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Second Book

All that has been hitherto recorded indicates that happy and easy
condition in which nations exist during a long peace. But nowhere
probably is such a beautiful time enjoyed in greater comfort than in
cities living under their own laws, and large enough to include a
considerable number of citizens, and so situated as to enrich them by
trade and commerce. Strangers find it to their advantage to come and go,
and are under a necessity of bringing profit in order to acquire profit.
Even if such cities rule but a small territory, they are the better
qualified to advance their internal prosperity; as their external
relations expose them to no costly undertakings or alliances.

Thus the Frankforters passed a series of prosperous years during my
childhood; but scarcely, on the 28th of August, 1756, had I completed my
seventh year, than that world-renowned war broke out which was also to
exert great influence upon the next seven years of my life. Frederick
the Second, King of Prussia, had fallen upon Saxony with sixty thousand
men; and, instead of announcing his invasion by a declaration of war, he
followed it up with a manifesto, composed by himself as it was said,
which explained the causes that had moved and justified him in so
monstrous a step. The world, which saw itself appealed to, not merely as
spectator, but as judge, immediately split into two parties; and our
family was an image of the great whole.

My grandfather, who, as /Schöff/ of Frankfort, had carried the
coronation canopy over Francis the First, and had received from the
empress a heavy gold chain with her likeness, took the Austrian side
along with some of his sons-in-law and daughters. My father having been
nominated to the imperial council by Charles the Seventh, and
sympathizing sincerely in the fate of that unhappy monarch, leaned
towards Prussia, with the other and smaller half of the family. Our
meetings, which had been held on Sundays for many years uninterruptedly,
were very soon disturbed. The misunderstandings so common among persons
related by marriage, found only now a form in which they could be
expressed. Contention, discord, silence, and separation ensued. My
grandfather, generally a cheerful, quiet man, and fond of ease, became
impatient. The women vainly endeavored to smother the flames; and, after
some unpleasant scenes, my father was the first to quit the society. At
home we now rejoiced undisturbed at the Prussian victories, which were
commonly announced with great glee by our vivacious aunt. Every other
interest had to give way to this, and we passed the rest of the year in
perpetual agitation. The occupation of Dresden, the moderation of the
king at the outset, his slow but secure advances, the victory at
Lowositz, the capture of the Saxons, were so many triumphs for our
party. Every thing that could be alleged for the advantage of our
opponents was denied or depreciated; and, as the members of the family
on the other side did the same, they could not meet in the streets
without disputes arising, as in "Romeo and Juliet."

Thus I also was then a Prussian in my views, or, to speak more
correctly, a Fritzian; since what cared we for Prussia? It was the
personal character of the great king that worked upon all hearts. I
rejoiced with my father in our conquests, readily copied the songs of
triumph, and almost more willingly the lampoons directed against the
other party, poor as the rhymes might be.

Being their eldest grandson and godchild, I had dined every Sunday since
my infancy with my grandfather and grandmother; and the hours so spent
had been the most delightful of the whole week. But now I relished not a
morsel, because I was compelled to hear the most horrible slanders of my
hero. Here blew another wind, here sounded another tone, than at home.
My liking and even my respect for my grandfather and grandmother fell
off. I could mention nothing of this to my parents, but avoided the
matter, both on account of my own feelings, and because I had been
warned by my mother. In this way I was thrown back upon myself; and as
in my sixth year, after the earthquake at Lisbon, the goodness of God
had become to me in some measure suspicious: so I began now, on account
of Frederick the Second, to doubt the justice of the public. My heart
was naturally inclined to reverence, and it required a great shock to
stagger my faith in any thing that was venerable. But alas! they had
commended good manners and a becoming deportment to us, not for their
own sake, but for the sake of the people. What will people say? was
always the cry; and I thought that the people must be right good people,
and would know how to judge of any thing and every thing. But my
experience went just to the contrary. The greatest and most signal
services were defamed and attacked; the noblest deeds, if not denied,
were at least misrepresented and diminished; and this base injustice was
done to the only man who was manifestly elevated above all his
contemporaries, and who daily proved what he was able to do,--and that,
not by the populace, but by distinguished men, as I took my grandfather
and uncles to be. That parties existed, and that he himself belonged to
a party, had never entered into the conceptions of the boy. He,
therefore, believed himself all the more right, and dared hold his own
opinion for the better one; since he and those of like mind appreciated
the beauty and other good qualities of Maria Theresa, and even did not
grudge the Emperor Francis his love of jewellery and money. That Count
Daun was often called an old dozer, they thought justifiable.

But, now that I look more closely into the matter, I here trace the germ
of that disregard and even disdain of the public, which clung to me for
a whole period of my life, and only in later days was brought within
bounds by insight and cultivation. Suffice it to say, that the
perception of the injustice of parties had even then a very unpleasant,
nay, an injurious, effect upon the boy; as it accustomed him to separate
himself from beloved and highly valued persons. The quick succession of
battles and events left the parties neither quiet nor rest. We ever
found a malicious delight in reviving and resharpening those imaginary
evils and capricious disputes; and thus we continued to tease each
other, until the occupation of Frankfort by the French some years
afterwards brought real inconvenience into our homes.

Although to most of us the important events occurring in distant parts
served only for topics of hot controversy, there were others who
perceived the seriousness of the times, and feared that the sympathy of
France might open a scene of war in our own vicinity. They kept us
children at home more than before, and strove in many ways to occupy and
amuse us. With this view, the puppet-show bequeathed by our grandmother
was again brought forth, and arranged in such a way that the spectators
sat in my gable-room; while the persons managing and performing, as well
as the theatre itself as far as the proscenium, found a place in the
room adjoining. We were allowed, as a special favor, to invite first one
and then another of the neighbor's children as spectators; and thus at
the outset I gained many friends, but the restlessness inherent in
children did not suffer them to remain long a patient audience. They
interrupted the play; and we were compelled to seek a younger public,
which could at any rate be kept in order by the nurses and maids. The
original drama, to which the puppets had been specially adapted, we had
learned by heart; and in the beginning this was exclusively performed.
Soon growing weary of it, however, we changed the dresses and
decorations, and attempted various other pieces, which were indeed on
too grand a scale for so narrow a stage. Although this presumption
spoiled and finally quite destroyed what we performed, such childish
pleasures and employments nevertheless exercised and advanced in many
ways my power of invention and representation, my fancy, and a certain
technical skill, to a degree which in any other way could not perhaps
have been secured in so short a time, in so confined a space, and at so
little expense.

I had early learned to use compasses and ruler, because all the
instructions they gave me in geometry were forthwith put into practice;
and I occupied myself greatly with paste-board-work. I did not stop at
geometrical figures, little boxes, and such things, but invented pretty
pleasure-houses adorned with pilasters, steps, and flat roofs. However,
but little of this was completed.

Far more persevering was I, on the other hand, in arranging, with the
help of our domestic (a tailor by trade), an armory for the service of
our plays and tragedies, which we ourselves performed with delight when
we had outgrown the puppets. My playfellows, too, prepared for
themselves such armories, which they considered to be quite as fine and
good as mine; but I had made provision, not for the wants of one person
only, and could furnish several of the little band with every requisite,
and thus made myself more and more indispensable to our little circle.
That such games tended to factions, quarrels, and blows, and commonly
came to a sad end in tumult and vexation, may easily be supposed. In
such cases certain of my companions generally took part with me, while
others sided against me; though many changes of party occurred. One
single boy, whom I will call Pylades, urged by the others, once only
left my party, but could scarcely for a moment maintain his hostile
position. We were reconciled amid many tears, and for a long time
afterwards kept faithfully together.

To him, as well as other well-wishers, I could render myself very
agreeable by telling tales, which they most delighted to hear when I was
the hero of my own story. It greatly rejoiced them to know that such
wonderful things could befall one of their own playfellows; nor was it
any harm that they did not understand how I could find time and space
for such adventures, as they must have been pretty well aware of all my
comings and goings, and how I was occupied the entire day. Not the less
necessary was it for me to select the localities of these occurrences,
if not in another world, at least in another spot; and yet all was told
as having taken place only to-day or yesterday. They therefore had to
form for themselves greater illusions than I could have palmed off upon
them. If I had not gradually learned, in accordance with the instincts
of my nature, to work up these visions and conceits into artistic forms,
such vain-glorious beginnings could not have gone on without producing
evil consequences for myself in the end.

Considering this impulse more closely, we may see in it that presumption
with which the poet authoritatively utters the greatest improbabilities,
and requires every one to recognize as real whatever may in any way seem
to him, the inventor, as true.

But what is here told only in general terms, and by way of reflection,
will perhaps become more apparent and interesting by means of an
example. I subjoin, therefore, one of these tales, which, as I often had
to repeat it to my comrades, still hovers entire in my imagination and



On the night before Whitsunday, not long since, I dreamed that I stood
before a mirror engaged with the new summer clothes which my dear
parents had given me for the holiday. The dress consisted, as you know,
of shoes of polished leather, with large silver buckles, fine cotton
stockings, black nether garments of serge, and a coat of green baracan
with gold buttons. The waistcoat of gold cloth was cut out of my
father's bridal waistcoat. My hair had been frizzled and powdered, and
my curls stuck out from my head like little wings; but I could not
finish dressing myself, because I kept confusing the different articles,
the first always falling off as soon as I was about to put on the next.
In this dilemma, a young and handsome man came to me, and greeted me in
the friendliest manner. "Oh! you are welcome," said I: "I am very glad
to see you here."--"Do you know me, then?" replied he, smiling. "Why
not?" was my no less smiling answer. "You are Mercury--I have often
enough seen you represented in pictures."--"I am, indeed," replied he,
"and am sent to you by the gods on an important errand. Do you see these
three apples?" He stretched forth his hand and showed me three apples,
which it could hardly hold, and which were as wonderfully beautiful as
they were large, the one of a red, the other of a yellow, the third of a
green, color. One could not help thinking they were precious stones made
into the form of fruit. I would have snatched them; but he drew back,
and said, "You must know, in the first place, that they are not for you.
You must give them to the three handsomest youths of the city, who then,
each according to his lot, will find wives to the utmost of their
wishes. Take them, and success to you!" said he, as he departed, leaving
the apples in my open hands. They appeared to me to have become still
larger. I held them up at once against the light, and found them quite
transparent; but soon they expanded upward, and became three beautiful
little ladies about as large as middle-sized dolls, whose clothes were
of the colors of the apples. They glided gently up my fingers: and when
I was about to catch them, to make sure of one at least, they had
already soared high and far; and I had to put up with the
disappointment. I stood there all amazed and petrified, holding up my
hands, and staring at my fingers as if there were still something on
them to see. Suddenly I saw a most lovely girl dance upon the very tips.
She was smaller, but pretty and lively; and as she did not fly away like
the others, but remained dancing, now on one finger-point, now on
another, I regarded her for a long while with admiration. And, as she
pleased me so much, I thought in the end I could catch her, and made, as
I fancied, a very adroit grasp. But at the moment I felt such a blow on
my head that I fell down stunned, and did not awake from my stupor till
it was time to dress myself and go to church.

During the service I often called those images to mind, and also when I
was eating dinner at my grandfather's table. In the afternoon I wished
to visit some friends, partly to show myself in my new dress, with my
hat under my arm and my sword by my side, and partly to return their
visits. I found no one at home; and, as I heard that they were gone to
the gardens, I resolved to follow them, and pass the evening pleasantly.
My way led towards the intrenchments; and I came to the spot which is
rightly called the Bad Wall, for it is never quite safe from ghosts
there. I walked slowly, and thought of my three goddesses, but
especially of the little nymph, and often held up my fingers in hopes
she might be kind enough to balance herself there again. With such
thoughts I was proceeding, when I saw in the wall on my left hand a
little gate which I did not remember to have ever noticed before. It
looked low, but its pointed arch would have allowed the tallest man to
enter. Arch and wall had been chiselled in the handsomest way, both by
mason and sculptor; but it was the door itself which first properly
attracted my attention. The old brown wood, though slightly ornamented,
was crossed with broad bands of brass wrought both in relief and
intaglio. The foliage on these, with the most natural birds sitting in
it, I could not sufficiently admire. But, what seemed most remarkable,
no keyhole could be seen, no latch, no knocker; and from this I
conjectured that the door could be opened only from within. I was not in
error; for, when I went nearer in order to touch the ornaments, it
opened inwards; and there appeared a man whose dress was somewhat long,
wide, and singular. A venerable beard enveloped his chin, so that I was
inclined to think him a Jew. But he, as if he had divined my thoughts,
made the sign of the holy cross, by which he gave me to understand that
he was a good Catholic Christian. "Young gentleman, how came you here,
and what are you doing?" he said to me, with a friendly voice and
manner." I am admiring," I replied," the workmanship of this door; for I
have never seen any thing like it, except in some small pieces in the
collections of amateurs."--"I am glad," he answered, "that you like such
works. The door is much more beautiful inside. Come in, if you like." My
heart, in some degree, failed me. The mysterious dress of the porter,
the seclusion, and a something, I know not what, that seemed to be in
the air, oppressed me. I paused, therefore, under the pretext of
examining the outside still longer; and at the same time I cast stolen
glances into the garden, for a garden it was which had opened before me.
Just inside the door I saw a space. Old linden-trees, standing at
regular distances from each other, entirely covered it with their
thickly interwoven branches; so that the most numerous parties, during
the hottest of the day, might have refreshed themselves in the shade.
Already I had stepped upon the threshold, and the old man contrived
gradually to allure me on. Properly speaking, I did not resist; for I
had always heard that a prince or sultan in such a case must never ask
whether there be danger at hand. I had my sword by my side too; and
could I not soon have finished with the old man, in case of hostile
demonstrations? I therefore entered perfectly re-assured: the keeper
closed the door, which bolted so softly that I scarcely heard it. He now
showed me the workmanship on the inside, which in truth was still more
artistic than the outside, explained it to me, and at the same time
manifested particular good will. Being thus entirely at my ease, I let
myself be guided in the shaded space by the wall, that formed a circle,
where I found much to admire. Niches tastefully adorned with shells,
corals, and pieces of ore, poured a profusion of water from the mouths
of tritons into marble basins. Between them were aviaries and other
lattice-work, in which squirrels frisked about, guinea-pigs ran hither
and thither, with as many other pretty little creatures as one could
wish to see. The birds called and sang to us as we advanced: the
starlings, particularly, chattered the silliest stuff. One always cried,
"Paris, Paris!" and the other, "Narcissus, Narcissus!" as plainly as a
schoolboy can say them. The old man seemed to continue looking at me
earnestly while the birds called out thus; but I feigned not to notice
it, and had in truth no time to attend to him, for I could easily
perceive that we went round and round, and that this shaded space was in
fact a great circle, which enclosed another much more important. Indeed,
we had actually reached the small door again, and it seemed as though
the old man would let me out. But my eyes remained directed towards a
golden railing, which seemed to hedge round the middle of this wonderful
garden, and which I had found means enough of observing in our walk;
although the old man managed to keep me always close to the wall, and
therefore pretty far from the centre. And now, just as he was going to
the door, I said to him, with a bow, "You have been so extremely kind to
me that I would fain venture to make one more request before I part from
you. Might I not look more closely at that golden railing, which appears
to enclose in a very wide circle the interior of the garden?"--"Very
willingly," replied he, "but in that case you must submit to some
conditions."--"In what do they consist?" I asked hastily. "You must
leave here your hat and sword, and must not let go my hand while I
accompany you."--"Most willingly," I replied; and laid my hat and sword
on the nearest stone bench. Immediately he grasped my left hand with his
right, held it fast, and led me with some force straight forwards. When
we reached the railing, my wonder changed into amazement. On a high
socle of marble stood innumerable spears and partisans, ranged beneath
each other, joined by their strangely ornamented points, and forming a
complete circle. I looked through the intervals, and saw just behind a
gently flowing piece of water, bounded on both sides by marble, and
displaying in its clear depths a multitude of gold and silver fish,
which moved about now slowly and now swiftly, now alone and now in
shoals. I would also fain have looked beyond the canal, to see what
there was in the heart of the garden. But I found, to my great sorrow,
that the other side of the water was bordered by a similar railing, and
with so much art, that to each interval on this side exactly fitted a
spear or partisan on the other. These, and the other ornaments, rendered
it impossible for one to see through, stand as he would. Besides, the
old man, who still held me fast, prevented me from moving freely. My
curiosity, meanwhile, after all I had seen, increased more and more; and
I took heart to ask the old man whether one could not pass over. "Why
not?" returned he, "but on new conditions." When I asked him what these
were, he gave me to understand that I must put on other clothes. I was
satisfied to do so: he led me back towards the wall into a small, neat
room, on the sides of which hung many kinds of garments, all of which
seemed to approach the Oriental costume. I soon changed my dress. He
confined my powdered hair under a many-colored net, after having to my
horror violently dusted it out. Now, standing before a great mirror, I
found myself quite handsome in my disguise, and pleased myself better
than in my formal Sunday clothes. I made gestures, and leaped, as I had
seen the dancers do at the fair-theatre. In the midst of this I looked
in the glass, and saw by chance the image of a niche which was behind
me. On its white ground hung three green cords, each of them twisted up
in a way which from the distance I could not clearly discern. I
therefore turned round rather hastily, and asked the old man about the
niche as well as the cords. He very courteously took a cord down, and
showed it to me. It was a band of green silk of moderate thickness, the
ends of which, joined by green leather with two holes in it, gave it the
appearance of an instrument for no very desirable purpose. The thing
struck me as suspicious, and I asked the old man the meaning. He
answered me very quietly and kindly, "This is for those who abuse the
confidence which is here readily shown them." He hung the cord again in
its place, and immediately desired me to follow him; for this time he
did not hold me, and so I walked freely beside him.

My chief curiosity now was, to discover where the gate and bridge, for
passing through the railing and over the canal, might be; since as yet I
had not been able to find any thing of the kind. I therefore watched the
golden fence very narrowly as we hastened towards it. But in a moment my
sight failed: lances, spears, halberds, and partisans began unexpectedly
to rattle and quiver; and the strange movement ended in all the points
sinking towards each other just as if two ancient hosts, armed with
pikes, were about to charge. The confusion to the eyes, the clatter to
the ears, was hardly to be borne; but infinitely surprising was the
sight, when, falling perfectly level, they covered the circle of the
canal, and formed the most glorious bridge that one can imagine. For now
a most variegated garden parterre met my sight. It was laid out in
curvilinear beds, which, looked at together, formed a labyrinth of
ornaments; all with green borders of a low, woolly plant, which I had
never seen before; all with flowers, each division of different colors,
which, being likewise low and close to the ground, allowed the plan to
be easily traced. This delicious sight, which I enjoyed in the full
sunshine, quite riveted my eyes. But I hardly knew where I was to set my
foot; for the serpentine paths were most delicately laid with blue sand,
which seemed to form upon the earth a darker sky, or a sky seen in the
water: and so I walked for a while beside my conductor, with my eyes
fixed upon the ground, until at last I perceived, that, in the middle of
this round of beds and flowers, there was a great circle of cypresses or
poplar-like trees, through which one could not see, because the lowest
branches seemed to spring out of the ground. My guide, without taking me
exactly the shortest way, led me nevertheless immediately towards that
centre; and how was I astonished, when, on entering the circle of high
trees, I saw before me the peristyle of a magnificent garden-house,
which seemed to have similar prospects and entrances on the other sides!
The heavenly music which streamed from the building transported me still
more than this model of architecture. I fancied that I heard now a lute,
now a harp, now a guitar, and now something tinkling which did not
belong to any of these instruments. The door for which we made opened
soon on being lightly touched by the old man. But how was I amazed when
the porteress who came out perfectly resembled the delicate girl who had
danced upon my fingers in the dream! She greeted me as if we were
already acquainted, and invited me to walk in. The old man staid behind;
and I went with her through a short passage, arched and finely
ornamented, to the middle hall, the splendid, dome-like ceiling of which
attracted my gaze on my entrance, and filled me with astonishment. Yet
my eye could not dwell on this long, being allured down by a more
charming spectacle. On a carpet, directly under the middle of the
cupola, sat three women in a triangle, clad in three different colors,--
one red, the other yellow, the third green. The seats were gilt, and the
carpet was a perfect flower-bed. In their arms lay the three instruments
which I had been able to distinguish from without; for, being disturbed
by my arrival, they had stopped their playing. "Welcome!" said the
middle one, who sat with her face to the door, in a red dress, and with
the harp. "Sit down by Alerte, and listen, if you are a lover of music."

Now only I remarked that there was a rather long bench placed obliquely
before them, on which lay a mandolin. The pretty girl took it up, sat
down, and drew me to her side. Now also I looked at the second lady on
my right. She wore the yellow dress, and had the guitar in her hand; and
if the harp-player was dignified in form, grand in features, and
majestic in her deportment, one might remark in the guitar-player an
easy grace and cheerfulness. She was a slender blonde, while the other
was adorned by dark-brown hair. The variety and accordance of their
music could not prevent me from remarking the third beauty, in the green
dress, whose lute-playing was for me at once touching and striking. She
was the one who seemed to notice me the most, and to direct her music to
me: only I could not make up my mind about her; for she appeared to me
now tender, now whimsical, now frank, now self-willed, according as she
changed her mien and mode of playing. Sometimes she seemed to wish to
excite my emotions, sometimes to tease me; but, do what she would, she
got little out of me; for my little neighbor, by whom I sat elbow to
elbow, had gained me entirely to herself: and while I clearly saw in
those three ladies the sylphides of my dream, and recognized the colors
of the apples, I conceived that I had no cause to detain them. I should
have liked better to lay hold of the pretty little maiden if I had not
but too well remembered the blow she had given me in my dream. Hitherto
she had remained quite quiet with her mandolin; but, when her mistresses
had ceased, they commanded her to perform some pleasant little piece.
Scarcely had she jingled off some dance-tune, in a most exciting manner,
than she sprang up: I did the same. She played and danced; I was hurried
on to accompany her steps; and we executed a kind of little ballet, with
which the ladies seemed satisfied; for, as soon as we had done, they
commanded the little girl to refresh me with something nice till supper
should come in. I had indeed forgotten that there was any thing in the
world beyond this paradise. Alerte led me back immediately into the
passage by which I had entered. On one side of it she had two well-
arranged rooms. In that in which she lived she set before me oranges,
figs, peaches, and grapes; and I enjoyed with great gusto both the
fruits of foreign lands and those of our own not yet in season.
Confectionery there was in profusion: she filled, too, a goblet of
polished crystal with foaming wine; but I had no need to drink, as I had
refreshed myself with the fruits. "Now we will play," said she, and led
me into the other room. Here all looked like a Christmas fair, but such
costly and exquisite things were never seen in a Christmas booth. There
were all kinds of dolls, dolls' clothes, and dolls' furniture; kitchens,
parlors, and shops, and single toys innumerable. She led me round to all
the glass cases in which these ingenious works were preserved.

But she soon closed again the first cases, and said, "That is nothing
for you, I know well enough. Here," she said, "we could find building-
materials, walls and towers, houses, palaces, churches, to put together
a great city. But this does not entertain me. We will take something
else, which will be amusing to both of us." Then she brought out some
boxes, in which I saw an army of little soldiers piled one upon the
other, of which I must needs confess that I had never seen any thing so
beautiful. She did not leave me time to examine them in detail, but took
one box under her arm, while I seized the other. "We will go," she said,
"to the golden bridge. There one plays best with soldiers: the lances
give at once the direction in which the armies are to be opposed to each
other." We had now reached the golden, trembling floor; and below me I
could hear the waters gurgle and the fishes splash, while I knelt down
to range my columns. All, as I now saw, were cavalry. She boasted that
she had the queen of the Amazons as leader of her female host. I, on the
contrary, found Achilles and a very stately Grecian cavalry. The armies
stood facing each other, and nothing could have been seen more
beautiful. They were not flat, leaden horsemen like ours; but man and
horse were round and solid, and most finely wrought: nor could one
conceive how they kept their balance; for they stood of themselves,
without a support for their feet.

Both of us had inspected our hosts with much self-complacency, when she
announced the onset. We had found ordnance in our chests; viz., little
boxes full of well-polished agate balls. With these we were to fight
against each other from a certain distance; while, however, it was an
express condition that we should not throw with more force than was
necessary to upset the figures, as none of them were to be injured. Now
the cannonade began on both sides, and at first it succeeded to the
satisfaction of us both. But when my adversary observed that I aimed
better than she, and might in the end win the victory, which depended on
the majority of pieces remaining upright, she came nearer, and her
girlish way of throwing had then the desired result. She prostrated a
multitude of my best troops, and the more I protested the more eagerly
did she throw. This at last vexed me, and I declared that I would do the
same. In fact, I not only went nearer, but in my rage threw with much
more violence; so that it was not long before a pair of her little
centauresses flew in pieces. In her eagerness she did not instantly
notice it, but I stood petrified when the broken figures joined together
again of themselves: Amazon and horse became again one, and also
perfectly close, set up a gallop from the golden bridge under the lime-
trees, and, running swiftly backwards and forwards, were lost in their
career, I know not how, in the direction of the wall. My fair opponent
had hardly perceived this, when she broke out into loud weeping and
lamentation, and exclaimed that I had caused her an irreparable loss,
which was far greater than could be expressed. But I, by this time
provoked, was glad to annoy her, and blindly flung a couple of the
remaining agate balls with force into the midst of her army. Unhappily I
hit the queen, who had hitherto, during our regular game, been excepted.
She flew in pieces, and her nearest officers were also shivered. But
they swiftly set themselves up again, and started off like the others,
galloping very merrily about under the lime-trees, and disappearing
against the wall. My opponent scolded and abused me; but, being now in
full play, I stooped to pick up some agate balls which rolled about upon
the golden lances. It was my fierce desire to destroy her whole army.
She, on the other hand, not idle, sprang at me, and gave me a box on the
ear, which made my head ring. Having always heard that a hearty kiss was
the proper response to a girl's box of the ear, I took her by the ears,
and kissed her repeatedly. But she uttered such a piercing scream as
frightened even me. I let her go; and it was fortunate that I did so,
for in a moment I knew not what was happening to me. The ground beneath
me began to shake and rattle. I soon remarked that the railings again
set themselves in motion; but I had no time to consider, nor could I get
a footing so as to fly. I feared every instant to be pierced; for the
partisans and lances, which had lifted themselves up, were already
slitting my clothes. It is sufficient to say, that, I know not how it
was, hearing and sight failed me; and I recovered from my swoon and
terror at the foot of a lime-tree, against which the pikes in springing
up had thrown me. As I awoke, my anger awakened also, and violently
increased when I heard from the other side the gibes and laughter of my
opponent, who had probably reached the earth somewhat more softly than
I. Therefore I jumped up; and as I saw the little host with its leader
Achilles scattered around me, having been driven over with me by the
rising of the rails, I seized the hero first, and threw him against a
tree. His resuscitation and flight now pleased me doubly, a malicious
pleasure combining with the prettiest sight in the world; and I was on
the point of sending all the other Greeks after him, when suddenly
hissing waters spurted at me on all sides, from stones and wall, from
ground and branches, and, wherever I turned, dashed against me

In a short time my light garment was wet through. It was already rent,
and I did not hesitate to tear it entirely off my body. I cast away my
slippers, and one covering after another. Nay, at last I found it very
agreeable to let such a shower-bath play over me in the warm day. Now,
being quite naked, I walked gravely along between these welcome waters,
where I thought to enjoy myself for some time. My anger cooled, and I
wished for nothing more than a reconciliation with my little adversary.
But, in a twinkling, the water stopped; and I stood drenched upon the
saturated ground. The presence of the old man, who appeared before me
unexpectedly, was by no means welcome. I could have wished, if not to
hide, at least to clothe, myself. The shame, the shivering, the effort
to cover myself in some degree, made me cut a most piteous figure. The
old man employed the moment in venting the severest reproaches against
me. "What hinders me," he exclaimed, "from taking one of the green
cords, and fitting it, if not to your neck, to your back?" This threat I
took in very ill part. "Refrain," I cried, "from such words, even from
such thoughts; for otherwise you and your mistresses will be lost."--"
Who, then, are you," he asked in defiance, "who dare speak thus?"--"A
favorite of the gods," I said, "on whom it depends whether those ladies
shall find worthy husbands and pass a happy life, or be left to pine and
wither in their magic cell." The old man stepped some paces back. "Who
has revealed that to you?" he inquired, with astonishment and concern.
"Three apples," I said, "three jewels."--"And what reward do you
require?" he exclaimed. "Before all things, the little creature," I
replied, "who has brought me into this accursed state." The old man cast
himself down before me, without shrinking from the wet and miry soil:
then he rose without being wetted, took me kindly by the hand, led me
into the hall, clad me again quickly; and I was soon once more decked
out and frizzled in my Sunday fashion as before. The porter did not
speak another word; but, before he let me pass the entrance, he stopped
me, and showed me some objects on the wall over the way, while, at the
same time, he pointed backwards to the door. I understood him: he wished
to imprint the objects on my mind, that I might the more certainly find
the door, which had unexpectedly closed behind me. I now took good
notice of what was opposite me. Above a high wall rose the boughs of
extremely old nut-trees, and partly covered the cornice at the top. The
branches reached down to a stone tablet, the ornamented border of which
I could perfectly recognize, though I could not read the inscription. It
rested on the top-stone of a niche, in which a finely wrought fountain
poured water from cup to cup into a great basin, that formed, as it
were, a little pond, and disappeared in the earth. Fountain,
inscription, nut-trees, all stood perpendicularly, one above another: I
would paint it as I saw it.

Now, it may well be conceived how I passed this evening, and many
following days, and how often I repeated to myself this story, which
even I could hardly believe. As soon as it was in any degree possible, I
went again to the Bad Wall, at least to refresh my remembrance of these
signs, and to look at the precious door. But, to my great amazement, I
found all changed. Nut-trees, indeed, overtopped the wall; but they did
not stand immediately in contact. A tablet also was inserted in the
wall, but far to the right of the trees, without ornament, and with a
legible inscription. A niche with a fountain was found far to the left,
but with no resemblance whatever to that which I had seen; so that I
almost believed that the second adventure was, like the first, a dream,
for of the door there is not the slightest trace. The only thing that
consoles me is the observation, that these three objects seem always to
change their places. For, in repeated visits to the spot, I think I have
noticed that the nut-trees have moved somewhat nearer together, and that
the tablet and the fountain seem likewise to approach each other.
Probably, when all is brought together again, the door, too, will once
more be visible; and I will do my best to take up the thread of the
adventure. Whether I shall be able to tell you what further happens, or
whether I shall be expressly forbidden to do so, I cannot say.

This tale, of the truth of which my playfellows vehemently strove to
convince themselves, received great applause. Each of them visited alone
the place described, without confiding it to me or the others, and
discovered the nut-trees, the tablet, and the spring, though always at a
distance from each other; as they at last confessed to me afterwards,
because it is not easy to conceal a secret at that early age. But here
the contest first arose. One asserted that the objects did not stir from
the spot, and always maintained the same distance; a second averred that
they did move, and that, too, away from each other; a third agreed with
the latter as to the first point of their moving, though it seemed to
him that the nut-trees, tablet, and fountain rather drew near together;
while a fourth had something still more wonderful to announce, which
was, that the nut-trees were in the middle, but that the tablet and the
fountain were on sides opposite to those which I had stated. With
respect to the traces of the little door, they also varied. And thus
they furnished me an early instance of the contradictory views men can
hold and maintain in regard to matters quite simple and easily cleared
up. As I obstinately refused the continuation of my tale, a repetition
of the first part was often desired. I took good care not to change the
circumstances much; and, by the uniformity of the narrative, I converted
the fable into truth in the minds of my hearers.

Yet I was averse to falsehood and dissimulation, and altogether by no
means frivolous. Rather, on the contrary, the inward earnestness, with
which I had early begun to consider myself and the world, was seen, even
in my exterior; and I was frequently called to account, often in a
friendly way, and often in raillery, for a certain dignity which I had
assumed. For, although good and chosen friends were certainly not
wanting to me, we were always a minority against those who found
pleasure in assailing us with wanton rudeness, and who indeed often
awoke us in no gentle fashion from that legendary and self-complacent
dreaming in which we--I by inventing, and my companions by sympathizing-
-were too readily absorbed. Thus we learned once more, that, instead of
sinking into effeminacy and fantastic delights, there was reason rather
for hardening ourselves, in order either to bear or to counteract
inevitable evils.

Among the stoical exercises which I cultivated, as earnestly as it was
possible for a lad, was even the endurance of bodily pain. Our teachers
often treated us very unkindly and unskilfully, with blows and cuffs,
against which we hardened ourselves all the more as obstinacy was
forbidden under the severest penalties. A great many of the sports of
youth depend on a rivalry in such endurances: as, for instance, when
they strike each other alternately with two fingers or the whole fist,
till the limbs are numbed; or when they bear the penalty of blows
incurred in certain games, with more or less firmness; when, in
wrestling or scuffling, they do not let themselves be perplexed by the
pinches of a half-conquered opponent; or, finally, when they suppress
the pain inflicted for the sake of teasing, and even treat with
indifference the nips and ticklings with which young persons are so
active toward each other. Thus we gain a great advantage, of which
others cannot speedily deprive us.

But, as I made a sort of boast of this impassiveness, the importunity of
the others was increased; and, since rude barbarity knows no limits, it
managed to force me beyond my bounds. Let one case suffice for several.
It happened once that the teacher did not come for the usual hour of
instruction. As long as we children were all together, we entertained
ourselves quite agreeably; but when my adherents, after waiting long
enough, had left, and I remained alone with three of my enemies, these
took it into their heads to torment me, to shame me, and to drive me
away. Having left me an instant in the room, they came back with
switches, which they had made by quickly cutting up a broom. I noted
their design; and, as I supposed the end of the hour near, I at once
resolved not to resist them till the clock struck. They began,
therefore, without remorse, to lash my legs and calves in the cruellest
fashion. I did not stir, but soon felt that I had miscalculated, and
that such pain greatly lengthened the minutes. My wrath grew with my
endurance; and, at the first stroke of the hour, I grasped the one who
least expected it by the hair behind, hurled him to the earth in an
instant, pressing my knee upon his back; the second, a younger and
weaker one, who attacked me from behind, I drew by the head under my
arm, and almost throttled him with the pressure. The last, and not the
weakest, still remained; and my left hand only was left for my defense.
But I seized him by the clothes; and, with a dexterous twist on my part
and an over-precipitate one on his, I brought him down and struck his
face on the ground. They were not wanting in bites, pinches, and kicks;
but I had nothing but revenge in my limbs as well as in my heart. With
the advantage which I had acquired, I repeatedly knocked their heads
together. At last they raised a dreadful shout of murder, and we were
soon surrounded by all the inmates of the house. The switches scattered
around, and my legs, which I had bared of the stockings, soon bore
witness for me. They put off the punishment, and let me leave the house;
but I declared, that in future, on the slightest offence, I would
scratch out the eyes, tear off the ears, of any one of them, if not
throttle him.

Though, as usually happens in childish affairs, this event was soon
forgotten, and even laughed at, it was the cause that these joint
instructions became fewer, and at last entirely ceased. I was thus
again, as formerly, kept more at home; where I found my sister Cornelia,
who was only one year younger than myself, a companion always growing
more agreeable.

Still, I will not leave this topic without telling some more stories of
the many vexations caused me by my playfellows; for this is the
instructive part of such moral communications, that a man may learn how
it has gone with others, and what he also has to expect from life; and
that, whatever comes to pass, he may consider that it happens to him as
a man, and not as one specially fortunate or unfortunate. If such
knowledge is of little use for avoiding evils, it is very serviceable so
far as it qualifies us to understand our condition, and bear or even to
overcome it.

Another general remark will not be out of place here, which is, that, as
the children of the cultivated classes grow up, a great contradiction
appears. I refer to the fact, that they are urged and trained by parents
and teachers to deport themselves moderately, intelligently, and even
wisely; to give pain to no one from petulance or arrogance; and to
suppress all the evil impulses which may be developed in them; but yet,
on the other hand, while the young creatures are engaged in this
discipline, they have to suffer from others that which in them is
reprimanded and punished. In this way the poor things are brought into a
sad strait between the natural and civilized states, and, after
restraining themselves for a while, break out, according to their
characters, into cunning or violence.

Force may be warded off by force; but a well-disposed child, inclined to
love and sympathy, has little to oppose to scorn and ill-will. Though I
managed pretty well to keep off the assaults of my companions, I was by
no means equal to them in sarcasm and abuse; because he who merely
defends himself in such cases is always a loser. Attacks of this sort
consequently, when they went so far as to excite anger, were repelled
with physical force, or at least excited strange reflections in me which
could not be without results. Among other advantages which my ill-
wishers saw with envy, was the pleasure I took in the relations that
accrued to the family from my grandfather's position of
/Schultheiss/; since, as he was the first of his class, this had no
small effect on those belonging to him. Once when, after the holding of
the Piper's Court, I appeared to pride myself on having seen my
grandfather in the midst of the council, one step higher than the rest,
enthroned, as it were, under the portrait of the emperor, one of the
boys said to me in derision, that, like the peacock contemplating his
feet, I should cast my eyes back to my paternal grandfather, who had
been keeper of the Willow Inn, and would never have aspired to thrones
and coronets. I replied, that I was in no wise ashamed of that, as it
was the glory and honor of our native city that all its citizens might
consider each other equal, and every one derive profit and honor from
his exertions in his own way. I was sorry only that the good man had
been so long dead; for I had often yearned to know him in person, had
many times gazed upon his likeness, nay, had visited his tomb, and had
at least derived pleasure from the inscription on the simple monument of
that past existence to which I was indebted for my own. Another ill-
wisher, who was the most malicious of all, took the first aside, and
whispered something in his ear; while they still looked at me
scornfully. My gall already began to rise, and I challenged them to
speak out. "What is more, then, if you will have it," continued the
first, "this one thinks you might go looking about a long time before
you could find your grandfather." I now threatened them more vehemently
if they did not more clearly explain themselves. Thereupon they brought
forward an old story, which they pretended to have overheard from their
parents, that my father was the son of some eminent man, while that good
citizen had shown himself willing to take outwardly the paternal office.
They had the impudence to produce all sorts of arguments: as, for
example, that our property came exclusively from our grandmother; that
the other collateral relations who lived in Friedburg and other places
were alike destitute of property; and other reasons of the sort, which
could merely derive their weight from malice. I listened to them more
composedly than they expected, for they stood ready to fly the very
moment that I should make a gesture as if I would seize their hair. But
I replied quite calmly, and in substance, "that even this was no great
injury to me. Life was such a boon, that one might be quite indifferent
as to whom one had to thank for it; since at least it must be derived
from God, before whom we all were equals." As they could make nothing of
it, they let the matter drop for this time: we went on playing together
as before, which among children is an approved mode of reconciliation.

Still, these spiteful words inoculated me with a sort of moral disease,
which crept on in secret. It would not have displeased me at all to have
been the grandson of any person of consideration, even if it had not
been in the most lawful way. My acuteness followed up the scent, my
imagination was excited, and my sagacity put in requisition. I began to
investigate the allegation, and invented or found for it new grounds of
probability. I had heard little said of my grandfather, except that his
likeness, together with my grandmother's, had hung in a parlor of the
old house; both of which, after the building of the new one, had been
kept in an upper chamber. My grandmother must have been a very handsome
woman, and of the same age as her husband. I remembered also to have
seen in her room the miniature of a handsome gentleman in uniform, with
star and order, which after her death, and during the confusion of
house-building, had disappeared, with many other small pieces of
furniture. These and many other things I put together in my childish
head, and exercised that modern poetical talent which contrives to
obtain the sympathies of the whole cultivated world by a marvellous
combination of the important events of human life.

But as I did not venture to trust such an affair to any one, or even to
ask the most remote questions concerning it, I was not wanting in a
secret diligence, in order to get, if possible, somewhat nearer to the
matter. I had heard it explicitly maintained, that sons often bore a
decided resemblance to their fathers or grandfathers. Many of our
friends, especially Councillor Schneider, a friend of the family, were
connected by business with all the princes and noblemen of the
neighborhood, of whom, including both the ruling and the younger
branches, not a few had estates on the Rhine and Main, and in the
intermediate country, and who at times honored their faithful agents
with their portraits.

These, which I had often seen on the walls from my infancy, I now
regarded with redoubled attention; seeking whether I could not detect
some resemblance to my father or even to myself, which too often
happened to lead me to any degree of certainty. For now it was the eyes
of this, now the nose of that, which seemed to indicate some
relationship. Thus these marks led me delusively backward and forward:
and though in the end I was compelled to regard the reproach as a
completely empty tale, the impression remained; and I could not from
time to time refrain from privately calling up and testing all the
noblemen whose images had remained very distinct in my imagination. So
true is it that whatever inwardly confirms man in his self-conceit, or
flatters his secret vanity, is so highly desirable to him, that he does
not ask further, whether in other respects it may turn to his honor or

But, instead of mingling here serious and even reproachful reflections,
I rather turn my look away from those beautiful times; for who is able
to speak worthily of the fulness of childhood? We cannot behold the
little creatures which flit about before us otherwise than with delight,
nay, with admiration; for they generally promise more than they perform:
and it seems that Nature, among the other roguish tricks that she plays
us, here also especially designs to make sport of us. The first organs
she bestows upon children coming into the world, are adapted to the
nearest immediate condition of the creature, which, unassuming and
artless, makes use of them in the readiest way for its present purposes.
The child, considered in and for himself, with his equals, and in
relations suited to his powers, seems so intelligent and rational, and
at the same time so easy, cheerful, and clever, that one can hardly wish
it further cultivation. If children grew up according to early
indications, we should have nothing but geniuses; but growth is not
merely development: the various organic systems which constitute one man
spring one from another, follow each other, change into each other,
supplant each other, and even consume each other; so that after a time
scarcely a trace is to be found of many aptitudes and manifestations of
ability. Even when the talents of the man have on the whole a decided
direction, it will be hard for the greatest and most experienced
connoisseur to declare them beforehand with confidence; although
afterwards it is easy to remark what has pointed to a future.

By no means, therefore, is it my design wholly to comprise the stories
of my childhood in these first books; but I will rather afterwards
resume and continue many a thread which ran through the early years
unnoticed. Here, however, I must remark what an increasing influence the
incidents of the war gradually exercised upon our sentiments and mode of

The peaceful citizen stands in a wonderful relation to the great events
of the world. They already excite and disquiet him from a distance; and,
even if they do not touch him, he can scarcely refrain from an opinion
and a sympathy. Soon he takes a side, as his character or external
circumstances may determine. But when such grand fatalities, such
important changes, draw nearer to him, then with many outward
inconveniences remains that inward discomfort, which doubles and
sharpens the evil, and destroys the good which is still possible. Then
he has really to suffer from friends and foes, often more from the
former than from the latter; and he knows not how to secure and preserve
either his interests or his inclinations.

The year 1757, which still passed in perfectly civic tranquillity, kept
us, nevertheless, in great uneasiness of mind. Perhaps no other was more
fruitful of events than this. Conquests, achievements, misfortunes,
restorations, followed one upon another, swallowed up and seemed to
destroy each other; yet the image of Frederick, his name and glory, soon
hovered again above all. The enthusiasm of his worshippers grew always
stronger and more animated; the hatred of his enemies more bitter; and
the diversity of opinion, which separated even families, contributed not
a little to isolate citizens, already sundered in many ways and on other
grounds. For in a city like Frankfort, where three religions divide the
inhabitants into three unequal masses; where only a few men, even of the
ruling faith, can attain to political power,--there must be many wealthy
and educated persons who are thrown back upon themselves, and, by means
of studies and tastes, form for themselves an individual and secluded
existence. It will be necessary for us to speak of such men, now and
hereafter, if we are to bring before us the peculiarities of a Frankfort
citizen of that time.

My father, immediately after his return from his travels, had in his own
way formed the design, that, to prepare himself for the service of the
city, he would undertake one of the subordinate offices, and discharge
its duties without emolument, if it wore conferred upon him without
balloting. In the consciousness of his good intentions, and according to
his way of thinking and the conception he had of himself, he believed
that he deserved such a distinction, which, indeed, was not conformable
to law or precedent. Consequently, when his suit was rejected, he fell
into ill humor and disgust, vowed that he would never accept of any
place, and, in order to render it impossible, procured the title of
Imperial Councillor, which the /Schultheiss/ and elder
/Schöffen/ bear as a special honor. He had thus made himself an
equal of the highest, and could not begin again at the bottom. The same
impulse induced him also to woo the eldest daughter of the
/Schultheiss/, so that he was excluded from the council on this
side also. He was now of that number of recluses who never form
themselves into a society. They are as much isolated in respect to each
other as they are in regard to the whole, and the more so as in this
seclusion the character becomes more and more uncouth. My father, in his
travels and in the world which he had seen, might have formed some
conception of a more elegant and liberal mode of life than was, perhaps,
common among his fellow-citizens. In this respect, however, he was not
entirely without predecessors and associates.

The name of Uffenbach is well known. At that time, there was a Schöff
von Uffenbach, who was generally respected. He had been in Italy; had
applied himself particularly to music; sang an agreeable tenor; and,
having brought home a fine collection of pieces, concerts and oratorios
were performed at his house. Now, as he sang in these himself, and held
musicians in great favor, it was not thought altogether suitable to his
dignity; and his invited guests, as well as the other people of the
country, allowed themselves many a jocose remark on the matter.

I remember, too, a Baron von Hakel, a rich nobleman, who, being married,
but childless, occupied a charming house in the Antonius Street, fitted
up with all the appurtenances of a dignified position in life. He also
possessed good pictures, engravings, antiques, and much else which
generally accumulates with collectors and lovers of art. From time to
time he asked the more noted personages to dinner, and was beneficent in
a careful way of his own; since he clothed the poor in his own house,
but kept back their old rags, and gave them a weekly charity, on
condition that they should present themselves every time clean and neat
in the clothes bestowed on them. I can recall him but indistinctly, as a
genial, well-made man; but more clearly his auction, which I attended
from beginning to end, and, partly by command of my father, partly from
my own impulse, purchased many things that are still to be found in my

At an earlier date than this,--so early that I scarcely set eyes upon
him,--John Michael von Loen gained considerable repute in the literary
world as well as at Frankfort. Not a native of Frankfort, he settled
there, and married a sister of my grandmother Textor, whose maiden name
was Lindheim. Familiar with the court and political world, and rejoicing
in a renewed title of nobility, he had acquired reputation by daring to
take part in the various excitements which arose in Church and State. He
wrote "The Count of Rivera," a didactic romance, the subject of which is
made apparent by the second title, "or, The Honest Man at Court." This
work was well received, because it insisted on morality, even in courts,
where prudence only is generally at home; and thus his labor brought him
applause and respect. A second work, for that very reason, would be
accompanied by more danger. He wrote "The Only True Religion," a book
designed to advance tolerance, especially between Lutherans and
Calvinists. But here he got in a controversy with the theologians: one
Dr. Benner of Giessen, in particular, wrote against him. Von Loen
rejoined; the contest grew violent and personal, and the unpleasantness
which arose from it caused him to accept the office of president at
Lingen, which Frederick II. offered him; supposing that he was an
enlightened, unprejudiced man, and not averse to the new views that more
extensively obtained in France. His former countrymen, whom he had left
in some displeasure, averred that he was not contented there, nay, could
not be so, as a place like Lingen was not to be compared with Frankfort.
My father also doubted whether the president would be happy, and
asserted that the good uncle would have done better not to connect
himself with the king, as it was generally hazardous to get too near
him, extraordinary sovereign as he undoubtedly was; for it had been seen
how disgracefully the famous Voltaire had been arrested in Frankfort, at
the requisition of the Prussian Resident Freitag, though he had formerly
stood so high in favor, and had been regarded as the king's teacher in
French poetry. There was, on such occasions, no want of reflections and
examples to warn one against courts and princes' service, of which a
native Frankforter could scarcely form a conception.

An excellent man, Dr. Orth, I will only mention by name; because here I
have not so much to erect a monument to the deserving citizens of
Frankfort, but rather refer to them only in as far as their renown or
personal character had some influence upon me in my earliest years. Dr.
Orth was a wealthy man, and was also of that number who never took part
in the government, although perfectly qualified to do so by his
knowledge and penetration. The antiquities of Germany, and more
especially of Frankfort, have been much indebted to him: he published
remarks on the so-called "Reformation of Frankfort," a work in which the
statutes of the state are collected. The historical portions of this
book I diligently read in my youth.

Von Ochsenstein, the eldest of the three brothers whom I have mentioned
above as our neighbors, had not been remarkable during his lifetime, in
consequence of his recluse habits, but became the more remarkable after
his death, by leaving behind him a direction that common workingmen
should carry him to the grave, early in the morning, in perfect silence,
and without an attendant or follower. This was done; and the affair
caused great excitement in the city, where they were accustomed to the
most pompous funerals. All who discharged the customary offices on such
occasions rose against the innovation. But the stout patrician found
imitators in all classes; and, though such ceremonies were derisively
called ox-burials,[Footnote: A pun upon the name of Ochsenstein.--
Trans.] they came into fashion, to the advantage of many of the more
poorly provided families; while funeral parades were less and less in
vogue. I bring forward this circumstance, because it presents one of the
earlier symptoms of that tendency to humility and equality, which, in
the second half of the last century, was manifested in so many ways,
from above downward, and broke out in such unlooked-for effects.

Nor was there any lack of antiquarian amateurs. There were cabinets of
pictures, collections of engravings; while the curiosities of our own
country especially were zealously sought and hoarded. The older decrees
and mandates of the imperial city, of which no collection had been
prepared, were carefully searched for in print and manuscript, arranged
in the order of time, and preserved with reverence, as a treasure of
native laws and customs. The portraits of Frankforters, which existed in
great number, were also brought together, and formed a special
department of the cabinets.

Such men my father appears generally to have taken as his models. He was
wanting in none of the qualities that pertain to an upright and
respectable citizen. Thus, after he had built his house, he put his
property of every sort into order. An excellent collection of maps by
Schenck and other geographers at that time eminent, the aforesaid
decrees and mandates, the portraits, a chest of ancient weapons, a case
of remarkable Venetian glasses, cups and goblets, natural curiosities,
works in ivory, bronzes, and a hundred other things, were separated and
displayed; and I did not fail, whenever an auction occurred, to get some
commission for the increase of his possessions.

I must still speak of one important family, of which I had heard strange
things since my earliest years, and of some of whose members I myself
lived to see a great deal that was wonderful,--I mean the Senkenbergs.
The father, of whom I have little to say, was an opulent man. He had
three sons, who, even in their youth, uniformly distinguished themselves
as oddities. Such things are not well received in a limited city, where
no one is suffered to render himself conspicuous, either for good or
evil. Nicknames and odd stories, long kept in memory, are generally the
fruit of such singularity. The father lived at the corner of Hare Street
(/Hasengasse/), which took its name from a sign on the house, that
represented one hare at least, if not three hares. They consequently
called these three brothers only the three Hares, which nickname they
could not shake off for a long while. But as great endowments often
announce themselves in youth in the form of singularity and awkwardness,
so was it also in this case. The eldest of the brothers was the
/Reichshofrath/ (Imperial Councillor) von Senkenberg, afterwards so
celebrated. The second was admitted into the magistracy, and displayed
eminent abilities, which, however, he subsequently abused in a
pettifogging and even infamous way, if not to the injury of his native
city, certainty to that of his colleagues. The third brother, a
physician and man of great integrity, but who practised little, and that
only in high families, preserved even in his old age a somewhat
whimsical exterior. He was always very neatly dressed, and was never
seen in the street otherwise than in shoes and stockings, with a well-
powdered, curled wig, and his hat under his arm. He walked on rapidly,
but with a singular sort of stagger; so that he was sometimes on one and
sometimes on the other side of the way, and formed a complete zigzag as
he went. The wags said that he made this irregular step to get out of
the way of the departed souls, who might follow him in a straight line,
and that he imitated those who are afraid of a crocodile. But all these
jests and many merry sayings were transformed at last into respect for
him, when he devoted his handsome dwelling-house in Eschenheimer Street,
with court, garden, and all other appurtenances, to a medical
establishment, where, in addition to a hospital designed exclusively for
the citizens of Frankfort, a botanic garden, an anatomical theatre, a
chemical laboratory, a considerable library, and a house for the
director, were instituted in a way of which no university need have been

Another eminent man, whose efficiency in the neighborhood and whose
writings, rather than his presence, had a very important influence upon
me, was Charles Frederick von Moser, who was perpetually referred to in
our district for his activity in business. He also had a character
essentially moral, which, as the vices of human nature frequently gave
him trouble, inclined him to the so-called pious. Thus, what Von Loen
had tried to do in respect to court-life, he would have done for
business-life; introducing into it a more conscientious mode of
proceeding. The great number of small German courts gave rise to a
multitude of princes and servants, the former of whom desired
unconditional obedience; while the latter, for the most part, would work
or serve only according to their own convictions. Thus arose an endless
conflict, and rapid changes and explosions; because the effects of an
unrestricted course of proceeding become much sooner noticeable and
injurious on a small scale than on a large one. Many families were in
debt, and Imperial Commissions of Debts were appointed; others found
themselves sooner or later on the same road: while the officers either
reaped an unconscionable profit, or conscientiously made themselves
disagreeable and odious. Moser wished to act as a statesman and man of
business; and here his hereditary talent, cultivated to a profession,
gave him a decided advantage: but he at the same time wished to act as a
man and a citizen, and surrender as little as possible of his moral
dignity. His "Prince and Servant," his "Daniel in the Lions' Den," his
"Relics," paint throughout his own condition, in which he felt himself,
not indeed tortured, but always cramped. They all indicate impatience in
a condition, to the bearings of which one cannot reconcile one's self,
yet from which one cannot get free. With this mode of thinking and
feeling, he was, indeed, often compelled to seek other employments,
which, on account of his great cleverness, were never wanting. I
remember him as a pleasing, active, and, at the same time, gentle man.

The name of Klopstock had already produced a great effect upon us, even
at a distance. In the outset, people wondered how so excellent a man
could be so strangely named; but they soon got accustomed to this, and
thought no more of the meaning of the syllables. In my father's library
I had hitherto found only the earlier poets, especially those who in his
day had gradually appeared and acquired fame. All these had written in
rhyme, and my father held rhyme as indispensable in poetical works.
Canitz, Hagedorn, Drollinger, Gellert Creuz, Haller, stood in a row, in
handsome calf bindings: to these were added Neukirch's "Telemachus,"
Koppen's "Jerusalem Delivered," and other translations. I had from my
childhood diligently perused the whole of these works, and committed
portions of them to memory, whence I was often called upon to amuse the
company. A vexatious era on the other hand opened upon my father, when,
through Klopstock's "Messiah," verses, which seemed to him no verses,
became an object of public admiration.[Footnote: The Messiah is written
in hexameter verse.--Trans.] He had taken good care not to buy this
book; but the friend of the family, Councillor Schneider, smuggled it
in, and slipped it into the hands of my mother and her children.

On this man of business, who read but little, "The Messiah," as soon as
it appeared, made a powerful impression. Those pious feelings, so
naturally expressed, and yet so beautifully elevated; that pleasant
diction, even if considered merely as harmonious prose,--had so won the
otherwise dry man of business, that he regarded the first ten cantos, of
which alone we are properly speaking, as the finest book of devotion,
and once every year in Passion Week, when he managed to escape from
business, read it quietly through by himself, and thus refreshed himself
for the entire year. In the beginning he thought to communicate his
emotions to his old friend; but he was much shocked when forced to
perceive an incurable dislike cherished against a book of such valuable
substance, merely because of what appeared to him an indifferent
external form. It may readily be supposed that their conversation often
reverted to this topic; but both parties diverged more and more widely
from each other, there were violent scenes: and the compliant man was at
last pleased to be silent on his favorite work, that he might not lose,
at the same time, a friend of his youth, and a good Sunday meal.

It is the most natural wish of every man to make proselytes; and how
much did our friend find himself rewarded in secret, when he discovered
in the rest of the family hearts so openly disposed for his saint. The
copy which he used only one week during the year was given over to our
edification all the remaining time. My mother kept it secret; and we
children took possession of it when we could, that in leisure hours,
hidden in some nook, we might learn the most striking passages by heart,
and particularly might impress the most tender as well as the most
violent parts on our memory as quickly as possible.

Porcia's dream we recited in a sort of rivalry, and divided between us
the wild dialogue of despair between Satan and Adramelech, who have been
cast into the Red Sea. The first part, as the strongest, had been
assigned to me; and the second, as a little more pathetic, was
undertaken by my sister. The alternate and horrible but well-sounding
curses flowed only thus from our mouths, and we seized every opportunity
to accost each other with these infernal phrases.

One Saturday evening in winter,--my father always had himself shaved
over night, that on Sunday morning he might dress for church at his
ease,--we sat on a footstool behind the stove, and muttered our
customary imprecations in a tolerably low voice, while the barber was
putting on the lather. But now Adramelech had to lay his iron hands on
Satan: my sister seized me with violence, and recited, softly enough,
but with increasing passion,--

"Give me thine aid, I entreat thee: I'll worship thee if thou demandest,
Thee, thou reprobate monster, yes, thee, of all criminals blackest!
Aid me. I suffer the tortures of death, everlasting, avenging!
Once, in the times gone by, I with furious hatred could hate thee:
Now I can hate thee no more! E'en this is the sharpest of tortures."

Thus far all went on tolerably; but loudly, with a dreadful voice, she
cried the following words:--

"Oh, how utterly crushed I am now!"

The good surgeon was startled, and emptied the lather-basin into my
father's bosom. There was a great uproar; and a severe investigation was
held, especially with respect to the mischief which might have been done
if the shaving had been actually going forward. In order to relieve
ourselves of all suspicions of mischievousness, we pleaded guilty of
having acted these Satanic characters; and the misfortune occasioned by
the hexameters was so apparent, that they were again condemned and

Thus children and common people are accustomed to transform the great
and sublime into a sport, and even a farce; and how indeed could they
otherwise abide and endure it?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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