an incredible ferment in the
heads of all children. The erection, in so short a time, of so many
booths, creating a new town within the old one; the roll and crush, the
unloading and unpacking of wares,--excited from the very first dawn of
consciousness an insatiable active curiosity, and a boundless desire for
childish property, which the boy with increasing years endeavored to
gratify, in one way or another, as far as his little purse permitted. At
the same time, he obtained a notion of what the world produces, what it
wants, and what the inhabitants of its different parts exchange with
each other.

These great epochs, which came round regularly in spring and autumn,
were announced by curious solemnities, which seemed the more dignified
because they vividly brought before us the old time, and what had come
down from it to ourselves. On Escort Day, the whole population were on
their legs, thronging to the /Fahrgasse/, to the bridge, and beyond
/Sachsenhausen/; all the windows were occupied, though nothing
unusual took place on that day; the crowd seeming to be there only for
the sake of jostling each other, and the spectators merely to look at
one another; for the real occasion of their coming did not begin till
nightfall, and was then rather taken upon trust than seen with the eyes.

The affair was thus: in those old, unquiet times, when every one did
wrong according to his pleasure, or helped the right as his liking led
him, traders on their way to the fairs were so wilfully beset and
harassed by waylayers, both of noble and ignoble birth, the princes and
other persons of power caused their people to be accompanied to
Frankfort by an armed escort. Now, the burghers of the imperial city
would yield no rights pertaining to themselves or their district: they
went out to meet the advancing party; and thus contests often arose as
to how far the escort should advance, or whether it had a right to enter
the city at all. But as this took place, not only in regard to matters
of trade and fairs, but also when high personages came, in times of
peace or war, and especially on the days of election; and as the affair
often came to blows when a train which was not to be endured in the city
strove to make its way in along with its lord,--many negotiations had
from time to time been resorted to, and many temporary arrangements
concluded, though always with reservations of rights on both sides. The
hope had not been relinquished of composing once for all a quarrel that
had already lasted for centuries, inasmuch as the whole institution, on
account of which it had been so long and often so hotly contested, might
be looked upon as nearly useless, or at least as superfluous.

Meanwhile, on those days, the city cavalry in several divisions, each
having a commander in front, rode forth from different gates, and found
on a certain spot some troopers or hussars of the persons entitled to an
escort, who, with their leaders, were well received and entertained.
They staid till towards evening, and then rode back to the city,
scarcely visible to the expectant crowd, many a city knight not being in
a condition to manage his horse, or keep himself in the saddle. The most
important bands returned by the bridge-gate, where the pressure was
consequently the strongest. Last of all, just as night fell, the
Nuremberg post-coach arrived, escorted in the same way, and always
containing, as the people fancied, in pursuance of custom, an old woman.
Its arrival, therefore, was a signal for all the urchins to break out
into an ear-splitting shout, though it was utterly impossible to
distinguish any one of the passengers within. The throng that pressed
after the coach through the bridge-gate was quite incredible, and
perfectly bewildering to the senses. The houses nearest the bridge were
those, therefore, most in demand among spectators.

Another more singular ceremony, by which the people were excited in
broad daylight, was the Piper's Court (/Pfeifergericht/). It
commemorated those early times when important larger trading-towns
endeavored, if not to abolish tolls altogether, at least to bring about
a reduction of them, as they increased in proportion with trade and
industry. They were allowed this privilege by the emperor, who needed
their aid, when it was in his power to grant it, but commonly only for
one year; so that it had to be annually renewed. This was effected by
means of symbolical gifts, which were presented before the opening of
St. Bartholomew's Fair to the imperial magistrate (/Schultheiss/),
who might have sometimes been the chief toll-gatherer; and, for the sake
of a more imposing show, the gifts were offered when he was sitting in
full court with the /Schöffen/. But when the chief magistrate
afterwards came to be no longer appointed by the emperor, and was
elected by the city itself, he still retained these privileges; and thus
both the immunities of the cities from toll, and the ceremonies by which
the representatives from Worms, Nuremberg, and old Bamberg, once
acknowledged the ancient favor, had come down to our times. The day
before Lady Day, an open court was proclaimed. In an enclosed space in
the great Imperial Hall, the Schöffen took their elevated seats; a step
higher, sat the /Schultheiss/ in the midst of them; while below, on
the right hand, were the procurators of both parties invested with
plenipotentiary powers. The /Actuarius/ begins to read aloud the
weighty judgments reserved for this day: the lawyers demand copies,
appeal, or do whatever else seems necessary. All at once a singular sort
of music announces, if we may so speak, the advent of former centuries.
It proceeds from three pipers, one of whom plays an old /shawm/,
another a /sackbut/, and the third a /pommer/, or oboe. They
wear blue mantles trimmed with gold, having the notes made fast to their
sleeves, and their heads covered. Having thus left their inn at ten
o'clock, followed by the deputies and their attendants, and stared at by
all, natives and strangers, they enter the hall. The law proceedings are
stayed, the pipers and their train halt before the railing, the deputy
steps in and stations himself in front of the /Schultheiss/. The
emblematic presents, which were required to be precisely the same as in
the old precedents, consisted commonly of the staple wares of the city
offering them. Pepper passed, as it were, for every thing else; and,
even on this occasion, the deputy brought a handsomely turned wooden
goblet filled with pepper. Upon it lay a pair of gloves, curiously
slashed, stitched, and tasselled with silk,--a token of a favor granted
and received,--such as the emperor himself made use of in certain cases.
Along with this was a while staff, which in former times could not
easily be dispensed with in judicial proceedings. Some small pieces of
silver money were added: and the city of Worms brought an old felt hat,
which was always redeemed again; so that the same one had been a witness
of these ceremonies for many years.

After the deputy had made his address, handed over his present, and
received from the /Schultheiss/ assurance of continued favor, he
quitted the enclosed circle, the pipers blew, the train departed as it
had come, the court pursued its business, until the second and at last
the third deputy had been introduced. For each came some time after the
other, partly that the pleasure of the public might thus be prolonged,
and partly because they were always the same antiquated /virtuosi/
whom Nuremburg, for itself and its co-cities, had undertaken to
maintain, and produce annually at the appointed place.

We children were particularly interested in this festival, because we
were not a little flattered to see our grandfather in a place of so much
honor; and because commonly, on the self-same day, we used to visit him,
quite modestly, in order that we might, when my grandmother had emptied
the pepper into her spice-box, lay hold of a cup or small rod, a pair of
gloves, or an old /Räder Albus/. [Footnote: An old silver coin.]
These symbolical ceremonies, restoring antiquity as if by magic, could
not be explained to us without leading us back into past times, and
informing us of the manners, customs, and feelings of those early
ancestors who were so strangely made present to us by pipers and
deputies seemingly risen from the dead, and by tangible gifts which
might be possessed by ourselves.

These venerable solemnities were followed, in the fine season, by many
festivals, delightful for us children, which took place in the open air,
outside the city. On the right shore of the Main, going down, about half
an hour's walk from the gate, there rises a sulphur-spring, neatly
enclosed, and surrounded by aged lindens. Not far from it stands the
Good-People's-Court, formerly a hospital erected for the sake of the
waters. On the commons around, the herds of cattle from the neighborhood
were collected on a certain day of the year; and the herdsmen, together
with their sweethearts, celebrated a rural festival with dancing and
singing, with all sorts of pleasure and clownishness. On the other side
of the city lay a similar but larger common, likewise graced with a
spring and still finer lindens. Thither, at Whitsuntide, the flocks of
sheep were driven: and, at the same time, the poor, pale orphan children
were allowed to come out of their walls into the open air; for the
thought had not yet occurred that these destitute creatures, who must
some time or other help themselves through the world, ought soon to be
brought in contact with it; that, instead of being kept in dreary
confinement, they should rather be accustomed to serve and to endure;
and that there was every reason to strengthen them physically and
morally from their infancy. The nurses and maids, always ready to take a
walk, never failed to carry or conduct us to such places, even in our
first years; so that these rural festivals belong to the earliest
impressions that I can recall.

Meanwhile, our house had been finished, and that too in tolerably short
time; because every thing had been judiciously planned and prepared, and
the needful money provided. We now found ourselves all together again,
and felt comfortable; for, when a well-considered plan is once carried
out, we forget the various inconveniences of the means that were
necessary to its accomplishment. The building, for a private residence,
was roomy enough, light and cheerful throughout, with broad staircases,
agreeable parlors, and a prospect of the gardens that could be enjoyed
easily from several of the windows. The internal completion, and what
pertained to mere ornament and finish, was gradually accomplished, and
served at the same time for occupation and amusement.

The first thing brought into order was my father's collection of books,
the best of which, in calf and half-calf binding, were to ornament the
walls of his office and study. He possessed the beautiful Dutch editions
of the Latin classics, which, for the sake of outward uniformity, he had
endeavored to procure all in quarto; and also many other works relating
to Roman antiquities and the more elegant jurisprudence. The most
eminent Italian poets were not wanting, and for Tasso he showed a great
predilection. There were also the best and most recent Travels, and he
took great delight in correcting and completing Keyssler and Nemeiz from
them. Nor had he omitted to surround himself with all needful aids to
learning, such as dictionaries of various languages, and encyclopædias
of science and art, which, with much else adapted to profit and
amusement, might be consulted at will.

The other half of this collection, in neat parchment bindings, with very
beautifully written titles, was placed in a separate attic. The
acquisition of new books, as well as their binding and arrangement, he
pursued with great composure and love of order; and he was much
influenced in his opinion by the critical notices that ascribed
particular merit to any work. His collection of juridical treatises was
annually increased by some volumes.

Next, the pictures, which in the old house had hung about promiscuously,
were now collected, and symmetrically hung on the walls of a cheerful
room near the study, all in black frames set off with gilt mouldings. It
was my father's principle, to which he gave frequent and even passionate
utterance, that one ought to employ the living masters, and to spend
less upon the departed, in the estimation of whom prejudice greatly
concurred. He had the notion that it was precisely the same with
pictures as with Rhenish wines, which, though age may impart to them a
higher value, can be produced in any coming year of just as excellent
quality as in years past. After the lapse of some time, the new wine
also becomes old, quite as valuable and perhaps more delicious. This
opinion he chiefly confirmed by the observation that many old pictures
seemed to derive their chief value for lovers of art from the fact that
they had become darker and browner, and that the harmony of tone in such
pictures was often vaunted. My father, on the other hand, protested that
he had no fear that the new pictures would not also turn black in time;
though whether they were likely to gain any thing by this he was not so

In pursuance of these principles, he employed for many years the whole
of the Frankfort artists,--the painter Hirt, who excelled in animating
oak and beech woods, and other so-called rural scenes, with cattle;
Trautmann, who had adopted Rembrandt as his model, and had attained
great perfection in enclosed lights and reflections, as well as in
effective conflagrations, so that he was once ordered to paint a
companion piece to a Rembrandt; Schutz, who diligently elaborated
landscapes of the Rhine country, in the manner of Sachtlebens; and
Junker, who executed with great purity flower and fruit pieces, still
life, and figures quietly employed, after the models of the Dutch. But
now, by the new arrangement, by more convenient room, and still more by
the acquaintance of a skilful artist, our love of art was again
quickened and animated. This artist was Seekatz, a pupil of Brinkmann,
court-painter at Darmstadt, whose talent and character will be more
minutely unfolded in the sequel.

In this way the remaining rooms were finished, according to their
several purposes. Cleanliness and order prevailed throughout. Above all,
the large panes of plate-glass contributed towards a perfect lightness,
which had been wanting in the old house for many causes, but chiefly on
account of the panes, which were for the most part round. My father was
cheerful on account of the success of his undertaking; and if his good
humor had not been often interrupted because the diligence and exactness
of the mechanics did not come up to his wishes, a happier life than ours
could not have been conceived, since much good partly arose in the
family itself, and partly flowed from without.

But an extraordinary event deeply disturbed the boy's peace of mind for
the first time. On the 1st of November, 1755, the earthquake at Lisbon
took place, and spread a prodigious alarm over the world, long
accustomed to peace and quiet. A great and magnificent capital, which
was at the same time a trading and mercantile city, is smitten without
warning by a most fearful calamity. The earth trembles and totters; the
sea foams; ships dash together; houses fall in, and over them churches
and towers; the royal palace is in part swallowed by the waters; the
bursting land seems to vomit flames, since smoke and fire are seen
everywhere amid the ruins. Sixty thousand persons, a moment before in
ease and comfort, fall together; and he is to be deemed most fortunate
who is no longer capable of a thought or feeling about the disaster. The
flames rage on; and with them rage a troop of desperadoes, before
concealed, or set at large by the event. The wretched survivors are
exposed to pillage, massacre, and every outrage; and thus on all sides
Nature asserts her boundless capriciousness.

Intimations of this event had spread over wide regions more quickly than
the authentic reports: slight shocks had been felt in many places; in
many springs, particularly those of a mineral nature, an unusual
receding of the waters had been remarked; and so much the greater was
the effect of the accounts themselves, which were rapidly circulated, at
first in general terms, but finally with dreadful particulars. Hereupon
the religious were neither wanting in reflections, nor the philosophic
in grounds for consolation, nor the clergy in warnings. So complicated
an event arrested the attention of the world for a long time; and, as
additional and more detailed accounts of the extensive effects of this
explosion came from every quarter, the minds already aroused by the
misfortunes of strangers began to be more and more anxious about
themselves and their friends. Perhaps the demon of terror had never so
speedily and powerfully diffused his terrors over the earth.

The boy, who was compelled to put up with frequent repetitions of the
whole matter, was not a little staggered. God, the Creator and Preserver
of heaven and earth, whom the explanation of the first article of the
creed declared so wise and benignant, having given both the just and the
unjust a prey to the same destruction, had not manifested himself by any
means in a fatherly character. In vain the young mind strove to resist
these impressions. It was the more impossible, as the wise and
scripture-learned could not themselves agree as to the light in which
such a phenomenon should be regarded.

The next summer gave a closer opportunity of knowing directly that angry
God, of whom the Old Testament records so much. A sudden hail-storm,
accompanied by thunder and lightning, violently broke the new panes at
the back of our house, which looked towards the west, damaged the new
furniture, destroyed some valuable books and other things of worth, and
was the more terrible to the children, as the whole household, quite
beside themselves, dragged them into a dark passage, where, on their
knees, with frightful groans and cries, they thought to conciliate the
wrathful Deity. Meanwhile, my father, who was the only one self-
possessed, forced open and unhinged the window-frames, by which we saved
much glass, but made a broader inlet for the rain that followed the
hail; so that, after we were finally quieted, we found ourselves in the
rooms and on the stairs completely surrounded by floods and streams of

These events, startling as they were on the whole, did not greatly
interrupt the course of instruction which my father himself had
undertaken to give us children. He had passed his youth in the Coburg
Gymnasium, which stood as one of the first among German educational
institutions. He had there laid a good foundation in languages, and
other matters reckoned part of a learned education, had subsequently
applied himself to jurisprudence at Leipzig, and had at last taken his
degree at Giessen. His dissertation, "Electa de aditione Hereditatis,"
which had been earnestly and carefully written, is still cited by
jurists with approval.

It is a pious wish of all fathers to see what they have themselves
failed to attain realized in their sons, as if in this way they could
live their lives over again, and at last make a proper use of their
early experience. Conscious of his acquirements, with the certainty of
faithful perseverance, and distrusting the teachers of the day, my
father undertook to instruct his own children, allowing them to take
particular lessons from particular masters only so far as seemed
absolutely necessary. A pedagogical /dilettantism/ was already
beginning to show itself everywhere. The pedantry and heaviness of the
masters appointed in the public schools had probably given rise to this
evil. Something better was sought for, but it was forgotten how
defective all instruction must be which is not given by persons who are
teachers by profession.

My father had prospered in his own career tolerably according to his
wishes: I was to follow the same course, only more easily, and much
farther. He prized my natural endowments the more, because he was
himself wanting in them; for he had acquired every thing only by means
of unspeakable diligence, pertinacity, and repetition. He often assured
me, early and late, both in jest and earnest, that with my talents he
would have deported himself very differently, and would not have turned
them to such small account.

By means of a ready apprehension, practice, and a good memory, I very
soon outgrew the instructions which my father and the other teachers
were able to give, without being thoroughly grounded in any thing.
Grammar displeased me, because I regarded it as a mere arbitrary law:
the rules seemed ridiculous, inasmuch as they were invalidated by so
many exceptions, which had all to be learned by themselves. And if the
first Latin work had not been in rhyme, I should have got on but badly
in that; but, as it was, I hummed and sang it to myself readily enough.
In the same way we had a geography in memory-verses, in which the most
wretched doggerel best served to fix the recollection of that which was
to be retained; e.g.,--

"Upper-Yssel has many a fen, Which makes it hateful to all men."

The forms and inflections of language I caught with ease; and I also
quickly unravelled what lay in the conception of a thing. In rhetoric,
composition, and such matters, no one excelled me; although I was often
put back for faults of grammar. Yet these were the attempts that gave my
father particular pleasure, and for which he rewarded me with many
presents of money, considerable for such a lad.

My father taught my sister Italian in the same room in which I had to
commit Cellarius to memory. As I was soon ready with my task, and was
yet obliged to sit quiet, I listened with my book before me, and very
readily caught the Italian, which struck me as an agreeable softening of

Other precocities, with respect to memory and the power to combine, I
possessed in common with those children who thus acquire an early
reputation. For that reason, my father could scarcely wait for me to go
to college. He very soon declared that I must study jurisprudence in
Leipzig, for which he retained a strong predilection; and I was
afterwards to visit some other university and take my degree. As for
this second one he was indifferent as to which I might choose, except
that he had for some reason or other a disinclination to Göttingen, to
my disappointment, since it was precisely there that I had placed such
confidence and high hopes.

He told me further, that I was to go to Wetzlar and Ratisbon, as well as
to Vienna, and thence towards Italy; although he repeatedly mentioned
that Paris should first be seen, because after coming out of Italy
nothing else could be pleasing.

These tales of my future youthful travels, often as they were repeated,
I listened to eagerly, the more so as they always led to accounts of
Italy, and at last to a description of Naples. His otherwise serious and
dry manner seemed on these occasions to relax and quicken, and thus a
passionate wish awoke in us children to participate in the paradise he

Private lessons, which now gradually multiplied, were shared with the
children of the neighbors. This learning in common did not advance me:
the teachers followed their routine; and the rudeness, sometimes the ill
nature, of my companions, interrupted the brief hours of study with
tumult, vexation, and disturbance. Chrestomathies, by which learning is
made pleasant and varied, had not yet reached us. Cornelius Nepos, so
dry to young people; the New Testament, which was much too easy, and
which by preaching and religious instructions had been rendered even
common-place; Cellarius and Pasor,--could impart no kind of interest: on
the other hand, a certain rage for rhyme and versification, a
consequence of reading the prevalent German poets, took complete
possession of us. Me it had seized much earlier, as I had found it
agreeable to pass from the rhetorical to the poetical treatment of

We boys held a Sunday assembly where each of us was to produce original
verses. And here I was struck by something strange, which long caused me
uneasiness. My poems, whatever they might be, always seemed to me the
best. But I soon remarked that my competitors, who brought forth very
lame affairs, were in the same condition, and thought no less of
themselves. Nay, what appeared yet more suspicious, a good lad (though
in such matters altogether unskilful), whom I liked in other respects,
but who had his rhymes made by his tutor, not only regarded these as the
best, but was thoroughly persuaded they were his own, as he always
maintained in our confidential intercourse. Now, as this illusion and
error was obvious to me, the question one day forced itself upon me,
whether I myself might not be in the same state, whether those poems
were not really better than mine, and whether I might not justly appear
to those boys as mad as they to me? This disturbed me much and long, for
it was altogether impossible for me to find any external criterion of
the truth: I even ceased from producing, until at length I was quieted
by my own light temperament, and the feeling of my own powers, and
lastly by a trial of skill,--started on the spur of the moment by our
teachers and parents, who had noted our sport,--in which I came off
well, and won general praise.

No libraries for children had at that time been established. The old had
themselves still childish notions, and found it convenient to impart
their own education to their successors. Except the "Orbis Pictus" of
Amos Comenius, no book of the sort fell into our hands; but the large
folio Bible, with copperplates by Merian, was diligently gone over leaf
by leaf; Gottfried's "Chronicles," with plates by the same master,
taught us the most notable events of universal history; the "Acerra
Philologica" added thereto all sorts of fables, mythologies, and
wonders; and, as I soon became familiar with Ovid's "Metamorphoses," the
first books of which in particular I studied carefully, my young brain
was rapidly furnished with a mass of images and events, of significant
and wonderful shapes and occurrences; and I never felt time hang upon my
hands, as I always occupied myself in working over, repeating, and
reproducing these acquisitions.

A more salutary moral effect than that of these rude and hazardous
antiquities was produced by Fenelon's "Telemachus," with which I first
became acquainted in Neukirch's translation, and which, imperfectly as
it was executed, had a sweet and beneficent influence on my mind. That
"Robinson Crusoe" was added in due time, follows in the nature of
things; and it may be imagined that the "Island of Falsenberg" was not
wanting. Lord Anson's "Voyage round the Globe" combined the dignity of
truth with the rich fancies of fable; and, while our thoughts
accompanied this excellent seaman, we were conducted over all the world,
and endeavored to follow him with our fingers on the globe. But a still
richer harvest was to spring up before me, when I lighted on a mass of
writings, which, in their present state, it is true, cannot be called
excellent, but the contents of which, in a harmless way, bring near to
us many a meritorious action of former times.

The publication, or rather the manufacture, of those books, which have
at a later day become so well known and celebrated under the name
Volkschriften, Volksbucher (popular works or books), was carried on in
Frankfort. The enormous sales they met with led to their being almost
illegibly printed from stereotypes on horrible blotting-paper. We
children were so fortunate as to find these precious remains of the
Middle Ages every day on a little table at the door of a dealer in cheap
books, and to obtain them at the cost of a couple of Kreutzer. "The
Eulenspiegel," "The Four Sons of Haimon," "The Emperor Octavian," "The
Fair Melusina," "The Beautiful Magelone," "Fortunatus," with the whole
race down to "The Wandering Jew," were all at our service, as often as
we preferred the relish of these works to the taste of sweet things. The
greatest benefit of this was, that, when we had read through or damaged
such a sheet, it could soon be reprocured, and swallowed a second time.

As a family picnic in summer is vexatiously disturbed by a sudden storm,
which transforms a pleasant state of things into the very reverse: so
the diseases of childhood fall unexpectedly on the most beautiful season
of early life. And thus it happened with me. I had just purchased
"Fortunatus with his Purse and Wishing-hat," when I was attacked by a
restlessness and fever which announced the small-pox. Inoculation was
still with us considered very problematical; and, although it had
already been intelligibly and urgently recommended by popular writers,
the German physicians hesitated to perform an operation that seemed to
forestall Nature. Speculative Englishmen, therefore, had come to the
Continent, and inoculated, for a considerable fee, the children of such
persons as were opulent, and free from prejudices. Still, the majority
were exposed to the old disease: the infection raged through families,
killed and disfigured many children; and few parents dared to avail
themselves of a method, the probable efficacy of which had been
abundantly confirmed by the result. The evil now invaded our house, and
attacked me with unusual severity. My whole body was sown over with
spots, and my face covered; and for several days I lay blind and in
great pain. They tried the only possible alleviation, and promised me
heaps of gold if I would keep quiet, and not increase the mischief by
rubbing and scratching. I controlled myself, while, according to the
prevailing prejudice, they kept me as warm as possible, and thus only
rendered my suffering more acute. At last, after a woeful time, there
fell, as it were, a mask from my face. The blotches had left no visible
mark upon the skin, but the features were plainly altered. I myself was
satisfied merely with seeing the light of day again, and gradually
putting off my spotted skin; but others were pitiless enough to remind
me often of my previous condition, especially a very lively aunt, who
had formerly regarded me with idolatry, but in after-years could seldom
look at me without exclaiming "The deuce, cousin, what a fright he's
grown!" Then she would tell me circumstantially how I had once been her
delight, and what attention she had excited when she carried me about;
and thus I early learned that people very often subject us to a severe
atonement for the pleasure which we have afforded them.

I escaped neither measles nor chicken-pox, nor any other of the
tormenting demons of childhood; and I was assured each time that it was
a great piece of good luck that this malady was now past forever. But
alas! another again threatened in the background, and advanced. All
these things increased my propensity to reflection; and as I had already
practised myself in fortitude, in order to remove the torture of
impatience, the virtues which I had heard praised in the stoics appeared
to me highly worthy of imitation, and the more so, as something similar
was commended by the Christian doctrine of patience.

While on the subject of these family diseases, I will mention a brother
about three years younger than myself, who was likewise attacked by that
infection, and suffered not a little from it. He was of a tender nature,
quiet and capricious; and we were never on the most friendly terms.
Besides, he scarcely survived the years of childhood. Among several
other children born afterwards, who, like him, did not live long, I only
remember a very pretty and agreeable girl, who also soon passed away; so
that, after the lapse of some years, my sister and I remained alone, and
were therefore the more deeply and affectionately attached to each

These maladies, and other unpleasant interruptions, were in their
consequences doubly grievous; for my father, who seemed to have laid
down for himself a certain calendar of education and instruction, was
resolved immediately to repair every delay, and imposed double lessons
upon the young convalescent. These were not hard for me to accomplish,
but were so far troublesome, that they hindered, and, to a certain
extent, repressed, my inward development, which had taken a decided

From these didactic and pedagogic oppressions, we commonly fled to my
grandfather and grandmother. Their house stood in the Friedberg Street,
and appeared to have been formerly a fortress; for, on approaching it,
nothing was seen but a large gate with battlements, which were joined on
either side to the two neighboring houses. On entering through a narrow
passage, we reached at last a tolerably wide court, surrounded by
irregular buildings, which were now all united into one dwelling. We
usually hastened at once into the garden, which extended to a
considerable length and breadth behind the buildings, and was very well
kept. The walks were mostly skirted by vine-trellises: one part of the
space was used for vegetables, and another devoted to flowers, which
from spring till autumn adorned in rich succession the borders as well
as the beds. The long wall, erected towards the south, was used for some
well-trained espalier peach-trees, the forbidden fruit of which ripened
temptingly before us through the summer. Yet we rather avoided this
side, because we here could not satisfy our dainty appetites; and we
turned to the side opposite, where an interminable row of currant and
gooseberry bushes furnished our voracity with a succession of harvests
till autumn. Not less important to us was an old, high, wide-spreading
mulberry-tree, both on account of its fruits, and because we were told
that the silk-worms fed upon its leaves. In this peaceful region my
grandfather was found every evening, tending with genial care, and with
his own hand, the finer growths of fruits and flowers; while a gardener
managed the drudgery. He was never vexed by the various toils which were
necessary to preserve and increase a fine show of pinks. The branches of
the peach-trees were carefully tied to the espaliers with his own hands,
in a fan-shape, in order to bring about a full and easy growth of the
fruit. The sorting of the bulbs of tulips, hyacinths, and plants of a
similar nature, as well as the care of their preservation, he intrusted
to none; and I still with pleasure recall to my mind how diligently he
occupied himself in inoculating the different varieties of roses. That
he might protect himself from the thorns, he put on a pair of those
ancient leather gloves, of which three pair were given him annually at
the Piper's Court; so that there was no dearth of the article. He wore
also a loose dressing-gown, and a folded black velvet cap upon his head;
so that he might have passed for an intermediate person between Alcinous
and Laertes.

All this work in the garden he pursued as regularly and with as much
precision as his official business; for, before he came down, he always
arranged the list of cases for the next day, and read the legal papers.
In the morning he proceeded to the city-hall, dined after his return,
then took a nap in his easy-chair, and so went through the same routine
every day. He conversed little, never exhibited any vehemence; and I do
not remember ever to have seen him angry. All that surrounded him was in
the fashion of the olden time. I never perceived any alteration in his
wainscoted room. His library contained, besides law-works, only the
earliest books of travels, sea-voyages, and discoveries of countries.
Altogether I can call to mind no situation more adapted than his to
awaken the feeling of uninterrupted peace and eternal duration.

But the reverence we entertained for this venerable old man was raised
to the highest degree by a conviction that he possessed the gift of
prophecy, especially in matters that pertained to himself and his
destiny. It is true he revealed himself to no one distinctly and
minutely, except to my grandmother; yet we were all aware that he was
informed of what was going to happen by significant dreams. He assured
his wife, for instance, at a time when he was still a junior councillor,
that, on the first vacancy, he would obtain the place left open on the
bench of the /Schöffen/; and soon afterwards, when one of those
officers actually died of apoplexy, my grandfather gave orders that his
house should be quietly got ready prepared on the day of electing and
balloting, to receive his guests and congratulators. Sure enough, the
decisive gold ball was drawn in his favor. The simple dream by which he
had learned this, he confided to his wife as follows: He had seen
himself in the ordinary full assembly of councilmen, where all went on
just as usual. Suddenly the late /Schöff/ rose from his seat,
descended the steps, pressed him in the most complimentary manner to
take the vacant place, and then departed by the door.

Something similar occurred on the death of the /Schultheiss/. They
make no delay in supplying this place; as they always have to fear that
the emperor will, at some time, resume his ancient right of nominating
the officer. On this occasion, the messenger of the court came at
midnight to summon an extraordinary session for the next morning; and,
as the light in his lantern was about to expire, he asked for a candle's
end to help him on his way. "Give him a whole one," said my grandfather
to the ladies: "he takes the trouble all on my account." This expression
anticipated the result,--he was made /Schultheiss/. And what
rendered the circumstance particularly remarkable was, that, although
his representative was the third and last to draw at the ballot, the two
silver balls first came out, leaving the golden ball at the bottom of
the bag for him.

Perfectly prosaic, simple, and without a trace of the fantastic or
miraculous, were the other dreams, of which we were informed. Moreover,
I remember that once, as a boy, I was turning over his books and
memoranda, and found, among some other remarks which related to
gardening, such sentences as these: "To-night N. N. came to me, and
said,"--the name and revelation being written in cipher; or, "This night
I saw,"--all the rest being again in cipher, except the conjunctions and
similar words, from which nothing could be learned.

It is worthy of note also, that persons who showed no signs of prophetic
insight at other times, acquired, for the moment, while in his presence,
and that by means of some sensible evidence, presentiments of diseases
or deaths which were then occurring in distant places. But no such gift
has been transmitted to any of his children or grandchildren, who, for
the most part, have been hearty people, enjoying life, and never going
beyond the actual.

While on this subject, I remember with gratitude many kindnesses I
received from them in my youth. Thus, for example, we were employed and
entertained in many ways when we visited the second daughter, married to
the druggist Melber, whose house and shop stood near the market, in the
midst of the liveliest and most crowded part of the town. There we could
look down from the windows pleasantly enough upon the hurly-burly, in
which we feared to lose ourselves; and though at first, of all the goods
in the shop, nothing had much interest for us but the licorice, and the
little brown stamped cakes made from it, we became in time better
acquainted with the multitude of articles bought and sold in that
business. This aunt was the most vivacious of all the family. Whilst my
mother, in her early years, took pleasure in being neatly dressed,
working at some domestic occupation, or reading a book, the other, on
the contrary, ran about the neighborhood to pick up neglected children,
take care of them, comb them, and carry them about in the way she had
done with me for a good while. At a time of public festivities, such as
coronations, it was impossible to keep her at home. When a little child,
she had already scrambled for the money scattered on such occasions; and
it was related of her, that once when she had got a good many together,
and was looking at them with great delight in the palm of her hand, it
was struck by somebody, and all her well-earned booty vanished at a
blow. There was another incident of which she was very proud. Once,
while standing on a post as the Emperor Charles VII. was passing, at a
moment when all the people were silent, she shouted a vigorous "Vivat!"
into the coach, which made him take off his hat to her, and thank her
quite graciously for her bold salutation.

Every thing in her house was stirring, lively, and cheerful; and we
children owed her many a gay hour.

In a more quiet situation, which was, however, suited to her character,
was a second aunt, married to the Pastor Stark, incumbent of St.
Catharine's Church. He lived much alone, in accordance with his
temperament and vocation, and possessed a fine library. Here I first
became acquainted with Homer, in a prose translation, which may be found
in the seventh part of Herr Von Loen's new collection of the most
remarkable travels, under the title, "Homer's Description of the
Conquest of the Kingdom of Troy," ornamented with copperplates in the
theatrical French taste. These pictures perverted my imagination to such
a degree, that, for a long time, I could conceive the Homeric heroes
only under such forms. The incidents themselves gave me unspeakable
delight; though I found great fault with the work for affording us no
account of the capture of Troy, and breaking off so abruptly with the
death of Hector. My uncle, to whom I mentioned this defect, referred me
to Virgil, who perfectly satisfied my demands.

It will be taken for granted, that we children had among our other
lessons a continued and progressive instruction in religion. But the
Church-Protestantism imparted to us was, properly speaking, nothing but
a kind of dry morality: ingenious exposition was not thought of, and the
doctrine appealed neither to the understanding nor to the heart. For
that reason, there were various secessions from the Established Church.
Separatists, Pietists, Herrnhuter (Moravians), Quiet-in-the-Land, and
others differently named and characterized, sprang up, all of whom are
animated by the same purpose of approaching the Deity, especially
through Christ, more closely than seemed to them possible under the
forms of the established religion.

The boy heard these opinions and sentiments constantly spoken of, for
the clergy as well as the laity divided themselves into /pro/ and
/con/. The minority were composed of those who dissented more or
less broadly; but their modes of thinking attracted by originality,
heartiness, perseverance, and independence. All sorts of stories were
told of their virtues, and of the way in which they were manifested. The
reply of a pious master-tinman was especially noted, who, when one of
his craft attempted to shame him by asking, "Who is really your
confessor?" answered with great cheerfulness, and confidence in the
goodness of his cause, "I have a famous one,--no less than the confessor
of King David."

Things of this sort naturally made an impression on the boy, and led him
into similar states of mind. In fact, he came to the thought that he
might immediately approach the great God of nature, the Creator and
Preserver of heaven and earth, whose earlier manifestations of wrath had
been long forgotten in the beauty of the world, and the manifold
blessings in which we participate while upon it. The way he took to
accomplish this was very curious.

The boy had chiefly kept to the first article of belief. The God who
stands in immediate connection with nature, and owns and loves it as his
work, seemed to him the proper God, who might be brought into closer
relationship with man, as with every thing else, and who would take care
of him, as of the motion of the stars, the days and seasons, the animals
and plants. There were texts of the Gospels which explicitly stated
this. The boy could ascribe no form to this Being: he therefore sought
him in his works, and would, in the good Old-Testament fashion, build
him an altar. Natural productions were set forth as images of the world,
over which a flame was to burn, signifying the aspirations of man's
heart towards his Maker. He brought out of the collection of natural
objects which he possessed, and which had been increased as chance
directed, the best ores and other specimens. But the next difficulty
was, as to how they should be arranged and raised into a pile. His
father possessed a beautiful red-lacquered music-stand, ornamented with
gilt flowers, in the form of a four-sided pyramid, with different
elevations, which had been found convenient for quartets, but lately was
not much in use. The boy laid hands on this, and built up his
representatives of nature one above the other in steps; so that it all
looked quite pretty and at the same time sufficiently significant. On an
early sunrise his first worship of God was to be celebrated, but the
young priest had not yet settled how to produce a flame which should at
the same time emit an agreeable odor. At last it occurred to him to
combine the two, as he possessed a few fumigating pastils, which
diffused a pleasant fragrance with a glimmer, if not with a flame. Nay,
this soft burning and exhalation seemed a better representation of what
passes in the heart, than an open flame. The sun had already risen for a
long time, but the neighboring houses concealed the east. At last it
glittered above the roofs: a burning-glass was at once taken up and
applied to the pastils, which were fixed on the summit in a fine
porcelain saucer. Every thing succeeded according to the wish, and the
devotion was perfect. The altar remained as a peculiar ornament of the
room which had been assigned him in the new house. Every one regarded it
only as a well-arranged collection of natural curiosities. The boy knew
better, but concealed his knowledge. He longed for a repetition of the
solemnity. But unfortunately, just as the most opportune sun arose, the
porcelain cup was not at hand: he placed the pastils immediately on the
upper surface of the stand; they were kindled; and so great was the
devotion of the priest, that he did not observe, until it was too late,
the mischief his sacrifice was doing. The pastils had burned mercilessly
into the red lacquer and beautiful gold flowers, and, as if some evil
spirit had disappeared, had left their black, ineffaceable footprints.
By this the young priest was thrown into the most extreme perplexity.
The mischief could be covered up, it was true, with the larger pieces of
his show materials; but the spirit for new offerings was gone, and the
accident might almost be considered a hint and warning of the danger
there always is in wishing to approach the Deity in such a way.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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