Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

kes :

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

or marte

[ocr errors]

forrad) erers

knowledge oftener by separation and could not incur the expense, several division, rather than by union and combined in order to secure their obcombination-rather by killing than ject. But the children seldom agreed; by making alive.

the young man had not sufficient One day an armed loadstone, very authority; and, after frequently reare bere

prettily sewed up in scarlet cloth, be- newed vexations, the parties comcame the object for this spirit of en- monly separated in bitterness. No quiry. For the secret attraction which wonder, therefore, that people thought it exercised, not merely on the iron rod of making arrangements which might

connected with it, but which, more. be at once more durable and more Then

over, was of such a kind that it in- advantageous. E-cperi creased, and daily became capable of The thought of setting up boardperlu bearing a greater weight_this mys- ing-schools had been suggested by

terious virtue had so conquered my the necessity felt by all for having the e lulet admiration, that I was long satisfied French language taught and commue notes

, with mere amazement at its effects. nicated in living use. My father had let, iki But at last I conjectured that I should brought up a young man in his house and events obtain some nearer explanation if I who had become his footman, valet, tej e the removed the outward covering. This secretary, and in fine, successively all dople was accomplished, but made me none in all. This man, whose name was OLJE the wiser, for the naked iron casing Pfeil, spoke French well, and underbad brain taught me nothing further; I removed stood it thoroughly. After he mar

this also, and held in my hands the ried, and his patrons had to think of mere stone, with which I made end- some situation in life for him, they

less trials on filings and sewing- fell upon the project of making him odern needles, which, however, yielded no set up a boarding-school, which ex

further advantage to my boyish brain tended gradually into a small acabut that of a varied experience. I demical institution, in which every could not put together the mechanism thing needful, and at last even Greek again ; the parts were scattered ; and and Latin, were taught. The wide

I lost the wondrous phenomenon, to- spread connexions of Frankfort erori gether with the apparatus.

brought young Frenchmen and EngI was not more fortunate in putting lishmen to this establishment, who together an electrical machine. А were intrusted to it that they might friend of the family, whose youth had learn German, and also be cultivated fallen in the time when electricity in other ways. Pfeil, who was employed all minds, often told us man in the prime of life, and of the how, as a boy, he had often wished to most extraordinary energy and activity, possess such a machine—how he had governed the whole very laudably. sought out the chief requisites, and, As he never could have work enough, with the help of an old spinning-wheel and was obliged to have music-masters and some medicine bottles, had pro- for his pupils, he betook himself ocduced tolerable results. As he gladly casionally to music, and practised the and frequently repeated this to us, harpsichord with such zeal, that, haand also gave us some general infor- ving never before touched a note, he mation as to electricity, we children very soon played readily and well. thought the thing very plausible, and He seemed to have adopted my father's long tormented ourselves over an old maxim, that nothing is more cheering spioning-wheel and some medicine and exciting to young people, than bottles, without being able to produce when, being already of mature years, even the smallest result. Nevertheless one makes one's self again a learner, we kept fast our faith, and were much and at an age when it is hard to gain delighted when at the fair time, among new accomplishments, yet by zeal and other rarities, magical and juggling perseverance seeks to excel those who tricks, an electrical machine also per- are younger, and have thus more naformed its wonders, which, as well as tural facility. the magnetic ones, were for that time By this taste for playing the harp, already much multiplied.

sichord, Pfeil had his attention turned The distrust of the public mode of to the instruments themselves, and, instruction increased from day to day, hoping to obtain the best, got into People looked about for domestic correspondence with Friderici of tutors; and, because single families Gera, whose work in this kind was

efore bedt

[ocr errors]

hich one

a

specialiai

[ocr errors]

of the core

[ocr errors]

, the DE and enter

[ocr errors]

znar skem

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the end in tots

haveiro Belemente

some

celebrated far and wide. He took a by which the poor things were swept number of them on commission, and away in thousands. The subsequent now had the pleasure of seeing dis- corruption produced a truly pestilenplayed in his house, not some single tial smell ; and as it was necessary to piano, but many, and of hearing him- remove the dead and dying from the self practise on all.

healthy, in order to save only a few, This man's activity excited also the business was in truth extremely in our house a great deal of musical laborious and disgusting, and caused performance. Except as to many an unhappy hour to uś chil. points of difference, my father re- dren. mained in lasting friendship with him. After we had passed the finest We, too, had a great piano of Fri. weeks of the spring and summer of derici's bought for us, which I, prefer- one year in attendance on the silkring my harpsichord, hardly touched. worms, we had to help my father in It was the means, however, of increas- another business, which, although ing my sister's troubles, as, in order to simpler, did not give us less trouble. do due honour to the new instrument, The Roman views had hung for she was compelled to employ some many years on the walls of the old hours more daily in practising on it; house, stretched by a black rod at top while my father as inspector, and and bottom, and by the light, dust, Pfeil as example and animating friend, and smoke, had become very yellow, stood alternately beside her.

and been defaced not a little by the An odd fancy of my father's gave flies. If this dirtiness could not be much discomfort to us children. It permitted in the new house, yet, on was the preparation of silk, of the ad- the other hand, those representations vantage of which, if it were spread had become more and more interestmore extensively, he had a high ing to my father by his lengthening conception. Some acquaintances in absence from the places themselves. Hanau, where the worms were kept For at first such views serve to rewith great care, gave him the imme- fresh and enliven the impressions diate impulsion. The eggs were sent lately received. They appear trifling to him from thence at the right time; in comparison with these, and seldom and as soon as the mulberry-trees more than a melancholy substitute. showed sufficient leaf, they were But as the recollection of the original stripped, and the almost invisible ani. forms fades more and more away, the mals were most sedulously attended copies insensibly occupy their place, to. Tables and frames were fixed up and become as dear to us as those in a garret.room, that they might once were ; and what we formerly have more space and nourishment; despised, now gains our esteem and for they grew fast, and after the last love. Thus is it with all delineacasting of the skin were so voracious, tions, and particularly with portraits. that it was hardly possible to give It is hard for any one to be satisfied them leaves enough for their suste- with the resemblance of a present

They had even to be fed day object; but how highly do we value and night, because all depends on every shadow of an absent, and espe their having no want of nourishment cially of a deceased person. at the time when the great and won- In fine, with this feeling of his fordrous change is to take place in them. mer prodigality, my father wished If, indeed, the weather was favourable, those engravings to be as far as posthis business might be considered a sible restored. That this might be pleasant entertainment. But if it done by bleaching was well known; turned cold, so that the mulberry and this operation, which as to large trees suffered, there was great trouble. plates is always critical, was now But it was still more unpleasant if undertaken in rather unfavourable rain fell during the last period—for circumstances ; for the large boards these creatures cannot at all bear on which the smoke-stained engravmoisture, and therefore the wetted ings were damped and exposed to the leaves had to be carefully wiped and sun, stood before the garret windows dried, which could not always be quite in the gutters, leaning against the accurately done ; and from this, or roof, and were thus exposed to many perhaps from some other cause, many accidents. The chief point was, that diseases broke out among the flock, the paper was never to dry, but required to be kept always damp. sisters, who when separated from each This was the duty of my sister and other, and dispersed over the world, me; and the weariness and impatience give each other alternately informawhich it caused, and the continual tion of their position and feelings. watchfulness, admitting no relaxation, The eldest brother gives an account made an extreme vexation of the idle. in honest German of all the objects ness which we should otherwise have and occurrences of his journey. The so much enjoyed. The thing was sister, in a feminine style, with neat nevertheless accomplished; and the stops and short sentences, much as bookbinder, who fixed each sheet on Siegwart was afterwards written, anthick paper, did his best to re-unite swers now him and now the other and restore the margins which had brothers, relating partly domestic here and there been torn by our ne- events and partly affairs of the heart. gligence. All the sheets were col- One brother studies theology, and lected into a volume, and were for writes a very formal Latin, to which this time saved.

nance.

he often adds a Greek postscript. The That we children might not want English correspondence naturally fell variety of life and learning, an Eng- to the share of a younger one, who lish language-master appeared just at was placed as a clerk at Hamburg ; this time, who engaged that within and the French was in the hands of four weeks he would teach English one at Marseilles. A musician, on his to any one not quite new in acquiring flight into the world, tock up the languages, and advance him so far Italian; and the youngest, a kind of that, with a little labour, he would be pert, unfledged booby, had betaken able to go on by himself. He took a himself, the other languages being moderate honorarium, and was in- appropriated, to

Jews'

German ; different how many pupils took ad. and by his horrible hieroglyphics vantage at the same time of one of threw the rest of his family into dehis lessons. My father immediately spair and mine into laughter at the resolved to try the experiment; and joke. agreed to take lessons with myself I looked out for matter to suit this and my sister from the expeditious strange form of composition, by studymaster. The appointed hours were ing the geography of the countries in faithfully kept, and we diligently which my personages were placed, went over the lessons by ourselves; and by filling those dry localities with and throughout the four weeks, we many kinds of human life, suited to neglected some of our other studies the characters of my heroes, and to rather than this. The teacher took their various employments. My exerleave of us and we of him with mutual 'cise books became, in this way, much satisfaction. As he remained after- more voluminous, my father was betwards in the town, and found many ter satisfied, and I became sooner employers, he came now and then to avare what knowledge and what kinds see us, and help us, thankful that we of dexterity I was deficient in. had been among the first to place Now, as such things, when once set confidence in him, and proud that he a-going, have neither end nor limits, could present us as examples to the so it was in this case with me. others.

in trying to master the queer Jew-GerIn consequence of this, my father man, and to write it as easily as I had a new anxiety that English might could read it, I soon found that I rebe neatly fitted into the series of my quired to know Hebrew, from which other exercises in languages. Now, I alone the modern, corrupt, and disacknowledge that it was always bur- torted language can be drawn, and so densome to me to take the grounde handled with certainty. I therefore work of my tasks now from one, now explained to my father the necessity of from another grammar or collection my learning Hebrew, and very eagerly of examples; now from one, now from pressed for his consent, having in this another author; and then with every a higher aim. I heard it always said hour to dissipate afresh my interest that, in order to understand the Old in my subject. The thought there- Testament as well as the New, the fore occurred to me of carrying on original languages were requisite. I the whole together; and I invented a could read the latter quite easily, beromance of six or seven brothers and cause, that I might have practice even

For, on Sundays, I was obliged after church clined him to lay wait for errors and to recite, translate, and in a measure defects, and to the use of satire, and explain, the so-called gospels and he gave it free play, both in his proepistles. I now thought of doing the grammes and in his public discourses ; same with the Old Testament, which, and, as Lucian was almost the only on account of its singularity, had al- writer whom he read or valued, he ways particularly interested me. spiced all that he said or wrote with

My father, who did not like to do biting ingredients. any thing by halves, determined to Happily for those he was discontentask Dr Albrecht, the rector of our ed with, he never went to work directly, gymnasium, to give me private lessons, but only jeered at the faults which until I should have acquired what was he wished to punish by hints, allusions, most essential in so simple a language; classical quotations, and Biblical sen. for he hoped that, if this could

not be tences. Moreover, his delivery--he accomplished so quickly as the Eng. always read his speeches-was unplea. lish, it might yet be done in twice the sant, unintelligible, and besides often time.

interrupted by a cough, and frequently The rector Albrecht was one of by an inward paunch-convulsing laughi, the most original figures in the world: with which he used to announce and little, not fat but broad; shapeless, accompany the pungent passages. I though not deformed-in fine, an Æsop found this singular man gentle and in gown and wig. A face of more obliging when I began to take my les. than seventy was completely twisted sons from him. I went now daily at to a sarcastic smile, while his eyes con- six o'clock in the evening, and always tinued large, and, though red, were felt a secret satisfaction when the outer still brilliant and intelligent. He lived door closed behind me, and I had to in the old convent of the Franciscans, travel through the long and dusky the seat of the gymnasium. Even as

cloistered passage.

We sat in his a child I had often visited him, in com. library, at a table covered with oil. pany with my parents, when the long cloth. A much-read Lucian never left dark passages, the chapels turned into his side. In spite of all my inclination, reception-rooms, the place all broken I could not get to the matter without up into stairs and corners, had impress. difficulty; for my teacher could not ed me with a fearful joy. Without suppress certain sarcastic remarks as annoying me, he examined me as often to the real truth about Hebrew. I conas we met, and gave me praise and en- cealed from him my views towards the couragement. One day, at the new Jew.German, and talked of a better arrangement of the pupils after a pub- understanding of the original text. lic examination, he saw me standing At this he smiled, and said I should not far from his chair as a mere spec- soon be satisfied if I only learned to tator, while he distributed the silver read. This vexed me in secret, and I præmia virtutis et diligentiæ. I was collected all my attention when we belooking very eagerly at the little bag gan with the letters. I found an alphaout of which he took the medals. He bet very similar to the Greek, of which beckoned to me, came down a step, the forms were easy, and the names and gave me one of the silver pieces. mostly not strange to me. I had very My joy was great; although others soon caught and remembered all this, thought this gift, bestowed on a boy not and thought we were now to begin of the school, quite out of order. But reading. That this was done from the for this the honest old man cared little, right to the left hand I was quite being always an oddity, and that in a

But now suddenly there ap. striking way. He had a very good peared a new host of little letters and reputation as a schoolmaster, and un- signs, of points and strokes of all kinds, derstood his trade, although his age which in fact were to represent the no longer permitted him to practise it vowels. I wondered at this the more, perfectly. But he was hindered almost because there were manifestly some more by greater circumstances than vowels in the larger alphabet, and the by his own infirmities. As I had ale others appeared only to be hidden ready learned, he was satisfied neither under strange designations. It was with the consistories, nor the school. also told me that the Jewish nation, as inspectors, nor the clergy, nor even long as it flourished, did, in fact, rest with the masters. His disposition in satisfied with their former signs, and

aware.

}

Ato

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1 knew no other mode of writing or translation printed beside the text by

reading. Most willing would I have Sebastian Schmidt. Here, unhappily, adopted this ancient, and, as it seemed our lessons began to be cut short, so to me, more convenient fashion. But far as knowledge of the language was

my old man declared, rather severely, concerned. Reading, interpretation, 't that we must go by the grammar, as grammar, transcription, and repeti[ it had already been approved and set tion of words, seldom lasted a full half

down. Reading without these points hour ; for I began immediately to

and strokes was a very difficult enter- attack the meaning, and although we á prise, and could be accomplished only were still engaged on the first book of į by the learned, and those most accus- Moses, to give vent to mueh which

tomed to it. I must, therefore, make had been suggested to me by the later up my mind to learn these little addi- books. At tirst the kind old man attional signs. The business, however, tempted to recall me from such excur. seemed to me more and more confused. sions; but at last he too seemed enterNow, it turned out that some of the first tained by them. He now could not and greater primitive signs had no value at all restrain his usual cough and in their own places, that their younger laughter; and although he took good little rivals might not stand there in care to give me no pretext for comvain. At one time they indicated a promising him, yet I did not relax in light breathing, at another a softer or my zeal. Nay, as I was more conharsher guttural, and again served only cerned to propose my doubts than to as supports and buttresses. Nay, last. have them solved, I advanced in vi. ly, when one thoughtone had perfectly gour and boldness, which his demeanoticed every thing, some of the great, nour seemed to justify. In fine, I as well as of the little personages, were could draw nothing from him, but that reduced to inaction, so that the eye over and over, with his paunch-conhad always a great deal and the lip very vulsing laugh, he exclaimed, " Ah, little to do.

mad fellow! ah, mad boy !" As that of which I already knew Nevertheless, my childish vivacity, the substance had now to be stuttered which examined the Bible on all sides, out in a strange jargon, while a cer- must have seemed to him tolerably tain snufile and grunt, unattainable serious, and deserving of some help. in its full perfection, were not a little He therefore referred me, after some recommended to me, I lost a good time, to the great English Biblical deal of my interest in the matter, and work which stood at hand in his libamused myself childishly with the rary, and in which the explanation of old names of these accumulated signs. difficult and uncertain passages was There were emperors, kings, and attempted in an intelligent and judidukes, who, domineering here and cious way. The translation had, by there in accents, entertained me not a the great labours of German divines, little. But these thin jests also soon obtained some advantages over the lost their charm; while, nevertheless, original. The different opinions were I came off a gainer, as in reading, stated, and at last a kind of reconcitranslating, repeating, learning by liation attempted, by which the digheart, the substance of the book came nity of the book, the ground of reliout the more vividly, and it was pro- gion, and our human understanding, perly in this that I wished for expla- were enabled in a manner to co-exist. nation from my old friend. Even Now as often as, towards the close of before this time, the discrepancy be- the hour, I expressed some of my tween the traditional and the actual common questions and doubts, he re. and possible had struck me forcibly, ferred me to the Repository, I took and I had put my domestic teachers the volume, he let me read, turned to much distress about the sun which over his Lucian, and when I uttered stood still on Gibeon, and the moon my remarks upon the book, his usual in the valley of Ajalon, to say nothing laugh was all the answer he gave to of other difficulties. All this was now

In the long summer .stirred up, while, in order to become day he let me sit as long as I pleased, master of Hebrew, I occupied myself often alone. By.and-by, he permitted exclusively with the Old Testament, me to take one volume after another and studied it through, no longer in home with me. Luther's version, but in the verbal A man may turn as he will, and

my acuteness.

« IndietroContinua »