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examining these, the company invited for the evening arrived.
Everybody entered unannounced; for our maid, Rosa, knew nothing about such ceremonies. The company consisted of my father's sister and her husband, Mr. Staatsrath Schindler, a worthy man, and a state counsellor, with a salary of a hundred a-year. The lady was a little, thin, peevish woman, without a tooth in her head. My mother's brother, a president of some council or another, with his wife, Mrs. President Grossman, came next; and then a retired director of something and his lady, a first cousin of my grandmother's, whom we all called Frau Base, and everybody else honoured with the title of Frau Alt Director. All the gentlemen wore their surtouts, except my father, who appeared in his dressing-gown without any apology. The ladies
pair I applied to a man sawing fire-wood before an open door and my hopes revived when, though I did not know her name, I found she had a town reputation, and the woodcutter laid down his saw to point out her dwelling. Great was my astonishment when, instead of a pastry-cook's, I was directed to a barber's shop in quest of the favourite cakes. Undismayed, however, by the image of the bewigged and mustachioed gentleman in the window, I ventured to put my head in at the door, and pronounce the magic word huppli, which had so far proved my passport on this voyage of discovery. In answer to my inquiry, a pretty Birnese maid, with two long tails like a Chinese, directed me to the third story of the mansion. I was forthwith forwarded into a dark passage, from whence led a yet darker staircase. At the summit of this almost perpendicular ascent, after knocking at a door and repeating my pass-had brought the stockings they were knitting, word, a little girl ushered me into a very gloomy, but remarkably clean kitchen; a wood fire was blazing on the hearth-a most unusual sight in this land of stoves-before which stood paste of various descriptions. In an inner room I found my worthy cake merchant, not behind a counter, but seated at a round table with her sister and her servant, with great cups of coffee before them, and a huge dish of fried potatoes in the middle of the uncovered table, from which they were very amicably eating in concert with their respective iron spoons, which conveyed the vevegetable to their mouth without the intervention of a plate.
I was most joyfully received. A great tin box full of huppli was quickly produced, and the portion I desired enveloped, with many pins and much difficulty, in two odd bits of paper. I then took my departure with my own parcel down the mysterious labyrinth by which I had ascended, no longer astonished at the cheapness of my cakes, when I found no money was to be added to their intrinsic value either for shop rent, or errand boy, or paper, or twine-and thus, though there is no want of elegant shops in Z, hundreds of honest people gain a livelihood by their industry, without the risk of capital, or the necessity of making an appearance.
which, after carefully depositing their gloves in their pockets, they had just produced, when Rosa made her appearance with a tea-kettle and a burning lamp under it. We displayed the luxury of a silver tea-pot and sugar-basin on this occa→ sion, but sugar-tongs there were none. My mother made the tea. It was very weak, and all green, None of the gentlemen drank it; and after a little laughing about "October tea," my mother gave me a sign to follow her, and we both left the room. To my surprise, I found we were to go down to the cellar, in search of wine, which, as my father liked it cool, he insisted should never be brought up till the last moment. This done, we re-entered the drawing-room in state with our bottles; the maid following with a basket of bread, a dish of sliced Bologna sausage, and a tray of large glasses, which my mother went round and filled for each gentleman, not only at first, but every time they were empty.
Whilst my father and his friends were drinking wine, and talking over the politics of the Canton, at one side of the room, the ladies, when their tea was finished, sat, every one with a little plate of sweetmeats before her, discussing the private affairs of the same community. To have judged by their comments, the morals of their neighbours were in a very lax condition.
"Have you heard this terrible business of Mrs. Oberrichter Hotz? Everybody declares there must be a divorce," said Mrs. President Gross
"I always knew how it would be," returned Mrs. Staatsrath Schindler, with a malicious smile. "She is an intimate friend of Mrs. Mang's, is she not ?" inquired my mother.
I found everything in order for our party when I reached home. The drawing-room was opened on this extraordinary occasion. It was the largest chamber in our suite of apartments. Its doors were of solid walnut tree; its stuccoed ceiling, and the crimson satin damask on its walls, to match the stiff-backed sofa and chairs, were all in the old French taste. Its boarded floor had no carpet, except a square piece under the table before the sofa; but its white muslin curtains, a handsome mirror, with a time-piece beneath it, and a few pictures by the Swiss landscape painters, Gessner, Wüest, and Hiss, now all dead, gave it an air of gaiety and comfort. The tea things were placed "Frau Mang wrote me some verses on my ready on the table, and a dumb waiter near was little dog that died, and they were very pretty well furnished with China plates and little dishes indeed," said the good-natured Frau Base; "they of sweetmeats. Several pretty presents, worked were all about moonshine and dew, and somefor my father on his name-day, by his female re-thing about angels and roses at the end, I could latives, lay on a little table; and, whilst we were not quite understand."
"Oh yes," returned Mrs. Staatsrath; "they suit each other perfectly. They are both learned ladies-both so clever-they do nothing but spend their husbands' money for dress, and sit on a sofa and read all day long."
"Indeed!" rejoined my mother; "she is a charming woman; and if she is cleverer than other people, she has no pretension."
"I beg your pardon, Frau Meyer," said the sour Mrs. Staatsrath; "I quite forgot you were an advocate for all the modern improvements in female education, and schools where German professors give lectures on history, and young ladies learn gymnastics, and everything but what our mothers thought useful. For my part, I am sorry I cannot be of your opinion; for I am sure the men don't like it. My husband would never have married a woman that was not a good cook for all the gold in the Canton."
"And I never see much good in wasting money for music masters," said Mrs. Grossman, who could not distinguish a waltz from a dead march: "when the girls have nobody to play to but one another. It is different in Paris and London, where they say men and women meet in large parties; but with us, I am sure such accomplishments are all lost time, except a young woman means to give lessons at sevenpence an hour to buy her own clothes."
My mother made no reply, but took the first opportunity of leaving the room, when I had to support a thorough cross-questioning from all the ladies present, as to all I had seen, done, and heard, during my absence. I was at first somewhat disconcerted; but I soon learnt that it is the universal practice to fill up all pauses in conversation by asking questions. In about ten minutes, this was put a stop to by my mother's returning and announcing supper.
My father immediately gave his arm to Mrs. Staatsrath, and the rest of the company followed in due order. A prettily arranged glass basket of fruit and flowers in the middle of the table, with plenty of silver spoons and forks, made all look gay, though everything was served on common white ware. A light soup was first served round, and then a deep dish of stew, called Spanish soup-composed of beef and cabbage, and sausages and ham-was presented to everybody by the maid. It was the business of my little sister and myself to change the plates-it is not the custom in our town to change the knives and forks. Everybody wipes them on their bread. My mother several times disappeared into the kitchen, which nobody remarked, and when she had resumed her place, a large flat cold patty, of somewhat solid paste, filled with a cold savoury jelly, made its appearance on one dish, and four roast ducks, stuffed with potatoes, on another.
My father cut up the birds on a pewter dish beside him, and they were then handed round. Everybody eat as if it was the first meal in the day, and drank in proportion. Each gentleman had a bottle of common wine beside him, but after the roast, it was my father's duty to draw the corks of various superior sorts, such as fine Winterthur wine of 1834, wine from the Lake of Geneva, and lastly, Champagne, and then to go round and fill the glasses of all the company as fast as they were emptied. A great dish of whipped cream, fashioned into the form of a hen upon its nest,
then made its appearance, flanked by two dishes of sweet cakes and pastry, which excited loud exclamations of delight from my little sister, without her parents thinking it at all necessary to check her mirth; and finally, when all other eatables were removed, two plates of the Huppli, it had cost me so much trouble to find, and two plates of segars, were placed on the table.
The Staatsrath said something about hoping smoking was not disagreeable to my mother, at which my father and all the ladies laughed, and then every gentleman lighted a segar, and commenced puffing away in good earnest, till it was soon scarcely possible to see across the room. The company was then very merry, and began to drink toasts, the first of which was my father's health. At this everybody arose, and everybody knocked their glass against everybody else's glass; and as the tables were very long, there was a considerable crowding, and stretching, and confusion, before it was perfectly accomplished. This, however, was scarcely done, when the President thought it necessary to propose my mother's health, in consequence of which my father had again to proceed to the drawing of corks, and the same knocking of glasses ensued, only with more noise and confusion than before. A good many bottles of wine were drank, and a considerable number of segars disappeared in smoke, but I do not remember that anything particularly witty or amusing was said by anybody during the whole evening. At eleven o'clock, the company arose to depart. The ladies being then duly enveloped in bonnets and shawls, each gentleman slipped a shilling for himself and his wife into our maid Rosa's hand. If he had been a bachelor, he would only have been expected to give sixpence. After which they all trotted off home-a maid and a lantern leading the way before each couple.
After my residence in Germany, nothing appeared to me so extraordinary during the whole evening, as the coarse old German dialect in which the conversation was carried on. I understood it, because it was the language of my childhood; yet it grated with unpleasant harshness on my ears. But of this I dared not say a syllable; for I well knew everybody was proud of it, and that the ladies would rather have spoken French than good German.
The ground floor of my father's house was occupied by a certain Dr. Keller, a druggist. Though a druggist cannot enter the first society in our town, and holds a very inferior place in the scale of gentility compared to my father, still, if he has good connexions and is rich, he is considered in some measure as a gentleman. But Dr. Keller did not strive to make the most of his position. His wife only associated with a few old women of no particular class, and he kept no society at all, except in a beer-house, or a caffé. We saluted them when we met, and that was all; but my brother had formed an intimacy with a young student from the country, who boarded in the family.
One lovely summer evening, I walked with my mother to a rustic tea garden, kept by a pleasant
innkeeper, on a beautiful point of the mountain above the town, to drink our coffee, and eat a certain kind of cake made of fried butter. By accident, we found my brother already there with his friend, Ulmer, sitting under the trellised vines, where there were more than fifty other people assembled, enjoying the prospect, with each a segar in his mouth, and a large bottle of beer between them. They could not avoid making room | for us at their table, as all the others were full. Ulmer was then about seventeen, and one of the handsomest, noblest looking youths I had ever beheld. He entered at once without awkward diffidence into an agreeable conversation with my mother. I said little; but I listened attentively, and I soon discovered with delight that his mind was amply stored with the knowledge of which I had only caught glimpses during the last two years of my life.
He walked home with us by the clear light of the moon that summer evening, and my mother was so pleased with the young man's company, that she invited him to visit us sometimes with her son. Two days afterwards, Albert brought him to breakfast. This meal with us was very simple, consisting of nothing but good hot coffee and boiling milk, with a loaf of bread, from which every one could cut at pleasure, all served in the commonest utensils, without a table cloth; but Ulmer declared it was quite a feast.
“I was always used to coffee at home," he said laughing, "but Dr. Keller is not so extravagant." "What does he give you then?" was my mother's simple question.
"Oh, you know he has a country house," returned the young man, "and he grows wild Endive enough there, to make what he calls coffee enough for a whole regiment; but we have that only as a treat in the afternoon. In the morning we have a soup of water thickened with flour burnt brown, with fat bacon, or onions fried in grease, to give a relish to bread and hot water." "I would protest against such treatment," said my brother impetuously.
last year's French beans dried in the oven for winter consumption, and which, when stewed in grease, have all the appearance of half tanned leather."
We all laughed heartily at this description, and my mother declared she was astonished to hear that the Doctor, with his fortune, kept such a bad table, as many of our little shopkeepers lived much better. Out of compassion for Ulmer, my brother frequently invited him for the future; for, though we lived simply, our boiled beef, and bacon, and sour kraut, were all good of their kind, and such fare was frequently varied by roast meat, or delicate fried sausages. During many of his visits, he found me alone, for my mother had her society, or kind of club, which met once a-week, and the members of which had been selected by her parents in her childhood. My grandmother had also her society, on another day, and not only were all strangers excluded from both assemblies, but no other member of the family was permitted to appear in them. So far is this division of society carried, that two sisters have never the same acquaintances. If a morning visiter came to me, or my grandmother, my mother left the room; and we, in our turn, did the same. My father had his society, or Gesellschaft, also, which met at a coffee-house, and though he sometimes invited one or two gentlemen to dinner, they never called afterwards. My mother's Gesellschaft was what is called a mixed Gesellschaft—that is, the husbands of the ladies formed a part of it; but I invariably remarked, these gentlemen never made their appearance in the weekly assemblies, except on the occasion of some fête, when they were sure of getting a good solid supper, as they probably preferred their segar and their wine, in a coffeeroom, to the tea and sweetmeats with which their ladies refreshed themselves. In fact, I heard every one, young or old, who belonged to these societies, complain of their stupidity. Those who are intimate cannot talk familiarly in the presence of others, and the conversation is commonly con
"It is no use; it is the custom of the house," fined to dress or scandal. As such a system exwas Ulmer's reply.
tends from the highest to the lowest classes, and
I hope your dinner is better than your break- most of our ladies have an absolute horror of fast," demanded my mother.
"Every day, since I have been there, we have regularly had two pounds of beef, cooked three hours in two gallons of water, which, when coloured with bread crusts, is called soup; and as the two servant maids and the farming lad dine at the same table with us, in the old Swiss style, you may suppose the portion of meat that falls my share is not very large. Luckily, we have a great dish of potatoes and fried onions, and another of chopped spinach, swimming in black looking grease, to make up for deficiences."
"But, of course, on a Sunday," said my mother, "you have better fare ?"
"Oh, the Doctor then regales us with a piece of his country-fed pork, dried in the wood smoke of the kitchen chimney, till it is as black as a coal, with the addition of sour kraut, made from his own cabbages, and half decayed, or a dish of
female strangers, it cannot be expected that society should make any progress. As I had full liberty to dispose of myself as I pleased, several evenings in the week, I saw a great deal of Ulmer, and our acquaintance gradually ripened into love. One of my old schoolfellows, who lived opposite to us, was always ready to join me in a walk, and either she or my brother easily contrived to let Ulmer know where he was to meet us.
Our next step was to organise a Gesellschaft for ourselves. My mother made not the slightest objection to this, though it was composed of five young gentlemen and five young ladies, all under eighteen, and some of the former were known to be the most dissipated in the town. But their families were of the same standing, or rather superior to my own; and we had all been at the same town day-school, and had been partners at our juvenile balls. I was not yet fifteen; but,
if my parents considered me still a child, they were very much mistaken! Oh, those were happy days, when, without fathers or mothers to restrain our mirth, we made an excursion to dine, or pass the evening, at one of those inns which, in every part of Switzerland, have public and private apartments ever ready for such parties. A betrothal, a wedding, or any family anniversary, is generally celebrated by a dinner at a country inn; and to us such a festival was the summit of felicity. I shall never forget one party which was given by myself and my companions in honour of a member of our society, who was about to leave us to join a Swiss mercantile house in Milan. The expenses were equally divided amongst our parents. The two open carriages that were to convey us stood ready before our doors at six o'clock on a brilliant sunny morning in August. Our mothers were up to give us our coffee before our departure, and to be sure that we were nicely dressed; and that was all the care they took about us. I had been up at dawn, to arrange my hair in the nicest order, and thought I was as elegant as a Parisian belle, in a new white muslin dress, black silk scarf, and transparent straw bonnet. Moreover, Ulmer sat opposite to me in the carriage; and, though he never told me I was very pretty, he looked as if he thought so.
We arrived at our place of destination about nine o'clock. It was a large, old, gable-ended house, which, in the last century, had been the country residence of a burgomaster; but, at this time, it belonged to a peasant, who used it as an inn. It stood on the banks of the Lake of Zurich, in the midst of the most highly cultivated scenery, yet surrounded by old forests, that reached to the edge of its orchards, then laden with fruit, and from whence there was a superb view of the upper lake, and a long range of Alps eternally covered with snow. We found an excellent breakfast of coffee, rich new milk, delicious butter, bee and pear honey, and several varieties of bread, awaiting us on a long table in the garden, to which we did honour, with much mirth and admirable appetites. The sun was very hot; and, when our repast was finished, we all agreed to wander in the neighbouring forest till dinner was ready at one o'clock. Sometimes we beguiled the time by singing in chorus, sometimes by different games, and, at last, we happily discovered a large bed of hurtle berries, and found ample occupation in gathering the fruit for one another. Yet this did not spoil our appetites for dinner, which we ate in what had been the old burgomaster's best parlour. The young men drank, at least, a bottle of wine and a bottle of beer each; yet, as both were very weak, their spirits were only agreeably elevated. We then had coffee, and the gentlemen smoked and played at bowls without their coats, whilst the young ladies admired their skill.
It was near sunset when we re-entered the carriages to return home, and a merry drive we had, for our esquires sang in chorus the whole way. But I believe none had been so truly, so
entirely happy, as Ulmer and myself. He had found an opportunity of openly declaring his attachment, and I, for my part, first knew what it was to be thoroughly in love.
My mother never sought my confidence; her mind was fully occupied by her household concerns. She never seemed to remember that a young daughter might have need of her guidance and her counsel. In fact, I was left entirely to follow my own pleasure, when I had fulfilled certain duties that were expected of me. One of these was the boiling down about two hundred pounds of fine fresh butter, for winter consumption in the cooking of vegetables, and the frying of all kinds of cakes, meat, and omelettes.
It is a dangerous operation, even above our close kitchen fire-places, and is usually performed in enormous kettles over a fire in the open air, when it is necessary to ladle the liquid butter perpetually up and down, to prevent its boiling over. My grandmother and I were busily employed in this occupation, with each a great pan before us, at separate fires in the court-yard, on the morning after Ulmer had confessed his love, when I was suddenly startled by his approaching us. My grandmother coldly returned his salutation; and, though I blushed redder than the fire had already made me, I could scarcely answer his inquiries concerning my health after the fatigues of the previous day.
"I am going to the theatre this evening," he whispered at length; "do contrive to come."
I looked at my grandmother, to ascertain if she had heard his proposal: I looked at Ulmer, whilst he pressed me to comply with his wishes. It certainly was a most unlucky moment to choose for making love. I forgot my cauldron, the butter boiled over; in one moment the flames sprang up like a burning mountain, and with a scream I called to my grandmother to escape. But she had the presence of mind to prevent further mischief, by ladling away at her own kettle as indefatigably as ever. Ülmer dragged me back from the flames, which in another moment would have caught my dress; and, seizing a bucket of water that stood near, he was about to empty it on the blazing butter, when my grandmother screamed out, "No water, no water, or it will fly out on all sides! Take your coat, or any thing else to smother the flames!"
Ulmer probably did not admire this alternative, but, tearing down from a neighbouring line an armful of my grandmother's winter quilted petticoats, which, with fifty pairs of knit worsted stockings, were hung out to take the air, he threw the whole into the middle of the flames. The fire was extinguished; but the screams of the old lady were more violent than ever. Poor Ulmer offered many apologies, till, perceiving they only made matters worse, he left me, with a malicious smile, to get out of my difficulties as well as I could. All idea of escaping to the theatre for that night was at an end.
I observed that, whenever Ulmer afterwards made his appearance in the house, my grand
mother regarded him with a very unfriendly eye. | She frequently, likewise, gave my mother hints about the precocity of girls brought up in foreign boarding schools. "It was different in her days," she said, "when girls staid at home, and learnt their duty, and nothing but their duty."
Ah," answered my sweet mother, with a sigh, "it would have made me truly happy had I been taught music at least."
"And what good would it have done you?" inquired the old lady peevishly. "I am sure your husband wanted nothing but a pretty, obedient housekeeper, and an honourable, well-born mother for his children, when he married; so music would have been quite thrown away."
"It would have been a comfort to myself in many sad and solitary hours," she returned gently. "And would have taken up time you might have employed much better," said my grandmother, sharply. "I am sure a good mistress of a family has enough to do, to wash and dress her children, and look after her maid, and keep her silver and all her glass and china in order, and attend to the cellar, and receive the interest from the peasants who have borrowed her husband's money, and keep the accounts, and see to the cooking, and the linen, and the beds, to say nothing of darning and knitting stockings, or of the great wash, which is a serious affair."
I soon learnt that, as my grandmother said, the great wash was indeed a very serious affair. Luckily, it happened only twice a-year, for it occupied at least a fortnight, and threw the whole household into confusion. My father was the only one in the establishment who escaped without some share of the labour, but even he was not allowed to receive a visiter during the period it lasted. As there were often more than two thousand articles in the wash, three washerwomen and three ironing women were kept constantly busy. My grandmother, my mother, and myself laboured as if our bread depended upon getting up fine linen, whilst my little sister, to her great delight, staid at home from school, to hang up small articles to dry in the garret, which, in every Swiss house, is appropriated to
Yet there can be no economy in such a practice; for, to say nothing of the large provision of clothes and linen necessary for six months' use, the vast consumption of the helpers on these occasions must likewise be taken into account. Every woman brings a huge bundle of her own clothes to wash at her employer's expense; they have spirits and bread during the night, as much as they please, and each woman has six meals and three bottles of wine a-day. In addition to all this, they steal without mercy; and one old woman, in passing my father on the door step, happening to slip her foot, the basket hidden under her shawl came to the ground, and sundry bottles of wine, and soap, and candles, &c., rolled far and wide.
My father, who had long vowed vengeance against the great wash, was in a terrible rage;
and, had it not been for my grandmother, would at once have put an end to the nuisance, as he always called it. But he had not courage to inflict such a stroke upon her in her old age, and he left matters to take their course, only keeping more than ever from home, and going more than usual to the wine houses. Young as I was, I could not help remarking that such is an inevitable consequence of a man's not finding his home agreeable or amusing. My mother, who had never been out of her native town, in spite of her gentle character and natural talents, was incapable of rendering it so. She did not know how to set about it, and could have found no assistance from her neighbours. In fact, the men find it irksome, when not seeking to make love, to be obliged to make themselves agreeable in female society, and the women consider the presence of men a disagreeable restraint.
At first, after my return home, I tried to amuse my brother by music and singing, so as to keep him at home in an evening; and Ulmer came to practise trios; and I taught my little sister to waltz with them; and even my poor mother, who was a delighted spectator, sometimes joined in a chorus or dance with her son. though all seemed delighted, it did not last long. Albert's comrades laughed at him, when they heard he spent his evenings with his mother and sister, and dragged him off, night after night, to some coffee or beer house, till he gradually lost the habit of returning at all to his house, in his leisure hours, and his manners acquired a negligent rudeness, the consciousness of which made him shrink from entering all polished society. His absence likewise kept Ulmer much away; and as winter approached, I rarely saw him, except on Sunday evenings, in our Gesellschaft, or when by accident he joined me in my box when I went to the theatre with my friend Meena, whose company was thought sufficient protection. He never failed on these occasions to walk home with me, when his attendance was sanctioned by the presence of our maid Rosa, and her luminous lantern.
But maids will make their observations; and moreover in our town, they are famous for announcing such observations as soon as possible to their acquaintance in general. Many a reputation depends on their good word. In fact, a solitary servant, who with us is commonly on very familiar terms with her mistress, and is too old to hope to marry, has little to amuse her but the affairs of the family where she serves, which it is her chief relaxation to recount to all the maids of the neighbourhood, whom she meets when she goes to wash her salad or her linen, at the public fountain. The fountain, without exaggeration, may be called the maids' coffee-house, for there the affairs of the whole town are discussed without respect to persons, the most petty scandal is eagerly recounted and greedily devoured, the characters of all the masters and mistresses in the town decided, and their private weaknesses and real qualities better understood, than by their most intimate friends of their own class.