Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

seem to be established in Germany, erous, intelligent, industrious; but in and chiefly from a want, on the part order that he should act the part of the middle classes, of a perma- here assigned to him, he has more of nent, steadfast, and intelligent ap- the Master Pliable in his composition preciation of themselves ; at least than is consistent with so much so we gather.

good sense and resolution as he in In executing his purpose the general displays, and is at all times author sets before us two pictures, accredited with. He is a clerk in the merchant, his domestic life and the merchant's counting-house, and his honourable activity; and the not indifferent to the merchant's nobleman and his family, with their young sister, Sabine, the sweet doelegance and instability. The repre- mestic spirit who presides over his sentative of nobility, as might be ex- well-ordered household ; but he is pected, is a very weak man. He is also introduced to the family of the not, however, portrayed here in the Baron, and falls under the influence dark colours in which the con- of that charm of manner which disdemned aristocrat is often made to tinguishes refined society. The sister figure. The Baron Von Rothsattel of the merchant and the daughter is a man of honourable sentiments, of the Baron exercise an alternate courteous, urbane, attached to his and apparently an equal influence wife and children: he has rather the over his affections. Prompted by a weaknesses than the vices attributed generous impulse, he, for a time, to his class. He would have passed forsakes his career as a merchant to through life very creditably if some become the agent of a bankrupt demon had not whispered to him— nobleman. It will be seen at once that he too might get rich and make that Anton is one of those heroes money. And here the observation will who is in some measure sacrificed occur to the reader that the Baron is to the exigencies of the plot. He is brought into disadvantageous compa- as good and consistent as the story rison with the merchant, by becom- permits, and no reasonable hero could ing himself a man of commerce, for require more than this of the novelist which career his previous education who creates him. had unfitted him. He makes a Ostrau ”-it is thus our novel opens wretched man of business ; in plain -" is a small town near the Oder, celewords, acts like a fool ; and, from brated even as far as Poland for its acting like a fool, is led, as is gene- gymnasium and its gingerbread. In this rally the case, to act dishonourably. patriarchal spot had dwelt for many It is the nobleman building a factory, years the accountant-royal

, Wohlfart, an and under the influence of crafty enthusiastically, loyal subject, and a men who take advantage of his ig. hearty lover of his fellow-men--with one norance and his love of gain to lead life, and his wife and he lived in a small

or two exceptions. He married late in him into ruin, that is here por- house, the garden of which he himself trayed. The character is natural kept in order. For a long time the happy enough, but it is hardly a fair repre- pair were childless; but at length came sentative of the class. If we wish to a day when the good woman, having portray the bourgeois, we take him smartened up her white bed-curtains in his own element; we do not paint with a broad fringe and heavy tassels, him as the bourgeois gentilhomme. disappeared behind them amidst the apIf we would describe a nobleman, probation of all her female friends. It we do not seize the moment when

was under the shade of those white bedhe has allied himself with usurers,

curtains that the hero of our tale was and is building a tall brick chimney

born." under the windows of his country- Never surely was hero ushered into seat.

the world in a more delicate and But before we proceed further mysterious manner. We ought to either with the Baron or the mer- be thankful for this new formula for chant, we must introduce the young the expression of so old-fashioned an hero of the piece (Anton), who acts event. “ To disappear behind the as the link of connection between fringed curtains and the heavy tasthe two. Anton is a good youth, gen- sels!”–

-we recommend the phrase


to all our euphuistic friends. But him, mounted on a black pony, and the progeny thus delicately intro- using her parasol as a whip. This is duced upon the scene is destined, Lenore, the Baron's daughter. She before he comes to man's estate, to had seen Anton from the balcony; lose both parents. We see him about and when he stole away from the the age of eighteen an orphan lad, lilac-trees, she, by way of sport, had on his way to the capital of the pro- given chase. She accosts our youth, vince, provided with a letter of in- and is pleased with the ingenuous troduction to one Schröter, a mer- delight and admiration he exhibits; chant.

shows him the garden, plucks strawAs he travels on foot, he is tempt- berries for him, rows him across a ed to diverge from the highway, little lake in her own boat, and leaves and finds that the meadow-path he him in a state of ecstatic bewilderhas chosen conducts to the private ment. grounds of the Baron Von Roth- His ecstasy is interrupted by the sattel.

harsh voice of a youth of his own “He now found himself in a planta. age, Veitel Itzig, a Jew, who plays tion with neatly-gravelled paths. As he a conspicuous part in the drama that went on, it more and more assured the follows. Itzig also is journeying character of a garden ; a sudden turn, from Ostrau to the capital (Breslau, and he stood on a grass plot, and saw a we presume, capital of the province gentleman's seat, with two side-towers of Silesia) to make his fortune. He and a balcony, rise before him; vines has rather peculiar ideas how a forand climbing roses ran up the towers, tune is to be made. He does not and beneath the balcony was a vestibule dream that the capital is paved with well filled with flowers. In short, to our gold, but he has dreams of old cupAnton, brought up as he had been in a small town, it all appeared beauteous boards, in which forgotten title-deeds and stately in the extreme. He sat

have been stowed away, or of mystedown behind a bushy lilac, and gave rious secrets which, if once discovered, himself up to the contemplation of the will put the owners of large estates scene. How happy the inhabitants must in your power. Some secret there be! how noble, how refined ! A certain must be for getting rich, or how have respect for everything of acknowledged men risen from poverty like his own distinction and importance was innate to enormous wealth ? Such secret in the son of the accountant ; and when, he means to learn in the capital ; and in the midst of the beauty around him, if the devil is there to teach and sell his thoughts reverted to himself, he felt it upon

the old terms, it is plain that utterly insignificant-a species of social pigmy scarcely visible to the naked eye.

Veitel Itzig is prepared to purchase; For some time he sat and looked in

and it is equally plain that if young perfect stillness; at last the picture Itzig's soul is to be the purchaseshifted. A lovely lady came out on the money, the devil will have a very balcony, clad in white summer attire, sorry bargain: he will be buying with white lace sleeves, and stood there what is already his own. We shall like a statue. When a gay paroquet afterwards see that Itzig does learn flew out of the room and lighted on her the secret of getting rich, and that hand, Anton's admiration went on in the devil appears to him in the form creasing. But when a young girl fol

of an old villanous broken-down lowed the bird, and wound her arms round the lovely lady's neck, and the lawyer, who teaches him the mysteparoquet kept wheeling about them, and

ries of bill-broking, and how to comperching, now on the shoulder of one, mit every sort of fraud, without and then on that of the other, his feel coming under the jurisdiction of the ing of veneration became such that he criminal law. Cunning, utter absence blushed decply, and drew back further of every kind of scruple, untiring into the lilac trees' shadows.

Then, energy in fraud, a heart and a head with his imagination filled by what he that neither of them ever ache-this had seen, he went with elastic step along is the infallible recipe for wealth the broad walk, hoping to find a way of which the devil now sells to those exit."

who are disposed to purchase. He had not proceeded far before The two youths enter the capital the younger of these ladies overtook together ; Anton to tread a quite

[ocr errors]


Could you

different path to wealth – that of Bernhard. 'I am sure you must often cheerful industry, which is as con

feel business very prosaic.' stantly profitable to society as to him

“ That I deny, was the eager reply; who practises it. He is installed in 'I know nothing so interesting as busiSchröter's counting-house and ware

We live amidst a many-coloured house. He is surrounded by huge web of countless threads, stretching stores of groceries, collected from all with man. When I place a sack of coffee

across land and sea, and connecting man parts of the world, to be distributed in the scales, I am weaving an invisible to the various shopkeepers of Ger- link between the colonist's daughter in many. He finds even some scope for Brazil who has plucked the beans, and his imagination-for that spirit of the young mechanic who drinks it for poetry, which every generous youth his breakfast; and if I take up a stick of bears in his bosom—in his highly- cinnamon, I seem to see on one side, useful employment.

the Malay who has rolled it up, and on

the other the old woman of our suburb “ The hours that he first spent in the who grates it over her pudding.'. warehouses, amidst the varied produce «You have a lively imagination, and of different lands, were fraught with a are happy in the utility of your calling. certain poetry of their own, as good, But if we seek for poetry, we must, like perhaps,

as any other. There was a large, Byron, quit civilised countries to find it gloomy, vaulted room on the ground- on the sea or in the desert.' floor, in which lay stores for the traffic “Not so,' replied Anton, pertinacious. of the day. Tuns, bales, chests, were ly; "the merchant has just as poetical expiled on each other, which every land, periences as any pirate or Arab. There every race, had contributed to fill. The

was a bankruptcy lately. floating palace of the East India Com- have witnessed the gloomy lull before pany, the swift American brig, the patri- the storm broke, the fearful despair of archal ark of the Dutchman, the stout- the husband, the high spirit of his wife, ribbed whaler, the smoky steamer, the who insisted upon throwing in her own gay Chinese junk, the light canoe of the fortune to the last dollar to save his Malay-all these had battled with winds honour, you would not say that our and waves to furnish this vaulted room.

calling is poor in passion or emotion,' A Hindoo woman had woven that mat. ting; a Chinese had painted that chest; There is in the merchant's counta Congo negro, in the service of a Vir- ing-house a certain Von Fink, a ginian planter, had looped those canes volunteer clerk, as he is called, an over the cotton bales; that square block aristocrat by birth, who is in his preof zebra-wood had grown in the primeval sent position for the sake of acquirforests of the Brazils, and monkeys and ing a knowledge of commerce. Von bright-hued parrots had chattered among Fink's social status will appear an its branches. Anton would stand long in this ancient hall, after Mr Jordan's enigma to the English reader, for he lessons were over, absorbed in wonder emerges from the groceries of Schröand interest, till roof and pillars seemed ter's warehouse to take a leading transformed to broad-leaved palm-trees, place in fashionable life. He is å and the noise of the streets to the roar prime favourite with the aristocratic of the sea —a sound he only knew in his circle. It is as if a young gentleman dreams; and this delight in what was should step out of Fortnum and foreign and unfamiliar never wore off, Mason's, where he had been plying but led him to become, by reading, inti- the pen all the morning, to be the mately acquainted with the countries favourite companion of fashionable whence all these stores came, and with loungers in the clubs of St James's the men by whom they were collected.”

Street, or the most acceptable of The poetical aspect which trade visitors to those ladies whose balls may be made to assume is a favourite and concerts are recorded in the topic with our author, and the trans- Morning Post. But what may be lator has fully entered into the spirit an impossibility in London, may be of the original, as may be seen by an ordinary occurrence in Breslau ; the passage we have just quoted.. Å and the mysterious Von may render little further on, Anton is talking pardonable the ledger and the scales. with a young friend.

It may give a certain caste, which, “ • But how poor in vivid sensations attaching to the person, cannot be our civilised existence is,' rejoined lost, even if our social Brahmin


should become the most useful and Our young merchant, it is evident, industrious of men. We accept the is in danger of being led astray by account of this noble volunteer clerk another kind of poetry than that with the modesty which a foreigner which he had detected in the undershould display on_such occasions. ground vaults of Schröter's wareWhether Herr Von Fink, in this and house. But he breaks manfully from some other peculiarities, is a probable the temptation, and betakes himself personage, he is, at all events, an with renewed zeal to the business of amusing one. He carries everything the firm ; and new events occur before him ; even the heart of the which enable him to render a great gentle Sabine has not resisted his personal service to his principal—no influence. Through his instrumen- less than that of saving his life. tality, and by a maneuvre which we One fine morning news is brought cannot stop to explain, Anton is in that there is a revolution in Poland, troduced to aristocratical society, and and that the bordering provinces are again encounters Lenore and the disturbed. Now the firm had lately Baron and Baroness of Rothsattel. despatched a very large quantity of Uuder some vague impression that goods, filling many waggons, into an interesting secret rests over the Gallicia, one of the disturbed districts. birth and prospects of our hero, a Schröter hears the news with great certain Frau Von Baldereck invites calmness, but he is resolved, neverhim to her party : he is soon dancing theless, to rescue his property, if with Lenore.

possible, from the lawless hands of 6 A distinguished-looking pair,' cried the insurgents. He starts the next Frau Von Baldereck, as Anton and day for Gallicia. He takes Anton Lenore whirled past.

with him. The “Polish question,”

. ** She talks too much to him,' said we may remark, as viewed by a the Baroness to her husband, who hap- German merchant, is the question pened to join her.

whether an industrious middle class *** To him?' asked be ; 'who is the shall arise in Poland by the immigrayoung man ? I have never seen the

tion and influence of the German, or face before.'

whether a Polish aristocracy shall "" He is one of the adherents of Herr Von Fink-he is alone here-has rich

continue to rule over a multitude of relatives in Russia or America ; I do not

serfs and Jews. It is a very different like the acquaintance for Lenore.' question from what is sometimes agi

" Why not?' replied the Baron ; "he tated on our noisy platforms. As looks a good innocent sort of youth, and the two are riding together, the meris far better suited for this childs' play chant observes to his young comthan the old boys that I see around. panion,There is Bruno Tönnchen, whose only pleasure is to make the girls blush, or " There is no race so little qualified teach them to leave off blushing. Lepore to make progress, and to gain civilisation looks uncommonly well to-night. I am and culture in exchange for capital, as going to my whist ; send for me when the Slavonic. All that those people the carriage is ready.'

yonder have in their idleness acquired • Anton heard none of these com- by the oppression of the ignorant masses, ments upon himself; and if the hum of they waste in foolish diversions. With the company around had been as loud us only a few of the specially privileged as that of the great bell of the city's classes act thus, and the nation can bear highest steeple, he would not have heard with it if necessary.

But there the it better! For him the whole world had privileged classes claim to represent the shrunk to the circle round which he and people. As if nobles and mere bondshis partner revolved. The beautiful men could ever form a State! They fair head so near his own that sometimes have no more capacity for it than that they touched, the warm breath that Alight of sparrows on the hedge! The played on his cheek, the unspeakable worst of it is that we must pay for their charm of the white glove that hid her luckless attempt.' small hand, the perfume of her handker- ““They have no middle class,' rechief, the red flowers fastened to her joined Anton proudly. dress-these he saw and felt; all be- ". In other words, they have no cul. sides was darkness, barrenness, nothing. ture,' continued the merchant; 'and it

is remarkable how powerless they are VOL, LXXXIII.--NO, DVII.



[ocr errors]

to generate the class which represents but of a most noble bearing,” brave, civilisation and progress, and exalts an and somewhat coxcombical withalaggregate of individual labourers into a proceeded to the inn. State. What is here called a city is a

“ The young officer called for the mere shadow of ours; and its citizens

landlord. A fat figure with a red face have hardly any of those qualities which with us characterise commercial men


is. In the name of the government, the first class in the State.' «« « The first ?' said Anton doubtingly. said the young man.

rooms for myself and my companions !'

The host sullenly ““Yes, dear Wohlfart, the first. Ori

took up a bundle of rusty keys and a ginally, individuals were free, and, in

tallow candle, and led them to an upper the main, equal ; then came the semi

floor, wifere he opened the door of a barbarism of the privileged idler and the labouring bondsman.

It is only

damp room, and morosely declared that

he had no other for them. since the growth of our large towns that the world boasts civilised States-only your best wine,' said the merchant; 'we

' Bring us supper and a bottle of since then is the problem solved, which

pay well, and at once: proves that free labour alone makes

This announcement occasioned a national life noble, sécure, and per

visible improvement in the mood of the manent.'"

fat landlord, who even made an unHere we have the key-note, as it successful attempt to be polite. The were, of the whole work.

mercbant next asked for the waggons

The ride through the disturbed districts is

and waggoners. These questions were

At first, Bonivery graphically described. When evidently unwelcome. the travellers arrive at the town them, declaring that there were a great

face pretended to know nothing about where they expect to find the wag- many waggons coming and going in his gons, they are led before the autho- courtyard, and that there were several rities of a provisional government. waggoners, too, but that he did not know The heads of this provisional govern- them. ment, concluding that the merchant It was in vain that the merchant was the bearer of some secret pro- tried to make him understand the obposal from the Prussian Court, treat ject of his coming; the landlord remained him with much respect, and when obtuse, and was about to relapse into

his former moroseness, when the young they hear that he positively comes

Pole came forward and informed Mr only on private business of his own, Schröter that this was not the way of and to recover his own property, they dealing with such people. He then still, with the courtesy of gentlemen faced the landlord, called him all manwho are anxious that their political ner of hard names, and declared that he cause should not be degraded by the would arrest and carry him off on the acts of a plundering mob, manifest spot, unless he at once gave the most a desire to serve him to the best of exact information. their power. A young Polish officer “ The landlord looked timidly at the is deputed to accompany him in his officer, and begged to be allowed to search after the waggons and their retire, and send up one of the waggoners. valuable cargo. The description of

“Soon a lanky figure with a brown this young Pole, and of the manner

felt hat came lumbering up-stairs, started in which he domineers over the

at the sight of the merchant, and at last

announced, with pretended cheerfulness, plebeian class, is very striking. that there he was !

The waggons, it appeared, had Where are the waggons ? Where arrived in the town the very day the are the bills of lading ?' insurrection had broken out, and “ The waggons were in the courtyard. they had been taken into the court- The bills were reluctantly produced yard of an inn. The landlord of the from the dirty leather purse of the inn, being resolved to take advantage waggoner. of the disorder of the times, had

“You guarantee me that your load bribed the waggoners, and had al-remains complete and undisturbed ?'

asked the merchant. ready begun to appropriate the con

The felt hat ungraciously replied tents of the waggons. The merchant

that could do nothing of the kind. and Anton, accompanied by the The horses had been unharnessed, and Polish officer-"a slight youth, with hid in a secret stable, that they might a large scarf, almost a child in years, not be confiscated by the government ;

« AnteriorContinuar »