« IndietroContinua »
but terribly suggestive. The defeats be ready with all hands for this new and victories, the ebbs and flows and emergency. Although the worms mulsurges of public opinion during those tiplied enormously during the next few eventful years, what other barometer so' days, they were still confined to a single well indicated them? The holder of field. In this vermicular wa fare we gold on the 30th of June, 1864, could gave no quarter. The least of the one hardly have described his sensations. hundred and fifty freedmen must have He would not have cared to describe slain his myriads, but I could not see them a few hours afterwards.
that any impression whatever was made When travelling in the East, I one upon the number of living worms. We night asked our dragoman to interpret had outlived raids and surprises, the for me one of those marvellous stories loathsome small-pox, the drought and arabesques of imagination woven upon rain : what strategy could avail against some tradition of Scripture or of patri- these new enemies, more vindictive than archal life-with which the Bedouins rebels, and multiplying like forest-leaves still love to draw out the long hours of in the spring ! the night under the dreamy stars of Some one had told me that the armyPalestine. It referred to King Solomon, worm would not in its advances cross a who from small beginnings, according ditch. Most of my freedmen had helped to the story-teller, had become so enor- throw up the rebel earthworks of Port mously rich that it required a hundred Hudson ; and they went to work with camels to carry the keys wherewith to a will upon this new defence against lock his treasures. A little fly, sent by the creeping host. Notwithstanding Allah, entered into his brain, and rapid- the terrible heat, we soon completed a ly increasing in size, soon caused such ditch, entirely cutting off the affected intolerable pain that he could get relief portion from the rest of the plantations. only by having his head constantly Vain delusion ! Uncle Toby's famous pounded with mallets. Finally, a swarm parallels and salients would have been of flies burst forth that soon turned into quite as effective. innumerable worms and utterly con- It was positively dreadful to watch sumed his possessions. “Behold,” said those crawling armies. They covered Allah, “what an insignificant thing the plants and the earth. Nor was it bath caused thy ruin !"
necessary to see them. A dull metallic Within twenty-four hours after my sound, very like the falling of rain on arrival from New Orleans I noticed, in the leaves, indicated their devouring a remote portion of one of the fields, a presence. And the smell of them! little cluster of cotton-plants whose With a sort of breathless wonder, as in leaves were strangely perforated. Dis- the terrible conflicts of the elements, mounting, I could find upon the plants one can look upon the destruction of only a few slender, greenish worms, with his property by consuming whirlwinds gray stripes on the back, and perlaps of flame, by engulfing waves, or the an inch in length. “Dey is grass-wums,
blasts of a tornado-but to see it sare,” said the freedman with me, who devoured by loathsome worms ! claimed great wisdom in plantation- After several days there was still one craft. “ 'Cause, you see, dey don't field, of about fifty acres, in which not a doubles 'emself up and jump, like the worm was to be seen, nor one of those ginwine cotton-wums, when I'se done black moth-like flies that deposit their touch't 'em." There was plenty of eggs on the under side of the cottonexcellent grass, but the preference of leaves, and then wrap themselves up in the worms for cotton-leaves was a single leaf, as in a shroud, to die. I unmistakeable as their appetite was telegraphed to the city for thirty barrels voracious.
of coal-tar. It arrived the next mornI directed the chief-overseer to leave ing. The freedmen, provided with off picking cotton on the morrow, and basins, buckets, and skillets, deposited
a little coal-tar near the foot of every of those fields stripped of their beauty, plant. Should this bucolic engine like forests in winter, and consumed as prove effective, I would become a be- by the breath of a demon! liever in Stepben H. Branch’s vermicular Still the loss was not complete. Like theory of success.
Sennacherib's hosts, the armies of The next morning I rode out to see worms disappeared even more suddenly the result. There were the worms more and mysteriously than they came. Exnumerous than
ever, unchecked in their cepting the almost mature cotton-bolls, devouring march by the dreadful heat they left not a green thing behind. and the vile odors wafted by the south Had they come a month earlier, there wind. “Sirocco of the Desert " I have would have been no cotton-a month ever since regarded as a weak and com- later, the crop would not have been monplace figure of speech.
injured. As it was, the hot sun shining " Innocent worms !” do you say? directly upon the swelling bolls, opened
When witnessing the worse than them nearly all at once; and the great gladiatorial combats to be seen in a fields quickly became white as the drop of water, where microscopic mon- driven snow. They usually remain sters devour each other, and in reflect- green until the tender plants are killed ing that, perhaps, all the bloody cam- by the frost, and the picking then conpaigns in history, all the tortures of tinues until Christmas. We gathered martyrs and burnings of heretics, have two hundred and fifty-six bales, which, caused less suffering than we thought at the enormous price of cotton, brought lessly inflict, every meal, upon millions one hundred and thirty-five thousand of animalculae exquisitely sensitive to dollars. The entire expense of making pain, it may be, in proportion as they the crop, including losses and revenue are minute, I may have indulged for the taxes, was about one hundred and five worm in my path a sentiment of pity. thousand dollars. But the physical and But what a grim and ghastly satire mental wear and tear of such a cottonupon such mere sentiment was the sight campaign was positively dreadful.
* YOUTH AND AGE.
YEARS make not age; the head may gleam in white
Yet youth twine verdure round the heart; below
The drift may smile the flowers; the genial glow
Be present to thy thought, though clouds be black !
To-morrow haply on the present's track
LLAVES FROM THE JOURNAL OF A POOR MUSICIAN.
In the hilly suburbs of the quaint old city of Aschaffenburg, there stood, twenty years ago, a grim and stately stone building. This building was the celebrated “Rheinhardt Acad emy.” Here I was imprisoned, in the year 1848, in company with over a hundred other youths between thirteen and twenty years of age. Within walls, the severe and unchanging discipline of daily study was interrupted only by occasional exercise in the enclosed play ground attached to the building, and the yearly four-weeks' vacation. Our knowledge of the world outside was limited to the glimpses caught through the narrow framework of our win dows; and many a youthful imagination kindled at the distant panorama of the river Main, with its ever-shifting motion and light. Here, a dry and monotonous existence poetized to two young lads by one of those impassioned friendships peculiar to school-life, and which has the couleur de rose of Love, without its suspicions or its pangs. Herman Ehrthal, who was three years my senior, had completed his mathematical studies, and was almost exclusively occupied in the musical department when I entered the Academy. Many a time, after school-hours, have I crouched outside his door to listen to the delicious harmonies that fell from his fingers; and which seemed to interpret for me all the bright dreams of that future which lay in its glowing perspective beyond the present cold and cheerless life. It was here he found me one night, in tears, and took me to his heart. From that moment wo understood each other. Through the six following years, he was color and sunshine to me in the shade of those grim old walls. In 1854 he left the Academy and went to Vienna, where he pursued bis musical studies exclusively during a residence of six years. From Vienna he went to London, where he resided five years. In 1865 he returned to Germany, and informed his friends that he should leave the following month for America. Before he sailed, we agreed mutually to keep journals, and, upon reunion, exchange them, so that each might possess the record of the other's experiences, objective and subjective, during separation. Two years after his departure for the New World I joined him there. When we met, the journals were exchanged according to promise. His now lies before me. The few leaves which I have selected for publication are precisely as I find them, except in the substitution of fictitious names. The story of these pages is neither dramatic nor sensational. The reader will find none of those startling events which quicken circulation-none of those dark mysteries which provoke shudders and pique expectation, To those who enjoy the intense shadow and intricacy of plots à la Wilkie Collins, the possible-to-every-one history of Herman Ehrthal will prove but tame amusement. But to those born to music, these pages, will hold a peculiar interest; for, enclosed in the simple framework of this simple story, is woven the subtle, subjective experiences peculiar to the artist-life. That finer discrimination in music which is born not so much of acquired as instinctive knowledge, will be passed by unheeded by many. That rapturous enthusiasm which is as irrepressible to the artist-nature as song to birds, and which in its most eloquent expression seems to him but a feeble counterpart of that which burns within him, will be smiled at by this same many as puerile rhapsody. But those whose souls have kindled at the same fires, will read aright the language, and will feel with the artist its entire inadequacy to its sublime theme. To these I offer these pages.
October 24th.-Well, here I am home piano left in my charge by H- till again! Home! a narrow, carpetless his return, and on the window-sill the room; cot bed, rude chair, and wash- bunch of roses I bought to-day of the stand; in one corner, a trunk; in the pale little girl at the corner. Alackother, an upright piano. My apart- a-day! my efforts to gain work have ment is certainly not elegant, yet it is been so far unsuccessful, and a dolce not without ornamentation; witness : far niente life is my present prospect. four excellent engraved portraits of the What a weary day this has been! Will following composers, Handel, Beetho- it ever be tbus? Must I barter my holy ven, Bach, and Schumann; the rosewood Muse, whose white garment I am unworthy to kiss, for “filthy luere ?” had its whine somewhere in nearly all Filthy lucre! I would not despise the his creations. In a number of noble base article in practical cents and shil- instances he left the narrow circle of lings as I sit here to-night with only the meum, and, fired by a great idea or half-satisfied stomach. This afternoon a fine enthusiasm-forgot his own perI went to the Seminary in street, sonality; but these are the exceptions. but met with no success. Luck does Exquisitely keen to joy and pain, and not seem to follow me. Later I repaired hungry for happiness, with all an artist's to Mrs. B—'s, whose daughter is my passion, he revelled in the outpouring only pupila young lady of average of his glowing, quivering sensibilities capacity. Wishing to be in the fashion, through Tone, whose dictionary his she requested me to give her some Ger- marvellous genius commanded and enman music. I brought her one of larged at will. The egotism of a selfMendelssohn's “ Lieder ohne Worte.” centred, morbid being was never before She bas learned to play the notes cor- hidden under such bewildering modularectly, but they have no significance to tions; the complaints of a sick brain her. She is very pretty however,-has and body never before clothed themliquid dark eyes and a rich bloom. I selves in so seductive a garb; the paswatched her, this afternoon, as she fin- sion of personal joys, pangs, and longgered the exquisite Tone-poem. The ings was never before told in so eloquent pretty features never quivered, the eyes, and fascinating a language. But, though neither quickened nor softened. She his music flatters, bewilders, intoxicates, sat in statuesque passivity, quite un- there are in it no outlets into celestial conscious of the tender yearning and space. This evening I enjoyed it with melancholy that throbbed in fitful a peculiar keenness—made many a morpulses among the notes. Pretty doll! bid, melancholy romance of which I Nature made you very neatly-only was myself of course, the hero, and forgot to put a soul into you. Perhaps rose from the piano a more bitter and you are none the less happy. Heigh- selfish man. Awaking suddenly from ho! my purse is getting sadly thin, but the absorbing dream, the close walls I shall not ask Mrs. B-to advance stifled me, and I went to the window my pay. I ate my scanty meal with for air. The city below looked cold relish this evening, for the keen air had and spectral; its inhabitants were stusharpened my appetite, and my body is pid grubs, and I, fancying myself one still so young and strong. My evenings of the great élite, looked down from are certainly solitary, but it is then that my garret-window upon their fine dwellI have my happiest hours-then that ings and despised them. Misérable my tone-wings raise themselves from homme incompris ! What cares the the clogging mire, and soar and bear busy world, with mighty questions on me to blessed regions where I hear pri- its big brain, for thy private gnarlings ? meval warblings and catch the perfumes But I am weary, and must seek rest. I of heavenly gardens. To-night I was will be true to my best self through bitter, almost despairing. Was it un- every counter wind and tide.
Knownatural that my mood should have dis- ing that my art is divine, and meant to soloed into the prelude No. 4 of Cho- serve the highest purposes of the soul, I pin? I repeated it again and again with shall not sacrifice my artistic conscience a lingering, torturing satisfaction, and to a threadbare coat, but will guard my in that smothered cry for hope and ideal as the sacred host in the purest help I plead for love, for free air, for tabernacle of my inmost soul. Ah! sunshine, for some way out of this beloved mother, far in the fatherland, hateful imprisonment. No human be- fold thine arms again about thy boy, ing was ever more entirely a victim to and soothe him to rest. Thou shalt dyspepsia than Chopin — a dyspepsia never know of the scanty meal and that disordered soul and stomach, and desolate hours. I forget them all now, Mütterchen; thy soft touch lingers ten- ing bliss, or melancholy, of a mood. It derly on my brow; thy loving eyes demands not so much a framework, as bend over me! I am not ashamed of an atmosphere-outline, as color. It is these tears before thee, mother. God one of the prophetic messengers that bless thee! God bless thee, and keep Beauty has at her will, and expresses thy son as worthy of thee as in the not so much what is said as suggested, pure, blessed days gone by.
possessed as perceived. I had heard this October 29th.-A note came to me from song before, given with a mere sensuous Dr. A to-day, enclosing the address enthusiasm (how often mistaken for an of a friend of his, a Mrs. Irving, who is intelligent conception) that a pleasing looking for a music-teacher for her melody produces on a discriminating niece. The Doctor said a good word ear; but now for the first time I listened for me, and the lady expressed a desire to it from the lips of a poetess, who ento see me, Towards evening I repaired tered into the very spirit of its inspirato her residence. When I entered the tion. And that delicious voice! The parlor, the gas was not yet lit, and the tone was aromatic, and held its peculiar atmosphere of the room was subdued quality as purely as a flower its perfume, and mystical. I slid abstractedly into -a quality rich, searching, and lazy,the nearest seat, for I was surprised and the luscious indolence of tropical skies, awed by the opening strains of a song hammocks, and pomegranates, in whose of Robert Franz—a song little known, dream and languor slumber fire and and knowable only to the feu. It begins color. As I listened, my sympathy with the following stanza, the words of with the song and singer became so which were enunciated with a wonder intimate, that I moved unconsciously fully pure accent :
nearer ; but the last strain was hardly "Nun die Schatten dunkeln,
finished, when the hands fell in broken, Stern an Stern erwacht,
startled chords upon the keys (had I
spoken ), and the figure vanished Flulet durch die Nacht!"
through the open door beyond. I had The song tells the story of the twilight hardly regained my seat, when the serhour. We wander out into Nature, and vant entered and lit the gas. Every at the first-step stop in awe, for we find thing in the room took now a positive ourselves on the threshold of a land so outline, and that moment of free joy mysterious and holy that we feel we seemed already like a dream. Before I need baptism before we pass the sacred left the house, satisfactory arrangements portal. The first vivid glow of the sun- were made, and to-morrow I give the set has gone; we pass into a realm of first lesson. I discovered, too, that my delicate, intangible beauty, where every future pupil and the poet-songstress are atom of atmosphere floats on ethereal, identical. A pleasant prospect is in golden wings. The opalesque sky view for me. Once in the street and bends tenderly towards the yearning alone, imagination filled her frameearth; the purple shadows descend work with many a pleasing picture. I softly in the dreamy air, and mystical saw a delicious landscape to-day, and depths of lustre melt away in the violet longed to buy it. It would have been light. The first notes of this matchless like hanging perpetual summer on my song breathe the very awe we feel as we walls; but, alas ! one must have bankenter the mysterious sunset realm, and notes to exchange for summer. Ah, at last, through ever-quickening modu- poverty is a wretched companion! A lations, the impassioned soul soars and philosopher can endure it, perhaps, and floats away beyond the veil! And here moralize over it; but to the luxuriant is the peculiar province of the German nature of the artist it is sickening. It “Lied.” Its best mission is to translate lays an icy finger on his warm, free into Tone, not so much a nameable senti- pulsesstands ugly and gaunt at every ment, or emotion, as the vague, inquir- door of his soul, and with sour visage
Welch' ein Hauch der Sehnsucht