The Self Seer by Dinah Maria Craik
Unless above himself he can
Erect himself, how poor a thing is man!
HERMAN WALDHOF was indulging in a love-reverie. He sat, leaning
his chin upon his hand, in an easy, careless, dolce far niente
attitude, before a large mirror.
His eyes were earnestly fixed, Narcissus-like, upon himself imaged
Many said that young Herman Waldhof was the handsomest man in
Leipzic, and Herman himself was scarcely disposed to deny the fact. It
had been forced upon his notice so often during the last
five-and-twenty years, that at length he took it for granted. Yet he
was too high-minded to be very vain. He bore his honours as a monarch
does his crown, conscious of the dignity which Fortune has bestowed,
and therefore taking no pains to assert what must be obvious to all.
But in the earnest look which Herman directed towards his mirror there
was a deeper feeling than mere vanity. He loved; he hoped, yet hardly
believed, that he was beloved again; and in the reflected features
opposite to him might be read a look of doubt and anxious inquiry.
When one loves, how quickly does this feeling come! how does the
mirror, which was before hardly noticed, or made only the resort of
idle vanity, become like an adviser—a friend! We wish to see
ourselves with the eyes of the beloved. We wish to know, without
flattery, what we really are. We gaze with a feeling of lingering
fondness, in which vanity has no share, on those features which we
would fain believe are fair and precious in another's sight. Ah,
thence proceeds all their charm in our own! Thus, as the young lover
tossed back the dark clustering curls, looked wistfully into the
depths of the large eyes, and noted the graceful curves of the
beautiful mouth, trying to criticise the well-known face which met his
view with the indifference of a perfect stranger—his heart was full,
not of himself, but of her.
A knock at the door made the young man instinctively turn his back
to the mirror and take up a book, but he could not keep down the
colour that would rise to his very forehead, at being
discovered in the unmanly act of examining himself in the glass. Even
though the discoverer was his friend and companion from boyhood,
"Are you studying, or only dreaming, Herman?" said the newcomer, in
those sweet, low tones, so rarely heard in a man's voice, which are
always the index of an eminently sensitive and gifted mind, which
attract in a moment, and are the dearest heart-music in the world.
Herman answered the question with a faint laugh,—
"Doing both, I believe. But, I have a charge against thee, good
friend, and from a fair one to whom thou wouldst not willingly give
cause of anger. I was last night at the old professor's, and the Lady
Hilda"—the young man's colour deepened a little as he uttered the
name—"Hilda asked why thou wert not there too."
"Did she so?" Leuthold said.
Herman was too much engrossed by his own feelings, or he would have
seen the sudden paleness, the quivering lip, the involuntary clench of
the hands, that his words brought to Leuthold. Alas! he, too, loved;
but love to him was no joy, only hopeless pain.
"What shall I say in thy defence, false knight, when I see her
to-morrow?" Herman continued.
"Again!" muttered Leuthold.
There was a sore pang at his heart, but he repressed it, and said,
"The Lady Hilda is ever kind; she always was, since the days when I
was a poor student in her father's house. Tell her I was ill, or I
would have come."
"Thou art not well now, poor friend!" said Herman, turning round,
and laying his hand on his friend's shoulder. "Pale as ever—no, now
thou art crimson! Why, Leuthold, thou hast been studying far too much."
"It may be; a student must do so if he would attain his end. I am
not like thee, Herman,—young, rich, handsome."
"Thou art quite as young," interrupted the other, "though thou dost
not look so; and as rich, for thou hast enough for thy wants, which is
more than I often have for mine, I candidly confess. As to being
handsome— But, pshaw! what nonsense is this! I am so anxious, so full
of thought, I cannot jest any more. Leuthold, thou shouldst pity me!"
"Pity thee!" said the student. "Thee—the pride of Leipzic,
admired by all, loved by—"
"Oh, Leuthold, I know not that Hilda loves me! Last night I thought
her so cold, and there sat beside her that young Graf von P—, and she
listened to him; she spoke fondly—"
"I do not believe it," gravely answered Leuthold. "Hilda is too
sincere, too pure-hearted, to sport with any one's feelings thus."
The lover clung eagerly to the willing belief.
"Ah, well, I might be wrong, but love is full of vagaries,—my
whole soul is wrapped up in her! Tell me, Leuthold, thou who hast
known her heart from childhood, whom she regards as a brother, am I
such an one as Hilda would love?"
And Herman looked fixedly at his friend, to whom each unconscious
word came like a barbed arrow. Yet not a muscle of Leuthold's face
quivered beneath the gaze; he grew strong through the intensity of the
love which had made of his heart not a home to abide in, but a tomb
wherein it must be buried for evermore. It gave no outward sign, no
more than the poor clay resting under a green grave.
"Thou askest more than I can answer, dear Herman," said Leuthold.
"But think what thou art!"
"Oh, that I could see myself!" cried the impetuous young man. "Oh,
that I could see myself as any other man—how I look, how I speak, how
I act! Do you know what I was so mad as to be doing but now?" he
added, colouring deeply. "Playing pranks before the mirror, and trying
to judge of my own face as I would that of the fool Von P—, or any
stranger! Oh, if I could see myself as I really am,—most of all as I
appear in Hilda's eyes! Is there no spell, no magic, that will give me
my desire? Surely, Leuthold, thou who hast studied the deep secrets of
alchemy, who hast beheld the great Helvetius face to face, must know
"Speak not of these things," answered the student, solemnly. "To
those who live in the world, in its gay realities, the inner world of
mystery is not open. Yet if it were as thou sayest,—if we could gain
this knowledge—I, too, would desire it equally. And it may be so,"
continued Leuthold, with wild and kindling eyes; "who knows! The more
I study, the more I see that wisdom is unfathomable."
He rose up and paced the room with an energy that made his slight
figure dilate, until it seemed in the twilight to grow to a giant's
size. Deeper and deeper gathered the shadows in the large, lofty room:
it was a noble hall, which the wealth of Herman Waldhof had gained
from its old baronial owners, whose ancestors seemed to frown from the
walls upon the new possessor. The twilight faded, and all became
wrapped in gloom. Herman watched the dim figure of Leuthold as he
moved backwards and forwards, utterly unconscious of his friend's
presence; sometimes murmuring, in a sort of monotonous chant, rhymes
in a strange tongue, and then again maintaining a total silence. At
last Herman, in the darkness, could only hear his footsteps resounding
at measured intervals on the oaken floor.
All this time the young man never moved. Gay-hearted as he seemed,
Herman was deeply tinctured with the belief in supernatural things,
which was called forth by the mysterious acts and words of many wise
men of the middle ages. On his friend Leuthold, whom he knew to be
deeply read in the lore of the cabalists and alchemists, he ever
looked with most reverent awe.
At last a touch on his arm made Herman start, and the student's
voice—but so low and changed, that it seemed almost unearthly—fell
on his ear:—
"It will be accomplished; wait and see: they are coming!" whispered
Overpowered with terror, Herman would have fled, but his friend held
him with a grasp that seemed like that of an iron band.
"Weak man, wouldst thou shrink?" sternly cried the student.
"I shrink from meeting those thou hast called up—the fiends—the
"They are no demons, they are good spirits. Know, Herman, that each
man born into the world has a guardian angel given him, which must
attend him from birth until death. To the common herd of mankind, who
eat and sleep, toil and rest, marry and die, without a thought beyond
the petty round of daily life, this spirit is no more than an inward
voice, the voice of conscience. But to those on whom God has bestowed
His glorious gift of genius—a spark of His own divine essence—the
angel of their being is far nearer; a presence that may be felt. The
more they cultivate this inner sense, the stronger it becomes, until
they see with the open eyes of the soul, and hear with its angel-ears.
"I, even I," continued Leuthold, while his voice rung through the
gloom like the voice of an unseen spirit—"I, even I, in my poverty,
in my loneliness, in my despair, have seen my Angel standing beside
me, whispering comfort and wisdom and joy, such as no earthly sorrows
could take away. And now, by the power of my will and my faith, I have
again brought this celestial guardian; and not only mine, but thine!
Listen, they are coming!"
"And I!" cried Herman, in deadly fear.
"Thou mayest hear, thou canst not see them. Kneel, cover thy face,
and pray. Think of all pure and holy things, of thy love on earth, of
thy trust in heaven. Remember, one evil thought will drive from thee
these blessed spirits. Herman, they come—they come!"
Herman listened to a sound which he rather felt than heard; it was
like the step of one beloved coming nearer and nearer, each soft
foot-fall sending a thrill to heart. And then he perceived that
Leuthold had unclasped his hand, but that Another was beside him. He
fancied his hair was stirred by a soft breath, such as he had felt in
dreams—dreams of Hilda, and it seemed that this angel-breath
penetrated to his inmost heart, filling it with child-like purity and
He was roused from this trance by the deep solemn tones of Leuthold,
and knew that his friend was addressing no mortal, but the Angel of
which he had spoken. With serene earnestness the student lifted up his
voice, and told all his heart's desire to the mysterious Presences
that were with them in the room. He spoke not in slavish fear, but
like one who, with a lofty and awful joy, holds communion with those
who, though superior, are drawn to him by love, until they speak as
friend to friend.
And he was answered. From the silence came forth a voice—not
human, and yet like humanity in its sweetness. Much of what it said
was inexplicable to Herman, whose whole life had been spent in worldly
delights, and who knew not the joys which the soul feels when retiring
into communion with itself, and those essences to which it is akin.
But Leuthold understood all.
"Listen," said the Angel, "O thou who art my care! Man's is a
double existence. Ever following his spirit, as the shadow follows his
body, is a second self. It is not his soul, but only the reflection of
it, like the faint arch within the rainbow, or the giant
mountain-shadows which mimic men. Generally this phantasm is
inseparable from the reality which produces it; but at times man has
been suffered to behold the reflex of himself; and often, too, has
this second self appeared to those to whom the man was dear, a dim
spectre of prophetic woe."
"I know it, I know it!" cried Leuthold, mournfully. "Even the night
before death took my mother from me, as we sat together in the
twilight, I saw a Shadow like herself come and sit opposite to us! And
she knew it was a sign, and went in and lay down calmly to rest—a
rest that was eternal." He paused—his silence showing on what a deep
and tender nature had fallen this first wound. "But, Angel, I would
not thus see the phantom of myself; I desire to behold my living form
as with the eye of a spirit. Canst thou grant this?"
"Only thus. Thou must thyself become the attendant shadow; must
abstract thy mind for a season from all earthly things, until it
becomes, as in dreams, separate from the body. Then thy spirit, or
that portion of it which is active in dreams, may float over its
living self, and behold, for a time, all that thou dost and all that
thou art, even like a disembodied soul. But know, for each day in
which thou thus gainest thy desire, a year will be taken from thy
"Even so—that would add to the boon," said Leuthold, softly.
"But, Herman, life is bright to thee, wilt thou consent likewise?"
Herman shuddered and bowed his face lower to the earth, as he felt
the invisible breath beside him form itself into a voice. But it was
not like the one which had spoken to Leuthold—it sounded faint and
"Once only in thy life mayest thou hear thy angel's voice, Herman!
and once only is this faculty permitted to thee. Wouldst thou for a
single day behold thyself?"
"I would—I would!" muttered Herman; and as he spoke the whole
chamber was flooded with the light of the moon, as she broke through
the edge of a dark cloud. He lifted up his head, but saw only his
friend, who, pale and almost insensible, leaned against the wall, like
one just awakened out of a dream.
Let me behold my outward self, and look
Within my spirit as within a book.
What there is writ? Full many a mingled line
Wise, foolish, fair, final, earthly, and divine.
Some shine out clear, on some dark sin-blots fall;
But love's calm eye of mercy readeth all.
HERMAN rose up at dawn on the morrow, forgetting all the
strange excitement which he had gone through. It had passed from his
memory like a dream. He leaped out through his low window into the
glad daylight, walked through his beautiful domain, heard the birds
singing a blithe welcome to the morning, saw the sunshine resting upon
the noble old hall, until it looked almost as if it had renewed its
youth. He felt to the full the happiness of life. All the fantastic
imaginings of night had vanished with the coming of daylight.
Existence was in every way a reality to Herman Waldhof. He was the
embodiment of youth in its full enjoyment of the present, keenly alive
to every delight of sense, and revelling in life as a happy certainty
of tangible bliss, quite distinct from the enthusiastic visions of the
dreamer. A young man, full of health and gaiety—bound by no ties,
save those he chose to forge for himself—rich, though, as he had
said, his wishes often outran his wealth;—until the shadow of love
fell over him, Herman had never known a care. Yet his love, though it
had made him more thoughtful, brought with it no real sorrow, but only
those few faint doubts which nourish and strengthen as April rain.
Love without such would be like the spring without showers.
Waldhof bounded through his fields, exulting in the bright day, and
in his own happiness. He called his huntsmen around him, and made
ready for the chase. It would serve to beguile the tedious hours until
the lover could again seek the presence of his beloved. But before he
set out, he rode with his companions through the street where Hilda
dwelt. A goodly troop of young men they were, but there were none so
noble in bearing as Herman Waldhof. He knew it, too; and as he passed
Hilda's window, he felt almost glad that the horseman who rode beside
him was the Graf von P—, a small and ungainly man, badly mounted. As
Herman made his own fine charger curvet, and, doffing his hat, let the
sunshine rest on his curling hair, a smile of proud delight curved his
lips. For he saw through the lattice two fair eyes, which lingered not
on the Graf von P—, but on himself.
"I wonder," thought the young man, "how I appear to-day in Hilda's
As the idea crossed his mind, it seemed that his steed dashed wildly
along, confusing all his faculties. His eyes grew dazzled with the
motion caused by passing swiftly through the air, and he hardly knew
what affected him, until he woke out of a kind of stupor. He felt
himself floating through the air as one does in dreams; but his
personal identity was gone. He glided along as bodiless as a winged
thought, and yet he clearly distinguished everything around him as
when he had been gifted with corporeal senses. He was floating amidst
the trees of a wild forest, he heard the ringing music of the horn,
and beneath him gallopped a troop of gay huntsmen. One among them was
remarkable for personal beauty and agility. He sat his steed with the
grace and firmness of a young Greek warrior, and his joyous laugh
resounded through the forest as if he had been the light-hearted
Actæon of old. In this youth, so apparently happy, so beautiful in
person, the hovering spirit of Herman Waldhof recognised himself. His
wish had been attained.
Like a cloud in the air the Shadow floated over the merry troop, and
followed them through the glades of the forest. It beheld its
corporeal self—the man who was Herman Waldhof; it scanned his
features with keen inquiry. They were as perfect in form as the mirror
had always reflected them; but now, when agitated by the play of
expression, there was a vague deficiency—a want of that inexpressible
charm which sometimes makes the most ordinary face enchanting by the
inward beauty of the mind. Herman's features were as unchangeable in
their expression as those of the Apollo Belvidere—if you sought
anything beyond, you might as well seek it in that marble. The Shadow
into which a portion of the young man's soul had fled, retained enough
of its mortal nature to feel this want and deplore it, and turned its
observation to other qualities of its second self.
Most noble was the bearing of the young huntsman, but still an
unprejudiced eye might distinguish in his manly form too much of
strength and too little of grace. He was an incipient Hercules, who
might become in middle age anything but lithe and active. Winning he
was in manner, and yet, both in that and in his tone of voice, was
apparent an occasional harshness that in an inferior would have been
most unpleasing, but which was disregarded in the wealthy and
fascinating Herman Waldhof. His companions treated him as a privileged
person, bore with his haughtiness, and laughed at his jests, even when
directed against themselves.
"We shall find no game to-day," said Herman, with a shade of
annoyance perceptible in his tone.
"You have driven it far into the inner forest with your constant
hunts, Waldhof," answered one of the young men. "Truly, all we
huntsmen ought to be very grateful for a whole year's amusement at
"Oh, 'tis nothing," returned Herman. "I love the chase, therefore I
follow it. Having plenty of horses and every other appurtenance of
wealth, I can oblige my friends and please myself with their society
at the same time. By-the-by, Von P—, why did you not go to my stable?
My grooms would have better provided you than with that sorry steed of
The Graf von P— turned crimson with vexation.
"A poor nobleman is sometimes worse off than a rich commoner, but
he is not the less proud. With all thanks for his courtesy, Herr
Waldhof will excuse my preferring my own horse."
"Just as you like!" answered the young man, carelessly, totally
unconscious of the pain he had caused; but the Shadow of his being saw
in that passing incident, an ostentation for which the open-handed
generosity of youth could not atone, and a thoughtlessness of others
which showed selfishness lurking in the depths of an otherwise frank
and kindly nature. A superficial observer might not notice these
things, but one who could read the inner foldings of the human heart
would at once recognise them as blemishes in the character of Herman
The young huntsmen rode merrily on, and the prey was found. Now all
the ardour of the chase began. Exulting in his dauntless courage,
Herman was the foremost in all dangerous exploits. His eyes flashed,
his colour heightened, and his voice rang out merrily. More than once
he dashed between the enraged boar and one of the assailants, thereby
perilling his own life, and preserving that of another
fellow-creature. And then they all cried, "how generous, how heroic
was the young Herman Waldhof!" and the dim Shadow which followed him
rejoiced triumphantly in the praise of its other self.
The hunted boar turned at bay, and the crisis of the sport arrived.
All drew back, and left the master of the chase to perform the
crowning exploit. It was an honour which Herman had ever claimed as a
right. He glanced proudly round and spurred his horse, poising his
spear with a firm, bold hand. But, in a moment, another horseman
dashed forward, and despatching the wild beast, turned exultingly to
claim the final honours of the chase. It was the Graf von P—!
Instantly the beaming face of Herman was darkened by a thunder-cloud
of anger, until the features that were before so beautiful grew almost
hideous in their wrathful disdain. He was about to plunge his horse
forward, and direct his reeking spear—not against the dead boar, but
the living man—had not a murmur from the other huntsmen arrested him.
"It was not right of Von P—!" "Herman should have slain the
boar!" said various of his friends.
"Have I done aught to anger Herr Waldhof?" observed the surprised
"You have insulted me!" angrily exclaimed his rival. "I am the lord
of the forest: it is my place, not yours, to despatch the beast. Look
to yourself, my lord! Herman Waldhof is the equal of any Graf in
"I am a stranger—I know not your customs. If I have erred in
courtesy, I regret it," answered the young nobleman, with an unmoved
dignity that turned the tide of opinion in his favour. Herman rode
homewards; and as the hovering spirit looked down upon him, it saw how
evil passions had marred the fairest characteristics of nature; and
how a stranger, beholding him a prey to violent and angry feeling,
would see no trace of the noble youth who had been so lately the
admiration of every eye.
On his journey home the Shadow accompanied him, and watched the
gradual dispersion of bitterness from a nature that never retained
evil long. And as the hour drew nigh that was to bring him to Hilda,
every trace of wrathful emotion was swept away under the soothing
influence of his love. Apparently, he thought of Hilda—he closed his
eyes, and called up her dear face to his memory—he imagined how she
would welcome him, what he should say to her, and what she would
answer: and in these delicious love-reveries an inexpressible
sweetness became diffused over his face. When the shadowy Self
followed him to the presence of his love, it exulted over his grace
Hilda was not, like her lover, perfect in form and face. A passing
eye might have overlooked her, but those who loved her thought her
fair, and all loved her who knew her. A painter would have adored her
soft brown eyes and lovely hair, and a musician would have said her
voice was the sweetest in the world; and yet neither might have called
Hilda beautiful. It was the atmosphere of love and purity in which she
moved, investing all her looks, words, and deeds, with an irresistible
charm, that made her the ideal of perfect womanhood.
She rose up and welcomed her lover—in her heart of hearts she knew
that he was her lover, though no formal words had passed
between them. Yet with a maidenly reserve she shut up in her heart the
secret consciousness which made its chiefest joy. Herman thought her
tone was cold—that her hand touched his with a careless pressure: he
did not know that at the sound of his horse's approach, a few moments
before, those little hands had been pressed wildly upon the throbbing
heart, and then spread over the fair, blushing face, that would fain
hide even from the dumb walls its radiant yet timid happiness.
Herman came and sat by his beloved; the ever attendant Shadow
watched him, as he talked in a tone low and gentle. How winning he
could be at will!—truly it was no marvel that Hilda loved him! He
spoke of common things, of his day's sport, and then, with a
frankness that showed in a golden light all the higher qualities of
his nature, he confessed to Hilda the incident which had annoyed him.
Perhaps mingled with this sincerity was a consciousness that the story
would come best from his own lips, and that Hilda would seek to
palliate a fault so candidly acknowledged, thus restoring him to his
own good opinion, which he had well-nigh lost.
But Hilda listened without a word of praise or extenuation. She
could not trust her voice, lest it should betray the love that was so
nigh overflowing, and yet had no warrant for its utterance. And
perhaps, too, she felt a woman's pain that a shadow of error should
dim the brightness of her idol.
"I have heard of this before," she said.
"Who told you? Who dared speak ill of me to you?" cried the young
man, and the dark cloud of anger again came over him. The Shadow saw,
and fled back troubled.
Hilda lifted her eyes to his with a look of pained surprise, mingled
with reproach. "We will talk no more of this," she answered, gently.
Her look and tone calmed her lover in a moment.
"Do not chide me, fair and dear maiden," replied he. "I was in
error, perhaps not so much as they say and as you imagine, but still I
am willing to acknow. ledge aught that you please."
His words were humble, yet there was pride in their tone, as if he
expected them to be contradicted immediately; but this the truthful
spirit of the young girl would not do. She loved him well; and love,
which made all his good qualities shine in her eyes with double
lustre, rendered her proportionately quicksighted to his failings.
"Herr Waldhof," said Hilda, gravely, "I ask no confession if caused
alone by your friendship"—the innocent hypocrisy of those dear
lips!—"your friendship for me. It was not right of you to be so angry
with the Graf Von P—, who meant you no disrespect. Besides, as your
"My friend! the poor, cowardly creature
Say your own, rather, if so you mean!" cried the lover, hardly
suppressing his jealous indignation.
Hilda's womanly pride was roused.
"As you will," she answered, with a quivering lip and heightened
colour. "I am not used to discussions so warm as this, therefore, Herr
Waldhof, I will bid you adieu, as I believe my father desires your
She lightly touched the hand which, in his mortification, the young
man scarcely held out to her, and, with a step of maidenly dignity,
glided from the room.
With a sense of the deepest abasement, the shadowy Presence looked
down upon its other self, as the young man paced the room in violent
emotion, raving against Hilda, his rival, and the whole world.
"She loves me not! she scorns me! she pleads in behalf of the
wretch Von P—!" he muttered. "Not one gentle feeling is in her heart
for me, or she would not have spoken thus!"
Oh, self-deceiver, blinded by anger! could thine eye but have
pierced into the next chamber, and seen that weeping girl who passed
from thee but now with so firm a step; couldst thou have known the
anguish that came with the discovery of one fault in thee, and yet the
love which would fain wash it all away with pardoning tears, and
defend thee against the whole world!
Herman leaped on his horse, nor stayed his frantic speed until he
reached his own home. He locked himself up in his chamber, and sank
down exhausted. Long he remained in a state which seemed
half-sleeping, half-waking, until the morning birds aroused him. Then
the whole charm was dispelled; the events of yesterday returned
vividly to his memory: he became conscious of the double existence
which had then been his, and knew—oh, with what bitterness came the
knowledge!—that he had beheld himself.
Lo, ye have souls immortal and sublime
To be made infinite in love and light,
And heavenly knowledge, if ye will but ope
The inner fountains, and the inner eyes,
And see the deep and full significance
The worth and wherefore of the life of man.
LEUTHOLD watched from the window of the small room where he
slept, ate, and studied, the merry troop of huntsmen go by. He saw,
loftiest among them, the graceful head of his friend Herman. The
clanging of the hoofs in the street below had disturbed him from his
studies; and as he closed the window and turned away from the
sunshine, the glittering dresses, and the sound of gay voices—the
darkness and solitude of his own poor chamber struck him mournfully.
He leaned his forehead against his open book, and tried to shut out
from his view alike the brightness without and the gloom within—both
were equally painful.
"How happy they seem! how gay!" thought the young man with sadness.
"And I?—Well, let me calmly think what I am, and what I would fain
be. Would I change with them?—become noble, and handsome, and rich as
they; have no care but for the pleasures of life? Ah, but age will
come; the strong limbs will grow feeble; the gay spirit become soured;
the mind sink to a mere animal existence. Would I change with them,
And the student strove to cheer himself with the consciousness of
the high aim of life. He remembered that man's godlike mind is not
given him to be cast aside like an useless thing, nor is he created to
waste his existence in the passing pursuit of pleasure. While he
pondered, he looked around on the dear companions of his
loneliness—precious, though silent—his beloved books; and he envied
not Herman Waldhof himself; save for that most priceless treasure,
which the student would have died to gain—Hilda's love.
"How noble he looked as he passed her window!" thought Leuthold.
"How dare I compare myself to him!" and the student gazed mournfully
down upon his own slight, meagre limbs, and thin hands. "Oh, that I
could die—that I could lose the memory of this bitter, hopeless
love!" Bowing his head upon his knees, and forgetting his manhood, he
gave way to the weakness of a nature which resembled a woman's in
sensitiveness, and sobbed as in his childish days.
With the reaction of his feelings the young man grew calmer. "I
will be patient—I will endure," continued he, pursuing the train of
his thoughts. "The sunshine of life is not for me: I must train my
spirit to live content in its shade. Why murmur, poor heart! the
future will but be as the past. From my cradle life has been a
solitude. I have never known the joy of being beloved!" But while
Leuthold uttered this, a remorseful pang touched his heart, and a
faint, spirit-like voice, seemed to fall on his ear,—"My son, my son,
hast thou then forgotten me?"
The student threw himself on his knees, and cried, "Forgive me, oh,
my mother, if this wild love for a moment shuts out the memory of
thine! Pure and angelic spirit, comfort me now!" He clasped a
crucifix, and remained muttering the habitual devotions of a religion,
in which even the depths of his philosophical learning had not shaken
his belief—it was too near his heart for any mere powers of intellect
to overthrow it. Gradually a numbness oppressed his faculties; the
realities around him faded into shadows, until he seemed to wake at
last, like one who, dreaming, dreams he is roused from a dream. In
that moment, the mysterious change for which he had longed passed over
Leuthold; his spirit became divided, and beheld its bodily Self.
The form which engarmented that pure and noble soul was not
beautiful. The Shadow looked down upon Leuthold as he knelt, and
thought how mean was the figure of the student—diminutive, stooping,
though not actually deformed. The face was sallow; the features
irregular; and when in repose, ordinary and inexpressive. The sole
redeeming portions of the face were a high, broad forehead, and large,
soft, gray eyes, shaded by lashes as long and silken as a woman's. But
it could not be denied that, as he appeared now, scarce a trace of
personal beauty did the student possess.
Leuthold rose, put aside his books, and went out into the streets of
Leipsic. The invisible Shadow followed him, and watched him as he
moved. His slight, low figure would have passed unnoticed through the
crowd of a great city; but here in Leipsic, which was for ages the
stronghold of learning, there were many to whom Leuthold Auerbach was
known, as one whose wisdom surpassed his years. Not a few, both of the
old whose companionship he sought, and the young who came to him for
instruction, doffed their hats as he passed. The pleasant smile of
recognition lighted up his face, and the Shadow saw that his step grew
firmer, and even his stature seemed to rise, with a consciousness
that he was respected by those whose respect was grateful to him.
He went on to the great hall of Leipsic, where students and
professors were accustomed to meet for discussion, and to give and
receive instruction. It was a high day, and within those walls were
collected many of the learned from all parts of Germany. As Leuthold
passed through the division where sat the younger of the company, many
of them his own pupils, he heard a murmur of respectful
congratulation. His eye brightened, and his lips relaxed into a smile
almost as bright as Herman's. The Spirit felt—phantom as it was—as
if a sunbeam of gladness had shot through its airy being.
"We have been looking for you, Herr Auerbach," said one of the
young men. "The great doctor from Cologne has mentioned you with
praise; and our professor has chosen you to deliver the harangue, as
being the most learned of the students of Leipsic."
Leuthold's cheek flushed with pleasure; and he walked with a
dignified step to the upper end of the hall, where the learned
conclave awaited him. There he heard that the fame of Leuthold of
Leipsic had reached to distant cities. Many, whose heads were white
with long years of study, came forward to press with friendly grasp
the hand of the young man. He, in self-possessed yet modest humility,
which gave a gracefulness to his whole deportment, received their
congratulations and praise.
"They told me I should see a plain, common- look- ing young man,"
whispered the great savant of Cologne. I do not find him so.
His manner is dignified yet retiring; his countenance beams with
"You are right. He has the beauty of a noble mind. I am proud of my
pupil," answered the professor, who was Hilda's father.
The Shadow heard, and its airy essence thrilled with joy.
Now, from amidst the crowded assembly, rose the voice of Leuthold
Auerbach. It was low and tremulous at first, as if oppressed by the
dead silence around; but as the speaker advanced it became firm.
Already we have said that Leuthold possessed that irresistible
charm—a low, clear, and melodious voice. These exquisite tones were
now like music, accompanying the deep wisdom which they uttered.
Leuthold was not an impassioned orator; with him all feelings lay
deep, giving an outward calmness to all he said and did; therefore his
words now were more those of a sage who reasoned for a great truth,
than of a young man who poured forth his emotions in flowery
eloquence. But the clearness and earnestness of his own mind
communicated itself to his speech, and thence to the heart as well as
to the intellect of the multitude, who listened as it were one man.
When he concluded, first a deep silence, more expressive than
applause, and then a shout of congratulation that made the hall
re-echo, proclaimed the triumph of the student
Almost overpowered, Leuthold sank back, and his friends crowded
round him. Foremost among them was the learned professor, who had
been his teacher in the days of his early youth.
"You must come home with me to-day," said the kindly old man.
"Hilda will rejoice to hear of your success."
The Shadow looked down upon itself, and saw that Leuthold's face
glowed with rapture, and his very lips trembled with emotion.
"I am weary now, my kind master," answered he, taking the
professor's hand affectionately; "but I will come to-night—yes! tell
her I will come to-night," he repeated, almost unconsciously.
Still under the influence of the joy which gave beauty to his whole
appearance, Leuthold took his way homeward. He sat a long time in his
quiet room—it hardly looked so lonely as it had done in the morning,
and he himself appeared no longer the pale and drooping student, who
had knelt in despair before the crucifix. He rested his head on his
hand, and the ever present Phantom watched. It was a face that any man
might have looked on with reverence, any woman with love. As the day
wore on, he heard the troop of huntsmen go by on their return: but
they gave him no pain; he did not even move to watch them. When
evening came, he wrapped himself in his cloak, and went out to visit
Hilda. Ere he reached the door a horseman galloped furiously past him.
Leuthold turned, and saw that it was Herman, his dark hair flying in
the wind, and his whole mien disordered.
"Poor Herman! he is annoyed; perhaps he has been unsuccessful at
the chase, in which he delights so much," thought the student; and in
his simple and gentle nature, Leuthold almost reproached himself for
being happy while his friend was not so. But he remembered Herman no
longer when he entered Hilda's dwelling.
It was a small, pleasant chamber, into which he passed; how well he
knew every nook of it! There, night after night, in the long winter
evenings, the motherless, lonely youth had been made welcome by his
kind old master; and the little Hilda had joyfully welcomed a
playfellow who was so much gentler than her own wild brothers. There,
as years went on, the young man had listened to the evening
instructions of the professor, while Hilda, now growing womanly and
reserved, but kind and sisterly still, sat by. Leuthold glanced
lovingly towards the corner where she used to work, the lamp shining
on her smooth brown hair, and her quick-moving fingers. Oh, how happy
were those days! Musing thus, the student waited for the entrance of
Hilda came at last. She met him cordially, took his hand in both
hers—the poor Leuthold, how he trembled at the touch!—and told him
how glad she was of his triumph that day.
"My father is proud of you, Leuthold; we are all proud of you. You
must not forget us when you are a great man!" said Hilda, with a
frank and pleasant smile.
The student looked at her with his whole soul in his eyes—those
beautiful gray eyes! He leaned over her as she sat, and became
absorbed in the bliss of her presence. They talked, as they always
did, of things that both loved, of the future that was opening before
their young life; she with the open-hearted kindliness of her nature,
conversing with a dear friend; and he drinking in love ineffable from
her every word and look. The Shadow hovered over him, and perceived
how that the magic of love gave new music to his voice, and new
eloquence to his tongue; how it lighted up his face, and made his
homely features almost divine with the radiance of a commanding
intellect, and a heart full of all that is pure and good in man. The
spirit beheld, and gloried in itself.
Hilda talked to Leuthold with the kindly earnestness of a heart
which had nothing to conceal—alas for him, not even the sweet secret
of love! She praised him, she spoke of his coming career of fame, and,
more glorious still than fame, the proud delight of a life spent in
the soul's true vocation—that of adding to the wisdom of past ages,
and of so carrying one's own lamp, be it great or small, that future
generations may grow wiser and better through its guiding radiance.
"You are gentle as well as wise, Leuthold," said the maiden. "You
will go through life happy and beloved. All is well with you."
Her voice had a softened tone, almost sad; and her whole manner was
subdued—for while speaking to Leuthold, she was thinking of one
dearer. The student was deceived by her kind words, the
tremulousiness of her voice, the sudden changing of her cheek, her
troubled and anxious air. He believed—oh, the madness of the
dream!—that there was yet hope for him, that in time he might be
loved even as he loved.
He mentioned Herman; but she who in happiness would have blushed and
trembled at the chance hearing of the beloved name, now in her sorrow
could listen to it unmoved. No outward sign of love for his rival came
to dim the young man's hope.
"I saw Waldhof on my way hither, and thought he would have been
with you to-night," continued Lenthold.
"He came, but soon departed," said Hilda, calmly; and the student
dared ask no more. Could it be that Herman Waldhof had returned an
unsuccessful wooer? And if so, why? The bare idea made the heart of
him who loved so madly throb with added violence. He was too noble to
rejoice at the sorrow of his friend; and yet human nature is weak, and
Love is a king who conquers all other feelings. That Hilda should be
free—that he might dare to seek her love! The thought overpowered
him; and, as the Shadow of his soul read all these conflicting
feelings in the face of the student, it became troubled likewise.
"What ails thee, Leuthold?" said Hilda, kindly, as she noticed his
agitated countenance. "Thy hand is burning, too!" and the touch of her
soft cool fingers thrilled to his heart. "Dear friend," she added, "I
must send thee away. Go home and sleep—this day's happiness is too
much for thee."
"It is—it is too much," passionately cried the student. He dared
not trust himself with another word or look, but, bidding Hilda a
hurried adieu, he went out.
In the cool night, beneath the quiet stars, his frenzy passed away;
a soft dreaminess overpowered him, and the spell was ended. Leuthold
knew that his desire had been fulfilled; clearly and distinctly his
natural self remembered all that the Shadow had beheld. The knowledge
gave him no false pride; but a delicious consciousness of what he was
in himself and how he was regarded by others, crept into his heart,
and imparted to it courage, firmness, and peace. The timid,
self-abased student now knew his own worth, and became brave.
"Sorrow, there seemeth more of thee in life
Than we can bear, and live; and yet we hear."
"What is good for a bootless bene?"
READER, hast thou ever known one of those happy moments when
thy soul suddenly passes out of darkness into light—when, after
wearily walking in gloom, the sun of some long-shrouded joy gleams
through the mist, and thy tears are dried up like dew-drops in the
morning. Life becomes pleasant to thee—all things look beautiful in
thine eyes, as in those of a blind man who has just received sight;
thou rememberest no more the time of darkness, but goest forth
rejoicing in the unhoped-for light.
Thus it was with Leuthold, when at sunrise he awoke. How sweet was
the waking! First, there came the dim memory of some inexplicable
happiness, and then a name rose to his lips. The remembrance of his
love—day by day his earliest waking thought—came upon him with a
full tide of recollection. But there was a change. The young man rose
up and looked out on the daylight; never had it before seemed so fair.
His eyes grew dim with overpowering bliss; he stretched out his arms,
as if he would embrace the whole world in the fulness of his joy; he
murmured the name of her he loved, adding to it those words which he
had never yet dared to utter—"Mine own! mine own!"
Alas! alas! for the love that can thus deceive itself!
Leuthold went to his books, but his ideas wandered. What had
philosophy to do with love? Sometimes a painful thought of Herman
flitted across his mind. If Hilda loved him not, how wretched he must
"But he will forget it in time. Herman's love is not like mine,"
murmured the student. "He has many joys; I only one—but that passing
Again came Hilda's image; and the young lover gave himself up to a
sweet reverie. He pictured his future life; he conjured up the vision
of a home, calm, peaceful, where he might follow the pursuits he
loved, and become learned and honoured among men. He thought how
proudly the professor would give his daughter to one who deserved to
win her; and, mingled with the idea of the old man, came that of
childhood; of sweet young faces crowding round him; of fame to be
reaped for them, that they might rejoice in their father's name when
he was in the dust; and above all, the image of Hilda, in wifehood, in
motherhood, in still fair and still-beloved old age. How they twain
would glide together through life! not living as the worldly do—as if
this existence were all—but ever looking upwards together, firmly
believing that those who are one in love, and one in heart and mind,
whatever be the after destiny of the soul, will never be divided.
All day Leuthold could not drive away the blissful dream. It nestled
close to his heart, and would not go; it followed him when he went out
into the busy streets; it coloured everything with its own rosy light.
The faces he met seemed to peer into his, as if divining the secret of
his happiness. Only one fear oppressed him—lest he might perchance
see Herman. But the day passed and Herman came not. In the evening
Leuthold went out into the open country, where he thought no prying
eyes could behold his joy. Yet, even there, the clouds as they passed
over him seemed to form themselves into the semblance of Hilda's face,
and the little birds as they sang almost "syllabled her name." All
nature to Leuthold was full of love.
As he walked dreamily along, a step overtook him, his hand was
warmly grasped, and Herman stood before him.
"Why, you are sauntering like a man asleep!" said young Waldhof.
Leuthold changed colour, and looked anxiously at his friend.
Herman's face was not without some traces of agitation; but there was
no sorrow there.
"I have sought for you everywhere," continued the other. "I have
much to tell, Leuthold."
"Have you, too, attained your desire?" asked Leuthold, hurriedly.
"Have the angels we beheld that night—"
"I dreamed a dream, but I have forgotten it now, save for what it
taught me. Oh, Leuthold, I have had a bitter lesson, but it has ended
in joy—Hilda loves me!"
There are strokes so terrible, so stunning, that the heart within us
seems to turn to ice, and that is all. A thunderbolt sometimes slays
without an outward wound. Thus it was with Leuthold. His life's hope
was shattered, but no visible token betrayed the death-stroke within.
Herman drew his friend's arm within his own, and they sat down
under a tree. There, with his face turned away from Leuthold, the
young man told the whole story of his anger, and its punishment.
"This morning," he cried, "I knew myself as I had never known
before. I was humbled to the dust. I longed to throw myself at Hilda's
feet, and say, 'Hate me, despise me; I deserve it. I am not worthy to
look upon thee, and yet I love thee!'"
"And thou didst say so, Herman?" said the student very calmly.
"Yes, best Leuthold; my good angel was with me: I poured out my
heart before her in its shame, in its humility, and she contemned it
not. She forgave me for my love's sake. Listen to what she said—every
one of her sweet words is written on my heart. 'Thou art very
thoughtless, Herman—thou art full of faults—thou art not half so
gentle as Leuthold; and yet I love thee—only thee.' And then she laid
her dear arms round my neck.—Why, Leuthold, how thou shiverest!"
"The wind is cold—very cold," muttered the unfortunate student.
"Then take my cloak. Come—we will sit no longer here: thou art not
so strong as I," answered the other, as with unwonted gentleness of
manner he led his friend homeward. Happy love had given all his better
feelings freer play.
"I sometimes think it strange that thou shouldst never have loved
Hilda," said Herman, as they walked on slowly, "or that she should
not have loved thee."
me!—me!" repeated Leuthold.
"Yes, it might have been. I was almost jealous of thee when Hilda
spoke so warmly of thee this morning, and I told her so. But she only
smiled, and said thou hadst never dreamed of such a thing—that thou
wert as a brother to her, and hadst never loved aught except thy
books. But the time will come, Leuthold—Hilda says so—when thou,
too, wilt know the bliss of happy love. Thou shouldst have heard her
praise thee, ay, even beyond myself. And then she described the sort
of damsel that would win thy hard heart—beautiful as an angel, gentle
as a dove. Ha! ha! Leuthold, dost hear?" laughed the gay-hearted young
Leuthold laughed too. So strong was his self-control that the
keenest ear could not have distinguished a discordant tone in that
awful mirth. The friendly darkness hid the convulsions of his
features, the clench of his hands, the torturing pain that seemed as
if a fiend's clutch were at his throat; and Leuthold conquered. But
angels would have looked down and wept over him who struggled so
fearfully with himself, that in the contest life was almost riven
asunder. At his own door the student parted from Herman, kindly,
cheerfully, as usual; nay, listened to the careless footstep of the
young man as he passed down the street, humming a light ditty,
half-playful, half-tender, for it was of love. The sounds died away,
and Leuthold was alone.
Let us not depict the anguish of that first hour of terrible
awakening from the dream of a lifetime. They to whom love is but the
crowning link of many sweet bonds, the last nectar-drop in a cup
already running over with all life's other blessings, can never know
what it is to those who have nought else. Such love—the love of
years—is not merely the chief aim of life; it is life itself. What
must the rending be? We cannot paint—we dare not! God help those who
have thus lost all!
A night of agony passed, and Leuthold had striven with his own
soul, until he had taught it that most blessed of lessons—to endure.
In the silence and gloom a spirit-hand had been laid upon his heart,
and its wild beatings grew still. A spirit-voice had breathed in his
ear, "Peace, peace! others, too, have suffered and found rest." Then
Leuthold answered in his soul—"Yes, I know, in the grave." But the
voice replied, solemnly and reproachfully—"And in life, too, there
is peace. Thinkest thou that the All-good would send His children on
earth for cureless sorrow? There is no grief so heavy that it cannot
be borne, until patience becomes in the end calmness and peace." And
the gnawing pain in the student's heart ceased: he grovelled no longer
on the floor of his chamber, wrestling with his despair, but looked
upward to the sky. It was still and clear, but all starless; and
Leuthold thought it was an image of his own future. As he looked, the
horizon brightened, and his tearless, burning eyes beheld the coming
dawn. Then he knew that there is no night so long and dreary but
morning will come at last. The fountains of his heart were
unsealed—tears came, and they soothed him. He laid down, and slept a
sleep as calm as if angels watched around his pillow. It might have
been so—who knows?
While many of the dwellers in Leipsic were yet sleeping, Leuthold
Auerbach went forth from his native town, as he resolved, for ever! He
left kindly tokens for all whom he regarded; but he bade farewell to
none. No one knew of his going until he had departed; and he gave no
clue as to whither he was journeying. Perhaps be hardly knew himself;
but he felt that he could not stay at Leipsic. A restless desire for
wandering took possession of him. He seemed as though he could not
breathe until he had shut out from his eyes, heart, and mind, those
scenes where he had been at once so happy and so wretched—until he
had placed the wide world between him and his lost hope.
As before said, he went away without one adieu even to Hilda. He
could not look again upon her beloved face, knowing that all hope was
lost for ever. Against his reason—almost against his conviction—one
faint ray had clung to his heart during these long years of hidden
love: all was dark now. Ere long he knew that the total cessation of a
flickering hope is far easiest to bear,—at least after a time; but
this truth he had yet to learn. Now, his only strength seemed to
consist in flying far away from the spectre of a vanished joy.
Leuthold passed by the dwelling of Hilda, and his heart melted. In
all his agony was mingled no anger against her. She loved him not, but
she had not deceived him: he had beguiled himself. She was still the
angel of his life, the unconscious origin of all that was pure and
good in his nature, the awakener of his soul. Therein, her image shone
unclouded still. In the lonely sunshine of early morning, Leuthold
stood by her garden-gate; he pressed his lips to the cold stone where
her hand had often rested in their many adieux, and prayed that she
might be blessed through life, and happy in the love of him she had
While he lingered, he heard the trees rustling in the garden; a
light footstep sounded along the walks; and a low singing was heard,
that seemed to come from a heart overladen with its own happiness.
It was Hilda's voice. Leuthold could bear no more; he fled
away—far, far, as if his feet were winged. The dream of his youth was
ended for ever.
"Look not mournfully into the Past; it returns no more;
wisely improve the Present; and go forth into the shadowy Future
without fear, and with a manly heart."
THE high mass of Easter was being celebrated in Haarlem
Cathedral. The deep-toned organ poured forth its volume of sound, the
censers gave out their incense, and the priests murmured the low
monotonous prayers of a religion whose mysterious beauty appeals to
the heart, more than to the understanding. The cathedral was filled
with kneeling worshippers of every rank. The rude boor from the Dutch
marshes, but a few degrees superior to his barbarian ancestor, of whom
the refined Tacitus scornfully writes; the rich citizen of Haarlem,
who, contented with his wealth and ignorance, left the duties of
religion and learning to the priests of his faith—a faith which he
professed, but never attempted to comprehend—were both there; and,
lastly, there were chance wanderers from all parts, who had come to
witness the Easter celebration, and to hear the great organ of
Of all that worshipping crowd we shall particularize but two
individuals, who knelt side by side, though chance alone had caused
their propinquity, as they were perfect strangers to each other. One
was far advanced in life, with phlegmatic, Dutch features, only
redeemed from dulness by the acute expression of a quick, dark eye: he
wore a burgher's dress, goodly enough, and carefully arranged. Beside
him knelt the other—a man, whose age might have been within the
middle cycle of life—from thirty to fifty. He had a dark, bronzed
countenance, remarkable neither for beauty nor ugliness; hair, in
which white streaks already had begun to mingle with the brown; and a
stooping gait. His careless but not coarse attire, was travel-worn,
and he worshipped like Jacob, "leaning on the top of his staff," one
which had evidently sustained the wayfarer's steps through many a
weary journey. He rested his hands upon it as he knelt, leaned his
head against them, and seemed absorbed in thought. His musings were
hardly devotional, for he fixed his large soft eyes on vacancy, and
his compressed lips did not move, though all around him were heard the
murmuring orisons of his fellow-worshippers.
When the sacred host was raised, the stranger's open eyes were
still fixed upward; he declined not his head; his neighbour touched
his elbow, whispering
"My good friend, thou art absorbed! thou forgettest thy prayers."
The other turned hastily round, looked at the old burgher's kindly
face, and, with a murmured apology or acknowledgment, bent his head
like the rest, until the holy emblem had passed by. When the service
concluded, the old man said to his fellow-worshipper—
"I pray you pardon me for breaking in upon your thoughts just now;
but it behoves all good Catholics to be doubly careful of every due
rite, when these sinful doctrines of the man John Huss are abroad."
"I am beholden to you," answered the stranger, in a sweet, musical
voice. It was the same which, years before, had rung with persuasive
eloquence in the hall of Leipzic; had murmured its quiet words of
concealed love at Hilda's side; had poured forth, in secret, its agony
of wild despair. The stranger in the cathedral of Haarlem was Leuthold
Touched and interested—unconsciously, perhaps—by the melody of a
voice that was irresistible, the old man, as they went out together,
still continued the conversation.
"You seem a stranger here?"
"I entered Haarlem only yesterday."
"And you were admiring our cathedral? Is it not beautiful?" said
the old man, with some degree of pride.
"It is the fairest I have yet seen, and I have travelled far and
wide, and have found no rest for my feet," continued Leuthold,
musingly, while a sad look passed over his face, not unmarked by his
"Forgive an old man's rudeness," said the Dutchman, kindly; "but
you seem weary, my friend; and if you are a stranger, and have no
home—no ties in Haarlem—"
"None in the wide world!"
"Why, then, come home and stay with me, while your affairs detain
you here. Ours is a cheerful house; my Lucia will be sure to welcome
her father's guest; and I have half-a-dozen grandchildren, who will
strive to amuse you. You might fare worse than in the home of old
Leuthold met this unexpected hospitality with the cordiality it
"But, Herr Coster," he said, smiling, "are you not rather
venturesome in thus welcoming a stranger to your house?"
"I know not who you may be, whether rich or poor, noble or
peasant," answered the hearty burgher. "I only need look in your face
to see you are a good man, and that is all I care for. You are most
welcome, provided you are not one of those abominable heretics."
Leuthold drew a crucifix from his bosom. "I am a good Catholic, I
trust: as indeed you have already witnessed. I was once a student, and
am still a humble follower of the learned sciences. My name is
"Then welcome—thrice welcome!" cried Lauren- tius, grasping him
warmly by the hand. "My instinct was true! Sir, I am a simple,
unlearned man myself, but I have been honoured with the friendship of
many of the wise and good. Your name is known to me as that of one
whom a prince might be proud to welcome to his palace. Thrice welcome
to my home, Herr Auerbach!"
Leuthold's breast thrilled with pleasure. The yearning desire for
human sympathy yet dwelt there, and ever sprang up at the lightest
touch, a pure fountain of love for all mankind. He had said to himself
when, after the desolation that fell upon him, his heart revived a
little,—as a wayside plant crushed by a heavy stone, after a time
begins to put forth its small green leaves from amidst the ruins—he
had said, "I will be strong, I will be patient. The world is very
wide. I will not mourn for the loss of one all-engrossing love; my
heart shall not be frozen by this despair, but shall abound the more
in pure, unselfish, universal love—in divine charity."
And so he had wandered far and wide, in desert places, and among men
whose very existence was unknown to civilized Europe. He had gone from
the learned priests of Rome to the wild mountaineers of Hungary, and
then again to the scarcely less barbarian inhabitants of the nooks and
corners of his own German land. He had journeyed from city to city,
everywhere following on the track of misery with the footstep of an
angel of peace, regarding his learning only as an instrument of doing
good. To the sick he was a physician; to the poor a comforter and
adviser; to the guilty he spoke with a warning, yet pitying voice.
When all these blessed him, when in their happiness he saw the fruit
of his labours, then Leuthold remembered no more his own sorrow, but
rejoiced that he was thus made an instrument of good on earth.
Laurentius and his guest took their way to the home of the former.
As they went, Coster talked with the not unpleasing garrulousness of
age; and Leuthold learned much of his new friend's early life. His
father had been custos of the cathedral; and this office,
after the fashion of those early times, had given to the family their
surname. Laurentius recounted to his guest the passing incidents of a
life whose course had been untroubled by any of those seasons of
worldly care and mental suffering, which often stand as landmarks of
bitterness in the history of finer moulded spirits. He had loved, in
an easy, gentle, indifferent way; he had married, and outlived joy; he
had lost his wife, and outlived sorrow. He spoke with a father's
fondness of his only child, Lucia, who, with her husband and children,
brightened his home in his old age.
"I have had a comfortable life, and have done as much good as my
opportunities permitted," said the old man. "Last of all, I am
content that my children should lay me in the shadow of the old
cathedral towers, say a prayer for my soul, and forget me."
"And is this life? Is this all?" thought Leuthold, while he
listened. "Have I no higher existence than this?" And his inmost soul
answered,—"Yes, thou hast the true life within thee!" He felt it, and
was content. "Yet," he murmured, "there is none on earth even to say
the prayer of loving kindred for my soul's repose." But the inward
voice replied,—"What matters it? if thou hast worked out thy mission
on earth, thy good deeds, however secret, will be as thy soul's
children: who will yet rise up and bless their father."
The dwelling of Laurentius Coster was situated on the shores of the
lake of Haarlem, whose waters dashed up almost to the entrance,
fertilizing a pleasant garden, which owed its beauty more to the hand
of abundant Nature, than to the tasteful skill of its cultivator. The
house was evidently occupied by a family whose wealth enabled them to
consider luxury a necessity, inasmuch as the window of the large hall
was of glass, while the other apertures for light were carefully
covered with a thin wire-woven substance. Moreover, it had one tall
chimney in the centre of the roof, above which the dense wood-smoke
curled upwards, diffusing the pleasant odour of burning pine-faggots;
and the roughness of the outer walls was concealed by festoons of ivy,
which had been gracefully trained so as to cover the whole front of
the low, one-storied dwelling.
Presently the garden rang with the welcoming shouts of a troop of
children, who came bounding to meet their grandfather. The boys danced
round him with innumerable greetings and inquiries about Easter-
gifts; while the eldest girl—a silent, demure-eyed little damsel of
twelve years—quietly took away the old man's stick, and drew his arm
through hers, making herself proud supporter of his steps.
"See what it is to be an old grandfather!" said Coster to Leuthold,
who had hung back from the merry tribe of children. "Come, Lucia the
Second," he continued, addressing his granddaughter, "you must be
mistress of the house in your mother's absence, and welcome my friend
here, whom I have brought from Haarlem."
The little maiden drooped her head, and cast down her eyes, half
shyly, half with a childish coquetry; then, without lifting up her
long eyelashes, she put her hand in Leuthold's, and said,—
"You are very welcome, and I hope you will stay a long time here."
"That will I gladly," answered Leuthold, as he stooped down and
kissed the sweet, blushing face; and then, still holding Lucia's hand,
he entered the house of Laurentius with a feeling of home-happiness
long unknown to the lonely wanderer.
"Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing leave behind us
Footsteps on the sands of time,—
Footprints that, perchance, another,
Sailing o'er Life's troubled main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again."
WEEKS, months passed, and Leuthold of Leipsic still remained an
honoured guest in the family of Laurentius Coster. There was a
patriarchal simplicity therein which was most soothing to the spirit
of the wanderer. The children loved him, for he became alternately
their teacher and their playfellow; the mother—a worthy Dutch matron,
to whom her home was her whole world—regarded him kindly, as a
harmless, gentle personage, who ate little and spoke less; and the old
man himself, after vainly trying to delight his own peculiar faculty
of hero-worship by treating Leuthold with the cumbrous respect due to
a great man, at last suffered him to remain unnoticed, and,
unencumbered with the burden of his fame, nestle in the family nook as
he best loved.
When Leuthold spoke of continuing his journeyings, it was with a
lingering and almost sorrowful tone, which was echoed by all the
family. John and Peter, the two elder boys, loudly protested against
his departure; and little Lucia tearfully raised her soft dove's eyes,
which had now learned to peep from under their lashes, even in the
presence of the great Herr Auerbach.
"Do you not love us, that you wish to go?" said the child,
wistfully. "You know that we love you—I more than all. Why will you
It is so sweet to hear the language of affection, even from a child.
Leuthold's eyes grew dim, while he took the gentle pleader on his
"You love me, dear child! Does any one then, love
"After such a frank declaration from this young damsel, what more
can you wish?" said the grandfather, merrily. "But come, Herr
Auerbach, tell me whither you would go, and whom it is that you prefer
to us? I thought you had no home-ties."
"I have no closer ties in the wide world than here," answered
Leuthold. "It seems to be my fortune to drift through life like a
chance sea-weed, and never find a resting-place. I have been happy
here, and now I go forth to fulfil my wandering destiny."
"Thou shalt not go forth at all, my son," cried the old man, his
tone of respect merging into that of affection. "Listen to what this
little maiden says, and stay with us. If thou art too proud to be
received as a brother in a household which is honoured by thy
presence, at least thou wilt not refuse to aid in governing these wild
boys, who ought to esteem it their greatest happiness to have been
instructed by the learned doctor Leuthold Auerbach. Therefore stay, my
son,—if I may call thee so."
Leuthold clasped the hand of Coster, and the compact was sealed,
without a word, save Lucia's joyful exclamation—
"Ah, now you will believe that we love you!"
And she sat down at his feet, looking up in his face with eyes that
spoke more than her words—eyes in which a woman's soul was dawning
through the unconscious innocence of the child.
"Herr Auerbach," said the eldest boy, after a long and whispered
consultation, "now you are one of the family, we must put your name
among our list of carvings. How do you spell 'Leuthold?'"
His question being answered, the boy began to consult with his
"An L and an H," mused the younger, John; "they will be hard to
cut. Grandfather, you must cut them for us, as you did in the tree."
And he brought out a large box filled with letters of all sizes
rudely carved in bark, some separately, others united in long strips,
forming the names of the family.
"Now you shall see how cleverly we can write without using a pen,
and what a quantity we can do at a time," said Peter. "Come, dear
master!" The "good master," or the "dear master," was Leuthold's
appellation in the family.
The boy led him to a rude sort of press, and showed him how, by
placing these blackened letters upon white paper, impressions were
taken of the names of the household.
"We call this our printing," said the boy, proudly, as he noticed
Leuthold's surprise and curiosity. "We have done all our own names,
and you shall soon see yours write itself in the same way. Once we did
a whole sentence—it was, Ave Maria, ora pro nobis: it looked
"And who found out these curious playthings?" asked the "good
"It was our grandfather who cut the first letter for us to copy out
of the bark of a beech-tree, as we were walking in the wood. Then Peter
took an impression of it, and we saw how it would save the trouble of
writing, and be much prettier. But you do not bear, good master,"
said the boy, as Leuthold sat musingly with the letters in his hand,
apparently absorbed in deep reflection.
In the child's plaything the man of thought and far-seeing
intellect perceived, though dimly, the origin of a mighty power, which
in coming ages would sway the world to its centre. He saw how learning
might be scattered far and wide—how the work of a lifetime might come
to be transcribed in a day—and thus the blessing of knowledge be
diffused to an extent of which he had never before dreamed. These
possibilities, though vague, came upon the man of science with a force
which he could feel, but not define. A sudden light flashed upon
Leuthold, impelling him to work out the great idea which had arisen
out of one of those strange accidents which we call chance, but which
Laurentius Coster was one of those men who seem sent into the
world, the unconscious instruments of some great good, yet who never
dream of their mission, and accomplish it more through seeming fate
than by the resolute agency of their own will. How little did the
simple-minded old man imagine, when cutting out playthings for his
grandchildren, that he was paving the way for the glorious footsteps
of freedom, of science, of literature;—that the name which, in his
unlearned humility, he deemed would soon be forgotten, was to be
transmitted from generation to generation as that of the inventor of
Leuthold Auerbach spent a long night of meditation, and then he
sought Laurentius, and told him, with earnest enthusiasm, of what was
passing in his mind. But the placid and rather phlegmatic Dutchman was
perfectly unmoved. He could not believe that from a thing so
trifling—a childish toy—should spring effects so great as Leuthold
foretold. The master drew him to the window.
"Look," he cried in his energy, "look at that noble tree, in whose
branches the birds rest and the breezes play—it was once a small seed
trodden under foot! But a hand found it, planted it, and behold it
now! So is the beginning of every new science; it is discovered—a
tiny seed, planted, sometimes intentionally, sometimes by what men
foolishly call "chance;" it takes root and grows, and none can hinder
it. Remember that a few grains of sand acci- dentally mingled and
thrown into the fire by a careless workman's hand produced the clear,
beautiful substance now forming your window; and who knows where the
marvels of this art of glass-making may end? It makes things distinct
to the eye like a new sense. Perchance, one day through it we may
behold the far-off mysteries of the stars. And so it will be with this
discovery of thine, Laurentius."
"Thou art sanguine, dear Leuthold," said the old man, with a
half-incredulous but gentle smile, as he listened to the excited tones
of his friend. "What good dost thou imagine this printing will
"Hast thou never considered that it will multiply writing without
end?—that those rare and precious works which it takes a man's life
to copy may be made no longer the sole luxury of the rich?—that the
same power by which these children print a name or a prayer could be
made to produce a whole volume? Oh, Laurentius, if thou couldst see
into the future as I do—see thy name emblazoned by fame—see thy
children honoured, and, above all, see the good which thou hast left
behind on earth! How blessed such a life must be!"
Coster, moved and touched by the earnestness of Leuthold, seemed
more than half convinced.
"Well, dear master, what dost thou wish me to do for the
furtherance of this great end? I will do all for thy sake."
"Not for mine, but thine own—or, rather for the sake of the whole
world!" cried the enthusiastic philosopher.
And then he explained to his surprised and wondering hearer various
plans which the ingenuity of a man of science could make applicable to
the new invention.
"It is strange—it is wonderful!" said Laurentius, musing, as
improvements which had never struck him before were suggested by the
master; and slowly the idea began to dawn upon the good Fleming that
this passing amusement of his might indeed turn out a wonderful
discovery. He was like a man who had picked up a pebble, which some
hand more skilful than his own had polished, and found therein a
precious gem. Yet, like the same self-gratified seeker, he never
remembered that he had only found it as a common stone, and that, for
all he knew of its value, it might have remained a common stone for
ever, had not a wiser head than his own brought the treasure to light.
Laurentius gave himself up to delight and pride. He was at last
convinced of the after-success of his discovery, and as it steadily
advanced, owing to the skilful wisdom of Leuthold, the learned of
Haarlem began to see it too. Coster was now honoured as the inventor
of a marvellous art, and men began to talk of him as the honest
burgher had never been talked of before. When the first rudely-printed
book appeared, the joy of the old man knew no bounds. He looked at it,
turned over and over again the coarsely-formed but still legible
pages, until his aged eyes swam with tears.
"Can it be I—I, Laurentius Coster, who have done all this,—who
have found out what seems like magic?" cried he.
And then he embraced his daughter, and took his grandchildren on his
knee, making them spell it over letter by letter.
"My boys, my dear John and Peter," he said, "I am old: I shall not
live to rejoice in the work of my hands; but you will see it. Yes, my
children, you will not forget your old grandfather when he is
gone—the world will not suffer you. Ah, me! to think that my poor
name should indeed be remembered for ages as having done all this!
Children, you will one day be proud that you are descended from
"Grandfather," murmured Lucia, "you are so happy with us that you
forget Leuthold. See how silent and grave he stands."
"Ah, yes! come here, my dear Leuthold—my good friend," cried the
old man, whose heart was opened to the whole world. "You were the
first to tell me what I had done, and you shall not be forgotten. You
shall share my fortune with these children, and be a rich man all your
Leuthold smiled, with a gentle negative motion of the head; he then
complained of weariness, and retired. In his solitude he sat, and
pondered over thoughts half-pleasing, half-sad.
"It is even so," mused he. "I have laboured, and others will reap
the fruit of my labours. This old man's name will be honoured, while
mine will be mentioned no more. I shall pass away like a wandering
breeze, or like a breaking wave. Yet what matters it? The winged
breeze has left behind it a precious seed—the wave has wafted a pearl
ashore. The work of both is done."
"He stood beside me,
The embodied image of the brightest dream,
It like a dawn heralds the day of life.
The shadow of his presence made my world
A Paradise. All familiar things he touched,
All common words he spake, became to me
Like forms and sounds of a diviner world."
THE poets liken life to a hurrying river—a journey swift, and
yet weary—a changing day. They call Time an enemy, a destroyer: at
times a beloved friend, but that is only in the bitter irony of
sorrow. The fact is, that passing Life and changing Time are only
outward show. The true souls who walk the earth,—and there are many,
thank God! whatever cold-hearted sceptics may say of humanity—never
really change, nor grow old. They only ripen in wisdom and in all good
things, and become more fit for the heavenly harvest. In those who are
of a com- moner mould, the wearing body weighs down the mind, and the
heart grows old with the frame; but the true angel-spirits are ever
Thus Leuthold Auerbach, when the ominous shadow of forty years was
nigh overtaking him, was as young in heart as he had been at
twenty-five. His eye yet brightened at the sight of all beautiful
things; his voice had its old gentle tone; and though his figure was
bent still lower, and Time, the enemy, had laid his hand on the noble
forehead and clustering hair, until every curve of the finely-formed
head was bare to the eye of the observer, still Leuthold Auerbach was
not an old man. Nature, ever even-handed, sometimes atones to those
whose want of beauty makes them look old in youth, by tenderly keeping
off the harsher tokens of age. Had the Self-seer exercised his gift,
now long unused, he would have marvelled that fifteen years should
have passed over him and left so few traces behind.
The "good master"—he still kept that name—sat one day with his
pupils, now growing into manhood. John and Peter were busily engaged
in carving types, for all the secrets of his invention were wisely
kept by Laurentius within his own family. They were the sole
depositaries of the first mysteries of printing, except a servant,
Geinsfleicht, who afterwards carried the secret with him to Mentz, and
there promulgated it as his own discovery. The old man wandered up and
down the room: now looking over the young workmen, now giving, orders
to his servant, who was busy with the press, and then glancing with
pride and pleasure to the various testimonies of his success that
adorned the room, in the shape of printed leaves.
"'Tis useless, grandfather," at last cried John, throwing down his
block, "I cannot cut these letters; and as I am the best workman here,
no one else can. You must get some wood-carver, and run the chance of
his keeping our secret. I will be troubled no longer."
"Ah, you were ever an impatient boy," said the grandfather, shaking
his head in despair. "Leuthold, dear master, what shall we do?"
"The boy speaks wisely, though be meant it not," answered Leuthold.
"The work is beyond his skill—it requires an experienced hand."
"And whom among the carvers in Haarlem can we trust?—they are a
wild, unprincipled set, who would steal our secret and fly. Come,
Lucia," he continued, as the door opened, and a young girl entered,
"thou hast more sense than either of thy brothers; tell us how we are
to get this work finished, which John has so angrily given up?"
Lucia raised her eyes with the same look which was peculiar to her
in childhood: all else was changed with her. The round, chubby
features had become more regular; the form had reached the full height
of womanhood; childish prettiness was merged into beauty—beauty
rendered still more loveable by the mind that shone through it. Lucia
at seventeen was, indeed, the perfection of girlhood; thoughtful,
serene, yet with a world of feeling that almost amounted to passion,
slumbering in the deep blue eyes, in the tremulous lips.
"I do not wonder that John could not carve this delicate work," she
"Ay, that is the thing! and whom can we trust, my child? A
first-rate carver would refuse the task, and of those wild young men
that Peter brings here, there is not one who is honest."
"Yes, grandfather, there is," answered the girl. "No one can speak
evil of George Surlan, the woodcarver from Ulin."
"What! merry George, the Master-singer, who steals away old hearts
and young with his laughing eyes and his gay ditties?"
"He is good as well as merry, grandfather. I am sure you might
trust him. And he is a favourite of the master's, too," said Lucia,
for the first time lifting her eyes to Leuthold's face.
The two boys burst into a loud laugh.
"You like George because he took your head as a model for one of
his carved angels, sister. How vain girls are!" cried John,
Lucia glanced towards the master, whose penetrating gaze was fixed
on her countenance. She saw it, and blushed deeply.
"It is not so, indeed!" she murmured. "You must not think so ill of
me." And she suddenly took Leuthold's hand with a child-like air, as
if deprecating reproach.
"Lucia is never vain," said Leuthold, gently, as he drew her
towards him with the frank familiarity which ever marked his
intercourse with the whole family, and smoothed her beautiful fair
hair, as a father or elder brother might have done. It was a token of
regard that was customary between them; and yet Lucia seemed to
tremble and change colour, even while a smile of radiant happiness
hovered round her lips.
"Merry George might have known we were talking about him," cried
John, who had taken refuge at the window, in a sullen fit. "Look,
there he is, coming hither! Now, grandfather, you can put him in my
place, as Lucia answers for his honesty so boldly."
"What shall we do, good friend?" said the old man, irresolutely,
turning to Leuthold, who was, though Laurentius never suspected the
fact, the ruler of all his actions, having over him the inevitable
influence of a strong mind over a weak one.
"I think," said the master, "that George would answer thy purpose,
Laurentius. Lucia has spoken truly; he is a clever and honest youth,
the son of a worthy father, whom I once knew well. Thou mayst indeed
"The master is always right. I will go and fetch George hither,"
said Peter; and meeting no opposition, he departed.
Presently George Surlan entered. He was a youth slenderly and
gracefully formed, which caused him to look much younger than he
really was. His dress was that of a student, but light and gay, and he
wore on his shoulder a sort of badge, being a rude representation of
King David playing the harp. This was the distinctive mark of the
order of Master-singers, a brotherhood which rose up in Germany after
the Minne-singers had passed away, and which united the musical
character of the latter with many rules and rites approaching to
masonic. To this fraternity of minstrels, which included men of all
ranks, and was at one time almost universal over Germany, the young
The Master-singer lifted his cap from his fair curls, and looked
with much surprise round the room, which was, according to report, the
scene of Coster's mysterious and secret labours. He made a respectful
reverence to the old man, and to Leuthold, and then, as his quick eye
caught that of the young maiden, it brightened with pleasure.
"They tell me you are a true upright youth, as well as a good
carver," abruptly began Laurentius. "I have sent for you to aid us,
George Surlan, and I am going to trust you with a great secret. Herr
Auerbach says I may."
The young man looked gratefully towards the master, and replied—
"He shall have no cause to repent his goodness. What can I do?"
And thereupon Laurentius began, in a long harangue, to explain the
necessity of secresy, and the solemn promise that he would be expected
to make regarding the work he was to do. The Master-singer listened
rather impatiently; but Leuthold took advantage of a pause in the
discourse to explain all succinctly.
"Thou must promise to keep the secret, and I know thou didst never
fail in thy word. I answer for thee, and so does this child it
seems," said Leuthold, smiling at Lucia.
"Then I will engage to do anything in the wide world," cried George
Surlan, earnestly, clasping the master's hand, though his beaming eyes
sought the sweet face of Lucia.
She answered him with a frank and kindly smile; but she did not
droop her long lashes—she did not blush. Alas! while the young man's
whole soul was laid at her feet—while he watched her every movement
with the lingering fondness that only springs from love, she looked
carelessly on him, unconscious of the treasure thus thrown away. To
the dreaming maiden, wholly absorbed in her inner world of romance,
there was but one on earth who appeared noble, wise, worthy to be the
ideal of girlhood's wildest devotion. That one was Leuthold Auerbach.
Woman's love is far more spiritualized than man's, inasmuch as it
is often entirely independent of outward beauty. A true-hearted
woman's nature is full of the quality called hero-worship, and this,
mingled with the all-pervading necessity of loving, causes her to be
swayed irresistibly by the power of superior intellect. How many a
fanciful girl has lavished a world of fondness upon some poet-idol,
whom perhaps her eyes have never beheld, and whom yet she regards with
a vague adoration, which, though only ideal, needs but a touch to
exalt it into the intensity of human love! How often, too, do we see
some beautiful and high-minded woman pour out the whole riches of her
affection upon one to whom Nature has given nothing but the great
spell to win it all—a noble soul! She passes over all external
disadvantages of age or person. She sees but the immortal spirit
dwelling therein; and it is ever beautiful, ever young. Her soul is
bowed down before it in joyful humility; and where she worships she
loves too, with an earnestness, intensity, and purity, which shadow
dimly forth that which the angels bear to Divinity itself.
Therefore let it not be thought strange if Leuthold had thus
unconsciously awakened such deep and absorbing feelings in the heart
of a young girl like Lucia. The world scoffs at the romance of
girlhood. Nay, women themselves, grown sedate and matronly, come in
time to look back deridingly on themselves, and say how young and
foolish they were once. And yet this first fresh dream is one of the
few realities of life, not the less vivid and true because we outgrow
it in time. Others treading after us, again pass through that sunny
region, and when we turn and see them with their innocent romance and
their single-hearted trust, we remember our own old days, and think
that there was some truth in those dreams after all.
Sweet, maidenly, and yet high-souled Lucia, with the heart of a
woman and the spirit of a child, our eyes grow dim while we picture
thee: how thou didst grow up like a pure lily among meaner flowers,
and feel gradually the carelessness of childhood merge into the dreams
of girlhood; how thou didst love to sit alone, to trace dim regions in
cloudland, to listen to invisible music in the wind, to watch the
stars, until they seemed mysterious eyes looking down on thee, while
vague feelings of delicious sadness stole over thee, and thy tears
flowed, though not for sorrow! Poor child! who didst ask of the winds,
the clouds, the stars, what was the strange power that so moved thee,
and understoodest not the answer that they bore,—"Maiden, it is Love!"
"Love is sweet,
Given or returned."
THE story of love is everywhere the same. Why should we enlarge
on the passing daily events in this Flemish home of four hundred years
ago? Human hearts beat now as they did then, and are alike swayed by
doubts, and fears, and hopes, with love reigning above all. Thou,
youth of modern days, sighing in vain for some cold-hearted damsel;
thou, dreaming maiden, who worshippest one above all, calling this
feeling respect, admiration—anything but love; and thou, calm
philosopher, who hast suffered and found peace, and art no more of the
world,—ye may see in these visions of the past but the reflex of your
Day after day glided on, and all was outward calm in the dwelling
of Laurentius Coster. The young Master-singer became an inmate of the
family, and all were glad of this. George Surlan brought sunshine
wherever he went, with his blithe spirit and kindly heart. He was not
one of your moody, sentimental lovers, always sighing and pining;
still less was he addicted to those fantastic moods which modern
poetry has made so interesting, ever changing from gloomy misanthropy
to hollow mirth. Though he loved Lucia as the apple of his eye, and
though as yet he loved in vain, still he did not lose hope. It was his
happiness to be near her, to render her all those kindly offices which
brothers scorn. When she walked through her well-tended garden and
received the daily gift of flowers, or found all sorts of beautifully
carved ornaments in her room, as if by magic, Lucia thanked her friend
with a pleasant smile, never dreaming in her innocence of the love he
bore her. Poor George! he tried to be contented with such a light
guerdon, and consoled himself with the thought that perhaps Lucia was
too young to love any one, and a still untouched heart might surely be
won in time; but, after a season, he learned how vain was that
comfort. Thus it chanced that the discovery came.
Usually, in the long winter evenings, the family gathered together
in the large hall. Very solemn these meetings had used to be, while
Laurentius held forth to the sleepy children on the events of his
young days, intermingled with horrible modern stories of the deeds of
Ziska and John Huss, whose histories had reached the good city of
Haarlem with all the embellishments of a fairy tale. When Leuthold
came, these stories were discontinued, and, in their stead, the
master's low sweet voice might be heard, telling various tales learned
in his journeyings far and wide, of good deeds done in humble homes,
of noble heroism that the world knew not, of suffering endured and
wrong overcome—all that could lead young spirits onward in the right
path. At such times the little Lucia always sat at Leuthold's feet,
with his hand resting on her curls; and, as she grew older, she still
kept her place beside him. But the soft eyes were less often raised to
his face, and she usually listened in silence, her fingers busied with
some piece of maiden's work. Now and then, when Leuthold turned and
saw her thus, a vision of the long-vanished past flitted across his
mind; but when, at a sudden pause in the tale, he saw the enthusiastic
girl listening with clasped hands and heaving breast, the passing
fancy vanished. Lucia was not the calm, reserved Hilda. More
beautiful—perchance more winning: but unlike that ideal of his
When, alternating with Leuthold's stories, came the fantastic lays
of the young Master-singer, Lucia at first did not like the change;
but gradually, as the musician's own feelings deepened, his songs took
a serious tone. His mirthful ditties were transformed into the
breathing of love, a lore new as pleasant to the maiden; for Lelthold,
in all his histories, never touched on that one subject. How could he?
So while the minstrel poured out his feelings under a thin veil, his
strains touched Lucia, and she listened with an intense interest,
which gave new inspiration to the Master-singer.
One night George sang an old German tale:
"There was once a young princess, whom many kings and knights
wooed. It was in the ancient times of Scandinavian warfare, when the
strongest arm and the fiercest spirit were highest esteemed by men.
Some of her suitors brought precious furs, and laid them at her feet
in token of their prowess in the chase; others came in their bright
ringing armour, and showed her treasures of gold; and a few cast
before her, with fierce looks, the heads of slain enemies, to be the
footstool of a conqueror's bride. But when the maiden turned away from
all, their love grew into anger, and they all joined in hate towards
the king her father, and would have driven him from his throne. Then
there stood before the crownless king a counsellor of whom no one had
dreamed,—a poor and wise man, who had dwelt in the palace all his
days unnoticed and uncared for, and he said to the monarch,—
"'My hand is feeble, and has never grasped a spear, yet I can tell
the stars in their courses. My voice is low, it has never been heard
in battle, yet it can teach men wisdom. My body is frail, but I have
strength in my soul. Let me go forth among thy people, and teach them
how to overcome the might of the enemy.'
"Then the wise man went forth, and his words were like thunders,
and he ruled the hearts of men at his will, until the foe was
conquered and the land was at rest. The king said unto him,—
"'Thou shalt have the reward which is greatest of all; thou shalt
be my son, O poor wise man!'
"But the other answered,—
"'How can it be? I am lowly in form; my youth is gone by; I have
neither strength to fight, nor beauty to win love. The princess will
not cast her eyes on me.'
"And he looked sorrowfully to where the throned maiden sat in her
loveliness, as one would look at the sphered moon, in hopeless
adoration. Then the princess came down from her seat; her breast
heaved, her cheek burned, but it was not with pride; and she said
softly to him,—
"'Thou art very wise, but thou knowest not the secrets of a woman's
heart. When the strong men came and laid their tributes before me, I
thought of a voice that had taught me in my childhood; and I turned
from them as from the warring beasts of the field. When the noble and
beautiful bent before me, a face was in my sight more dear than all.
Dost thou know my heart now?' And when he gazed, dumb and pale as
death with overpowering joy, the maiden laid her arms round his neck
and whispered, 'Let me love thee, thou noblest of all. If thou art
poor, I will be thy riches; if thou art growing old, I will bring back
thy youth. To me thou art all fair, all young; thou art my glory, my
delight, my pride!"'
The minstrel paused in his song, and glanced at Lucia. She sat—her
head bent forward, her quivering lips pale with emotion, and her eyes
fixed with a look full of the deepest and most adoring love—not,
alas! on him who sang, but—on Leuthold! In another moment she had
burst into tears, and fled from the room.
"Thou shouldst not sing such doleful ballads to poor simple
maidens, George," said Laurentius, reproachfully. "Doubtless the
child was terrified at thy horrible tales of war and battle and human
heads as footstools. 'T is very wrong; is it not, Leuthold?"
The master lifted up his head; he, too, had listened with a moved
heart to the tale of love—it had spoken to him of the long-buried,
mournful past. George Surlan noticed that his face was paler than
ordinary, and that tears glistened on his eyelashes. The young lover's
bosom was rent with jealousy. He dashed his instrument to the floor,
and went out into the garden.
"Now that boy is angry, too," querulously cried old Laurentius.
"What must be done with these wild young spirits? Go after him, dear
Leuthold, and bring him hither again."
But George would not come. The master found him walking hastily by
the side of the lake. His anger had passed away, but was succeeded by
sadness. It sat strangely enough on that bright face, hitherto full of
the unclouded gaiety of youth. Leuthold was touched to the heart: in a
moment he penetrated the young man's love-secret; and his tone, which
he had meant to make calm and severe, now grew gentle and almost
tremulous in its sympathy.
"What ails thee, George?" he said, laying his hand on the
Master-singer's arm. "Why wert thou angry, and why art thou now so
"It is nothing—nothing! Let me alone!" and George turned away
angrily; but he met the calm, earnest eyes of Leuthold, and the storm
was lulled. "Leave me, good master; I will return to the house soon."
But Leuthold still kept his hold, and spoke gently and gravely,—
"George Sarlan, when I stood by thy father's deathbed at Ulm, he
prayed me to watch over thee, and told thee always to listen to my
words. Dear George, wilt thou hear me, when I tell thee what I read in
thy heart now?"
The brow of the Master-singer crimsoned, but he said nothing.
Leuthold went on:—
"Thou hast a secret there. Thou art wroth at the careless words of
Laurentius, because thou lovest our sweet Lucia."
"Our sweet Lucia!" repeated the young man, bitterly. "Yes, I
do love Lucia—thy Lucia!"
"I have thought so—I have wished so—and I am sure she loves
thee," answered Leuthold, unconscious of the other's meaning.
"Thou art very generous, master. Why art thou so certain of the
"Does she not always smile upon thee? Did she not weep at thy song?
I saw not her face, but I knew it was so. Surely she loves thee,
"Oh, dear master, have pity on me; thou wilt drive me mad.!" cried
the other, impetuously. "Thou wert ever kind; why dost thou taunt me
thus? Lucia loves me not, and thou knowest it too well."
"Nay! Whom but thee could this timid maiden love, who has been
brought up like a young bird in its hidden nest?"
"Thee—thee, Leuthold Auerbach. Lucia loves thee!"
The red blood rushed to the master's face, and then faded away into
a mournful smile.
"Thou art dreaming, poor boy!" he said, gently. "Throughout life I
have never known the blessing of woman's love: it was not for me! and
now that I am growing old, that this fair blooming child should love
one like me—seest thou not it is impossible?"
George looked amazed.
"And can it be that thou knewest it not?—that thou dost not love
"I love my sweet pupil, who has been unto me like a young sister—a
daughter! I never had a dream so wild as this."
"Then thou lovest another, or thou hast loved. Tell me all, dear
master," eagerly cried the young man. But he imagined not the effect
his words would produce on Leuthold, who staggered as if struck by a
sudden blow, and leaned against a tree for support. George Surlan,
terrified and awed, could not utter a word. At last the master said
slowly, and with effort,—
"Speak of this no more. Let it vanish alike from thy memory and
from thy tongue. It is a secret between my own heart and God. Now
The young musician, deeply touched, pressed his hand and departed.
Leuthold stood alone by the shore of the gloomy lake. A thick mist had
crept over it; the chill penetrated every fibre of his slight,
delicate frame, but he felt it not. The long-slumbering feelings of
human passion had once more awoke in him, and he trembled beneath
their power. His soul was an autumn tree, through whose boughs the
same breezes which had once only produced pleasant music, now
pass,—tearing to the earth the same leaves with which they had erst
harmlessly played. The ideal of love which he had vainly set up in
youth again revived in Leuthold's spirit. Not that another filled the
place of Hilda, but his soul thrilled to the sweetness of being for
the first time the object of woman's love.
The words of George Surlan, "Lucia loves thee—only thee," rang in
the ears of Leuthold with a strange melody. He began to think over the
words, the looks of the young maiden, since she had grown from
childhood unto girlhood; her unvarying tenderness; her silent
attention to all his comforts, even to the commonest things; her care
for all things he loved; the deep sympathy, mingled with reverence,
with which she strove to teach her own mind to follow his in its
wildest flights. All these things dawned upon him in a new light, with
a sweetness of which he was himself hardly conscious.
Oh, ye lonely-hearted ones, into whose darkness has suddenly broken
a cheering ray—on whom the unlooked-for sense of being loved has
stolen like a pleasant perfume in the desert—deem him not faithless
to the one only true love that the human heart can feel! Scorn him
not, if in Leuthold's dreams that night the bitter memories of the
past grew less keen; that the forms of Hilda, the hopelessly beloved
one, and of Lucia, the young, devoted dreamer, mingled into one.
"To suffer woes that Hope thinks infinite,
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night,
To love and bear, to hope till Hope create
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates,—
This is thy glory!
LONG ere the twilight of a winter morning dawned, Leuthold
arose, and, lighting his lamp, strove to banish by study the wayward
fantasies of the night. But it was in vain. A haunting spirit had been
raised within him which no such power could lay. His thoughts turned
still to that hope of Lucia's love which had so suddenly risen up in
his imagination. To drive it away he thought of himself—of the twenty
years' barrier between that fair young maiden and the man over whom
time and sorrow had laid such a heavy hand. But still the moaning wind
seemed to breathe, in Lucia's voice, the words of that old lay—"Let
me love thee, and I will bring back thy youth."
Again, as in a time long gone by, there came to Leuthold the wild
yearning to behold himself—to exercise the strange gift which had
once so strongly influenced his life. The angel of his destiny seemed
once more near him, and thoughts and feelings deadened during his life
of action in the world without, again thronged upon the mind of the
dreamer. The Self-seer felt upon him the warning of his coming power.
"O thou Ruler of my fate!" cried Leuthold, "thou readest my
heart—all its weakness, all its strength. Thou seest that it is not
through vain desire or selfish pride that I seek to know myself as I
am. It might be that my desolate heart would be gladdened and grow
young in the sunshine of woman's love; a wife's hand might smooth
away the furrows of this brow; children's kisses bring back the roses
of these pale lips; I might yet live the life I pictured in youth's
dreams, and die at peace in my own household! But if not, oh, let me
understand my own spirit, and do that which is right in the sight of
the Spirit who governs all."
As the Self-seer, in the earnestness of his concentrated soul,
prayed thus, the lamp died away and his chamber grew dark. The wind
rose, and the waves of the lake under his window gave forth a hollow
murmur which lulled his senses. Gradually torpor oppressed him, and he
felt no more, until in the misty daylight the divided soul beheld its
other Self, wrapped in the peaceful, child-like repose, into which
Leuthold had sunk when the spell came upon him.
Once more, after a lapse of time which on earth would be numbered as
the fourth of a man's life, the shadowy Essence looked upon its bodily
form—the immortal and unchangeable spirit beheld what was perishable
as the flowers of the field. Even as we view a fading garment did the
Presence look upon the lineaments of its earthly being. The face was
not yet disfigured by age, because evil passions had never stained it;
but the freshness of youth was not there. Even greater than the tokens
of natural decay were the signs of quick-coming decline produced by
the restlessness of the ever-active mind. When once age came it would
not be with slow crawl, but with lightning footstep.
As the low red sunbeam fell on his face, Leuthold awoke. The Shadow
followed him as he descended to the general hall. His step grew firm,
and a brightness was in his eye that resembled the student of Leipsic
in years gone by. George Surlan met the master, with a silent,
expressive grasp of the hand, and an affectionate, inquiring gaze; but
as Leuthold, with a passing answer, turned away from him, the Phantom
read in his troubled air the conflict that had already begun in that
soul, hitherto so calm, so clear; and a painful thrill quivered
through its pure and spiritual being.
When Lucia, timidly, and yet with inconceivable tenderness, took the
master's hand, she was startled by the earnestness of his look. It
betrayed a sudden awakening to the power of her beauty, a something of
passion for the woman mingled with affection towards the child. That
day she did not linger at her place by Leuthold's side, but went away
to the farthest nook, though she felt that his eyes followed her even
there. The Spirit saw it too, and mourned that its bodily eyes could
no longer meet those of the young wood-carver, who plied his work in
silence and hopeless pain.
As the day advanced Leuthold grew more restless. He went to the
shore of the lake and wandered about, sometimes idly watching the
dusky clouds that careered over the sky in the majesty of winter's
storms, and then again walking with his eyes cast down in deep
meditation. The Spirit hovered over him, and listened to the voice
within his soul, and which cried louder the more it was suppressed.
"My heart is still young," Leuthold murmured, "though my years are
gathering fast behind me. What matters that? If Lucia loves me, why
should I count my years? But then her love is the love of a child;
will it endure, when my frame is shattered and my mind enfeebled,
while she is still blooming and fair? Shall I clasp her to me, then,
with chilling fetters of duty, when the romance of love has of
necessity died out—when I am old and she is young—bound together
like the living and the dead? Would this be a meet return for her
love? No, such love is not for me; I will forget the dream."
But while he endeavoured to grow firm, the Shadow saw that the
struggle threw the feebleness of added years over Leuthold's frame.
Again he spoke, but only in his heart; his lips were dumb.
"I am sinful; I think only of myself, and remember not him who
struggles with hopeless love. Shame! that I should dream of piercing
another's breast with the same arrow that almost drank the life-blood
of my own! And yet, if Lucia loves me—. But I will think no more."
And Leuthold with a troubled eye gazed over the dark lake, whose
tossing waves seemed restless as his own spirit. A little boat, in
which he often loved to glide over its surface, lay fastened to the
willows at his feet, heaving idly to and fro. An irresistible desire
made him enter it, and he was soon skimming over the wide lake alone.
The ever-attendant Shadow beheld his face as he sat watching the
waves, which grew higher and whiter, until the tiny vessel danced upon
them like a feather. The clouds thickened, and their gloom was
reflected in Leuthold's countenance. Its expression was that of
passionless, hopeless desolation, mingled with a stern will, that
seemed to set the elements themselves at defiance. Darker and darker
grew the waves, the wintry night came down, and the lake boiled like a
caldron. The boat was drifted, Leuthold knew not whither, but still he
sat immoveable; he heard voices uttering his name, but he thought they
were only the spirits of the tempest calling him on to death. At last
a wave rose; it curled higher, higher; it broke, and the little boat
When Leuthold awoke to life he found himself in his own chamber,
with kind and well-known faces bending over him. One, dearest and
kindest of all, seemed to him like an angel from the world beyond the
grave. He lifted his heavy eyelids and closed them again, but not
before a cry of joy had rung in his ears: it was the voice of Lucia.
"He lives! he lives! Leuthold!
my Leuthold!" she murmured;
and, half-dreaming as he was, the master felt her warm tears falling
one after the other on his hand—on his brow.
my Lucia!" he was about to echo; when he heard a
heavy sigh, and saw in the face of George Surlan the most agonised
despair. At once the knowledge of all he had learned in his double
existence came upon the Self-seer, and with it rushed back memories of
his own youth. The noble heart which had suffered so much, refused to
inflict on that of another a like pang. The moment passed by, and the
victory was won—won, before he learned, as he did soon after, that he
had been near the horrible death of drowning—that it was George
Surlan who saved him.
During the long days and weeks of sickness that succeeded, that
sweet, loving face was continually hovering near him. He knew that
one word of his would awaken Lucia to the full consciousness of
feelings now scarce developed, would enrich him with the whole
treasure of her young love. Yet he never breathed that word. He
pondered how he might cause the dream of girlhood to remain a dream
for ever, nor deepen into the intensity of woman's love.
One day, as they sat alone together, Leuthold said to the maiden,
who had been lavishing on him various gentle offices, now continued
more through habit than necessity,—
"Thou art a tender nurse, Lucia,—almost like a grown woman, as
thou wilt be soon, dear child. And yet it seems but a day since I came
hither, and the little girl bade me welcome so shyly. How pleasant it
has been for me to find a home so full of love!"
"Was that love new to thee, good master?" answered the girl. "Did
not every one love thee as we?"
A deep sadness overspread Leuthold's face.
"Dear child," he said, "there is in every heart some hidden sorrow.
I have never spoken of my youth, because there fell on it a dark
shadow that will never pass away."
"Thou hast told me of thy mother—of her death."
"There are griefs worse than death, Lucia."
The girl's lips trembled, and she turned away her face as she
"There is a sorrow of which I have heard in old tales—of which
George sings—the sorrow of love."
"Even so," returned Leuthold; and his voice sunk almost inaudibly,
as if he were talking to himself rather than to her. "I loved; for
years this love was the dream of my boyhood, the strength of my
manhood, my hope, my joy, my very life,—and it was in vain."
"Did she die?" asked Lucia, in tones as low as his own.
"Yes, to me; for she loved me not. Therefore has my life been
lonely, and will be to the end."
"Not so!" tremblingly murmured Lucia. "A change may come. Thou
mayst yet find some true loving heart which will be precious in thy
"Lucia," answered the master, "there are two kinds of love,—the
early dream of fancy, which passes away like morning dew; and the
deep, earnest passion, strengthened year after year until it has
become one with life itself—which can never change. As I have lived,
so I shall die, true to that lost, yet most precious love of old."
Leuthold had nerved himself thus far; he had, with desperate
calmness, laid bare his heart, and the secret of his life had for the
first time passed his lips. He could say no more; he covered his face
with his hands, and leaned back exhausted. He did not see—perhaps it
was well he did not—the changes in Lucia's face. She grew deadly
pale, and pressed her hand upon her heart, as though there was a sharp
pain there. In that moment her girlish air-palace crumbled into dust,
the bubble burst, the dream was gone! Womanly dignity, not unmixed
with shame, came to give her strength; and when she again looked up,
her whole mien was changed.
"I thank thee, dear master, for thus trusting me, though I am only
a child. The tale of thy sorrows shall never pass my lips."
"Be it so, dear Lucia," the master answered, in a faint tone. "Only
let it rest in thy memory; and when, in thy coming years of womanhood,
a true heart lays at thy feet its whole wealth of love, cast it not
from thee. Now, my child, leave me, for I am weary and sad, and I
would fain rest awhile."
Lucia rose, and silently arranged the cushions of his chair, as she
had done since his sickness. She looked one moment with intense love
on the pale, sunken face that lay back with closed eyes on the pillow,
and said, softly,—
"The Virgin and all good saints comfort thee, my friend, my
teacher, my more than father!"
Leuthold felt her warm lips rest for a moment on his forehead, like
the kiss of a spirit in his dreams, and Lucia was gone.
It was, though she knew it not, the last farewell on earth between
these twain. At the dawn of morning Leuthold went forth, for the
second time, a wanderer over the wide world. Old Laurentius
heard;—talked of the ingratitude of man, and trembled for his
precious secret; Lucia wept over the sorrow-worn spirit which could
nowhere find rest; but George knew the truth, and remembered, with
almost adoring reverence, the self-denying man who, in the midst of
his own darkness, had made the path of others bright.
"The wiser mind
Mourns less for what age takes away
Than what it leaves behind.
"My days, my friend, are almost gone;
My life has been approved,
And many love me: but by none
Am I enough beloved.
GOOD reader, if thou lovest tales of deep mystery and exciting
adventure, truly this is but a Barmecide's feast for thee! I have led
thee along through the straight path of human life without any
turnings or windings; thou hast had not a single maze of mystery to
lose thyself in; not one precipice of horrible doubt to whose brink
thou goest smiling, knowing well that thou wilt not be suffered to
fall; I have not left thee to grope thy way in darkness through
terrible scenes of sorrow, which are to end in a sudden burst of
light; nor have I deluded thee with sunshine, until thou camest to the
mouth of a cavern of eternal gloom. To drop the metaphor, this is a
plain story of life; but more of the inner life of the heart, than the
visible existence of man. And such are the truest and the deepest of
all; for there is no romance of outward worldly fortunes like the
history of the heart.
Therefore, reader, if thou lovest such, if thou hast gone thus far
with me, and, perchance, on the way, some world-wide chords have been
touched, which have found an echo in thine own heart, journey with me
to the end.
Let us again pass unchronicled some years in Leuthold's life, and
look upon him once more. He was returning from long wandering abroad,
to his native Germany. Yes! the bent old man, with his thin gray hair
and feeble steps, slow and tremulous in spite of the staff he held,
was, indeed, the same Leuthold Auerbach, once the young student of
Leipsic. He walked along like a man who had no care to hasten his
journey, inasmuch as it led to no home. One always knows those happy
travellers who have a place in view, towards which their steps are
tending; they look different from the wayside loiterers, to whom all
the world is the same.
As Leuthold journeyed, he stayed now and then to look at the bright
summer sky and pleasant country around him, or to listen to the birds.
At such times his eye lighted up with a spark of its olden fire. He
had not lost all the blessed feelings of youth, his heart had not
grown old, for he still loved and worshipped the beautiful in all
While he rested, the gay carol of a young man's voice reached his
ear. It came nearer and nearer, and at last the singer emerged from a
winding in the road. He seemed one of the race of wandering students
so well known in Germany. His cap was set on his head with a careless
jauntiness; his small bundle swung over his shoulder at the end of a
stick; in his frank, handsome face, might be read youth, health, a
light heart, and a gay temper; and his joyous ditty gave full
confirmation of the same.
Leuthold watched him approach; and as the other perceived his
fellow-traveller he stopped his song, doffing his cap with the
instinctive respect of youth to age, which always betokens a good
"Thou art very merry, my young friend," said Leuthold, smiling.
"Pray do not cease that pleasant song. It does one good to hear it."
"Thanks, kind sir," answered the young man. "I assure you it does
me good to sing it. It is quite a relief to be free to make a noise in
this pleasant open country, after being a long time shut up in musty
"You are a student, then?"
"Oh, yes. I have been these two years at Heidelberg, and am now
going home. I never wished to study—I hate such a dreary life; but my
parents gave me the name of a learned man, and thought, dear good
creatures, that I must perforce turn out learned, too. I fear they
will be mistaken."
"And what is your name, my merry young sir?" asked Leuthold, who
took a vague interest in the frank, pleasant face, as if he had seen it
before; and felt reluctant to lose sight of it.
"'Tis one that sounds well—Leuthold Waldhof. But you seem to know
it," said the young man, as his companion started from the fallen tree
on which they had both been sitting, and looked eagerly in his face.
"Yes, I have heard it before."
"Indeed? Well, worthy sir, I was named after a learned man, whom
my father and mother knew when they were young. I have often heard my
mother talk about him—how wise he was, and how good too. She made us
love the name of Leuthold Auerbach!"
"Is he living now?" asked the old man's tremulous voice.
"Oh, no! surely not. He went away suddenly, a little before my
father and mother were married, and they never heard of him more. He
had just gained great honours for his learning; so grew tired of his
dull native city—at least so my father used to say—and they looked
for a long time to hear of his fame in some place or other. At last my
mother said he must be dead, or he would not have forgotten them, and
I have often seen her weep when she told us of him."
Leuthold drew his cloak over his face, and his thin fingers played
convulsively with his stick. Alas, alas! that olden dream clung to him
still. He could not look upon the son of Herman and Hilda.
"I am wearying you, good sir, with this long story," said the young
student, eyeing him with somewhat of curiosity; "and you seem to have
journeyed far to-day. Will you suffer me to bear you company awhile,
and when you are rested we can go on together. A young man's arm may
help you over this rough road."
As the youth spoke, his mother's soul looked out of the kind brown
eyes—his mother's tone breathed in the softened voice; at least so
it seemed to Leuthold. He gazed one moment in his face, and then fell
on the neck of Hilda's son.
"Tell me of thy parents—of Leipsic—of my ancient home," cried the
old man, almost weeping. "Tell me all, dear boy; for I am Leuthold
Ere long the two who had so strangely met were sitting hand-in-hand,
like old friends, while the unconscious youth described to Leuthold
the home of Herman and Hilda—how they lived surrounded by their
children, with every comfort that wealth could bestow, enjoying that
household peace and unity which makes home a very paradise of love.
The boy spoke of his mother, and the kindling of his eye told how dear
Hilda was to her child.
"Is thy mother still as beautiful as she was?" murmured Leuthold.
"Beautiful!" answered the student, laughing. "Why, none of us ever
thought of that: perhaps she might have been so once. My father says
little Hilda is very like her, and she is an angel of a child. But our
mother is so good, so tender—we love her so much."
"Yes, yes, all love her!" said the other, absently; his thoughts
were wandering to the old nook in the professor's house, and the young
maiden who sat there with her calm, sweet face, and her glossy hair.
"Whither art thou travelling, honoured friend?" asked the young man
at last. "See! we have let the sun set upon our talk—hast thou far to
"Yes!—no!—I cannot tell," muttered Leuthold "I hardly know
whither chance may lead me," he added, with a faint smile; "I have
long been a wanderer."
"Then thou shalt come home with me to my father's house; it will be
so pleasant. How proud I shall feel to have found thee, and brought
thee again to Leipsic!"
Leuthold half resisted the affectionate entreaty; even now his
spirit shrank from reviving that bitter sorrow of old. But when the
earnest boy pictured the welcome that awaited them, and especially how
happy his mother would be, the old man yielded, and they journeyed on
They parted for the night—the elder Leuthold and his young
namesake—more like father and son than like those who a few hours
before had met as strangers. But in the still hours, when youth
slumbers in happy dreams and age alone is wakeful, all the past came
as vividly as yesterday to Leuthold's mind. It came, yet brought no
pain. He was as one who re-treads at eventide scenes through which he
has passed at morning. Now the dusky twilight is over all, veiling
alike the rich valley and the gloomy rocks; he knows they were there
once, but he sees them no longer, or only dim and indistinct. The
whole landscape of life, with its sunshine and storm, its joy and
pain, seems all peaceful now.
Leuthold thought, with a heart that throbbed no longer, of his early
love. He pictured her as he would soon see her, in her calm happiness,
a mother and wife; and he rejoiced that her gentle nature—which gave
affectionate tears to the imagined memory of the dead— had never
been pained by the knowledge of the hopeless sorrow of the living. His
love for her had been unstained by one selfish feeling, and the balm
of sanctified affection lay upon his heart, giving it peace at last.
As he mused his eye fell upon a letter which he had carried for some
days in his bosom: it, too, brought blessed thoughts of trials passed,
and duties fulfilled.
"My best friend, my dear master!" wrote George Surlan, "rejoice
with me, for my Lucia is won! How happy we are in our dear home at
Ulm—she loving me with all wife-like love, none the less precious
because it required long and patient wooing, and was the growth of
years. If thou couldst but see us now—see Lucia, the dreamy fantastic
girl, transformed into the sedatest young matron in Ulm—save that at
times she leaves her busy household cares, to laugh with her foolish
husband, who has not grown wise yet, and has even stolen away some of
her own wisdom to make her like himself. Yet she thinks him the
greatest man that ever lived, always excepting thee, dear master. Thou
knowest how Laurentius has lately passed away: Geinsfleicht broke the
old man's heart. John and Peter are rich men now; but I do not envy
them, I have my Lucia and my noble Art. If thou comest to Ulm, thou
shalt see our cathedral rich in the work of my hands. Lucia says there
could be no such wood-carvings anywhere; perhaps it is because she
sees her own sweet face, and her husband's too, among the carved
ornaments. What vanity in the little lady!—Dear master, forgive the
foolishness of a happy heart that will bless thee while it beats."
Leuthold read for the twentieth time those joyful outpourings of
content, and then laid down and slept as peacefully as a child.
Reader, thou hast not been deluded by the creation of fancy. If thou
goest to Ulm, thou wilt see there, in the cathedral, wood-carvings so
exquisite that thou wilt marvel that nought but the artist's name,
"George Surlan," has descended to posterity. But among the saints,
sybyls, and philosophers, which he has carved, are two heads,
life-like and yet most beautiful, which tradition will tell thee are
portraits of the artist and his wife. Lament not thou if the lapse of
time has swept away all other memorials. These two silent images speak
of youth and beauty—of divine Art and holy domestic Love, mingled in
sweet union, Surely, though fame has remembered them not, happiest of
the happy were George Surlan and his Lucia.
"Thou shalt lower to his level day by day,
What is fine within thee growing coarse to sympathise with clay."
"Whether that lady's gentle mind
No longer with the form combined
I dare not guess! * * *
For love, and beauty, and delight,
There is no death nor change. Their might
Exceeds our organs, which endure
No light, being themselves obscure."
AFTER some days' journey Leuthold and young Waldhof arrived
within sight of Leipsic. The boy gave full vent to the exuberance of
his joy until they drew near, and then the faintest possible shadow
fell upon his mirth. We all feel this, more or less, in coming home—a
sense as if we hardly dare to be so happy. Young Leuthold did not
marvel that his companion was graver than ordinary, and a native
delicacy of feeling contributed to silence his tongue. Slowly and
wearily the feet of the old man trod the road down which he had fled
like the wind on that early morning, impelled by the agony of
despairing love. The strength of youth was no more; but with it, too,
had passed away youth's keen sense of sorrow. Leuthold would not now
have recalled a single day of that olden time.
They stood before the garden where the last sound of Hilda's voice
had rung upon his ear. It was all changed; the thick, shadowing trees
were cut down—the green alleys which Hilda had loved so much,—and on
the smooth lawn a troop of children were playing. The change smote
upon Leuthold's heart: he would not have found a single tree altered
in the dear old garden.
"That was my grandfather's house," said the young student.
"Doubtless you find it changed. After his death my father cut down the
elms, and then sold it."
"And thy mother—what said she?"
"Oh, she was quite satisfied that it was right, the trees made the
house so gloomy with their thick branches. I believe she was glad of
Hilda glad to see her ancient home despoiled—to see her lost
father's dwelling in the hands of strangers! It was a trifling thing,
but Leuthold was pained. For years, in his dreams, every turn in the
long shady walks, every bush and tree, had been visited by him in
memory—now even they were no more.
As they passed down the narrow street, Leuthold glanced up at the
window of his own small room: the sanctuary of his spirit in those
olden times. A long, gaudy flag flaunted out of the lattice; they were
celebrating a great victory, and the town of Leipzic was bedizened
like a conqueror's bride. Leuthold turned away, and looked up no more
until he found himself at the abode of Herman.
"Father, father!" cried the joyful tones of the younger Waldhof, as
they heard a loud and somewhat coarse voice above the yelping of
innumerable hounds at the entrance of the domain, and saw a tall,
heavily-made man lounging among various retainers.
"What! is't thou, my boy?" said the large man, laying his two hands
on the youth's shoulders. "Glad to see thee again! How much learning
hast brought from Heidelberg? As many ounces as thou hast grown
inches? Thou wilt be a wise fellow, Leuthold! Ha! ha! ha!" And a laugh
loud and long spoke the father's delight.
No way disconcerted, the student echoed his hoarse merriment in the
silvery tones of youth, and then said, proud of his mysterious
"Guess, father, whom I have found and brought to see you."
Herr Waldhof glanced carelessly at the stranger. "Some master of
thine, I suppose. He is very welcome. Give me thy hand, old man; we'll
use thee well."
But Leuthold held the broad, brown hand in his, and said,—
"Hast thou forgotten me, Herman?"
There was no mistaking the low, sweet voice, which alone remained
unchanged. Herman almost buried the slight frame of his old friend in
his giant embrace, and shouted and laughed alternately, with joy at
the recognition. Then he held Leuthold out at arm's length, and
scanned him closely.
"Why, thou art grown an old man already! Never mind, we all change.
How hast thou lived, and where? But thou must come and see Madame
"Madame Waldhof!" How strange it sounded. Yet Leuthold was glad
that the dear name of Hilda was not uttered.
Herman and Leuthold passed through the long avenue together.
Different as they had been in youth, the contrast was more striking
than ever in age. Herman's full, broad face, spoke of the redundance
of animal life. There was little intelligence in the large eyes, and
the handsome features had grown almost coarse. Leuthold, with his
attenuated frame, his thin and sharpened face, was now more beautiful
to look upon than Herman. The two men were types of the sensual and
the spiritual; one sinking the noblest form to its own meanness, the
other exalting the least beautiful exterior to the nobility of the
As they reached the door, Leuthold drew back. "Wilt thou not first
tell thy wife I am here? She may be startled—pained, at this sudden
meeting with her dead father's friend."
Herr Waldhof laughed aloud. "Oh, thou needst not fear; Hilda is not
very much given to sentiment. She grieves little over the old times
now, I suspect. Come along."
In the old hall—it was the same in which we first beheld the two
friends—sat a matron in the midst of a troop of noisy children and
serving-maids. She was rosy and contented-looking: not a wrinkle
marked the comely brow; and the brown eyes seemed ever smiling. The
round cheek and portly figure had long lost all the proportions of
girlhood; and something unmistakeable about the matron's air and tone,
told of a greater change than these—a change in mind and soul. As
Leuthold kissed the hand of Madame Waldhof, he no longer thought of
the Hilda of his boyhood.
She let fall a few tears as she spoke of her father, and then the
wife of Herman recovered her usual calm demeanour. She called her
children, who, after much resistance, came to kiss Leuthold's hand one
by one. One,—a sweet, modest-eyed, little maiden, whom her mother
called Hilda,—came and stood by Leuthold's knee. It seemed as if the
spirit of the first Hilda were revived in her; as the old man met her
open gaze, and laid his hand on her soft braided hair, the child
wondered that he repeated her name so often in such a low, dreamy
tone, and that as he kissed her, a tear, not her own, was left upon
her cheek. It had fallen to the memory of what was now
nothingness—the Hilda who once had been.
"You will annoy Leuthold with all these young folk," said Herman to
his wife. "Mothers are so vain of their children! Come, old friend,
and I will show you all the changes I have made in the house."
"You have let this hall remain, I see," said Leuthold, in a low
tone, as they went out. "Do you remember that night, Herman?"
"The night I dreamed such a wild dream? It was some of thy strange
fancies which got into my brain, Leuthold; but I have forgotten all
such things now. Let us go and see the horses. I hunt almost as much
as ever, though I am not so young as I was the day I quarrelled with
Von P—. Ha! ha! Dost rememher it, Leuthold? To think how foolish I
made myself for the sake of that old dame yonder! Yet Hilda has been a
good wife to me; and we live very comfortably."
"I am glad," Leuthold answered, absently; and Herman continued—
"Those old times were pleasant, after all, and we often laugh over
them. I sometimes thought, after you went so suddenly, that you really
fancied Hilda. But if you did, I suppose you have long got over
it—these love notions are foolish things. We are all wiser, and we
need not quarrel about her now—Ha! ha!"
And Waldhof's laugh made needless the answer which, for his life,
Leuthold could not have uttered. All that day he followed his friend
mechanically, sat at the board, listened to the husband and wife as
they discussed the daily household events, and chronicled the words
and deeds of their children. Once only the conversation turned on
things in which Leuthold could take an interest. He asked after the
treasures of the professor's library.
"Oh, they have passed into different hands," said Madame Waldhof.
"I was told that no one cares for manuscripts now, since printing has
"For my part I care little for books or manuscripts either. One
lives very comfortably without being learned. I have not caught Madame
Waldhof reading this long time; and I think of her just as highly. I
imagine she, too, is quite as contented with me as if I were the
cleverest man living."
Hilda looked up in her husband's face with a beaming smile, and
laid her hand in his. That look brought back her girlish days—it
showed that one feeling remained the same—woman's love!
At last, when Herr Waldhof had fallen asleep, and his wife sat
spinning beside him in perfect silence, lest his slumbers should be
broken, Leuthold crept away to his own chamber. There, in the
stillness of meditation, his whole life rose up before him with its
array of shadows. They glided past him, fast changing like forms in a
dream. He alone remained the same. To the time of gray hairs Leuthold
had carried the one true feeling of life—love. It was a reality; all
the rest were but fleeting shadows. He rejoiced that it had been so;
that his love had been made immortal in memory; that, embalmed by
suffering, the one ideal had remained secure through the changes of
life. In this love he rested; still worshipping, not the real Hilda,
the wife of Herman, but the Hilda of his dreams—the pure image of
womanhood. He loved—not her, but love itself.
Again in his solitude his guardian angel stood beside Leuthold. It
showed him the difference between the life of the body and the life of
the soul; it painted the man-animal at his feasts, at his pleasures,
wasting his existence in petty joys; how, when the mask of youth falls
off, he sinks down, down, by lower degrees, until, in the aged
driveller, no sign remains of the casket that contained a divine soul.
"Wouldst thou have exchanged thy life, with all its loneliness—all
its cares—for such an one as this?" murmured the inner voice. "Hast
thou not been rich?—in the wealth of thy soul. Hast thou not been
happy?—in scattering blessings on others, far and wide. Hast thou not
been loved? for all holy spirits look down with immortal tenderness on
the man who walks the earth in purity, in meekness, and in charity.
Thou hast done thy work, O faithful one! Lay thy burden down, and
enter into thy rest."
And on Leuthold's ear fell another low tone—solemn and
sweet—which he knew well.
"Come," it breathed, "son of my love, I wait for thee! Come home!
The shadows are passing away: the immortal day is dawning. Thou hast
lived, thou hast suffered, thou hast conquered. Now rejoice!"
As the old man listened, a heavenly smile brightened his face, for
he knew that the time of his departure was at hand. He looked out into
the night, and the angels of the stars breathed their influence down
upon him. Every ray, as it fell, brought with it a divine message,
penetrating to his inmost soul. Joyfully, rapturously that weary soul
answered the summons, and spread its wings to the land of immortality.