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"DIE GEDANKEN SIND FREY."
A LEAF FROM A TRAVELLER'S NOTE-BOOK.
THE WEDDING PARTY.
THERE is no country on the European continent, where a traveller is admitted to the intimacy and knowledge of domestic life, so much as in Germany. The general kindliness of the people, the absence of pretension, the Teutonic warmth of hospitality, open hearts as well as houses to strangers; and unconscious of necessity for disguise, and undoubting reciprocal interest in their private affairs, the minor circumstances of the ménage, as well as the more important, the expectations, the prospects the wishes, of themselves and those dearest to them, are frankly and freely exhibited and detailed to any respectably introduced traveller who may have gained their regard. And very disagreeable indeed must that traveller be, with quintuple portion of either English reserve and hauteur, or other persons' (I say not whose) presumption and impudence, who cannot obtain, even on transient acquaintance, a place in the honest German's liking, as well as a seat among the happy family at his table.
Having arrived late one autumnal evening in Strasburg, which, though a frontier town, distinctly preserves its German characteristics in its German population, I had occasion next day to call on the Bankers, Heiligthal and Brothers; so taking a look at a map of the city in one of the rooms of the hotel where I slept, I set off about ten o'clock, choosing my way by the famous Cathedral; whence, while I paused for a moment to admire the Gothic grandeur of its proportions, issued a gay wedding party, soon distributed into some splendid carriages in waiting, which swept rapidly away, allowing me scarce a glimpse of a very beautiful woman whom I conjectured to be the bride.
I was about an hour finding the house of Messrs. Heiligthal, and on entering the close, dim rooms of the counting house, was accosted by a civil youthful looking clerk, sitting alone and unoccupied by a window to the street, with a
polite inquiry as to my wishes. He replied to my question by saying "the Messrs. Heiligthal are not in, sir." "Could you inform me where, or how soon I can see them?" said I. "My business is very pressing, I should like to leave Strasburg to-night." "The gentlemen have gone to the Cathedral this morning, sir. Mademoiselle Heiligthat is to be married there to the great Rosenfeld of Milan," returned the clerk, with a slight air of reflected consequence.
"Indeed," said I, "I think I saw the wedding party;-probably Messrs. Heiligthal will not be here to-day."
"They will, sir, I believe, but the family live in the country two or three miles from town, and perhaps-"
The "perhaps" of the clerk was arrested by the sound of doors opening, and feet, stout heavy steps, tramping cheerily up the staircase, loud joyous laughs, and voices, whose full honest tones spoke well-earned, well-deserved happiness, and the portly brother bankers and two principal and favorite clerks entered the apartment in which I was standing. Without waiting for more than my name, all and each warmly shook my hand, inquired in what manner they could serve me, and after looking at the letters of credit I presented, the elder Heiligthal asked if had engaged lodgings for any length of time, strongly dissuaded me from my intentions of so suddenly departing, and finally insisted I should accompany himself and brothers to his villa to dinner, to remain all night at least, if not for a few days. The heartiness and warm sincerity of their manners attracted me exceedingly; it was almost impossible to refuse; besides a lurking desire to see more of the fair bride determined me; and promising to be ready when their carriage should call at my hotel, I left the hospitable strangers, delighted with so favorable a commencement of German acquaintance.
The villa was substantially elegant, the glimpses of river views exquisite,
the grounds tastefully laid out in the English style of landscape-gardening. The interior of the mansion was worthy of the natural beauties surrounding it; in all its details evincing a sober splendor, a subdued luxury, from which you inferred wealth won and worn, not for ostentation, but for the simple and natural enjoyment of the possessor and his friends. But with the inanimate externals I have not much to do, though associated in my mind as it is with another, it was a home never to be forgotten.
In a large saloon opening on a terrace we found the bridal party assembled. The mother, Madame Heiligthal, a large comely woman whose fresh and smiling countenance declared a heart overflowing with love and benevolence, received me with even affectionate familiarity. Two young cousins, looking so fair and rosy, and innocently happy, as if ignorant that evil or sorrow might ever shadow their lives, were also especially prepared to welcome the traveller. Several ladies and gentlemen young and old, but all expressing the general felicity, were also called on by my host to bestow their civilities upon me,and make me feel in fatherland. But passing over these lesser matters, the bridegroom," the great Rosenfeld," as the young clerk styled him, an eminent Italian banker of German parentage, deserves more particular notice. He was tall, slender, pale, with large deepset intelligent eyes of sparkling greyish hue, which constantly and singularly changed and varied from the grey to a deep glowing hazel. His features were coarse, but indicative of sense and talent; he was slightly bald, and no attempt at coaxing his thinly scattering curls was tried to conceal the depredation made by time or deep thought on the honors of his high pale brow.
Beside him sat the beautiful girl who had that morning vowed to him her young unblemished faith, and sealed it with her virgin hand.
Her form was full, and gave promise of a magnificent maturity-her complexion of a rich, roseate fairness, as if a latent blush were floating beneath the lilies of her neck and bosom; her hair falling in luxuriant ringlets, partially covered by the long bridal veil, was of a pure golden brown, like wreaths of dark mist tinged by sunbeams; her blue eyes, beautiful, not so much from color, as form and expression-the long,'
languishing eye of German beauty, with a full under-eyelid, deeply fringed by dark, silken lashes, this is rare, even in the most beautiful women. Her nose was small and Grecian; her lips full and scarlet, her teeth small and brilliantly clear; and a soft, deep glow reposed on her fair cheek, which she presented to my salutation at her father's bidding, with an air of ineffable modesty, sweetness, and grace.
Dinner was announced soon after our arrival; and, seated between two merry young things at table, while attending to their gayety, I had not much opportunity of observing the principal personages of the fête. But when we all returned to the saloon of the terrace, at intervals, as I could escape from the successive attentions of this kind family, I tried to make out how a couple so dissimilar in general appearance had united in one destiny which could only be separated by the grave. There was no solution of the mystery: it was one of the inexplicable linking of sympathies not discoverable to the casual observer.
Monsieur Rosenfeld, calm, grave, seldom even smiling, was quietly courteous to all; he seemed pleased with, but did not partake in the hilarity of his new connexions, who each seemed to think he, or she, had as good a right to be father or mother to the bride, as Monsieur and Madame Heiligthal themselves. Sometimes his eyes rested for an instant, with a glance of intense devotion on his young bride, but they were quickly and coldly withdrawn, as if dreading the fervor of his feelings should be noticed by any one, however near or interested in their union.
She was less restrained in manner and expression; there was a dreamy happiness in her face, a trustfulness of love in her smile, a slow, bashful languor in her movements; yet she never, even once, that I could see or hear, looked or spoke during the evening to the beloved one beside her. It was enough for both, as it appeared, that they were conscious of inseparable union; that they breathed the same air, that they saw the same people, that they heard the same sounds; one might suppose that their joy was too unutterably deep, too overwhelming, to allow communication, by looks or words with each other.
"You see my daughter, Mr. H” said Mons. Heiligthal, seating himself
beside me, when for a moment one of the brothers had left me; "you may imagine how inexpressibly dear she is to me-judging by her beauty alone, and the sweetness of disposition breathing from her lovely face. But when I tell you she is the last of six children, (three sons, two daughters have gone to the rest of peace, I trust,) "-he reverently bowed his head-"you may well be surprised that I have consented to part with this my best earthly treasure, my dearest and fairest, to one comparatively a stranger, to live in a distant land, and possibly never to behold her beautiful face again, when the few weeks appropriated to these festivities are over."
"There it is," he answered, laughing, and clapping me on the shoulder; "no guessing, my dear friend, at what they fancy. Now the little perversity, had I proposed an elderly, bald-headed, saturnine, indifferent looking fellow to her, she would have turned up her dove eyes, and down her rose mouth, --and nothing since the days of Undine would have been so watery; but here comes this grave, sober stranger, of whose wonderful operations in the commercial world we had heard with astonishment, on some affairs of importance to Vienna-business with the Court, sir. In passing through our city, I invite him, as I have you, to my house-he comes -he eats his dinner like any other banker-he talks with me in Madame and Mademoiselle Heiligthal's presence, about the many, and to women, uninteresting secrets of finance, displaying wonderful capacity, a luminous knowledge of his métier, so far as it goes. Sometimes he pauses for an instant, and furtively glances at Mademoiselle Clotilde. Faust, my dear sir, whom it has always struck me, somehow, that he resembles, could not have had more
magical effect. Her mother found it out. On his return from Vienna he came to us again-he talked less of finance, but now, in sooth, little of anythingthere was a free-masonry, sir, between them, though that is inapplicable to a woman. However, they found one another out. It was the night before he was to leave Strasburg forever, as he said, laying an emphasis, mark ye, on the word forever. I called for a song. Clotilde had been dull, I desired her to give us a lively air, and (she has a voice like the Persian nightingale !) immediately she began one of those delicious trills of a Swiss waltz. Rosenfeld forgot he was the grave, calculating, unimpassioned banker, with Austria, Sardinia, and what not to boot upon his shoulders; he rose up hastily, not to waltz, I assure you, but to walk out on that very terrace; and there he stood, with his hands pressed on his forehead, leaning against the balustrade. Madame followed him at my suggestion, to ask if he were ill; he raised his head
the frozen heart had thawed; large tears were in those keen, speculating, gray eyes; he expressed grief at leaving. How they came to the éclaircissement I can hardly tell; but this you may believe, my dear sir, in affairs of such nature, even a simple German Frau, like Madame, is a match for the shrewdest financier that ever plodded through the labyrinths of monetary systems. Clotilde was called into council, and left there by the good mother. Next day explanations and so forth were made to me. Be assured, I was not a little proud and gratified that I should call the great Rosenfeld sonin-law, at my child's own desire, even with the anticipation of separating from her, as it must be, for a long time, and the chance of seeing her at very distant intervals. But come, after this lovetale, let us have a bumper of Metternich's rarest Johannisberger; the flower of the vine has flavored it. Drink, Mr. H-," he proceeded, filling up a large, crystal goblet of wine seldom to be tasted of such quality but in the halls of princes, "drink to the health of those you love, and success to the great Financier of Beauty's dominions!” And raising his voice he called, "Music, music, my dear girls! In particular I should desire my favorite, 'Die Gedanken Sind Frey,' to enliven the heart and eyes of my friend, Mr. H- A
good thing, sir, a blood-stirring measure. I repeat the sentiment it expresses with all my heart-let the thoughts be free, as they are kind and honorable."
Without more solicitation, two or three laughing girls ran to a pianoforte which had been much in request during the evening; a light prelude was run over, and a word being whispered to the bride by Mons. Rosenfeld, she
THE OPERA BOX.
IN 1830, passing a few weeks in Milan, I was in the habit of going every evening to my friend La Marchesa T-'s private loggia in La Scala, whether she were there or not; and I must confess I as often slumbered out the opera as listened to it; but somehow it was my customary lounge, and therefore inconvenient to dispense with, except on extraordinary occasions. There was one peculiarly dark corner, (and all the boxes in that theatre, as in most continental ones, are in deep shadow,) softly cushioned, and closely draped, a voluptuous resting-place to dream away an hour, enveloped in an atmosphere of music; and there, when I happened to be alone, I usually reclined, hearing as much as I desired, but seldom raising myself even to glance at the nymphs of the Ballet.
At the commencement of a very drowsy recitative, I had one evening fallen soundly asleep in this recess, the curtains almost completely covering me; and having been for some time in this delectable state of somnolence, I gradually awoke, hearing voices beside me in the box, and partially discerning figures through the imperfectly closed drapery. The words fell at first unheeded on my ear; the voices were strange, and the sensation of being recalled to outward perception was rather disagreeable than otherwise; but by a movement of the dark cloaked figure immediately before me, I got a glimpse at his companion, and perceived a woman, from what I could discern in the dim light, splendidly attired, and in her superb beauty worthy of that splendor.
joined her young friends, and after the the first verse of Mons. Heiligthal's song was sung by the youngest girl of the group, a rich gush of delicious music filled the air; the full-toned warbling of birds might resemble, but could not surpass it. I sank back in ecstatic astonishment, though no "Fanatico," and those were the first sounds I heard from the beautiful lips of the enchanting Madame Rosenfeld.
Having no intention to become a listener, I took no pains to keep in one position; but they were too much absorbed in themselves to mind the rustle
of satin, or the muffled noise of pressure on velvet cushions. A few words suddenly spoken by the lady convinced me it might be dangerous to myself, and mortifying to her, to show that she had an additional auditor. I lay still and tried to slumber again, but curiosity, I will own, was more powerful, in spite of myself, in keeping me awake, than the sweet tones of the prima donna Giulia Grisi.
"For my whole life," exclaimed the lady passionately, "I have lived but to love and be loved! My childhood, my youth, were embosomed in the most devoted fondness. I longed for something more; for an intense, indescribable, undivided attachment to myself alone-for this I married, and what have I obtained?" She again repeated, "What have I obtained?" sighing heavily.
"Oh, surely you believe he loves you," said the man.
"Loves me!" she startlingly repeated-"Oh, in his own way he may have once loved me, but not now, and never half so well as a novel scheme of finance. But that I might excuse-the other I cannot !"
"What other?" inquired the man. "Why do you ask?" she vehemently replied, "after my discoveries of today, confirming the suspicion of months. He may not love, but will he dare to slight? Even you could not shut my eyes to-day-and do I not hear he is constantly in his leisure hours with her?"
Ah, madame," returned her companion, "you judge without seeing the dessous des cartes."
"It is fortunate," she replied petulantly, "that il Signor Marito has so zealous an advocate in my Cavaliere ?"
"Do not reproach me," he said sor
rowfully, "he has been my good angel. Oh, God, I am very, very ungrateful!"
"As how, pray?" demanded the lady saucily," in trying to make his peace with a jealous wife, and incurring her displeasure for your trouble?"
"In loving that lady more than in honor she should be loved," he answered, in a low subdued voice, sighing deeply.
"Another of my dreams ending in the cold blank feeling of the awakening!" she continued. "I did believe, Luigi, the pure, deep, and holy sympathy between us was unlike all others, a blending of affections without mingling the earthy passions of our erring nature. In this belief I might have remained always, and have been comparatively happy, could you have ceased analysing our mutual feelings; but now there is no alternative between a common love or a common misery."
"Oh, Clotilde !" he exclaimed, "did I not so reverence your husband!"
"Cielo! Luigi," she ejaculated, "do not reiterate every moment that word, now so little pleasing to my ear! Hear me. While I was uninitiated in his schemes, while I was before the curtain, I too revered him, I adored him as some unseen minister of riches, pouring out the superabundance on mankind. I believed his extraordinary talents were devoted solely to advance the independence, consequently the happiness of his species. Not that I was simple enough to suppose, in all this exercise of benevolence, no advantage would accrue to himself; but though never admitted to his confidence, never of his councils, I had shrewd notions stored up of my old uncle Otto's teaching. Alas, poor man! when I yawned so wearily over his lessons on the mysteries of his favorite science, (for with him it was a science,) banking, I little dreamed how fatally to my peace it would be applied. But, as I say, I have gathered enough to comprehend the ultimate of Rosenfeld's expedients. I see frauds which laws cannot reach; fallacies which wisdom cannot disprove; ambition mingled with sordid avarice; and the burning thirst the gambler stimulating the pursuit-on, on-untiring-unsatiated. Setting aside his too evident indifference to myself, I no longer respect him; he and his class, a numerous one, are not nominally, but indeed virtually dishonest, raising
wealth for nothing, to be disseminated by every wind, yet intangible, unfructifying, and utterly delusive-the phantasm of riches. Yes, Luigi, I scorn the luxury that surrounds me, won from the necessities and sufferings of wretched creatures, pursuing but never seizing the unsubstantial good that flies before them. Luigi, if you would desire me to hate and despise the dearest friend I could have in the world, whisper he is an authorized gambler, that basest of all the grovelling gnomes of the mine, a keen, successful, distinguished financier."
She had spoken so rapidly, so vehemently, she was exhausted; and though Luigi had made several attempts at interruption, he could only at this moment's pause urge,
"Oh cease, cease, madame! you are prejudiced-you misconceive altogether. Exactly the reverse is the case with Rosenfeld."
"Folly!" she resumed, with contemptuous displeasure. "You see but the surface, I have penetrated further.”
"You can never persuade me that Rosenfeld is not the wisest and most noble being breathing," said Luigi, firmly.
"I shall take no pains to do so," coldly answered the lady ; " but if your high admiration of his character has originated a similar sentiment for me, you must permit me to decline the honor henceforth and for ever."
"Oh, Clotilde!" returned the young man mournfully, "you should pity, and not taunt me. Rosenfeld has been my sole friend and benefactor from my orphan childhood until now."
"And most likely," interrupted the lady, "so will remain until your declining age, if indeed he do not outstrip you in the race of time. However, let me not disturb the current of your friendship. I was deceived in my opinion, that is all."
"How deceived ?" eagerly questioned Luigi, "how have I deceived you, Clotilde? Heaven knows how deeply and truly I respect Mons. Rosenfeld, but oh, how much more deeply, fervently, madly-oh, ruinously madly!-do worship one who, belonging to him, never should have awakened such terrible conflicts in my heart! Oh, Clotilde, do not look so contemptuously! You are blind to your own happiness, to your own peace. Crush me, blight