Puslapio vaizdai

stealing it from the Baron's forest to buying of him. | is no other in all the country round. A new plan was The offer was refused, although he would have lowered quickly formed. I built this house for the reception of his first demand of nine to seven thousand gulders. visiters, and advertised the healing properties of the The Baron was quite at a loss what to do with his new spring in all the newspapers. It succeeded beyond all sequisition, and went to ask advice of Pastor Bode, who my expectations; the visiters were so numerous that in referred him to me as the person in Hard most likely a few years I was obliged to add wings to the bathingto give him proper counsel. He came, and the thought house. My capital yielded me a high interest. I porsaddenly occurred to me to buy the wood myself. My tioned off more than three hundred acres into small plan was ready in a few minutes. I could not be a farms, and built houses upon them, for which I had laser... The Baron swore at the whole business; he lime, sand, and wood gratis, and every house had its wanted, above all things, to be rid of the trouble, and at tenant ready as soon as it was finished. I chose, in last declared that if I could find him a purchaser he preference to all others, skilful artisans, who were either should have the wood for six thousand. I told him at wanted by the water-drinking guests, or were not easily once that I would buy it myself if he would accept the found in the neighbourhood. I took care that the half in ready money, and allow me reasonable time to leases should be sufficiently advantageous to the tenpay the other half, with a moderate rate of interest. ant, to give him a real interest in the success of my He stared, first at me, and then at my naked school- colony. I was lawgiver as well as landlord, and my room; but people soon come to an understanding when indulgence on some points and inexorable severity on both parties mean to do so. The bargain was soon others, where the integrity of my colonists was construck, and the necessary instruments drawn up. I cerned, were so well known, that my regulations were drew my outstanding capital of four thousand guilders submitted to without hesitation. Look behind you, from my native city; paid out of my pocket a yearly dear Röden, at those buildings, fourteen in number, sum equivalent to the interest of it, which, if you re- which stand on the rising ground by the side of the member, I had destined for the support of my guar- forest. That is my colony. dian's daughter, and the Baron received the promised moiety immediately.

The whole village was up in arms at the news, of my purchase. No doubt I was supposed to have found the philosopher's stone. I was laughed at for my folly, nevertheless, and many rejoiced beforehand in the expectation that I had certainly over-reached myself in my bargain.

The laughter did not very greatly disturb my equanimity. I hired wood-cutters, and a few experienced makers of potash, bought tubs and cauldrons, built furnaces for the calcining, and transformed the fine beech wood into potash. My projects extended themselves. One of my best friends in the village was a young man named Lebrecht, an active, intelligent fellow, who had often assisted me in the school. I now made it over to him entirely, with the income, such as it was, and procured a ratification of the appointment from the Commission. The only share I retained was the story-telling lesson, as it might be called. The school-house I gave up entirely to my successor, and built a temporary abode in the forest, to be near my workmen. I had cottages built for them also, which could be tenanted in winter; and thus commenced a new mode of life, pretty much like that of a settler in the back woods of America. The Harders shook their heads at my foolish undertaking, while one acre after another was changed into potash. In a year some hundreds of acres were cleared. My potash found a rapid sale, and thus the old, impenetrable beech forest, snugly packed in barrels, wandered to all parts of the world. The half of the produce was more than sufficient to pay the remainder of the purchase-money; the Baron was paid sooner than I expected, and I had besides some capital in hand, and the land. I now set to work upon a more substantial dwelling for myself, with barns and outhouses. I bought cattle, laid out the land in pasture and arable land, and so turned farmer as well as potash maker. In draining some part of the meadows, I discovered a spring. In testing its fitness for domestic purposes, I found it was mineral, There



Among the yearly visiters to the waters, some of the authorities of the land were occasionally to be found, to whom I became known. Had I been dressed like one of themselves, my acquirements would certainly have raised no astonishment, but in one clothed in the coarse garments of a peasant, they were esteemed something wonderful. I passed, moreover, for an opulent man, and these two circumstances procured my appointment as Schulze in Hard, on the death of the old one, in spite of all the ancient inhabitants could say against it. My new dignity gave me as much joy, as under other relations, the post of Prime Minister could have done. I was now in the position I had long desired, and my sphere of action exactly what I wished it to be. I was no stranger to the ingratitude of the Harders, but what else was to be expected from a people so poverty-stricken, ignorant, lazy, and stupid? I must humanise them before I could look for humaner and nobler feelings from them.

I immediately began to work out my projects. Pastor Bode and the schoolmaster Lobrecht were zealous co-operators. Even a Schulze, I continued my narrative lessons to the youth of the village. It was too powerful an engine in my scheme of moral reformation to be neglected. Eight years' experience had rendered me familiar with the chief sources of mischief in Hard, and I hastened to destroy them. One of the greatest was the litigious spirit of the people. They went to law about everything. I took upon myself to be attorney, in defiance of the attornies, and examined those local regulations which most nearly concerned my peasants, and were most fertile in stuff for lawsuits. ↑ A good many I put an end to by amicable arrangement, and the number of my clients increased daily. My office enabled me continually to detect and frustrate the artifices by which provincial advocates often fermented and kept alive the foolish squabbles of the poor ignorant


people for their own advantage. This alone was an immeasurable advantage for the village. In the midst of all these official labours, something occurred to me of which I had certainly often thought, but never before felt something which turned my head for a time, and put an effectual stop to my reformations.

One day I drove a waggon myself with a freight of potash to Berg, a market town about twelve miles from Hard, and where my agent for the sale of it lived. In the waggon I had also a sack of beans, which fell from it as I drove into Berg. A lad who was passing directed my attention to my loss. I ran back, and hoisted the sack on my shoulders to replace it in the waggon. At that moment a very pretty girl, whose dress announced her an inhabitant of Berg, came up with me. I do not know how I looked at her or how she looked at me, but I felt the strongest sensation I had ever experienced in my life. While I was staring like a booby, I lost my hat, and, encumbered as I was, I could not stoop to recover it. The beauty saw my embarrassment, and turning back with the best-hearted smile in the world, picked up the hat and gave it to me. To this day I do not know how I thanked her, or whether I thanked her at all. The smile bewitched me so that I could think of nothing else, and am only surprised how I found my way to my agent's.

In the house of the agent a room was always reserved for me, because in my frequent journeys to and fro, I found it sometimes convenient to remain the night in Berg. I might as well have gone back this time, but I did not. I staid in the hope of seeing my little beauty again, and never left the window commanding a view of the main street till I was called to dinner.

As I entered the room where the dinner was served, who should I see but the very object of my thoughts standing by the table; she was evidently preparing to dine with us. The post of honour at the upper end was assigned to me, and the fair stranger placed herself opposite to me. Frau Diedrich, the agent's wife, said something to me, to which I replied, “good, they are exquisite." "Good heavens! how sorry I am you did not come last week," exclaimed the good lady, "we had some much better." "Much better!" said I, bewitched. Frau Diedrich was talking about the carp, and I of the black eyes of the maiden. The fair girl smiled, and looked down.

"Lieber Himmel Herr Schulze, I don't think you heard a word I said?" said my hostess. "Let the matter alone, wife," said the agent, rising to fetch his pipe. "Herr Schulze is a learned man: he

was star-gazing."

"Who is your new companion ?" I seized the first moment of asking, when the beautiful stranger had withdrawn.

"She is no companion of mine," replied Frau Diedrich; "she is a poor girl whom my sister the Pastorinn Muller has brought up. My brother-in-law is lately dead, and my sister being obliged to leave the vicarage, has sent her to me till she is settled again."

"Poor, is she? So much the better for me, thought I. "Then I may hope I am not poor. I am not more than three and thirty, and not so bad-looking." But then I looked again at the delicate town-bred girl, and then at myself-a potash-maker, in my peasant's blouse! My courage sank a hundred fathoms deep,

[ocr errors]

Passing by the kitchen, I saw my beauty, with an apron before her, busy over the fire, and the thermometer rose a little. She looked as if performing an accustomed duty. In the evening, as I was sitting alone in my room, I heard something knocking like a knife on a chopping board. I listened again, and recognised the sound of a detestable old harpsichord, with about as much tone as a tin kettle, and horribly out of tune into the bargain. Thinking it was one of Diedrich's boys amusing himself, I opened the door between, and entered abruptly. Lo, and behold! there sat the fair maiden again, alone! and the room was evidently the one appropriated to her use for the time. She started and coloured at my unceremonious entry, and so did I. I seemed destined to appear before her in some awkward guise or other. Now the mischief was done, I could only make the best excuse I could think of, and beg permission to try my skill at tuning the old harpsichord. She consented: I brought it into something like order, and was rewarded by hearing her play, which she did with great taste and feeling. The tin kettle sounded like the music of the spheres. She expressed some surprise to find me musical, and, afterwards, that I could, unlike most country people, speak of anything else than country matters.

"Are the country people all so learned with you, Mr. Schulze ?" asked she, with her gentle smile.

I do not know what I answered. The smile and the glance of her black eyes took away my breath and my senses for the time. The poor child seemed to have but little to amuse her in Diedrich's house, for on my asking her to walk out with me, she was ready in a moment. The walk did her good: her features lost a certain tinge of melancholy which I had admired as the greatest of charms till I saw the same features lighted up with smiles, and then I found gladness best became them. At supper, she sat opposite to me again; and after supper, we went to the old harpsichord again. This was too much. I never closed my eyes that night. The morning star found me as wakeful as the evening had left me. Lovers reckon by the stars, because they hover in spirit above the earth while they are lovers. I fancied I must be ill, and so I told Diedrich, and made that the excuse for remaining the whole day at Berg. My dear little neighbour had abundance of compassion for me, and did her best to amuse me. she sung to me, or talked or walked with me, the headache I complained of left me, but my heart-ah, friend Röder! When I returned to Hard, on the third day, I was absolutely miserable. I thought I was going to die, and I believe I made some verses to the moon!


My official duties began to be terribly importunate, and, I am afraid, were very indifferently performed the week after my visit to Berg. On the other haud, I was seized with a sudden zeal for beautifying my house, and had many things done which had hitherto appeared to me extremely superfluous. I even bought an excellent piano, which I found on sale in a neighbouring town. This was hardly to be called a superfluity, but I had not felt inclined to cultivate my musical talents the whole eight or nine years I had spent at Hard with half the zeal as since my visit to Berg. The next time I drove over, I bestowed a little more attention on my dress, and when I caught sight of the church tower of Berg behind the pine wood, I could almost hear my heart beat.

Diedrich and his wife received me with their wonted Man's heart and hands can accomplish great things cordiality, and their sweet friend returned my awkward | in the stir and tumult of the world. Women is powergreeting with a smile and a blush that looked almost like pleasure at seeing me again.

The harpsichord wanted tuning again, and while I was doing it, I mentioned my purchase of a new piano, and expressed ʼn hope that I should here her play on it some day, and that was all I said. We went out to walk, and among the thousand things we talked about, the thing I wished most to say was exactly what I did not and could not say.

*Shall you be here again next week?" asked she, when she gave me her hand at parting. We were alone, and yet like an idiot, as I was, I could find no answer, but..." On Thursday certainly," as if I had been talking only to Frau Diedrich.

All the way home I had employment enough in quarrelling with myself, and vowing in my heart to acquit myself the ensuing week somewhat less like a simpleton.

My home was no longer as it had been to me. I wandered through my colony. I looked at my own creation, on the testimony of a resolute purpose, resolutely pursued. I saw it was right, but it did not rejoice me; I could not look on my work and say "that it was good." | Beyond the right and useful, something was wanting, something higher, and that lay beyond my power. My work wanted consecration; as yet, in my little world, the "beautiful" was not! And the beautiful is everywhere the reflected light of Love; when hallowing the earthly, it reveals itself to earth.

This week that passed before I went to Berg again, was certainly longer than the whole eight years I had spent in Hard. This time I found courage to say that the time had appeared immeasurably long since I had seen her, and she answered innocently, "I am very glad when you come: I am so lost here. It is a pleasure to meet any one with whom we can sympathise.” And hereupon we were both silent, perhaps, because I took her hand and drew it within my arm, at these words; a freedom I had never ventured on before. I did, however, find courage enough, after a while, to say, that "I should have thought it more likely that she would find here and everywhere hearts only too ready to sympathise with her's," to which she answered nothing, and I was as well satisfied that she did not.

less in its troubled strife, yet nobler in her weakness, because more alien to the mere earthly than man. She sanctifies him through her love, awakens in him the sense of the beautiful, and she alone has received from Heaven the gift of crowning his brow with the wreath of vietory. For men can never reward men for the struggle and the conquest. All that men can accomplish alone may be great, but it is loveless, just in its purpose, but austere in aspect. Man's only exclusive work is red-handed war. Woe to that world where love is not!



I lodged my guests in the Baths, with a private hint to the landlord and his wife to amuse and occupy Diedrich and his wife as much as possible, that I might keep Augusta exclusively to myself. Frau Diedrich was scandalised at the humility of my household arrangements, and could not understand why I did not "live better," as she phrased it. "I might easily do so," I answered, looking at the only person to whom I was desirous of recommending my humble dwelling, "but it is not necessary to my happiness. I will do without unnecessary necessaries, that I may have wherewith to supply the real ones."

Diedrich shook his head, and merely replied, "Herr Schulze, you are a humourist." But the beloved one looked on me with sparkling eye and kindling cheek. "Where such spotless neatness reigns, who would seek or desire other adornment ?" cried she. "When health and contentment are the companions, who asks whether they sit at a table of beechen wood or mahogany?—if they are served on earthenware, or from porcelain and silver ?” I pressed the hand of my sweet advocate in silent gratitude, and led her through every part of my domain; she had understanding and sympathy for all, and while her eyes wandered over the wide spreading prospect, rich in fruit and promise, her heart seemed to swell within her, her eyes filled with tears-" This is heavenly,” she murmured.

"And will you forsake it then ?" said I; "will it be heavenly to me when you are gone?" She was silent, as if she did not understand me. "Oh remain. Where else would you be loved and cherished as you are loved and cherished here? Be mine! For me there is no "Ihappiness without you. You are an orphan; if I may hope to win your heart, who shall refuse me your hand ?”

When we returned to the house, I invited Diedrich and his wife to come over to Hard and look at my new buildings. "That we will gladly," answered he. want to give Miss Angusta a day's pleasure before she goes back next week;" and here he handed her a letter from his sister-in-law, her protectress.

"And are you really going to leave us?" I asked her, as she sat at the old harpsichord in the evening. Her hands dropped into her lap-" I must, my foster-mother has sent for me."

I thought I saw a tear sparkle through her long eyelashes, and ventured to press her hand to my lips, when we parted for the night.

On my return to Hard, Diedrich and his whole family accompanied me. And when I was once more at home, and saw that home lighted by her bright presence, sunshine and joy were in me and around me! My work was hallowed by the breath of love. The good was wedded to the beautiful,

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

left him, provided me with suitable protection, gave me an education-any good that may be in me is his work. I owe him every breath I draw, I honour him as my second father. Where to find him I know not, for, like the Providence that blesses us unseen, he has never been visible to my gratitude; two letters I wrote to him remain unanswered; yet my determination is unalterable never to accept the hand of any man without asking and obtaining his approbation."

“And his name?” asked I, breathless with expectation. "His name is Engelbert." "And yours is Augusta Lenz." She looked at me with surprise. I took her hand and led her back into the house, into my study, and took from the drawer of my desk two letters which I laid before her.

"Good heavens, how did these letters fall into your hands, Mr. Schulze,” exclaimed Augusta, as she recognised her own hand-writing. "I am Engelbert," was all I could say. In spite of all I could do to hinder her, Augusta sunk on her knees before me, seized my hands, and covered them with tears and kisses.

"Let me, let me," she sobbed, resisting my efforts to raise her. "How I have longed for this moment, when I could pour out my whole heart before my benefactor, my only friend."

But I need say no more, my friend; you will guess how I answered, and how I sped in my wooing. From that moment began the real happiness of my life—a happiness that has never known pause or hindrance in its course, nor will, I hope and trust, till the hearts of both are stilled in death.

You may perhaps be surprised that we did not become sooner known to each other, and yet the cause was very simple. My agent Diedrich had never called me by any other name than my official one, as the people hereabouts are wont to do, and Augusta, who was a stranger to Hard and its relations, had taken it for granted that “ Herr Schulze" bore only his family name, and no very uncommon one either.

Whatever Frau Diedrich could say against the irregularity of such a proceeding, I empowered my good friend, Pastor Bode, to publish the banns forthwith. Augusta had given me a double right, in admitting my authority as guardian to its full extent, to insist on her leaving Hard no more. To the good woman who had charge of my bride, she wrote by my desire, ensuring to her the yearly sum she had hitherto received as the price of Augusta's maintenance, and which she was not in circumstances to spare without inconvenience. Diedrich and his wife remained with Augusta my guests at the Baths. As bride, I invested her with the full authority of the future mistress, to order and arrange all within and without the house, according to her own pleasure. What a week we passed! second only in felicity to those we have known since.

On the day of our wedding, my kind and gentle Augusta made her appearance, not in the extravagant and somewhat ridiculous finery of a town bride, but in the simple and unpretending costume suitable to the wife of a village Schulze-the guide and associate of peasants, over whom she claimed no other superiority but the undisputed and undisputable one of greater knowledge and virtue.

A fortnight after this, Pastor Bode joined our hands at the altar.


[ocr errors]

A FORTUNATE MISFORTUNE, 109 buon Augusta's diligence and skill in domestic arrangements spared me many a care. Freed from all anxiety for my private affairs, I could devote myself the more entirely to the weightier duties of my office, na, I had been about two years married, when the terrible day came which reduced, all Hard to ashes. The conflagration had its origin in some very usual but unpardonable piece of carelessness, on the part of one of the inhabitants. All help was useless. The good peo, ple of Hard stood by stupified and totally inactive, while others from the neighbouring villages were exert ing themselves to the utmost to save their cattle and farming stock. There were not half a dozen houses | left standing.


The blow was a heavy one; the people were too ignorant and lazy to be otherwise than poor; the aid afforded by Government scanty, when measured by the The sufferers looked at one another in helpless consternation; the greatness of the calamity had robbed them not only of their property but of their heads and their hands, such as they were, I alone did not despair-nay, even saw ground for hope, from the very extent of the misfortune. All were now alike poor. They must work, if they meant to eat.

As soon as it became a question of rebuilding the vil lage, I delivered a memorial to the Government, in which I endeavoured to prove that a great advantage might accrue to the community of Hard, if such exchanges were effected between the owners of the land as to fix every man in the centre, or nearly so, of his own portion. By this means, not only would the danger of a similar catastrophe be considerably lessened, but, what was of yet more consequence, a fruitful source of dispute and litigation would be cut off, by the comparative isolation of the proprietors. My plan was approved of, and a commission appointed to effect the necessary exchanges, at the head of which I was placed, in spite of the mur murs and opposition of the Harders. The business was arranged at last, but not without considerable difficulty; and every man's portion of land brought within a ring. fence. The grand want at present was of timber for building. There was none fit for the purpose to be procured but from a considerable distance, and consequently at an enormous price; and many were the lamentations that Baron von Lesecke's forests had not been purchased when he offered them ten years before.

I now caused the remainder of my timber to be felled, and sold it at the most moderate price, without requiring immediate payment. The greater part I allowed to remain over for two years, without interest. To many persons I advanced money. The Government did its part. For the poorest of all, liberal collections were made among the guests at the baths. In little more than a year, the village rose from its ashes in scattered dwellings, as you now see it. As a further se curity against fire, I had public ovens built, apart from the dwelling houses; better engines provided, and a well dug near every house. I had the water from my own lands, and those of others situate on the heights, conducted into one common channel, and directed toward the waste common land. Here the great canal was divided into a number of smaller canals, passing through

the meadows, the fertility of which was increased threefeld, by artificial inundation. The fields and gardens around soon showed signs of improvement. Being immediately under the eye of the owner, they were more carefully cultivated, and much valuable time spared, which had formerly been wasted in running from one outlying field to another. Poverty and necessity compelled the greater part to economy both of time and money. The public house in the village was less visited. In my inn, I allowed neither wine nor spirits to be sold. The widow of the former Schulze, who still kept the house in the village, abused me unmercifully; but I obtained my object. Had she followed my advice, and arranged her house for the reception of the water-drinkers and bathers, she might have been a much richer woman, for this house is often so full that new guests are continually obliged to leave the place for want of lodging.

It is true that the greater part of the village is still in debt to me, but their other debts are nearly acquitted, and this was the consequence of real misfortune. Our village is the most flourishing and industrious, and therefore the highest in credit in the whole country. We have no more of lawsuits, and squabbling and fighting are scarcely remembered amongst us. Many of my former scholars of both sexes are now themselves parents, and I may honestly assert are as warmly attached to me as ever. Order and cleanliness greet the eye and gladden the heart on every side.

It may have contributed in some measure to this happy change, that I remitted the interest of the sums owing to me to those who distinguished themselves the year through in the neatness of their houses and persons, the cultivation and good order of their fields, and in keeping free from quarrels and litigation. By way of encouragement to the rest, I made a gift of the whole capital due to me, to the three families who first worked themselves free from all other debt.

Engelbert had proceeded thus far in his narration, when we were interrupted by Augusta. She looked like a rose in its full pride of beauty, with all its buds clustering round. The infant was on her arm, the youngest boy clinging to her side, and the elder ones frolicking about her. What a morning greeting was there! I felt a child again among those happy children of nature. The bell for church came up through the valley. We went altogether, and I shall not easily forget the effect of the hymn of praise sung in four parts by the numerous congregation. The address of the silver-haired pastor was worthy of the rest-earnest, simple, touching-intelligible to all-practical for this life, yet teaching to look beyond it.

When the service was over, the whole community assembled under the lime trees. The Schulze spoke in a kind and friendly manner to several who addressed him, and then, mounting a bench, read some Government proclamations, and explained and cleared up some misunderstanding respecting them. When this business was over, he pointed me out with his hand to the assembly, and said "I have here an old and dear friend on a visit to me; and as I wished to give him pleasure, and also to make known to him those young people who have particularly distinguished themselves by their conduct since our last meeting, I invite them all to a dance and supper with me this evening.”

And here the Schulze read a long list of names from a paper which he held in his hand : hereupon a general whispering, hand-shaking, and smiling took place, and the assembly separated with joyous faces and sparkling eyes. The reverend pastor, the schoolmaster, Librecht, an intelligent, well-informed young countryman, possessed of considerable natural talent and an ardent thirst for knowledge, and the doctor and his wife, joined us at dinner, which, contrary to Engelbert's usual custom, was very handsome, and had been prepared at the bathing-house. I never passed a happier evening, and have rarely listened to a better concert. Seven-andforty voices, male and female, executed choruses and motells, from Grann, Handel, Rolle, and Hayden, with a purity of style and precision of tone that would not have disgraced a concert in the capital. Engelbert, his wife, and two elder boys, were among the singers. The concert was given in the open air, behind the garden of the bathing-house. The place seemed made for the purpose. A soft echo from the distant rocks sent back the harmony in magic sweetness; the evening sun shone in full splendour on the fields, and broke through the trees on the broad grassy glade where we stood, chequer ing its deep emerald with broad gleams of gold, and hovering like a glory round many a fair young head. I confess the whole scene had something inexpressibly touching to me.

O! and all this is the work of one man! thought I, gazing around me. And this man, who, wherever he moved and looked, beheld his own creation, and that it was good, stood there simple and unassuming among the rest, a peasant among peasants. When the concert was over, I clasped his hand with heartfelt emotion, and exclaimed involuntarily, "Thou art one of the really great in the rustic garb."

The evening closed with a dance in the large and handsome saloon of the dwelling-house.* Augusta was my first partner, and a very charming one I found her ; and after her, some of the prettiest of the wives and maidens of Hard. Many of them danced exceedingly well, and did infinite credit to the Frau Schulzin, who had been their only instructress. The venerable grey-haired pastor, who mingled with his flock like a grandfather among his beloved children's children, was not the least interesting person of the group. We sat at supper as chance or choice dictated. A fair young rustic, who sat next me, entertained me very agreeably and very rationally-far more so than many a fashionable damsel, whom it has been my lot to meet in circles of far higher pretensions, has done since.

As soon as my carriage was mended, and my servant in condition to travel, I left Hard. Engelbert, who considered me as his guest in a house that belonged to him, would not hear of my offering any remuneration where I had lodged. I left his village, therefore, as his debtor, with what feelings of genuine admiration and respect, I need not describe to you. You have now the history of my second Millionaire (continued Councillor Von Rödern), deduce what advantage you can for the point in dispute.

[ocr errors]

Even those among us who had defended Morn's misanthropy could not deny that Engelbert had had fully as much cause for hostility to society in general; and con

* A common practice in Germany.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »