LIBRARY OF THE
WORLD'S BEST LITERATURE
ANCIENT AND MODERN
CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER
HAMILTON WRIGHT MABIE LUCIA GILBERT RUNKLE GEORGE HENRY WARNER
THE ADVISORY COUNCIL
* * * * *
CRAWFORD H. TOY, A.M., LL.D., Professor of Hebrew, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, Cambridge, Mass.
THOMAS R. LOUNSBURY, LL.D., L.H.D., Professor of English in the Sheffield Scientific School of YALE UNIVERSITY, New Haven, Conn.
WILLIAM M. SLOANE, PH.D., L.H.D., Professor of History and Political Science, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, Princeton, N.J.
BRANDER MATTHEWS, A.M., LL.B., Professor of Literature, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, New York City.
JAMES B. ANGELL, LL.D., President of the UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, Ann Arbor, Mich.
WILLARD FISKE, A.M., PH.D., Late Professor of the Germanic and Scandinavian Languages and Literatures, CORNELL UNIVERSITY, Ithaca, N.Y.
EDWARD S. HOLDEN, A.M., LL.D., Director of the Lick Observatory, and Astronomer, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, Berkeley, Cal.
ALCEE FORTIER, LIT.D., Professor of the Romance Languages, TULANE UNIVERSITY, New Orleans, La.
WILLIAM P. TRENT, M.A., Dean of the Department of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of English and History, UNIVERSITY OF THE SOUTH, Sewanee, Tenn.
PAUL SHOREY, PH.D., Professor of Greek and Latin Literature, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, Chicago, Ill.
WILLIAM T. HARRIS, LL.D., United States Commissioner of Education, BUREAU OF EDUCATION, Washington, D.C.
MAURICE FRANCIS EGAN, A.M., LL.D., Professor of Literature in the CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Washington, D.C.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIVED PAGE OTTO EDWARD LEOPOLD VON BISMARCK 1815- 1929
BY MUNROE SMITH
Letters—To Fran von Arnim To His Wife: Aug. 7, 1851; June 6, 1859; June 8, 1859; June 28, 1859; July 26, 1859 To Oscar von Arnim To His Wife: Aug. 4, 1862; July 9, 1866; Sept. 3, 1870; June 23, 1852 Personal Characteristics of the Members of the Frankfort Diet From a Speech on the Military Bill
BJOeRNSTJERNE BJOeRNSON 1832- 1959
BY WILLIAM MORTON PAYNE
Over the Lofty Mountains ('Arne') The Cloister in the South ('Arnljot Gelline') The Plea of King Magnus ('Sigurd Slembe') Sin and Death (same) The Princess Sigurd Slembe's Return How the Mountain Was Clad ('Arne') The Father
WILLIAM BLACK 1841- 1983
The End of Macleod of Dare Sheila in London ('A Princess of Thule')
RICHARD DODDRIDGE BLACKMORE 1825- 2011
A Desperate Venture ('Lorna Doone') A Wedding and a Revenge (same) Landing the Trout ('Alice Lorraine') A Dane in the Dike ('Mary Anerley')
WILLIAM BLAKE 1757-1827 2041
Song The Piper and the Child Song Holy Thursday The Two Songs Cradle Song Night The Little Black Boy The Tiger
CHARLES BLANC 1813-1882 2051
Rembrandt ('The Dutch School of Painters') Albert Duerer's 'Melancholia' (same) Ingres ('Life of Ingres') Calamatta's Studio ('Contemporary Artists') Blanc's Debut as Art Critic (same) Delacroix's 'Bark of Dante' (same) Genesis of the 'Grammar' Moral Influence of Art ('Grammar of Painting and Engraving') Poussin's 'Shepherds of Arcadia' (same) Landscape (same) Style (same) Law of Proportion in Architecture (same)
STEEN STEENSEN BLICHER 1782-1848 2064
A Picture The Knitting-Room The Hosier
MATHILDE BLIND 1847-1896 2075
From 'Love in Exile' The Mystic's Vision Seeking From 'Tarantella' Songs of Summer O Moon, Large Golden Summer Moon A Parable Love's Somnambulist Green Leaves and Sere
GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO 1313-1375 2089
BY W.J. STILLMAN
Frederick of the Alberighi and His Falcon The Jew Converted to Christianity by Going to Rome The Story of Saladin and the Jew Usurer The Story of Griselda
FRIEDRICH MARTIN VON BODENSTEDT 1819-1892 2116
Two Wine Song Unchanging The Poetry of Mirza-Schaffy ('Thousand and One Days in the East') Mirza-Schaffy (same) The School of Wisdom (same) An Excursion into Armenia (same) Mirza-Jussuf Wisdom and Knowledge
JOHANN JAKOB BODMER 1698-1783 2128
Kinship of the Arts ('Rubens') Poetry and Painting ('Holbein') Tribute to Tobacco ('Duerer')
BOETIUS 475-525 2133
Of the Greatest Good ('Consolations of Philosophy')
NICHOLAS BOILEAU-DESPREAUX 1636-1711 2141
Advice to Authors ('The Art of Poetry') The Pastoral, the Elegy, the Ode, and the Epigram (same) To Moliere ('The Satires')
GASTON BOISSIER 1823-2152 2152
Madame de Sevigne as a Letter-Writer ('Life of Madame de Sevigne') French Society in the Seventeenth Century (same) How Horace Lived at his Country-House ('The Country of Horace and Virgil')
GEORGE H. BOKER 1823-1890 2163
The Black Regiment The Sword-Bearer Sonnets
SAINT BONAVENTURA 1221-1274 2169
BY THOMAS DAVIDSON
On the Beholding of God in His Footsteps in This Sensible World
GEORGE BORROW 1803-1881 2175
BY JULIAN HAWTHORNE
At the Horse-Fair ('Lavengro') A Meeting ('The Bible in Spain')
JUAN BOSCAN 1493-?1540 2203
On the Death of Garcilaso A Picture of Domestic Happiness ('Epistle to Mendoza')
JACQUES BENIGNE BOSSUET 1627-1704 2209
BY ADOLPHE COHN
From the Sermon upon 'The Unity of the Church' Opening of the Funeral Oration on Henrietta of France From the 'Discourse upon Universal History' Public Spirit in Rome
JAMES BOSWELL 1740-1795 2227
BY CHARLES F. JOHNSON
An Account of Corsica A Tour to Corsica The Life of Samuel Johnson
PAUL BOURGET 1852- 2252
The American Family ('Outre-Mer') The Aristocratic Vision of M. Renan ('Study of M. Renan')
SIR JOHN BOWRING 1792-1872 2263
The Cross of Christ Watchman! What of the Night? Hymn From Luis de Gongora: Not All Nightingales From John Kollar: Sonnet From Bogdanovich (Old Russian): Song From Bobrov: The Golden Palace From Dmitriev: The Dove and The Stranger From Sarbiewski: Sapphics to A Rose
HJALMAR HJORTH BOYESEN 1848-1895 2272
A Norwegian Dance ('Gunnar')
MARY ELIZABETH BRADDON 1837- 2279
Advent of the Hirelings ('The Christmas Hirelings') "How Bright She Was—" etc. ('Mohawks')
GEORG BRANDES 1842- 2299
BY WILLIAM MORTON PAYNE
Bjoernson ('Eminent Authors of the Nineteenth Century') The Historical Movement in Modern Literature ('Main Currents in the Literature of the Nineteenth Century')
SEBASTIAN BRANDT 1458-1521 2311
The Universal Shyp Of Hym That Togyder Wyll Serve Two Maysters Of To[o] Moche Spekynge or Bablynge
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PAGE Saint Dunstan (Colored Plate) Frontispiece Bismarck (Portrait) . . . . . . . 1930 "The Surrender at Sedan" (Photogravure) . . 1944 Richard Doddridge Blackmore (Portrait) . . 2012 "Rembrandt and His Wife" (Photogravure) . . 2055 Giovanni Boccaccio (Portrait) . . . . 2090 "The Decameron" (Photogravure) . . . . 2108 "Fatima" (Photogravure) . . . . . . 2120 "Domestic Happiness" (Photogravure) . . . 2206
Bjoernstjerne Bjoernson William Black William Blake Mathilde Blind Friedrich M. von Bodenstedt Johann Jakob Bodmer Boetius Nicholas Boileau-Despreaux Gaston Boissier George H. Boker George Borrow Jacques Benigne Bossuet James Boswell Paul Bourget Sir John Bowring Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen Georg Brandes Sebastian Brandt
OTTO EDWARD LEOPOLD VON BISMARCK
BY MUNROE SMITH
Otto Edward Leopold, fourth child of Charles and Wilhelmina von Bismarck, was born at Schoenhausen in Prussia, April 1, 1815. The family was one of the oldest in the "Old Mark" (now a part of the province of Saxony), and not a few of its members had held important military or diplomatic positions under the Prussian crown. The young Otto passed his school years in Berlin, and pursued university studies in law (1832-5) at Goettingen and at Berlin. At Goettingen he was rarely seen at lectures, but was a prominent figure in the social life of the student body: the old university town is full of traditions of his prowess in duels and drinking bouts, and of his difficulties with the authorities. In 1835 he passed the State examination in law, and was occupied for three years, first in the judicial and then in the administrative service of the State, at Berlin, Aix-la-Chapelle, and Potsdam. In 1838 he left the governmental service and studied agriculture at the Eldena Academy. From his twenty-fourth to his thirty-sixth year (1839-51) his life was that of a country squire. He took charge at first of property held by his father in Pomerania; upon his father's death in 1845 he assumed the management of the family estate of Schoenhausen. Here he held the local offices of captain of dikes and of deputy in the provincial Diet. The latter position proved a stepping-stone into Prussian and German politics; for when Frederick William IV. summoned the "United Diet" of the kingdom (1847), Bismarck was sent to Berlin as an alternate delegate from his province.
The next three years were full of events. The revolution of 1848 forced all the German sovereigns who had thus far retained absolute power, among them the King of Prussia, to grant representative constitutions to their people. The same year witnessed the initiation of a great popular movement for the unification of Germany. A national Parliament was assembled at Frankfort, and in 1849 it offered to the King of Prussia the German imperial crown; but the constitution it had drafted was so democratic, and the opposition of the German princes so great, that Frederick William felt obliged to refuse the offer. An attempt was then made, at a Parliament held in Erfurt, to establish a "narrower Germany" under Prussian leadership; but this movement also came to nothing. The Austrian government, paralyzed for a time by revolts in its own territories, had re-established its power and threatened Prussia with war. Russia supported Austria, and Prussia submitted at Olmuetz (1850). In these stirring years, Bismarck—first as a member of the United Diet and then as a representative in the new Prussian Chamber of Deputies—made himself prominent by hostility to the constitutional movement and championship of royal prerogative. He defended the King's refusal of the imperial crown, because "all the real gold in it would be gotten by melting up the Prussian crown"; and he compared the pact which the King, by accepting the Frankfort constitution, would make with the democracy, to the pact between the huntsman and the devil in the 'Freischuetz': sooner or later, he declared, the people would come to the Emperor, and pointing to the Imperial arms, would say, "Do you fancy this eagle was given you for nothing?" He sat in the Erfurt Parliament, but had no faith in its success. He opposed the constitution which it adopted, although this was far more conservative than that drafted at Frankfort, because he deemed it still too revolutionary. During the Austro-Prussian disputes of 1850 he expressed himself, like the rest of the Prussian Conservatives, in favor of reconciliation with Austria, and he even defended the convention of Olmuetz.
After Olmuetz, the German Federal Diet, which had disappeared in 1848, was reconstituted at Frankfort, and to Frankfort Bismarck was sent, in 1857, as representative of Prussia. This position, which he held for more than seven years, was essentially diplomatic, since the Federal Diet was merely a permanent congress of German ambassadors; and Bismarck, who had enjoyed no diplomatic training, owed his appointment partly to the fact that his record made him persona grata to the "presidential power," Austria. He soon forfeited the favor of that State by the steadfastness with which he resisted its pretensions to superior authority, and the energy with which he defended the constitutional parity of Prussia and the smaller States; but he won the confidence of the home government, and was consulted by the King and his ministers with increasing frequency on the most important questions of European diplomacy. He strove to inspire them with greater jealousy of Austria. He favored closer relations with Napoleon III., as a make-weight against the Austrian influence, and was charged by some of his opponents with an undue leaning toward France; but as he explained in a letter to a friend, if he had sold himself, it was "to a Teutonic and not to a Gallic devil."
In the winter of 1858-9, as the Franco-Austrian war drew nearer, Bismarck's anti-Austrian attitude became so pronounced that his government, by no means ready to break with Austria, but rather disposed to support that power against France, felt it necessary to put him, as he himself expressed it, "on ice on the Neva." From 1859 to 1862 he held the position of Prussian ambassador at St. Petersburg. In 1862 he was appointed ambassador at Paris. In the autumn of the same year he became Minister-President of Prussia.
The new Prussian King, William I., had become involved in a controversy with the Prussian Chamber of Deputies over the reorganization of the army; his previous ministers were unwilling to press the reform against a hostile majority; and Bismarck, who was ready to assume the responsibility, was charged with the premiership of the new cabinet. "Under some circumstances," he said later, "death upon the scaffold is as glorious as upon the battlefield." From 1862 to 1866 he governed Prussia without the support of the lower chamber and without a regular budget. He informed a committee of the Deputies that the questions of the time were not to be settled by-debates, but by "blood and iron."
In the diplomatic field it was his effort to secure a position of advantage for the struggle with Austria for the control of Germany,—a struggle which, six years before, he had declared to be inevitable. During his stay in St. Petersburg he had strengthened the friendly feeling already subsisting between Prussia and Russia; and in 1863 he gave the Russian government useful support in crushing a Polish insurrection. To a remonstrance from the English ambassador, somewhat arrogantly delivered in the name of Europe, Bismarck responded, "Who is Europe?" While in Paris he had convinced himself that no serious interference was to be apprehended from Napoleon. That monarch overrated Austria; regarded Bismarck's plans, which appear to have been explained with extraordinary frankness, as chimerical; and pronounced Bismarck "not a serious person." Bismarck, on the other hand, privately expressed the opinion that Napoleon was "a great unrecognized incapacity." When, in 1863, the death of Frederick VII. of Denmark without direct heirs raised again the ancient Schleswig-Holstein problem, Bismarck saw that the opportunity had come for the solution of the German question.
The events of the next seven years are familiar history. In 1864 Prussia and Austria made war on Denmark, and obtained a joint sovereignty over the duchies of Holstein and Schleswig. In 1866, with Italy as her ally, Prussia drove Austria out of the German Confederation; annexed Schleswig, Holstein, Hanover, Electoral Hesse, and Frankfort; and brought all the German States north of the Main, except Luxemburg, into the North German Confederation, of which the King of Prussia was President and Bismarck Chancellor. When war was declared by France in 1870, the South German States also placed their forces at the King of Prussia's disposal; and before the war was over they joined the newly established German Empire, which thus included all the territories of the old Confederation except German Austria and Luxemburg. The old Confederation was a mere league of sovereign States; the new Empire was a nation. To this Empire, at the close of the war, the French Republic paid an indemnity of five milliards of francs, and ceded Alsace and Lorraine.
In giving the German people political unity Bismarck realized their strongest and deepest desire; and the feeling entertained toward him underwent a sudden revulsion. From 1862 to 1866 he had been the best hated man in Germany. The partial union of 1867—when, as he expressed it, Germany was "put in the saddle"—made him a national hero. The reconciliation with the people was the more complete because, at Bismarck's suggestion, a German Parliament was created, elected by universal suffrage, and because the Prussian ministers (to the great indignation of their conservative supporters) asked the Prussian Deputies to grant them indemnity for their unconstitutional conduct of the government during the preceding four years. For the next ten years Bismarck had behind him, in Prussian and in German affairs, a substantial nationalist majority. At times, indeed, he had to restrain their zeal. In 1867, for instance, when they desired to take Baden alone into the new union,—the rest of South Germany being averse to entrance,—Bismarck was obliged to tell them that it would be a poor policy "to skim off the cream and let the rest of the milk turn sour."
Bismarck remained Chancellor of the Empire as well as Minister-President of Prussia until 1890, when William II. demanded his resignation. During these years the military strength of the Empire was greatly increased; its finances were placed upon an independent footing; its authority was extended in legislative matters, and its administrative system was developed and consolidated. Conflicts with the Roman Catholic hierarchy (1873-87), and with the Social Democracy (1878-90) resulted indecisively; though Bismarck's desire to alleviate the misery which in his opinion caused the socialistic movement gave rise to a series of remarkable laws for the insurance of the laboring classes against accident, disease, and old age. With a return to the protective system, which Bismarck advocated for fiscal reasons, he combined the attempt to enlarge Germany's foreign market by the establishment of imperial colonies in Africa and in the Pacific Ocean. In other respects his foreign policy, after 1870, was controlled by the desire to preserve peace. "Germany," he said, "belongs to the satisfied nations." When the Russian friendship cooled, he secured an alliance with Austria (1879), which Italy also joined (1882); and the "triple alliance" thus formed continued to dominate European politics for many years after Bismarck's withdrawal from office.
Of Bismarck's State papers, the greater portion are still buried in the Prussian archives. The most important series that has been published consists of his dispatches from Frankfort (Poschinger, Preussen im Bundestag, 1851-8, 4 vols.). These are marked by clearness of statement, force of argument, and felicity of illustration. The style, although less direct and simple than that of his unofficial writings, is still excellent. A large part of the interest attaching to these early papers lies in their acute characterization of the diplomatists with whom he had to deal. His analysis of their motives reveals from the outset that thorough insight into human nature which was to count for so much in his subsequent diplomatic triumphs. Of his later notes and dispatches, such as have seen the light may be found in Hahn's documentary biography ('Fuerst Bismarck,' 5 vols.). His reports and memorials on economic and fiscal questions have been collected by Poschinger in 'Bismarck als Volkswirth.'
Of Bismarck's parliamentary speeches there exists a full collection (reproduced without revision from the stenographic reports) in fifteen volumes. Bismarck was not an orator in the ordinary acceptation of the word. His mode of address was conversational; his delivery was monotonous and halting. He often hesitated, searching for a word; but when it came, it usually seemed the only word that could have expressed his meaning, and the hesitation that preceded it gave it a singular emphasis. It seemed to be his aim to convince his hearers, not to win them; his appeal was regularly to their intelligence, not to their emotions. When the energy and warmth of his own feelings had carried him into something like a flight of oratory, there was apt to follow, at the next moment, some plain matter-of-fact statement that brought the discussion back at once to its ordinary level. Such an anti-climax was often very effective: the obvious effort of the speaker to keep his emotions under restraint vouched for the sincerity of the preceding outburst. It should be added that he appreciated as few Germans do the rhetorical value of understatement.
He was undoubtedly at his literary best in conversation and in his letters. We have several volumes of Bismarck anecdotes, Bismarck table-talk, etc. The best known are those of Busch, which have been translated into English—and in spite of the fact that his sayings come to us at second hand and colored by the personality of the transmitter, we recognize the qualities which, by the universal testimony of those who knew him, made him one of the most fascinating of talkers. These qualities, however, come out most clearly in a little volume of letters ('Bismarck briefe'), chiefly addressed to his wife. (These letters have been excellently translated into English by F. Maxse.) They are characterized throughout by vivid and graphic descriptions, a subtle sense of humor, and real wit; and they have in the highest degree—far more than his State papers or speeches—the literary quality, and that indescribable something which we call style.
Bismarck furnishes, once for all, the answer to the old French question, whether a German can possibly have esprit—witness his response to the German prince who desired his advice regarding the offer of the crown of one of the Balkan States:—"Accept, by all means: it will be a charming recollection for you." He possessed also to a high degree the power of summing up a situation or characterizing a movement in a single phrase; and his sayings have enriched the German language with more quotations than the spoken words of any German since Luther.
Of the numerous German biographies, Harm's gives the greatest amount of documentary material; Hesekiel's (which has been translated into English) is the most popular. The best French biography is by Simon; the only important English work is that by Lowe. For bibliography, see Schulze and Roller, (Bismarck-Literatur) (1895), which contains about 600 titles. The Frankfort dispatches and the speeches have been translated into French, but not into English.
TO FRAU VON ARNIM
SCHOeNHAUSEN, August 7th, 1850.
The fact is, this journey, and I see it more clearly the nearer it approaches, gives me a right of reversion on the new lunatic asylum, or at least a seat for life in the Second Chamber. I can already see myself on the platform of the Genthiner station; then both of us packed in the carriage, surrounded with all sorts of child's necessaries—an embarrassing company; Johanna ashamed to suckle the baby, which accordingly roars itself blue; then the passports, the inn; then at Stettin railway station with both bellowing monkeys; then waiting an hour at Angermuende for the horses; and how are we to get from Kroechlendorf to Kuelz? It would be perfectly awful if we had to remain for the night at Stettin. I did that last year with Marie and her squallings. I was in such a state of despair yesterday over all these visions that I was positively determined to give the whole thing up, and at last went to bed with the resolve at least to go straight through, without stopping anywhere; but what will one not commit for the sake of domestic peace? The young cousins, male and female, must become acquainted, and who knows when Johanna will see you again? She pounced upon me last night with the boy in her arms, and with all those wiles which formerly lost us Paradise; of course she succeeded in wringing my consent that everything should remain as before. I feel, however, that I am as one to whom fearful injustice is done, and I am certain that I shall have to travel next year with three cradles, wet-nurses, long-clothes, and counterpanes. I am now awake by six o'clock, and already in a gentle simmer of anger; I cannot get to sleep, owing to all the visions of traveling which my imagination paints in the darkest colors, even up to the "picnics" on the sandhills of Stolpmuende. And then if one were only paid for it! But to travel away the last remnants of a once handsome fortune with sucking babies!—I am very unhappy!
Well—Wednesday, then, in Gerswalde—I should have done probably better by driving over Passow, and you would not have had so far to Prenzlau as to G——. However, it is now a fait accompli, and the pain of selection is succeeded by the quiet of resignation. Johanna is somewhat nervous about her dresses, supposing you Boitzenburgers have company.
TO HIS WIFE
FRANKFORT, August 7th, 1851.
I wanted to write to you yesterday and to-day, but, owing to all the clatter and bustle of business, could not do so until now, late in the evening on my return from a walk through the lovely summer-night breeze, the moonlight, and the murmuring of poplar leaves, which I took to brush away the dust of the day's dispatches and papers. Saturday afternoon I drove out with Rochow and Lynar to Ruedesheim; there I took a boat, rowed out upon the Rhine, and swam in the moonlight, with nothing but nose and eyes out of the water, as far as the Maeusethuerm near Bingen, where the bad bishop came to his end. It gives one a peculiar dreamy sensation to float thus on a quiet warm night in the water, gently carried down by the current, looking above on the heavens studded with the moon and stars, and on each side the banks and wooded hill-tops and the battlements of the old castles bathed in the moonlight, whilst nothing falls on one's ear but the gentle splashing of one's own movements. I should like to swim like this every evening. I drank some very fair wine afterwards, and then sat a long time with Lynar smoking on the balcony—the Rhine below us. My little New Testament and the star-studded heavens brought us on the subject of religion, and I argued long against the Rousseau-like sophism of his ideas, without, however, achieving more than to reduce him to silence. He was badly treated as a child by bonnes and tutors, without ever having known his parents. Later on, in consequence of much the same sort of education as myself, he picked up the same ideas in his youth; but is more satisfied and more convinced by them than ever I was.
Next day we took the steamer to Coblenz, stopped there an hour for breakfast, and came back the same way to Frankfort, where we arrived in the evening. I undertook this expedition with the intention of visiting old Metternich, who had invited me to do so at Johannisberg; but I was so much pleased with the Rhine that I preferred to make my way over to Coblenz and to postpone the visit. When you and I saw it we had just returned from the Alps, and the weather was bad; on this fresh summer morning, however, and after the dusty monotony of Frankfort, the Rhine has risen very considerably in my estimation. I promise myself complete enjoyment in spending a couple of days with you at Ruedesheim; the place is so quiet and rural, honest people and cheap living. We will hire a small boat and row at our leisure downwards, climb up the Niederwald and a castle or two, and return with the steamer. One can leave this place early in the morning, stay eight hours at Ruedesheim, Bingen, or Rheinstein, etc., and be back again in the evening. My appointment here appears now to be certain.
Moscow, June 6th, 1859.
I will send you at least a sign of life from here, while I am waiting for the samovar; and a young Russian in a red shirt is exerting himself behind me with vain attempts to light a fire—he puffs and blows, but it will not burn. After having complained so much about the scorching heat lately, I woke to-day between Twer and here, and thought I was dreaming when I saw the country and its fresh verdure covered far and wide with snow. I shall wonder at nothing again, and having convinced myself of the fact beyond all doubt, I turned quickly on the other side to sleep and roll on farther, although the play of colors—from green to white—in the red dawn of day was not without its charm. I do not know if the snow still lies at Twer; here it has thawed away, and a cool gray rain is rattling on the green tin of the roofs. Green has every reason to be the Russian favorite color. Of the five hundred miles I have passed in traveling here, I have slept away about two hundred, but each hand-breadth of the remainder was green in every shade. Towns and villages, and more particularly houses, with the exception of the railway stations, I did not observe. Bushy forests with birch-trees cover swamp and hill, a fine growth of grass beneath, long tracts of meadow-land between; so it goes on for fifty, one hundred, two hundred miles. Ploughed land I do not remember to have remarked, nor heather, nor sand. Solitary grazing cows or horses awoke one at times to the presumption that there might be human beings in the neighborhood. Moscow, seen from above, looks like a field of young wheat: the soldiers are green, the cupolas green, and I do not doubt that the eggs on the table before me were laid by green hens.
You will want to know how I come to be here. I also have already asked myself this question, and the answer I received was that change is the soul of life. The truth of this profound saying becomes especially obvious after having lived for ten weeks in a sunny room of a hotel, with the look-out on pavements. The charms of moving become rather blunted if they occur repeatedly within a short period; I therefore determined to forego them, handed over all paper to——, gave Engel my keys, declared that I would put up in a week at Stenbock's house, and drove to the Moscow station. This was yesterday at noon, and this morning, at eight o'clock, I alighted here at the Hotel de France. First of all I shall pay a visit to a charming acquaintance of former times, who lives in the country, about twenty versts from here; to-morrow evening I shall be here again; Wednesday and Thursday shall visit the Kremlin and so forth; and Friday or Saturday sleep in the beds which Engel will meantime buy. Slow harnessing and fast driving lie in the character of this people. I ordered the carriage two hours ago: to every call which I have been uttering for each successive ten minutes of an hour and a half, the answer is, "Immediately," given with imperturbably friendly composure; but there the matter rests. You know my exemplary patience in waiting, but everything has its limits; afterwards there will be wild galloping, so that on these bad roads horse and carriage break down, and at last we reach the place on foot. I have meanwhile drunk three glasses of tea and annihilated several eggs; the efforts at getting warm have also so perfectly succeeded that I feel the need of fresh air. I should, out of sheer impatience, commence shaving if I had a glass. This city is very straggling, and very foreign-looking, with its green-roofed churches and innumerable cupolas; quite different from Amsterdam, but both the most original cities I know. No German guard has a conception of the luggage people drag with them into the railway carriage; not a Russian goes without two real pillows in white pillow-cases, children in baskets, and masses of eatables of every kind. Out of politeness they bowed me into a sleeping car, where I was worse off than in my seat. Altogether, it is astonishing to me to see the fuss made here about a journey.
Moscow, June 8th.
This city is really, as a city, the handsomest and most original existing: the environs are cheerful, not pretty, not ugly; but the view from the top of the Kremlin on this panorama of green-roofed houses, gardens, churches, spires of the strangest possible form and color, mostly green, or red or bright blue, generally crowned at the top with a gigantic golden onion, and mostly five or more on one church,—there are certainly a thousand steeples!—anything more strangely beautiful than all this lit up by the slanting rays of the setting sun it is impossible to see. The weather has cleared up again, and I should stay here a few days longer if there were not rumors of a great battle in Italy, which may perhaps bring diplomatic work in its train, so I will be off there and get back to my post. The house in which I am writing is, curiously enough, one of the few that survived 1812; old, thick walls, like those at Schoenhausen, Oriental architecture, big Moorish rooms.
June 28th, Evening.
After a three hours' drive through the gardens in an open carriage, and a view of all its beauties in detail, I am drinking tea, with a prospect of the golden evening sky and green woods. At the Emperor's they want to be en famille the last evening, as I can perfectly well understand; and I, as a convalescent, have sought retirement, and have indeed done quite enough to-day for my first outing. I am smoking my cigar in peace, and drinking excellent tea, and see, through the smoke of both, a sunset of really rare beauty. I send you the inclosed jasmine as a proof that it really grows and blossoms here in the open air. On the other hand, I must own that I have been shown the common chestnut in shrub-form as a rare growth, which in winter is wrapped up; otherwise, there are very fine large oaks, ash-trees, limes, poplars, and birches as thick as oaks.
Petersburg, July 26, 1859.
Half an hour ago a cabinet courier woke me with war and peace. Our policy drifts more and more into the Austrian wake; and when we have once fired a shot on the Rhine, it is over with the Italian-Austrian war, and in its place a Prussian-French comes on the scene, in which Austria, after we have taken the burden from her shoulders, stands by us or fails to stand by us just so far as her own interests require. She will certainly not allow us to play a very brilliant victor's part.
As God wills! After all, everything here is only a question of time: nations and individuals, folly and wisdom, war and peace, they come and go like the waves, but the sea remains. There is nothing on this earth but hypocrisy and jugglery; and whether fever or grape-shot tear off this fleshly mask, fall it must sooner or later: and then, granted that they are equal in height, a likeness will after all turn up between a Prussian and an Austrian which will make it difficult to distinguish them. The stupid and the clever, too, look pretty much alike when their bones are well picked. With such views, a man certainly gets rid of his specific patriotism; but it would indeed be a subject for despair if our salvation depended on them.
TO HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW, OSCAR VON ARNIM
RHEINFELD, August 16th, 1861.
I have just received the news of the terrible misfortune which has befallen you and Malwine, My first thought was to come to you at once, but in wanting to do so I overrated my powers. My regime has touched me up a good deal, and the thought of suddenly breaking it off met with such decided opposition that I have resolved to let Johanna go alone. Such a blow goes beyond the reach of human consolation. And yet it is a natural desire to be near those we love in their sorrow, and to lament with them in common. It is the only thing we can do. A heavier sorrow could scarcely have befallen you. To lose such an amiable and a so-happily-thriving child in such a way, and to bury along with him all the hopes which were to be the joys of your old days,—sorrow over such a loss will not depart from you as long as you live on this earth; this I feel with you, with deep and painful sympathy. We are powerless and helpless in God's mighty hand, so far as he will not himself help us, and can do nothing but bow down in humility under his dispensations. He can take from us all that he gave, and make us utterly desolate; and our mourning for it will be all the bitterer, the more we allow it to run to excess in contention and rebellion against his almighty ordinance. Do not mingle your just grief with bitterness and repining, but bring home to yourself that a son and a daughter are left to you, and that with them, and even in the feeling of having possessed another beloved child for fifteen years, you must consider yourself blessed in comparison with the many who have never had children nor known a parent's joy.
I do not want to trouble you with feeble grounds for consolation, but only to tell you in these lines how I, as friend and brother, feel your suffering like my own, and am moved by it to the very core. How all small cares and vexations, which daily accompany our life, vanish at the iron appearance of real misfortune! and I feel like so many reproaches the reminiscences of all complaints and covetous wishes, over which I have so often forgotten how much blessing God gives us, and how much danger surrounds us without touching us. We are not to attach ourselves to this world, and not regard it as our home. Another twenty, or in happiest case thirty years, and we are both of us beyond the cares of this life, and our children have reached our present standpoint, and find with astonishment that the freshly begun life is already going down hill. It would not be worth while to dress and undress if it were over with that.
Do you still remember these words of a fellow-traveler from Stolpemuende? The thought that death is the transition to another life will certainly do little to alleviate your grief; for you might think that your beloved son might have been a true and dear companion to you during the time you are still living in this world, and would have continued, by God's blessing, the memory of you here. The circle of those whom we love contracts itself and receives no increase till we have grandchildren. At our time of life we form no fresh bonds which are capable of replacing those that die off. Let us therefore keep the closer together in love until death separates us from one another, as it now separates your son from us. Who knows how soon? Won't you come with Malle to Stolpmuende, and stay quietly with us for a few weeks or days? At all events I shall come to you at Kroechlendorf, or wherever else you are, in three or four weeks. I greet my dearest Malle with all my heart. May God give her, as well as you, strength to bear and patiently submit.
TO HIS WIFE
BIARRITZ, August 4th, 1862.
I am afraid I have caused some confusion in our correspondence, as I induced you to write too soon to places where I have not yet arrived. It will be better for you to address your letters to Paris, just as though I were there; the embassy then sends them after me, and I can more quickly send word there if I alter my route. Yesterday evening I returned from St. Sebastian to Bayonne, where I slept, and am now sitting here in a corner-room of the Hotel de l'Europe, with charming view on the blue sea, which drives its white foam through the curious cliffs against the lighthouse. I have a bad conscience for seeing so many beautiful things without you. If one could transport you here through the air, I would go directly back again to St. Sebastian, and take you with me. Fancy the Siebengebirge with the Drachenfels placed by the sea; close by, Ehrenbreitstein, and between the two, pushing its way into the land, an arm of the sea, somewhat broader than the Rhine, and forming a round bay behind the mountains. In this you bathe in transparently clear water, so heavy and so salt that you swim on the top of it by yourself, and look through the broad gate of rocks into the sea, or landward where the mountain chains top each other, always higher, always bluer.
The women of the middle and lower classes are strikingly pretty, occasionally beautiful; the men surly and uncivil; and the comforts of life to which we are accustomed are missing. The heat is not worse here than there, and I do not mind it; find myself, on the contrary, very well, thank God. The day before yesterday there was a storm, such as I have never seen anything like. I had to take a run three times before I could succeed in getting up a flight of three steps on the jetty; pieces of stone and large fragments of trees were carried through the air. Unfortunately, therefore, I countermanded my place in a sailing vessel to Bayonne, for I could not suppose that after four hours all would be quiet and cheerful. I lost thus a charming sail along the coast, remained a day more at St. Sebastian, and left yesterday in the diligence, rather uncomfortably packed between nice little Spanish women, with whom I could not talk a syllable. So much Italian, however, they understood that I could demonstrate to them my satisfaction with their exterior. I looked to-day at a railway guide to see how I could get from here—that is, from Toulouse—by railway over Marseilles to Nice, then by boat to Genoa; from there over Venice, Trieste, Vienna, Breslau, Posen, Stargard to Coeslin! If it were only possible to go over Berlin! I cannot very well pass through there just now.
TO HIS WIFE
HOHENMAUTH, Monday, July 9th, 1866.
Do you still remember, my heart, how nineteen years ago we passed through here on the way from Prague to Vienna? No mirror showed the future, neither when, in 1852, I went along this line with the good Lynar. Matters are going well with us; if we are not immoderate in our demands, and do not imagine that we have conquered the world, we shall acquire a pace which will be worth the trouble. But we are just as quickly intoxicated as discouraged, and I have the ungrateful task of pouring water in the foaming wine, and making them see that we are not living alone in Europe, but with three neighbors still. The Austrians are in Moravia, and we are already so bold that their positions to-day are fixed for our headquarters to-morrow. Prisoners are still coming in, and one hundred and eighty guns since the 3d up to to-day. If they call up their southern army, with God's good help we shall beat them again. Confidence is universal. I could hug our fellows, each facing death so gallantly, so quiet, obedient, well-behaved, with empty stomachs, wet clothes, wet camp, little sleep, the soles of their boots falling off, obliging to everybody, no looting, no incendiarism, paying where they can, and eating moldy bread. There must after all abide in our man of the soil a rich store of the fear of God, or all that would be impossible. News of acquaintances is difficult to obtain; people are miles apart from one another; no one knows where the other is, and nobody to send; men enough, but no horses. I have had Philip searched for, for four days; he is slightly wounded in the head by a lance, as G—— wrote to me, but I cannot find out where he is, and now we are already forty miles farther on.
The King exposed himself very much indeed on the 3d, and it was a very good thing that I was with him; for all warnings on the part of others were of no avail, and no one would have ventured to speak as I allowed myself to do the last time, and with success, after a heap of ten men and fifteen horses of the Sixth Regiment of cuirassiers were wallowing in their blood near us, and the shells whizzed round the sovereign in the most unpleasant proximity. The worst luckily did not burst. But after all I like it better than if he should err on the other side. He was enchanted with his troops, and rightly, so that he did not seem to remark all the whistling and bursting about him; as quiet and comfortable as on the Kreuzberg, and kept constantly finding battalions that he wanted to thank and say good evening to, until there we were again under fire. But he has had to hear so much about it, that he will leave it alone for the future, and you can be at ease; besides, I hardly believe in another real battle.
If you have no news of a person, you can all implicitly believe that he lives and is well, as all casualties occurring to one's acquaintances are known in twenty-four hours at the longest. We have not come at all into communication with Herwarth and Steinmetz, but know that they are both well. G——- quietly leads his squadron with his arm in a sling. Good-bye, I must go on duty.
YOUR MOST TRUE V.B.
TO HIS WIFE
Note.—This letter did not reach its destination, but, together with the entire post, was captured by franc-tireurs and published by a French newspaper.
VENDRESSE, 3 September .
My Dear Heart:
I left my present quarters before early dawn the day before yesterday, came back to-day, and have in the mean time witnessed the great battle of Sedan, in which we made about thirty thousand prisoners, and threw the remainder of the French army, which we have been pursuing since Bar-le-Duc, into the fortress, where they had to surrender themselves, along with the Emperor, prisoners of war. Yesterday morning at five o'clock, after I had been negotiating until one o'clock A.M. with Moltke and the French generals about the capitulation to be concluded, I was awakened by General Reille, with whom I am acquainted, to tell me that Napoleon wished to speak with me. Unwashed and unbreakfasted, I rode towards Sedan, found the Emperor in an open carriage, with three aides-de-camp and three in attendance on horseback, halted on the road before Sedan. I dismounted, saluted him just as politely as at the Tuileries, and asked for his commands. He wished to see the King; I told him, as the truth was, that his Majesty had his quarters fifteen miles away, at the spot where I am now writing. In answer to Napoleon's question where he should go to, I offered him, as I was not acquainted with the country, my own quarters at Donchery, a small place in the neighborhood, close by Sedan. He accepted, and drove, accompanied by his six Frenchmen, by me and by Carl (who in the mean time had ridden after me) through the lonely morning towards our lines. Before coming to the spot, he began to hesitate on account of the possible crowd, and he asked me if he could alight in a lonely cottage by the wayside; I had it inspected by Carl, who brought word that it was mean and dirty. "N'importe," said N., and I ascended with him a rickety, narrow staircase. In an apartment of ten feet square, with a deal table and two rush-bottomed chairs, we sat for an hour; the others were below. A powerful contrast with our last meeting in the Tuileries in 1867. Our conversation was a difficult thing, if I wanted to avoid touching on topics which could not but affect painfully the man whom God's mighty hand had cast down. I had sent Carl to fetch officers from the town and to beg Moltke to come. We then sent one of the former to reconnoitre, and discovered two and one-half miles off, in Fresnois, a small chateau situated an a park. Thither I accompanied him with an escort of the cuirassier regiment of life-guards, which had meantime been brought up; and there we concluded with the French general-in-chief, Wimpffen, the capitulation by virtue of which forty to sixty thousand Frenchmen,—I do not know it accurately at present,—with all they possess, became our prisoners. Yesterday and the day before cost France one hundred thousand men and an Emperor. This morning the latter, with all his suite and horses and carriages, started for Wilhelmshoehe, near Cassel.
THE SURRENDER AT SEDAN.
Photogravure from a Painting by Anton Von Werner.
The surrender, at Sedan, in 1870, of the French army of 84,000 under Napoleon III., MacMahon and Wimpffen, to the Germans, 250,000 strong, under William I., was the signal for the downfall of the French empire and the establishment of the republic. In the accompanying picture, the figure seated at the extreme left is GENERAL FAURE; the middle figure of the group of three, standing, is GENERAL CASTELNAU. GENERAL WIMPFFEN, who succeeded MacMahon as commander Sept. 1 and signed the capitulation Sept. 2, stands in a stooping posture, leaning upon his chair and the table. Across the table, his right hand resting upon it, and standing erect, is GENERAL MOLTKE, The seated figure in the foreground is BISMARCK; behind whom, writing, stands COUNT NOSTIZ.
It is an event of great weight in the world's history, a victory for which we will humbly thank the Almighty, and which decides the war, even if we have to carry it on against France shorn of her Emperor.
I must conclude. With heartfelt joy I learnt from your and Maria's letters that Herbert has arrived among you. Bill I spoke to yesterday, as already telegraphed, and embraced him from horseback in his Majesty's presence, while he stood motionless in the ranks. He is very healthy and happy. I saw Hans and Fritz Carl, both Billows, in the Second dragoon guards, well and cheerful.
Good-by, my heart; love to the children.
TO HIS WIFE
OFEN, June 23d, 1852.
I have just come from the steamer, and do not know how better to employ the moment I have at my disposal before Hildebrand follows with my things, than by sending you a little sign of life from this very easterly but very beautiful world. The Emperor has been graciously pleased to assign me quarters in his castle; and here I am in a large vaulted hall, sitting at an open window through which the evening bells of Pesth are pealing. The outlook is charming. The castle stands high; beneath me, first, the Danube, spanned by the suspension bridge; across it, Pesth; and further off the endless plain beyond Pesth, fading away into the purple haze of evening. To the left of Pesth I look up the Danube; far, very far away on my left,—that is, on its right bank,—it is first bordered by the town of Ofen; back of that are hills, blue and still bluer, and then comes the brown-red in the evening sky that glows behind them. Between the two towns lies the broad mirror of water, like that at Linz, broken by the suspension bridge and a wooded island. The journey here, too, at least from Gran to Pesth, would have delighted you. Imagine the Odenwald and the Taunus pushed near to each other, and the space between filled with the waters of the Danube. The shady side of the trip was its sunny side; it was as hot as if Tokay was to be grown on the boat: and the number of tourists was great, but—only think of it—not an Englishman! They cannot yet have discovered Hungary. There were, however, odd customers enough, of all races, oriental and occidental, greasy and washed. A very amiable general was my chief traveling companion; I sat and smoked with him nearly the whole time, up on the paddle-box.
I am growing impatient as to what has become of Hildebrand; I lean out of the window, partly mooning and partly watching for him as if he were a sweetheart, for I crave a clean shirt—if you could only be here for a moment, and if you too could now see the dull silver of the Danube, the dark hills on a pale-red background, and the lights that shine up from below in Pesth, Vienna would go down a good way in your estimation as compared with "Buda-Pesth," as the Hungarians call it. You see that I too can go into raptures over nature. Now that Hildebrand has really turned up, I shall calm my fevered blood with a cup of tea, and soon after go to bed.
JUNE 24TH: Evening.
As yet I have had no opportunity to send this off. Again the lights are gleaming up from Pesth; on the horizon, in the direction of the Theiss, there are flashes of lightning; above us the sky is clear and the stars are shining. I have been a good deal in uniform to-day; presented my credentials, in formal audience, to the young ruler of this country, and received a very agreeable impression. After dinner the whole court made an excursion into the hills, to the "Fair Shepherdess"—who, however, has long been dead; King Matthias Corvinus loved her several hundred years ago. There is a view from there (over wooded hills, something like those by the Neckar) of Ofen, its hills, and the plain. A country festival had brought together thousands of people; they pressed about the Emperor, who had mingled with the throng, with ringing shouts of "eljen" [vive]; they danced the csardas, waltzed, sang, played music, climbed into the trees, and crowded the court. On a grassy slope there was a supper table for some twenty persons, with seats on one side only, while the other was left free for the view of forest, castle, city, and country. Above us were tall beeches, with climbing Hungarians on the branches; behind and quite near us, a closely crowded and crowding mass of people; further off, music from wind instruments, alternating with song—wild gipsy melodies. Illumination—moonlight and sunset-red, with torches scattered through the forest. It might all be produced without a change as grand scenic effect in a romantic opera. Next to me sat the white-haired Archbishop of Gran, in a black silk gown with a red hood; on the other side a very amiable, trig cavalry general. You see the picture was rich in contrasts. Then we drove home in the moonlight with an escort of torches....
It is very quiet and comfortable up here now; I hear nothing but the ticking of a clock on the wall, and the distant rumble of carriages below. May angels watch over you; over me, a grenadier in a bearskin does it, six inches of whose bayonet I see projecting above the window-sill, a couple of arm's-lengths from me, and reflecting a ray of light. He is standing above the terrace on the Danube, and thinking perhaps of his Nancy.
PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MEMBERS OF THE FRANKFORT DIET
Confidential Dispatch to Minister Von Manteuffel, May 30th, 1853
In connection with my report of to-day regarding the attitude of certain envoys in the Kettenburg affair, I take the liberty of making some confidential remarks regarding the personal traits of my colleagues in general, in case it should interest your Excellency to have the information.
Herr von Prokesch is probably well enough known in Berlin to make further indications of his personal characteristics unnecessary; at the same time, I cannot refrain from remarking that the calmness and ease with which he advances false statements of fact, or contests true statements, surpass my expectations, although I have been led to expect a good deal in this direction. These qualities are supplemented by a surprising degree of coolness in dropping a subject or making a change of front, as soon as the untruth which he has taken as his point of departure is identified beyond the possibility of evasion. In case of necessity he covers a retreat of this sort by an ebullition of moral indignation, or by an attack, often of a very personal character, which transfers the discussion to a new and quite different field. His chief weapons in the petty war which I am obliged to wage with him, as often as the interests which we represent diverge, are: (1) Passive resistance, i.e., a dilatory treatment of the affair, by which he forces upon me the role of a tiresome dun, and not infrequently, by reason of the nature of the affair, that of a paltry dun. (2) In case of attack, the fait accompli, in the shape of apparently insignificant usurpations on the part of the Chair. These are commonly so calculated that any protest on my part cannot but seem like a deliberate search for points of controversy or like captious verbal criticism. It is therefore scarcely possible for me to avoid, in my dealings with him, the appearance of quarrelsomeness, unless I am willing to sacrifice the interests of Prussia to a degree which every concession would increase....
The Bavarian envoy, Herr von Schrenk, I place among the best elements in the assembly, as regards both his capacity and his character. He is a thorough and industrious worker, and practical in his views and opinions; although his predominantly juristic training and mode of thinking make him at times disputatious, and tend to impede the progress of affairs. In official intercourse he is frank and obliging, so long as his [Bavarian] patriotism, which is high-strung and extremely irritable, is treated with consideration; a foible for which I take particular pains to make allowance.
Our Saxon colleague, Herr von Nostitz, inspires in me less confidence. It seems to me that he has at bottom a traditional inclination toward Prussia and its political system, which is nourished in part by a Protestantism that is more rationalistic than orthodox, and by his fear of Ultramontane tendencies. I believe, however,—and I should be glad to find that I do him an injustice,—that on the whole, personal interests take precedence with him over political interests, and that the suppleness of his character permits him to view the latter in whatever light best suits the former. His economic position is dependent upon his place, aside from the salary, by reason of the fact that he owns a house here in which he lives, which he bought before 1848 at a high price, and which he has vainly attempted to rent for the last five years. His political course is therefore controlled by his desire of remaining in his official position under every contingency; and with the present tendency of the Saxon government, Austria has certainly more opportunity to help him in keeping his place than has Prussia. This circumstance indeed does not prevent Herr von Nostitz from avoiding, as far as his instructions will allow, any patent injury to Prussia; but with his great capacity for labor, his intelligence, and his long experience, he constitutes the most effective support of all Austria's efforts in the federal assembly. He is particularly adroit in formulating reports and propositions in awkward controversial questions; he knows how to give his draught a color of compromise without the least sacrifice of any Austrian interest, as soon as the correct interpretation comes to the aid of the apparently indeterminate expression. When his draughts become the basis of subsequent discussion, it is then usually discovered for the first time that the real purpose for which they were drawn is contained in what seemed to be casual and incidental words. If the current in Dresden should shift in the Prussian direction, the valuable personal assistance which Herr von Nostitz is able to render by means of his sense, his experience, and the credit both have won him, would be thrown on the Prussian side with the same certainty as now on the Austrian, unless too strong a tie were found in the fact that one of his sons is being educated in the Austrian Naval School, while another is already an officer in the imperial service.
Herr von Bothmer returned to this place a few days ago as representative of Hanover; I learn from him, however, with regret, that his further stay here is in no wise assured. Not only is his a straightforward character that awakens confidence, but he is also the only one of my colleagues who has sufficient independence to give me anything more than passive assistance when I am obliged to protest against the conduct of the Chair.
His opposite is found in Herr von Reinhard. While Herr von Bothmer is thorough, clear, and objective in his productions, those of the Wuertemberg envoy bear the stamp of superficiality and confused thinking. His removal from the federal assembly might justly be regarded as a great gain for us. I do not know whether his departure from Berlin was connected with circumstances which have left in him a lasting dislike of Prussia, or whether confused political theories (regarding which he expresses himself with more ease and with greater interest than regarding practical affairs) have brought him to believe that the Prussian influence in Germany is deleterious: but at all events his antipathy to us exceeds the degree which, in view of the political situation of Wuertemberg, can be supposed to exist in the mind of his sovereign; and I have reason to assume that his influence upon the instructions which are sent him, and his activity, so far as this is independent of instructions, are exerted, as a matter of principle, to the disadvantage of Prussia.... In his bearing towards me personally there is nothing which would justify the conclusion that his feelings are of the sort I have indicated; and it is only rarely that a point is reached in our debates at which, moderated by a certain timidity, his suppressed bitterness against Prussia breaks out. I may remark incidentally that it is he who invariably appears at our sessions last, and too late; and who, through want of attention and through subsequent participation in the discussion on the basis of misapprehensions, occasions further repetitions and waste of time.
The envoy from Baden, Herr von Marschall, is not without sense and fitness for affairs, but is scrupulously careful to avoid the responsibility of an independent opinion, and to discover in the least dubitable matter an intermediate point of view from it may be possible to agree with both sides, or at least to disagree with neither. If there is no escape, he inclines, either for family reasons or because his government is more afraid of Vienna than of Berlin, to the Austrian side rather than to ours. Support against the Chair—as, for example, in the matter of the order of business, upon which he is charged with a report—I can hardly expect from him.
Our colleague from the Electorate, Herr von Trott, takes as little part as possible in the affairs of the Diet; especially avoids reports and committee work; and is frequently absent, making the representative from Darmstadt his proxy. He prefers country life and hunting to participation in assemblies, and gives the impression rather of a jovial and portly squire than of an envoy. He confines himself to announcing his vote, briefly and in the exact language of his instructions; and while the latter are invariably drawn by the Minister, Hassenpflug, in accordance with the directions received from Austria, it does not appear to me that either Austria or the States of the Darmstadt coalition enjoy the personal support of Herr von Trott any more than we do—an impartiality which is rendered easy to the Hessian envoy as much by his distaste for affairs, and I like to think by the revolt of his essentially honorable nature against all that savors of intrigue, as by his formerly indubitable sympathy for Prussia's interests.
We find a more inimical element in the Grand-Ducal Hessian envoy, Baron von Muench-Bellinghausen. While this gentleman is attached from the start to the interests of Austria by his family connections with the former presidential envoy of the same name, his antagonism to Prussia is considerably intensified by his strong, and I believe sincere, zeal for the Catholic Church. In private intercourse he is a man of agreeable manners; and as regards his official attitude, I have to this extent no cause of complaint—that beyond the degree of reserve imposed upon him by the anti-Prussian policy of his government, I have observed in him no tendency towards intrigue or insincerity. For the rest, he is a natural opponent of the Prussian policy in all cases where this does not go hand in hand with Austria and the Catholic Church; and the warmth with which he not infrequently supports his opinion against me in discussion, I can regard only as a proof of the sincerity of his political convictions. It is certainly, however, an anomalous thing that a Protestant sovereign, who at this moment is in conflict with Catholic bishops, is represented in the Confederacy by Herr von Muench....
One of our trustiest allies is Herr von Scherff, who personally is altogether devoted to the Prussian interests, and has moreover a son in our military service; he is experienced in affairs, and prudent to the point of timidity. This latter trait, as well as the sort of influence which his Majesty the King of the Netherlands exercises upon the federal instructions, often prevents him from giving me, in the sessions of the Diet, that degree of support which I should otherwise receive from him. Outside of the sessions I have always been able to count on him with confidence, whenever I have called upon him for advice, and whenever it has been a question of his aiding me through his influence upon some other envoy or through the collection of information. With his Royal Highness the Prince of Prussia, Herr von Scherff and his family justly stand in special favor.
* * * * *
Nassau and Brunswick are represented by the Baron von Dungern, a harmless character, who has neither the personal capacity nor the political credit requisite to give him influence in the Federal Assembly. If the difference that exists in most questions between the attitude of Brunswick and that of Nassau is settled in most cases in favor of the views held by Nassau, (i.e., by Austria,) this is partly due indeed to the connection of Herr von Dungern and his wife with families that are in the Austrian interest, and to the fact that the envoy, who has two sons in the Austrian military service, feels more dread of Austria's resentment than of Prussia's; but the chief mistake lies in the circumstance that Brunswick is represented by a servant of the Duke of Nassau, who lives here in the immediate neighborhood of his own court,—a court controlled by Austrian influences,—but maintains with Brunswick, I imagine, connections so closely restricted to what is absolutely necessary that they can hardly be regarded as an equivalent for the five thousand florins which his Highness Duke William contributes to his salary.
The Mecklenburg envoy, Herr von Oertzen, justifies in all respects the reputation of an honorable man which I had heard attributed to him before he assumed his present position. In the period immediately following the reopening of the Federal Diet, he, like a large number of his fellow-countrymen, showed an unmistakable leaning to Austria; but it seems to me indubitable that his observation for two years of the methods which Austrian policy employs here through the organ of the Chair has aroused in Herr von Oertzen's loyal nature, in spite of the fact that he too has a son in the Austrian army, a reaction which permits me to count fully upon him as far as his personal attitude is concerned, and upon his political support as far as his instructions—of the character of which, on the whole, I cannot complain—in any wise permit. In any case I can depend upon his pursuing, under all circumstances, an open and honorable course.... His attitude in the debates is always tranquil, and in favor of compromise....
The representative of the Fifteenth Curia is Herr von Eisendecher, a man whose ready sociability, united with wit and vivacity in conversation, prepossesses one in his favor. He was formerly an advanced Gothaite, and it seems that this tendency of his has shaded over into a lively sympathy for the development of the Confederation as a strong, unified, central power; since in this way, and with the help of Austria, he thinks that a substitute will be discovered for the unsuccessful efforts towards unity in the Prussian sense. The Curia, it is reported, is so organized that the two Anhalts and the two Schwarzburgs, if they are united among themselves, outvote Oldenburg.
It is in a simpler way and without stating his reasons that the representative of the Sixteenth Curia, Baron von Holzhausen, throws his influence on the Austrian side of the scales. It is said of him that in most cases he draws up his own instructions, even when he has ample time to send for them, and that he meets any protest raised by his principals by holding his peace, or by an adroit use of the large number of members of his Curia and the lack of connection between them. To this it is to be added that the majority of the little princes are not disposed to spend upon their federal diplomacy the amount that would be required for a regular and organized chancelry and correspondence; and that if Herr von Holzhausen, who after the departure of Baron von Strombeck obtained the place as the lowest asker, should resign from their service, they would hardly be able, with the means at their disposal, to secure so imposing a representative as this prosperous gentleman, who is decorated with sundry grand-crosses and the title of privy councillor, and is a member of the oldest patrician family of Frankfort. The nearest relations of Herr von Holzhausen, who is himself unmarried and childless, are in the service of Austria. Moreover, his family pride, which is developed to an unusual degree, points back with all its memories to the imperial city patriciate that was so closely associated with the glorious era of the Holy Roman Empire; and Prussia's entire position seems to him a revolutionary usurpation, which has played the most material part in the destruction of the privileges of the Holzhausens. His wealth leads me to assume that the ties that bind him to Austria are merely ambitious tendencies—such as the desire for an imperial order or for the elevation of the family to the rank of Austrian counts—and not pecuniary interests, unless his possession of a large quantity of [Austrian] mining shares is to be regarded in the latter light.
If your Excellency will permit me, in closing, to sum up the results of my report, they amount to what follows:—
The only envoys in the Federal Diet who are devoted to our interests as regards their personal views are Herren von Fritsch, von Scherff, and von Oertzen. Herein the first of these follows at the same time the instructions of the government which he represents. Personally assured to Austria, on the other hand, without it being possible to make the same assertion as regards the governments they represent, are Herren von Eisendecher and von Holzhausen, and von Dungern as representing Brunswick. On the Austrian side, besides these, are almost always, in accordance with the instructions of their governments, Herr von Nostitz, Herr von Reinhard, Herr von Muench, Herr von Trott (who, however, displays greater moderation than his Darmstadt colleague), and Herr von Dungern as representing Nassau.
A position in part more independent, in part more mediatory, is assumed by Herren von Schrenk, von Bothmer, von Buelow, von Marschall, and by the representatives of the Free Cities; and yet in the attitude of these envoys also, Austrian influences are not infrequently noticeable.
FROM A SPEECH ON THE MILITARY BILL
IN THE GERMAN IMPERIAL DIET, FEBRUARY 6TH, 1888
When I say that we must constantly endeavor to be equal to all contingencies, I mean by that to claim that we must make greater exertions than other powers in order to attain the same result, because of our geographical position. We are situated in the middle of Europe. We have at least three fronts of attack. France has only its eastern frontier, Russia only its western frontier, on which it can be attacked. We are, moreover, in consequence of the whole development of the world's history, in consequence of our geographical position, and perhaps in consequence of the slighter degree of internal cohesion which the German nation as compared with others has thus far possessed, more exposed than any other people to the risk of a coalition. God has placed us in a situation in which we are prevented by our neighbors from sinking into any sort of indolence or stagnation. He has set at our side the most war-like and the most restless of nations, the French; and he has permitted warlike inclinations, which in former centuries existed in no such degree, to grow strong in Russia. Thus we get a certain amount of spurring on both sides, and are forced into exertions which otherwise perhaps we should not make. The pikes in the European carp-pond prevent us from becoming carps, by letting us feel their prickles on both our flanks; they constrain us to exertions which perhaps we should not voluntarily make; they constrain us Germans also to a harmony among ourselves that is repugnant to our inmost nature: but for them, our tendency would rather be to separate. But the Franco-Russian press in which we are caught forces us to hold together, and by its pressure it will greatly increase our capacity for cohesion, so that we shall reach in the end that state of inseparableness which characterizes nearly all other nations, and which we still lack. But we must adapt ourselves to this decree of Providence by making ourselves so strong that the pikes can do no more than enliven us....
The bill gives us an increase in troops trained to arms—a possible increase: if we do not need it, we need not call for it; we can leave it at home. But if we have this increase at our disposal, and if we have the weapons for it, ... then this new law constitutes a reinforcement of the guarantees of peace, a reinforcement of the league of peace, that is precisely as strong as if a fourth great power with an army of 700,000 men—and this was formerly the greatest strength that existed—had joined the alliance. This powerful reinforcement will also, I believe, have a quieting effect upon our own countrymen, and lessen in some degree the nervousness of our public opinion, our stock-market, and our press. I hope it will act upon them as a sedative when they clearly comprehend that from the moment at which this law is signed and published the men are there. The armament too may be said to be ready, in the shape of what is absolutely necessary: but we must procure a better, for if we form an army of triarians of the best human material that we have,—of the men above thirty, the husbands and fathers,—we must have for them the best weapons there are. We must not send them into the fight with an outfit that we do not regard as good enough for our young troops of the line. The solid men, the heads of families, these stalwart figures that we can still remember from the time that they held the bridge of Versailles,—these men must have the best rifles on their shoulders, the completest armament, and the amplest clothing to protect them from wind and weather. We ought not to economize there.—But I hope it will tranquilize our fellow-citizens, if they are really thinking of the contingency (which I do not expect to occur) of our being attacked simultaneously on two sides,—of course, as I have pointed out in reviewing the events of the last forty years, there is always the possibility of any sort of coalition,—I hope it will tranquillize them to remember that if this happens, we can have a million good soldiers to defend each of our frontiers. At the same time we can keep in the rear reserves of half a million and more, of a million even, and we can push these forward as they are needed. I have been told, "That will only result in the others going still higher." But they cannot. They have long ago reached their limits.... In numbers they have gone as high as we, but in quality they cannot compete with us. Bravery, of course, is equal among all civilized nations; the Russian and the Frenchman fight as bravely as the German: but our men, our 700,000 new men, have seen service; they are soldiers who have served their time, and who have not yet forgotten their training. Besides—and this is a point in which no people in the world can compete with us—we have the material for officers and under-officers to command this enormous army. It is here that competition is excluded, because it involves a peculiarly broad extension of popular culture, such as exists in Germany and in no other country....
There is a further advantage that will result from the adoption of this law: the very strength at which we are aiming necessarily makes us peaceful. That sounds paradoxical, but it is true. With the powerful machine which we are making of the German army no aggression will be attempted. If I saw fit—assuming a different situation to exist from that which in my conviction does exist'—to come before you here to-day and say to you, "We are seriously menaced by France and Russia; the prospect is that we shall be attacked: such at least is my conviction, as a diplomatist, on the basis of the military information that we have received; it is to our advantage to defend ourselves by anticipating the attack, and to strike at once; an offensive war is a better one for us to wage, and I accordingly ask the Imperial Diet for a credit of a milliard or half a milliard, in order to undertake to-day the war against our two neighbors,"—well, gentlemen, I do not know whether you would have such confidence in me as to grant such a request. I hope not. But if you did, it would not be enough for me. If we in Germany desire to wage a war with the full effect of our national power, it must be a war with which all who help to wage it, and all who make sacrifices for it—with which, in a word, all the nation—must be in sympathy. It must be a people's war; it must be a war that is carried on with the same enthusiasm as that of 1870, when we were wickedly attacked. I remember still the joyful shouts that rang in our ears at the Cologne station; it was the same thing from Berlin to Cologne; it was the same thing here in Berlin. The waves of popular approval bore us into the war, whether we liked it or not. So it must be, if a national force like ours is to be brought fully into operation. It will be very difficult, however, to make it clear to the provinces, to the federal states and to their people, that a war is inevitable, that it must come. It will be asked: "Are you so sure of it? Who knows?" If we finally come to the point of making the attack, all the weight of the imponderables, which weigh much more than the material weights, will be on the side of our antagonist whom we have attacked. "Holy Russia" will be filled with indignation at the attack. France will glisten with weapons to the Pyrenees. The same thing will happen everywhere. A war into which we are not borne by the will of the people—such a war will of course be carried on, if in the last instance the established authorities consider and have declared it to be necessary. It will be carried on with energy and perhaps victoriously, as soon as the men come under fire and have seen blood; but there will not be back of it, from the start, the same dash and heat as in a war in which we are attacked....
I do not believe—to sum up—that any disturbance of the peace is in immediate prospect; and I ask you to deal with the law that lies before you, independently of any such idea or apprehension, simply as a means for making the great force which God has lodged in the German nation completely available in the event of our needing it. If we do not need it, we shall not call for it. We seek to avoid the chance of our needing it. This effort on our part is still, in some degree, impeded by threatening newspaper articles from foreign countries; and I wish to address to foreign countries especially the admonition to discontinue these threats. They lead to nothing. The threat which we receive, not from the foreign government, but in the press, is really a piece of incredible stupidity, if you think what it means—that by a certain combination of words, by a certain threatening shape given to printer's ink, a great and proud power like the German Empire is assumed to be capable of intimidation. This should be discontinued; and then it would be made easier for us to assume a more conciliatory and obliging attitude toward our two neighbors. Every country is responsible in the long run, somehow and at some time, for the windows broken by its press; the bill is presented some day or other, in the ill-humor of the other country. We can easily be influenced by love and good-will,—too easily perhaps,—but most assuredly not by threats. We Germans fear God, but nothing else in the world; and it is the fear of God that makes us love and cherish peace. But whoever, despite this, breaks it, will find that the warlike patriotism that in 1813, when Prussia was weak, small, and exhausted by plunder, brought her whole population under her banners, has to-day become the common heritage of the whole German nation; and whoever attacks the German nation will find it united in arms, and in every soldier's heart the firm faith "God will be with us."
BY WILLIAM M. PAYNE
Of the two great writers who have, more than any others, made it possible for Norway to share in the comity of intellectual intercourse so characteristic of the modern literary movement, it must be granted that Bjoernson is, more distinctly than Ibsen, the representative of their common nationality. Both are figures sufficiently commanding to belong, in a sense, to the literature of the whole world, and both have had a marked influence upon the ideals of other peoples than that from which they sprung; but the wider intellectual scope of Ibsen has been gained at some sacrifice of the strength that comes from taking firm root in one's native soil, and speaking first and foremost to the hearts of one's fellow-countrymen. What we may call the cosmopolitan standpoint of the greater part of his work has made its author less typically a Norwegian than Bjoernson has always remained. It is not merely that the one writer has chosen to spend the best years of his life in countries not his own, while the other has never long absented himself from the scarred and storm-beaten shores of the land, rich in historic memories and "dreams of the saga-night," that gave him birth and nurture. Tourguenieff lived apart from his fellow-countrymen for as many years as Ibsen has done, yet remained a Russian to the core. It is rather a difference of native intellectual bent that has left Bjoernson to stand as the typical representative of the Norwegian spirit, while the most famous of his contemporaries has given himself up to the pursuit of abstractions, and has been swept along by a current of thought resulting from the confluence of many streams. The intensely national character of Bjoernson's manifold activity is well illustrated by a remark of Georg Brandes, to the effect that mention of Bjoernson's name in the presence of any gathering of Norwegians is like running up the national flag. And it seems, on the whole, that the sum total of his literary achievement must be reckoned the greatest to be set down to the credit of any one Norwegian since Norway began to develop a literature of her own. Far nobler and finer than that of either Wergeland or Welhaven, the two most conspicuous of his predecessors, this achievement is challenged by that of Ibsen alone, and even then in but a single aspect. It is only as dramatists that suspense of judgment between the two men is for a moment admissible; as a poet the superiority of Bjoernson is unquestionable, while his rank as the greatest of Norwegian novelists is altogether beyond dispute.
The chief facts of Bjoernson's life may be briefly set forth. The son of a parish priest, he was born December 8th, 1832, at Kvikne. When the boy was six years of age, his family removed to the Romsdal, and a few years later Bjoernstjerne was sent to school at Molde. His childhood was thus passed in the midst of the noblest scenery of Norway, and in regions of the richest legendary association. The austere sublimity of the Joetunheim—the home of the frost-giants—first impressed his childish sensibilities, but was soon exchanged for the more varied and picturesque but hardly less magnificent scenery of the western fjords. At the age of seventeen the boy was sent to school in Christiania, and in 1852 entered the University. Instead of devoting himself to his studies, he wrote a play called 'Valborg,' which was actually accepted by the management of the Christiania Theatre. The piece was, however, never printed or even performed; for the author became so conscious of its imperfections that he withdrew it from rehearsal. But it gave him the entree of the playhouse, a fact which did much to determine the direction of his literary activities. He left the University with his course uncompleted, and for two or three years thereafter supported himself by journalism. In 1857, at the age of twenty-four, his serious literary career began with the publication of 'Synnoeve Solbakken,' his first novel, and 'Mellern Slagene' (Between the Battles), his first printed dramatic work. In this year also, upon the invitation of Ole Bull, he went to Bergen, where he remained for two years as director of the theatre. In 1860 he secured from the government a traveling stipend, and spent the greater part of the next two years abroad, mostly in Rome, busily writing all the time. Returning to Norway, he has since remained there for the most part, although his winters have frequently been spent in other countries. For a long time he lived regularly in Paris several months of each year; one winter (1879-80) he was the guest of the Grand Duke of Meiningen; the following (1880-81) he spent in the United States, lecturing in many cities. Since 1874 his Norwegian home has been at Aulestad in the Gausdal, where he has an estate, and occupies a capacious dwelling—half farm-house, half villa—whose broad verandas look out upon the charming open landscape of Southern Norway. For the last twenty years he has been almost as conspicuous a figure in the political as in the literary arena, and the recognized leader of the Norwegian republican movement. Numerous kinds of social and religious controversy have also engaged his attention, and made his life a stirring one in many ways.
In attempting to classify Bjoernson's writings for the purpose of rendering some critical account of the man's work, the first impulse is to group them into the three divisions of fiction, lyric, and drama. But the most obvious fact of his long literary life is after all not so much that he has done great work in all three of these fundamental forms, as that the whole spirit and method of his work, whatever the form, underwent a radical transformation about midway in his career. For the first twenty years of his active life, roughly speaking, he was an artist pure and simple; during the subsequent twenty years, also roughly speaking, he has been didactic, controversial, and tendentious. (The last word is good Spanish and German and ought to be good English.) For the purpose of the following summary analysis, I have therefore thought it best to make the fundamental grouping chronological rather than formal, since the plays and the novels of the first period have much more in common with one another than either the plays or the novels of the first period have in common with the plays or the novels of the second.
Bjoernson's work in lyrical and other non-dramatic poetry belongs almost wholly to the first period. It consists mainly of short pieces scattered through the idyllic tales and saga-plays that nearly make up the sum of his activity in its purely creative and poetic phase. Some of these lyrics strike the very highest and purest note of song, and have secured lasting lodgment on the lips of the people. One of them, indeed, has become pre-eminently the national song of Norway, and may be heard wherever Norsemen are gathered together upon festal occasions. It begins in this fashion:—
"Ay, we love this land of ours, Crowned with mountain domes; Storm-scarred o'er the sea it towers With a thousand homes. Love it, as with love unsated Those who gave us birth, While the saga-night, dream-weighted, Broods upon our earth."
Another patriotic song, hardly less popular, opens with the following stanza:—
"There's a land where the snow is eternally king, To whose valleys alone come-the joys of the spring, Where the sea beats a shore rich, with lore of the past, But this land to its children is dear to the last."
The fresh beauty of such songs as these is, however, almost utterly uncommunicable in another language. Somewhat more amenable to the translator is the song 'Over de Hoeje Fjelde' (Over the Lofty Mountains), which occurs in 'Arne,' and which is perhaps the best of Bjoernson's lyrics. An attempt at a version of this poem will be found among the illustrative examples appended to the present essay. The scattered verses of Bjoernson were collected into a volume of 'Digte og Sange' (Poems and Songs) in 1870, and in the same year was published 'Arnljot Gelline,' the author's only long poem not dramatic in form. This uneven and in passages extraordinarily beautiful work is a sort of epic in fifteen songs, difficult to read, yet simple enough in general outline. Arnljot Gelline was a sort of freebooter of the eleventh century, whose fierce deeds were preserved in popular tradition. The 'Heimskringla' tells us how, grown weary of his lawless life, he joined himself to Olaf the Holy, accepted baptism, and fell at Stiklestad righting for Christianity and the King. From this suggestion, the imagination of the poet has worked out a series of episodes in Arnljot's life, beginning with his capture of the fair Ingigerd—whose father he slew, and who, struggling against her love, took refuge in a cloister—and ending with the day of the portentous battle against the heathen. It is all very impressive, and sometimes very subtle, while occasional sections, such as Ingigerd's appeal for admission to the cloister, and Arnljot's apostrophe to the sea, must be reckoned among the finest of Bjoernson's inspirations. Since 1870 Bjoernson has published little verse, although poems of an occasional character and incidental lyrics have now and then found their way into print. 'Lyset' (The Light), a cantata, is the only recent example of any magnitude.
Bjoernson first became famous as the delineator of the Norwegian peasant. He felt that the peasant is the lineal descendant of the man of the sagas, and that in him lies the real strength of the national character. The story of 'Synnoeve Solbakken' (1857) was quickly followed by 'Arne' (1858), 'En Glad Gut' (A Happy Boy: 1860), and a number of small pieces in similar vein. They were at once recognized both at home and abroad as something deeper and truer of their sort than had hitherto been achieved in the Scandinavian countries, and perhaps in Europe. In their former aspect, they were a reaction from the conventional ideals hitherto dominant in Danish literature (which had set the pace for most of Bjoernson's predecessors); and in their latter and wider aspect they were the Norwegian expression of the tendency that had produced the German and French peasant idyls of Auerbach and George Sand. They embodied a return to Nature in a spirit that may, with a difference, be called Wordsworthian. They substituted a real nineteenth-century pastoral for the sham pastoral of the eighteenth century. They reproduced the simple style of the sagas, and reduced life to its primitive elements. The stories of 'Fiskerjenten' (The Fisher Maiden: 1868), and 'Brude Slaaten' (The Bridal March: 1873), belong, on the whole, with this group; although they are differentiated by a touch of modernity from which a discerning critic might have prophesied something of the author's coming development. These stories have been translated into many languages, and have long been familiar to English readers. It is worth noting that 'Synnoeve Solbakken,' the first of them all, appeared in English a year after the publication of the original, in a translation by Mary Howitt. This fact seems to have escaped the bibliographers; which is not surprising, since the name of the author was not given upon the title-page, and the name of the story was metamorphosed into 'Trust and Trial.'
The inspiration of the sagas, strong as it is in these tales, is still more evident in the series of dramas that run parallel with them. These include 'Mellem Slagene' (Between the Battles: 1858), 'Halte Hulda' (Lame Hulda: 1858), 'Kong Sverre' (1861), 'Sigurd Slembe' (1862), and 'Sigurd Jorsalfar' (Sigurd the Jerusalem-Farer: 1872). The first two of these pieces are short and comparatively unimportant. 'Kong Sverre' is a longer and far more ambitious work; while in 'Sigurd Slembe,' a trilogy of plays, the saga-phase of Bjoernson's genius reached its culmination. This noble work, which may almost claim to be the greatest work in Norwegian literature, is based upon the career of a twelfth-century pretender to the throne of Norway, and the material was found in the 'Heimskringla.' There are few more signal illustrations in literature of the power of genius to transfuse with its own life a bare mediaeval chronicle, and to create from a few meagre suggestions a vital and impressive work of art. One thinks instinctively, in seeking for some adequate parallel, of what Goethe did with the materials of the Faust legend, or of what Shakespeare did with the indications offered for 'King Lear' and 'Cymbeline' by Holinshed's chronicle-history. And the two greatest names in modern literature are suggested not only by this general fact of creative power, but also more specifically by certain characters in the trilogy. Audhild, the Icelandic maiden beloved of Sigurd, has more than once been compared with the gracious and pathetic figure of Gretchen; and Earl Harald is one of the most successful attempts since Shakespeare to incarnate once again the Hamlet type of character, with its gentleness, its intellectuality, its tragic irony, and the defect of will which forces it to sink beneath the too heavy burden set upon its shoulders by fate. 'Sigurd Jorsalfar,' the last of the saga-plays, was planned as the second part of a dramatic sequence, of which the first was never written. Another work in this manner, having for its protagonist the great national hero, Olaf Trygvason, was also planned and even begun; but the author's energy flagged, and he felt himself irresistibly impelled to devote himself to more modern themes dealt with in a more modern way. But before leaving this phase of Bjoernson's work, mention must be made of 'Maria Stuart i Skotland' (1864), chronologically interjected among the saga-plays, and dealing with the more definite history of the hapless Queen of Scots in much of the saga-spirit. Bjoernson felt that the Scots had inherited no little of the Norse blood and temper, and believed that the psychology of his saga-heroes was adequate to account for the group of men whose fortunes were bound up with those of Mary Stuart in Scotland. He finds his key to the problem of her career in the fact that she was by nature incapable of yielding herself up wholly to a man or a cause, yet was surrounded by men who demanded of her just such whole-souled allegiance. Bothwell and Knox were pre-eminently men of this stamp; as were also, in some degree, Darnley and Rizzio. The theory may seem fanciful, but there is no doubt that Bjoernson's treatment of this fascinating subject is one of the strongest it has ever received, and that his play takes rank with such European masterpieces as Scott's novel, and Alfieri's tragedy, and Swinburne's great poetic trilogy.
The late sixties and the early seventies were with Bjoernson a period of unrest and transformation. His previous work had been that of a genius isolated, comparatively speaking, and concentrated upon a small part of human life. His frequent journeys abroad and the wider range of his reading now brought him into the full current of European thought, and led to a substitution of practical ideals for those of the visionary. He felt that he must reculer pour mieux sauter, and for nearly a decade he produced little original work. Yet his first attempt at a modern problem-play, 'De Nygifte' (The Newly Married Pair), curiously enough, dates from as far back as 1865. This work was, however, a mere trifle, and has interest chiefly as a forerunner of what was to come. It was not until 1874 that Bjoernson became conscious that his new thought was ripe enough to bear fruit, and that he began with 'Redaktoeren' (The Editor) the series of plays dealing with social problems that have been the characteristic work of his second period. It is interesting to note, for comparison, the fact that the similar striking transformation of energy in Ibsen's case dates from 1877, when 'Samfundet's Stoetter' (The Pillars of Society) was produced, and that this work had, like Bjoernson's 'Redaktoeren,' a forerunner in 'De Unges Forbund' (The League of Youth), published in 1869. The list of Bjoernson's problem-plays—many of which have been extraordinarily successful upon the stage, both in the Scandinavian countries and in Germany—includes in addition to 'Redaktoeren,' seven other pieces. They are: 'En Fallit' (A Bankruptcy: 1875), 'Kongen' (The King: 1877), 'Leonarda' (1879), 'Det Ny System' (The New System: 1879), 'En Hanske' (A Glove: 1883), 'Over AEvne' (Beyond the Strength: 1883), and 'Geografi og Kjaerlighed' (Geography and Love: 1885). A sequel to 'Over AEvne' has also recently appeared. The most noteworthy of these works, considered as acting plays, are 'Redaktoeren' and 'En Fallit.' The one has for its subject the degradation of modern journalism; the other attacks the low standard of commercial morality prevailing in modern society. 'En Hanske' plants itself squarely upon the proposition that the obligations of morality are equally binding upon both sexes; a problem treated by Ibsen, after a somewhat different fashion, in 'Gengangere' (Ghosts). This play has occasioned much heated discussion, for its theme is of the widest interest, besides being pivotal as regards Bjoernson's sociological views. 'Over AEvne' is a curiously wrought and delicate treatment of religious mysticism, fascinating to read, but not very definite in outcome. 'Kongen' is probably the most remarkable, all things considered, of this series of plays, and Bjoernson told me some years ago that he considered it the most important of his works. Taking frankly for granted that monarchy, whether absolute or constitutional, is an outworn institution, the play discusses the question whether it may not be possible so to transform the institution as to fit it for a prolongation of existence. The interest centres about the character of a king who is profoundly convinced that the principle he embodies is an anachronism or a lie, and who seeks to do away with the whole structure of convention, and ceremonial, and hypocrisy, that the centuries have built about the throne and its occupants. But his dearest hopes are frustrated by the forces of malice, and dull conservatism, and invincible stupidity; the burden proves too heavy for him, the fight too unequal, and he takes his own life in a moment of despair. The terrible satirical power of certain scenes in this play would be difficult to match were our choice to range through the whole literature of Revolt. Its production brought upon the author a storm of furious denunciation. He had outraged both throne and altar, and his sacrilegious hand had not spared things the most sacrosanct. But a less passionate judgment, while still deprecating something of the author's violence, will recognize the fact that the core of the work is a noble idealism in both politics and religion, and will justify the hot indignation with which the author assails the shams that in modern society stifle the breath of free and generous souls.