FREDRIKA BREMER'S WORKS.
OR, LIFE IN SWEDEN.
TRANSLATED BY MARY HOWITT.
LONDON: HENRY G. BOHN, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN. 1853.
C. WHITING, BEAUFORT HOUSE.
OR, LIFE IN SWEDEN.
MORNING DISPUTE AND EVENING CONTENTION.
"My sweet friend," said Judge Frank, in a tone of vexation, "it is not worth while reading aloud to you if you keep yawning incessantly, and looking about, first to the right and then to the left;" and with these words he laid down a treatise of Jeremy Bentham, which he had been reading, and rose from his seat.
"Ah, forgive me, dear friend!" returned his wife, "but really these good things are all somewhat indigestible, and I was thinking about——Come here, dear Brigitta!" said Mrs. Elise Frank, beckoning an old servant to her, to whom she then spoke in an under tone.
Whilst this was going on, the Judge, a handsome strong-built man of probably forty, walked up and down the room, and then suddenly pausing as if in consideration, before one of the walls, he exclaimed to his wife, who by this time had finished her conversation with the old servant, "See, love, now if we were to have a door opened here—and it could very easily be done, for it is only a lath-and-plaster wall—we could then get so conveniently into our bedroom, without first going through the sitting-room and the nursery—it would indeed be capital!"
"But then, where could the sofa stand?" answered Elise, with some anxiety.
"The sofa?" returned her husband; "oh, the sofa could be wheeled a little aside; there is more than room enough for it."
"But, my best friend," replied she, "there would come a very dangerous draft from the door to every one who sat in the corner."
"Ah! always difficulties and impediments!" said the husband. "But cannot you see, yourself, what a great advantage it would be if there were a door here?"
"No, candidly speaking," said she, "I think it is better as it is."
"Yes, that is always the way with ladies," returned he; "they will have nothing touched, nothing done, nothing changed, even to obtain improvement and convenience; everything is good and excellent as it is, till somebody makes the alteration for them, and then they can see at once how much better it is; and then they exclaim, 'Ah, see now that is charming!' Ladies, without doubt, belong to the stand-still party!"
"And the gentlemen," added she, "belong to the movement party; at least wherever building and molestation-making comes across them!"
The conversation, which had hitherto appeared perfectly good-humoured, seemed to assume a tone of bitterness from that word "molestation-making;" and in return the voice of the Judge was somewhat austere, as he replied to her taunt against the gentlemen. "Yes," said he, "they are not afraid of a little trouble whenever a great advantage is to be obtained. But——are we to have no breakfast to-day? It is twenty-two minutes after nine! It really is shocking, dear Elise, that you cannot teach your maids punctuality! There is nothing more intolerable than to lose one's time in waiting; nothing more useless; nothing more insupportable; nothing which more easily might be prevented, if people would only resolutely set about it! Life is really too short for one to be able to waste half of it in waiting! Five-and-twenty minutes after nine! and the children—are they not ready too? Dear Elise——"
"I'll go and see after them," said she; and went out quickly.
It was Sunday. The June sun shone into a large cheerful room, and upon a snow-white damask tablecloth, which in soft silken folds was spread over a long table, on which a handsome coffee-service was set out with considerable elegance. The disturbed countenance with which the Judge had approached the breakfast-table, cleared itself instantly as a person, whom young ladies would unquestionably have called "horribly ugly," but whom no reflective physiognomist could have observed without interest, entered the room. This person was tall, extremely thin, and somewhat inclining to the left side; the complexion was dark, and the somewhat noble features wore a melancholy expression, which but seldom gave place to a smile of unusual beauty. The forehead elevated itself, with its deep lines, above the large brown extraordinary eyes, and above this a wood of black-brown hair erected itself, under whose thick stiff curls people said a multitude of ill-humours and paradoxes housed themselves; so also, indeed, might they in all those deep furrows with which his countenance was lined, not one of which certainly was without its own signification. Still, there was not a sharp angle of that face; there was nothing, either in word or voice, of the Assessor, Jeremias Munter, however severe they might seem to be, which at the same time did not conceal an expression of the deepest goodness of heart, and which stamped itself upon his whole being, in the same way as the sap clothes with green foliage the stiff resisting branches of the knotted oak.
"Good day, brother!" exclaimed the Judge, cordially offering him his hand, "how are you?"
"Bad!" answered the melancholy man; "how can it be otherwise? What weather we have! As cold as January! And what people we have in the world too: it is both a sin and shame! I am so angry to-day that——Have you read that malicious article against you in the——paper?"
"No, I don't take in that paper; but I have heard speak of the article," said Judge Frank. "It is directed against my writing on the condition of the poor in the province, is it not?"
"Yes; or more properly no," replied the Assessor, "for the extraordinary fact is, that it contains nothing about that affair. It is against yourself that it is aimed—the lowest insinuations, the coarsest abuse!"
"So I have heard," said the Judge; "and on that very account I do not trouble myself to read it."
"Have you heard who has written it?" asked the visitor.
"No," returned the other; "nor do I wish to know."
"But you should do so," argued the Assessor; "people ought to know who are their enemies. It is Mr. N. I should like to give the fellow three emetics, that he might know the taste of his own gall!"
"What!" exclaimed Judge Frank, at once interested in the Assessor's news—"N., who lives nearly opposite to us, and who has so lately received from the Cape his child, the poor little motherless girl?"
"The very same!" returned he; "but you must read this piece, if it be only to give a relish to your coffee. See here; I have brought it with me. I have learned that it would be sent to your wife to-day. Yes, indeed, what pretty fellows there are in the world! But where is your wife to-day? Ah! here she comes! Good morning, my lady Elise. So charming in the early morning; but so pale! Eh, eh, eh; this is not as it should be! What is it that I say and preach continually? Exercise, fresh air—else nothing in the world avails anything. But who listens to one's preaching? No—adieu my friends! Ah! where is my snuff-box? Under the newspapers? The abominable newspapers; they must lay their hands on everything; one can't keep even one's snuff-box in peace for them! Adieu, Mrs. Elise! Adieu, Frank. Nay, see how he sits there and reads coarse abuse of himself, just as if it mattered nothing to him. Now he laughs into the bargain. Enjoy your breakfasts, my friends!"
"Will you not enjoy it with us?" asked the friendly voice of Mrs. Frank; "we can offer you to-day quite fresh home-baked bread."
"No, I thank you," said the Assessor; "I am no friend to such home-made things; good for nothing, however much they may be bragged of. Home-baked, home-brewed, home-made. Heaven help us! It all sounds very fine, but it's good for nothing."
"Try if to-day it really be good for nothing," urged she. "There, we have now Madame Folette on the table; you must, at least, have a cup of coffee from her."
"What do you mean?" asked the surprised Assessor; "what is it? What horrid Madame is it that is to give me a cup of coffee? I never could bear old women; and if they are now to come upon the coffee-table——"
"The round coffee-pot there," said Mrs. Frank, good-humouredly, "is Madame Folette. Could you not bear that?"
"But why call it so?" asked he. "What foolery is that?"
"It is a fancy of the children," returned she. "An honest old woman of this name, whom I once treated to a cup of coffee, exclaimed, at the first sight of her favourite beverage, 'When I see a coffee-pot, it is all the same to me as if I saw an angel from heaven!' The children heard this, and insisted upon it that there was a great resemblance in figure between Madame Folette and this coffee-pot; and so ever since it has borne her name. The children are very fond of her, because she gives them every Sunday morning their coffee."
"What business have children with coffee?" asked the Assessor. "Cannot they be thin enough without it; and are they to be burnt up before their time? There's Petrea, is she not lanky enough? I never was very fond of her; and now, if she is to grow up into a coffee wife, why—"
"But, dear Munter," said Mrs. Frank, "you are not in a good humour to-day."
"Good humour!" replied he: "no, Mrs. Elise, I am not in a good humour; I don't know what there is in the world to make people good-humoured. There now, your chair has torn a hole in my coat-lap! Is that pleasant? That's home-made too! But now I'll go; that is, if your doors—are they home-made too?—will let me pass."
"But will you not come back, and dine with us?" asked she.
"No, I thank you," replied he; "I am invited elsewhere; and that in this house, too."
"To Mrs. Chamberlain W——?" asked Mrs. Frank.
"No, indeed!" answered the Assessor: "I cannot bear that woman. She lectures me incessantly. Lectures me! I have a great wish to lecture her, I have! And then, her blessed dog—Pyrrhus or Pirre; I had a great mind to kill it. And then, she is so thin. I cannot bear thin people; least of all, thin old women."
"No?" said Mrs. Frank. "Don't you know, then, what rumour says of you and poor old Miss Rask?"
"That common person!" exclaimed Jeremias. "Well, and what says malice of me and poor old Miss Rask?"
"That, not many days since," said Mrs. Frank, "you met this old lady on your stairs as she was going up to her own room; and that she was sighing, because of the long flight of stairs and her weak chest. Now malice says, that, with the utmost politeness, you offered her your arm, and conducted her up the stairs with the greatest possible care; nor left her, till she had reached her own door; and further, after all, that you sent her a pound of cough lozenges; and——"
"And do you believe," interrupted the Assessor, "that I did that for her own sake? No, I thank you! I did it that the poor old skeleton might not fall down dead upon my steps, and I be obliged to climb over her ugly corpse. From no other cause in this world did I drag her up the stairs. Yes, yes, that was it! I dine to-day with Miss Berndes. She is always a very sensible person; and her little Miss Laura is very pretty. See, here have we now all the herd of children! Your most devoted servant, Sister Louise! So, indeed, little Miss Eva! she is not afraid of the ugly old fellow, she—God bless her! there's some sugar-candy for her! And the little one! it looks just like a little angel. Do I make her cry? Then I must away; for I cannot endure children's crying. Oh, for heaven's sake! It may make a part of the charm of home: that I can believe;—perhaps it is home-music! Home-baked, home-made, home-music——hu!"
The Assessor sprang through the door; the Judge laughed; and the little one became silent at the sight of a kringla, through which the beautiful eye of her brother Henrik spied at her as through an eye-glass; whilst the other children came bounding to the breakfast-table.
"Nay, nay, nay, my little angels, keep yourselves a little quiet," said the mother. "Wait a moment, dear Petrea; patience is a virtue. Eva dear, don't behave in that way; you don't see me do so."
Thus gently moralised the mother; whilst, with the help of her eldest daughter, the little prudent Louise, she cared for the other children. The father went from one to another full of delight, patted their little heads, and pulled them gently by the hair.
"I ought, yesterday, to have cut all your hair," said he. "Eva has quite a wig; one can hardly see her face for it. Give your papa a kiss, my little girl! I'll take your wig from you early to-morrow morning."
"And mine too, and mine too, papa!" exclaimed the others.
"Yes, yes," answered the father, "I'll shear every one of you."
All laughed but the little one; which, half frightened, hid its sunny-haired little head on the mother's bosom: the father raised it gently, and kissed, first it, and then the mother.
"Now put sugar in papa's cup," said she to the little one; "look! he holds it to you."
The little one smiled, put sugar in the cup, and Madame Folette began her joyful circuit.
But we will now leave Madame Folette, home-baked bread, the family breakfast, and the morning sun, and seat ourselves at the evening lamp, by the light of which Elise is writing.
I must give you portraits of all my little flock of children; who now, having enjoyed their evening meal, are laid to rest upon their soft pillows. Ah! if I had only a really good portrait—I mean a painted one—of my Henrik, my first-born, my summer child, as I call him—because he was born on a Midsummer-day, in the summer hours both of my life and my fortune; but only the pencil of a Correggio could represent those beautiful, kind, blue eyes, those golden locks, that loving mouth, and that countenance all so perfectly pure and beautiful! Goodness and joyfulness beam out from his whole being; even although his buoyant animal life, which seldom allows his arms or legs to be quiet, often expresses itself in not the most graceful manner. My eleven-years-old boy is, alas! very—his father says—very unmanageable. Still, notwithstanding all this wildness, he is possessed of a deep and restless fund of sentiment, which makes me often tremble for his future happiness. God defend my darling, my summer child, my only son! Oh, how dear he is to me! Ernst warns me often of too partial an affection for this child; and on that very account will I now pass on from portrait No. 1 to
No. 2.—Behold then the little Queen-bee, our eldest daughter, just turned ten years; and you will see a grave, fair girl, not handsome, but with a round, sensible face; from which I hope, by degrees, to remove a certain ill-tempered expression. She is uncommonly industrious, silent and orderly, and kind towards her younger sisters, although very much disposed to lecture them; nor will she allow any opportunity to pass in which her importance as "eldest sister" is not observed; on which account the little ones give her the titles of "Your Majesty" and "Mrs. Judge." The little Louise appears to me one of those who will always be still and sure; and who, on this account, will go fortunately though the world.
No. 3.—People say that my little nine-years-old Eva will be very like her mother. I hope it will prove a really splendid fac-simile. See, then, a little, soft, round-about figure, which, amid laughter and merriment, rolls hither and thither lightly and nimbly, with an ever-varying physiognomy, which is rather plain than handsome, although lit up by a pair of beautiful, kind, dark-blue eyes. Quickly moved to sorrow, quickly excited to joy; good-hearted, flattering, confection-loving, pleased with new and handsome clothes, and with dolls and play; greatly beloved too by brothers and sisters, as well as by all the servants; the best friend and playfellow, too, of her brother. Such is little Eva.
No. 4.—Nos. 3 and 4 ought not properly to come together. Poor Leonore had a sickly childhood, and this rather, I believe, than nature, has given to her an unsteady and violent temper, and has unhappily sown the seeds of envy towards her more fortunate sisters. She is not deficient in deep feeling, but the understanding is sluggish, and it is extremely difficult for her to learn anything. All this promises no pleasure; rather the very opposite. The expression of her mouth, even in the uncomfortable time of teething, seemed to speak, "Let me be quiet!" It is hardly possible that she can be other than plain, but, with God's help, I hope to make her good and happy.
"My beloved, plain child!" say I sometimes to her as I clasp her tenderly in my arms, for I would willingly reconcile her early to her fate.
No. 5.—But whatever will fate do with the nose of my Petrea? This nose is at present the most remarkable thing about her little person; and if it were not so large, she really would be a pretty child. We hope, however, that it will moderate itself in her growth.
Petrea is a little lively girl, with a turn for almost everything, whether good or bad; curious and restless is she, and beyond measure full of failings; she has a dangerous desire to make herself observed, and to excite an interest. Her activity shows itself in destructiveness; yet she is good-hearted and most generous. In every kind of foolery she is a most willing ally with Henrik and Eva, whenever they will grant her so much favour; and if these three be heard whispering together, one may be quite sure that some roguery or other is on foot. There exists already, however, so much unquiet in her, that I fear her whole life will be such; but I will early teach her to turn herself to that which can change unrest into rest.
No. 6.—And now to the pet child of the house—to the youngest, the loveliest, the so-called "little one"—to her who with her white hands puts the sugar into her father's and mother's cup—the coffee without that would not taste good—to her whose little bed is not yet removed from the chamber of the parents, and who, every morning, creeping out of her own bed, lays her bright curly little head on her father's shoulder and sleeps again.
Could you only see the little two-years-old Gabriele, with her large, serious brown eyes; her refined, somewhat pale, but indescribably lovely countenance; her bewitching little gestures; you would be just as much taken with her as the rest are,—you would find it difficult, as we all do, not to spoil her. She is a quiet little child, but very unlike her eldest sister. A predominating characteristic of Gabriele is love of the beautiful; she shows a decided aversion to what is ugly and inconvenient, and as decided a love for what is attractive. A most winning little gentility in appearance and manners, has occasioned the brother and sisters to call her in sport "the little young lady," or "the little princess." Henrik is really in love with his little sister, kisses her small white hands with devotion, and in return she loves him with her whole heart. Towards the others she is very often somewhat ungracious; and our good friend the Assessor calls her frequently "the little gracious one," and frequently also "the little ungracious one," but then he has for her especially so many names; my wish is that in the end she may deserve the surname of "the amiable."
Peace be with my young ones! There is not one of them which is not possessed of the material of peculiar virtue and excellence, and yet not also at the same time of the seed of some dangerous vice, which may ruin the good growth of God in them. May the endeavours both of their father and me be blessed in training these plants of heaven aright! But ah! the education of children is no easy thing, and all the many works on that subject which I have studied appear to me, whether the fault be in me or in them I cannot tell, but small helps. Ah! I often find no other means than to clasp the child tenderly in my arms, and to weep bitterly over it, or else to kiss it in the fulness of my joy; and it often has appeared to me that such moments are not without their influence.
I endeavour as much as possible not to scold. I know how perpetually scolding crushes the free spirit and the innocent joyousness of childhood; and I sincerely believe that if one will only sedulously cultivate what is good in character, and make in all instances what is good visible and attractive, the bad will by degrees fall away of itself.
I sing a great deal to my children. They are brought up with songs; for I wished early, as it were, to bathe their souls in harmony. Several of them, especially my first-born and Eva, are regular little enthusiasts in music; and every evening, as soon as twilight comes on, the children throng about me, and then I sit down to the piano, and either accompany myself, or play to little songs which they themselves sing. It is my Henrik's reward, when he has been very good for the whole day, that I should sit by his bed, and sing to him till he sleeps. He says that he then has such beautiful dreams. We often sit and talk for an hour instead, and I delight myself sincerely in his active and pure soul. When he lays out his great plans for his future life, he ends thus:—"And when I am grown up a man, and have my own house, then, mother, thou shalt come and live with me, and I will keep so many maids to wait on thee, and thou shalt have so many flowers, and everything that thou art fond of, and shalt live just like a queen; only of an evening, when I go to bed, thou shalt sit beside me and sing me to sleep; wilt thou not?" Often too, when in the midst of his plans for the future and my songs, he has dropped asleep, I remain sitting still by the bed with my heart full to overflowing with joy and pride in this angel. Ernst declares that I spoil him. Ah, perhaps I do, but nevertheless it is a fact that I earnestly endeavour not to do so. After all, I can say of every one of my children what a friend of mine said of hers, that they are tolerably good; that is to say, they are not good enough for heaven.
This evening I am alone. Ernst is away at the District-Governor's. It is my birthday to-day; but I have told no one, because I wished rather to celebrate it in a quiet communion with my own thoughts.
How at this moment the long past years come in review before me! I see myself once more in the house of my parents: in that good, joyful, beloved home! I see myself once more by thy side, my beloved and only sister, in that large, magnificent house, surrounded by meadows and villages. How we looked down upon them from high windows, and yet rejoiced that the sun streamed into the most lowly huts just as pleasantly as into our large saloons—everything seemed to us so well arranged.
Life then, Cecilia, was joyful and free from care. How we sate and wept over "Des Voeux Temeraires," and over "Feodor and Maria,"—such were our cares then. Our life was made up of song, and dance, and merriment, with our so many cheerful neighbours; with the most accomplished of whom we got up enthusiasms for music and literature. We considered ourselves to be virtuous, because we loved those who loved us, and because we gave of our superfluity to those who needed it. Friendship was our passion. We were ready to die for friendship, but towards love we had hearts of stone. How we jested over our lovers, and thought what fun it would be to act the parts of austere romance-heroines! How unmerciful we were, and—how easily our lovers consoled themselves! Then Ernst Frank came on a visit to us. The rumour of a learned and strong-minded man preceded him, and fixed our regards upon him, because women, whether well-informed or not themselves, are attracted by such men. Do you not remember how much he occupied our minds? how his noble person, his calm, self-assured demeanour, his frank, decided, yet always polite behaviour charmed us at first, and the awed us?
One could say of him, that morally as well as physically he stood firmly. His deep mourning dress, together with an expression of quiet manly grief, which at times shaded his countenance, combined to make him interesting to us; nevertheless, you thought that he looked too stern, and I very soon lost in his presence my accustomed gaiety. Whenever his dark grave eyes were fixed upon me, I was conscious that they possessed a half-bewitching, half-oppressive power over me; I felt myself happy because of it, yet at the same time filled with anxiety; my very action was constrained, my hands became cold and did everything blunderingly, nor ever did I speak so stupidly as when I observed that he listened. Aunt Lisette gave me one day this maxim: "My dear, remember what I now tell thee: if a man thinks that thou art a fool, it does not injure thee the least in his opinion; but if he once thinks that thou considerest him a fool, then art thou lost for ever with him!" With the last it may be just as it will—I have heard a clever young man declare that it would operate upon him like salt on fire—however, this is certain, that the first part of Aunt Lisette's maxim is correct, since my stupidity in Ernst's presence did not injure me at all in his opinion, and when he was kind and gentle, how inexpressibly agreeable he was!
His influence over me became greater each succeeding day: I seemed to live continually under his eyes; when they beamed on me in kindness, it was as if a spring breeze passed through my soul; and if his glance was graver than common, I became still, and out of spirits. It seemed to me at times—and it is so even to this very day—that if this clear and wonderfully penetrating glance were only once, and with its full power, riveted upon me, my very heart would cease to beat. Yet after all, I am not sure whether I loved him. I hardly think I did; for when he was absent I then seemed to breathe so freely, yet at the same time, I would have saved his life by the sacrifice of my own.
In several respects we had no sympathies in common. He had no taste for music, which I loved passionately; and in reading too our feelings were so different. He yawned over my favourite romances, nay he even sometimes would laugh when I was at the point of bursting into tears; I, on the contrary, yawned over his useful and learned books, and found them more tedious than I could express. The world of imagination in which my thoughts delighted to exercise themselves, he valued not in the least, whilst the burdensome actuality which he always was seeking for in life, had no charm for me. Nevertheless there were many points in which we accorded—these especially were questions of morals—and whenever this was the case, it afforded both of us great pleasure.
And now came the time, Cecilia, in which you left me; when our fates separated themselves, although our hearts did not.
One day there were many strangers with us; and in the afternoon I played at shuttlecock with young cousin Emil, to whom we were so kind, and who deserved our kindness so well. How it happened I cannot tell, but before long Ernst took his place, and was my partner in the game. He looked unusually animated, and I felt myself more at ease with him than common. He threw the shuttlecock excellently, and with a firm hand, but always let it fly a little way beyond me, so that I was obliged to step back a few paces each time to catch it, and thus unconsciously to myself was I driven, in the merry sport, through a long suite of rooms, till we came at last to one where we were quite alone, and a long way from the company. All at once then Ernst left off his play, and a change was visible in his whole countenance. I augured something amiss, and would gladly have sprung far, far away, but I felt powerless; and then Ernst spoke so from his heart, so fervently, and with such deep tenderness, that he took my heart at once to himself. I laid my hand, although tremblingly, in his, and, almost without knowing what I did, consented to go through life by his side.
I had just then passed my nineteenth year; and my beloved parents sanctioned the union of their daughter with a man so respectable and so universally esteemed, and one, moreover, whom everybody prophesied would one day rise to the highest eminences of the state—and Ernst, whose nature it was to accomplish everything rapidly which he undertook, managed it so that in a very short time our marriage was celebrated.
At the same time some members of my family thought that by this union I had descended a step. I thought not; on the contrary, the very reverse. I was of high birth, had several not undistinguished family connexions, and was brought up in a brilliant circle, in all the superficial accomplishments of the day, amid superfluity and thoughtlessness. He was a man who had shaped out his own course in life, who, by his own honest endeavours, and through many self-denials, had raised his father's house from its depressed condition, and had made the future prospects of his mother and sister comfortable and secure: he was a man self-dependent, upright, and good—yes, GOOD, and that I discover more and more the deeper knowledge I obtain of his true character, even though the outward manner may be somewhat severe—in truth, I feel myself very inferior beside him.
The first year of our marriage we passed, at their desire, in the house of my parents; and if I could only have been less conscious of his superiority, and could only have been more certain that he was satisfied with me, nothing would have been wanting to my happiness. Everybody waited upon me; and perhaps it was on this account that Ernst, in comparison, seemed somewhat cold; I was the petted child of my too kind parents; I was thankless and peevish, and ah, some little of this still remains! Nevertheless, it was during this very time that, under the influence of my husband, the true beauty and reality of life became more and more perceptible to my soul. Married life and family ties, one's country and the world, revealed their true relationships, and their holy signification to my mind. Ernst was my teacher; I looked up to him with love, but not without fear.
Many were the projects which we formed in these summer days, and which floated brightly before my romantic fancy. Among these was a journey on foot through the beautiful country west of Sweden, and this was one of the favourite schemes of my Ernst. His mother—from whom our little Petrea has derived her somewhat singular name—was of Norway, and many a beloved thought of her seemed to have interwoven itself with the valleys and mountains, which, as in a wonderfully-beautiful fairy tale, she had described to him in the stories she told. All these recollections are a sort of romantic region in Ernst's soul, and thither he betakes himself whenever he would refresh his spirit, or lay out something delightful for the future. "Next year," he would then exclaim, "will we take a journey!" And then we laid out together our route on the map, and I determined on the dress which I would wear as his travelling-companion when we would go and visit "that sea-engarlanded Norway." Ah! there soon came for me other journeys.
It was during these days also that my first-born saw the light; my beautiful boy! who so fettered both my love and my thoughts that Ernst grew almost jealous. How often did I steal out of bed at night in order to watch him while he slept! He was a lively, restless child, and it therefore was a peculiar pleasure for me to see him at rest; besides which, he was so angelically lovely in sleep! I could have spent whole nights bending over his cradle.
So far, Cecilia, all went with us as in the romances with which we in our youth nourished heart and soul. But far other times came. In the first place, the sad change in the circumstances of my parents, which operated so severely on our position in life; and then for me so many children—cares without end, grief and sickness! My body and mind must both have given way under their burden, had Ernst not been the man he is.
It suited his character to struggle against the stream; it was a sort of pleasure to him to combat with it, to meet difficulties, and to overcome them. With each succeeding year he imposed more business upon himself, and by degrees, through the most resolute industry, he was enabled to bring back prosperity to his house. And then how unwearingly kind he was to me! How tenderly sustaining in those very moments, when without him I must have found myself so utterly miserable! How many a sleepless night has he passed on my account! How often has he soothed to sleep a sickly child in his arms! And then, too, every child which came, as it were only to multiply his cares, and increase the necessity for his labour, was to him a delight—was received as a gift of God's mercy—and its birth made a festival in the house. How my heart has thanked him, and how has his strength and assurance nerved me!
When little Gabriele was born I was very near death; and it is my firm belief that, without Ernst's care for me, I must then have parted from my little ones. During the time of great weakness which succeeded this, my foot scarcely ever touched the ground. I was carried by Ernst himself wherever I would. He was unwearied in goodness and patience towards the sick mother. Should she not now, that she is again in health, dedicate her life to him? Ah, yes, that should she, and that will she! Alas, were but my ability as strong as my will!
Do you know one thing, Cecilia, which often occasions me great trouble? It is that I am not a clever housewife; that I can neither take pleasure in all the little cares and details which the well-being of a house really requires, nor that I have memory for these things; more especially is the daily caring for dinner irksome to me. I myself have but little appetite; and it is so unpleasing to me to go to sleep at night, and to get up in the morning with my head full of schemes for cooking. By this means, it happens that sometimes my husband's domestic comforts are not such as he has a right to demand. Hitherto my weak health, the necessary care of the children, and our rather narrow circumstances, have furnished me with sufficient excuses; but these now will avail me no longer; my health is again established, and our greater prosperity furnishes the means for better household management.
On this account, I now exert myself to perform all my duties well; but, ah! how pleasant it will be when the little Louise is sufficiently grown up, that I may lay part of the housekeeping burdens on her shoulders. I fancy to myself that she will have peculiar pleasure in all these things.
I am to-day two-and-thirty years old. It seems to me that I have entered a new period of my life: my youth lies behind me, I am advanced into middle age, and I well know what both this and my husband have a right to demand from me. May a new and stronger being awake in me! May God support me, and Ernst be gentle towards his erring wife!
Ernst should have married a more energetic woman. My nervous weakness makes my temper irritable, and I am so easily annoyed. His activity of mind often disturbs me more than it is reasonable or right that it should; for instance, I get regularly into a state of excitement, if he only steadfastly fixes his eyes on a wall, or on any other object. I immediately begin to fancy that we are going instantly to have a new door opened, or some other change brought about. And oh! I have such a great necessity for rest and quiet!
One change which is about to take place in our house I cannot anticipate without uneasiness. It is the arrival of a candidate of Philosophy, Jacob Jacobi, as tutor for my children. He will this summer take my wild boy under his charge, and instruct the sisters in writing, drawing, and arithmetic; and in the autumn conduct my first-born from the maternal home to a great educational institution. I dread this new member in our domestic circle; he may, if he be not amiable, so easily prove so annoying; yet, if he be amiable and good, he will be so heartily welcome to me, especially as assistant in the wearisome writing lessons, with their eternal "Henrik, sit still!"—"Hold the pen properly, Louise!"—"Look at the copy, Leonore!"—"Don't forget the points and strokes, Eva!"—"Little Petrea, don't wipe out the letters with your nose!" Besides this, my first-born begins to have less and less esteem for my Latin knowledge; and Ernst is sadly discontented with his wild pranks. Jacobi will give him instruction, together with Nils Gabriel, the son of the District-Governor, Stjernhoek, a most industrious and remarkably sensible boy, from whose influence on my Henrik I hope for much good.
The Candidate is warmly recommended to us by a friend of my husband, the excellent Bishop B.; yet, notwithstanding this, his actions at the University did not particularly redound to his honour. Through credulity and folly he has run through a nice little property which had been left him by three old aunts, who had brought him up and spoiled him into the bargain. Indeed, his career has hitherto not been quite a correct one. Bishop B. conceals nothing of all this, but says that he is much attached to the young man; praises his heart, and his excellent gifts as a preceptor, and prays us to receive him cordially, with all parental tenderness, into our family. We shall soon see whether he be deserving of such hearty sympathy. For my part, I must confess that my motherly tenderness for him is as yet fast asleep.
Yet, after all, this inmate does not terrify me half as much as a visit with which I am shortly threatened. Of course you have heard of the lady of the late Colonel S., the beautiful Emilie, my husband's "old flame," as I call her, out of a little malice for all the vexation her perfections, which are so very opposite to mine, have occasioned me. She has been now for several years a widow, has lived long abroad, and now will pay us a visit on her return to her native land. Ernst and she have always kept up the most friendly understanding with each other, although she refused his hand; and it is a noble characteristic of my Ernst, and one which, in his sex, is not often found, that this rejection did not make him indifferent to the person who gave it. On the contrary, he professes the most warm admiration of this Emilie, and has not ceased to correspond with her; and I, for I read all their letters, cannot but confess her extraordinary knowledge and acuteness. But to know all this near is what I would indeed be very gladly excused, since I cannot help thinking that my husband's "old flame" has something of cold-heartedness in her, and my heart has no great inclination to become warm towards her.
It strikes ten o'clock. Ernst will not come home before twelve. I shall leave you now, Cecilia, that——shall I confess my secret to you? You know that one of my greatest pleasures is the reading of a good novel, but this pleasure I have almost entirely renounced, because whenever I have a really interesting one in my hand, I find the most cruel difficulty in laying it down before I reach the last page. That, however, does not answer in my case; and since the time when through the reading of Madame De Stael's Corinne, two dinners, one great wash, and seventeen lesser domestic affairs all came to a stand-still, and my domestic peace nearly suffered shipwreck, I have made a resolution to give up all novel-reading, at least for the present. But still it is so necessary for me to have some literary relaxation of the kind, that since I read no more novels, I have myself—begun to write one. Yes, Cecilia, my youthful habits will not leave me, even in the midst of the employments and prosaic cares of every-day life; and the flowers which in the morning-tide cast their fragrance so sweetly around me, will yet once more bloom for me in remembrance, and encircle my drooping head with a refreshing garland. The joyful days which I passed by your side; the impressions and the agreeable scenes—now they seem doubly so—which made our youth so beautiful, so lively, and so fresh,—all these I will work out into one significant picture, before the regular flight of years has made them perish from my soul. This employment enlivens and strengthens me; and if, in an evening, my nervous toothache, which is the certain result of over-exertion or of vexation, comes on, there is nothing which will dissipate it like the going on with my little romance. For this very reason, therefore, because this evening my old enemy has plagued me more than common, I have recourse to my innocent opiate.
But Ernst shall not find me awake when he returns: this I have promised him. Good night, sweet Cecilia!
We will now, in this place, give a little description of the letter-writer—of the mother of Henrik, Louise, Eva, Leonore, Petrea, and Gabriele.
Beautiful she certainly was not, but nature had given to her a noble growth, which was still as fine and delicate as that of a young girl. The features were not regular, but the mouth was fresh and bewitching, the lips of a lovely bright red, the complexion fair, and the clear blue eyes soft and kind. All her actions were graceful: she had beautiful hands—which is something particularly lovely in a lady—yet she was not solicitous to keep them always in view, and this beautified them still more. She dressed with much taste, almost always in light colours; this and the soft rose scent which she loved, and which always accompanied her, lent to her whole being a something especially mild and agreeable. One might compare her to moonlight; she moved softly, and her voice was low and sweet, which, as Shakspeare says, is "an excellent thing in woman." Seeing her, as one often might do, reclining on a soft couch, playing with a flower or caressing a child, one could scarcely fancy her the superintendent of a large household, with all its appertaining work-people and servants; and beyond this, as the instructor of many children: yet love and sense of duty had led her to the performance of all this, had reconciled her to that which her natural inclinations were so averse to; nay, by degrees indeed, had made these very cares dear to her—whatever concerned the children lay near to her heart, whilst order, pleasantness, and peace, regulated the house. The contents of the linen-press were dear to her; a snow-white tablecloth was her delight; grey linen, dust, and flies, were hated by her, as far as she could hate anything.
But let us now proceed with our historical sketches.
We left Elise at her manuscript, by which she became soon so deeply occupied that the clock struck twelve unperceived by her; nor was she aware of the flight of time till a sudden terror thrilled her as she heard her husband return. To throw her manuscript into her drawer, and quickly undress, had been an easy thing for her, and she was about to do so, when the thought occurred, "I have never hitherto kept my proceedings secret from Ernst, and to-day I will not begin to do so;" and she remained at her writing-table till he entered the room.
"What! yet up, and writing?" said he, with a displeased glance. "Is it thus you keep your promise, Elise?"
"Pardon me, Ernst," said she; "I had forgotten myself."
"And for what?" asked he. "What are you writing? No, let me see! What! a novel, as I live! Now, what use is this?"
"What use is it?" returned Elise. "Ah, to give me pleasure."
"But people should have sense and reason in their pleasures," said the Judge. "Now it gives me no pleasure at all that you should sit up at night ruining your eyes on account of a miserable novel;—if there were a fire here I would burn the rubbish!"
"It would be a great deal better," returned Elise, mildly, "if you went to bed and said your prayers piously, rather than thought about such an auto-da-fe. How have you amused yourself at the Governor's?"
"You want now to be mixing the cards," said he. "Look at me, Elise; you are pale; your pulse is excited! Say my prayers, indeed! I have a great mind to give you a lecture, that I have! Is it reasonable—is it prudent—to sit up at night and become pale and sleepless, in order to write what is good for nothing? It really makes me quite angry that you can be so foolish, so childish! It certainly is worth while your going to baths, sending to the east and to the west to consult physicians, and giving oneself all kind of trouble to regain your health, when you go and do every possible thing you can in the world to destroy it!"
"Do not be angry, Ernst," besought Elise; "do not look so stern on me to-night, Ernst; no, not to-night."
"Yes, indeed!" replied he, but in a tone which had become at once milder, "because it is two-and-thirty years to-day since you came into the world, do you think that you have a right to be absolutely childish?"
"Put that down to my account," said Elise, smiling, yet with a tear in her eye.
"Put it down! put it down!" repeated the Judge. "Yes, I suppose so. People go on putting down neck or nothing till it's a pretty fool's business. I should like to pack all novels and novel-writers out of the world together! The world never will be wise till that is done; nor will you either. In the mean time, however, it is as well that I have found you awake, else I must have woke you to prove that you cannot conceal from me, not even for once, how old you are. Here then is the punishment for your bad intention."
"Ah! Walter Scott's romances!" exclaimed Elise, receiving a set of volumes from her husband; "and such a magnificent edition! Thanks! thanks! you good, best Ernst! But you are a beautiful lawgiver; you promote the very things which you condemn!"
"Promise me, only," returned he, "not to spend the night in reading or writing novels. Think only how precious your health is to so many of us! Do you think I should be so provoked, if you were less dear to me? Do you comprehend that? In a few years, Elise," added he, "when the children are older, and you are stronger, we will turn a summer to really good account, and take our Norwegian journey. You shall breathe the fresh mountain air, and see the beautiful valleys and the sea, and that will do you much more good than all the mineral waters in the world. But come now, let us go and see the children; we will not wake them, however, although I have brought with me some confectionery from the lady hostess, which I can lay on their pillows. There is a rennet for you."
The married pair went into the children's room, where the faithful old Fin-woman, Brigitta, lay and guarded, like the dragon, her treasures. The children slept as children sleep. The father stroked the beautiful curling hair of the boy, but impressed a kiss on the rosy cheek of each girl. After this the parents returned to their own chamber. Elise lay down to rest; her husband sate down to his desk, but so as to shade the light from his wife. The low sounds of a pen moving on paper came to her ear as if in sleep. As the clock struck two she awoke, and he was still writing.
Few men required and allowed themselves so little rest as Ernst Frank.
 A kind of fine curled cake.
It was in the twilight. The children were playing at "lana eld" in the great hall, swarming about in holes and corners, when the sudden stopping of a travelling carriage before the door operated upon the wild little flock much as a stream of cold water on a swarm of Lees. The Queen-bee of the children-swarm, the wise little Louise, sate herself down at the window, and four other little heads clustered themselves about her, fervent and inquisitive, and almost pushing her away in their impatient zeal to get a peep at the arrival.
It was a gentleman who stepped lightly out of that travelling carriage, but whether young or old, the children could not see; this, however, they saw, that their father came quickly to the door, shook the traveller by the hand, and conducted him into the house; whilst a very small portmanteau was carried after him. Seeing this, the little swarm hastened to their mother; to whom they gave, in all possible degrees of tone, from a low whisper to a loud annunciation, the information that for certain "the tutor was come."
Elise, who had company with her, calmed with a "yes, yes!" and "so, indeed!" the excited state of the children. The Queen-bee composed herself quickly; and with mildly silencing looks seemed to observe that she had somewhat forgotten her own dignity, and seated herself quietly and becomingly among the "grown people," as one of them, whilst the other children gathered themselves in a little group in one corner of the room, whispering and wondering; and whoever had looked at them might have seen many a time Petrea's nose peering forth from the little group.
Judge Frank sent to announce to his wife the arrival of the expected guest, who would be introduced to her as soon as he had completed his toilet. Presently afterwards another messenger came, desiring curling-irons for the Candidate.
"It is a blessed long toilet!" thought Elise, many a time during a full hour which elapsed in waiting; and it must be confessed that her nose more than once during the hour took the same direction as Petrea's.
At last the steps of two gentlemen were heard on the hall floor, and there advanced through the parlour door a well-shod foot and a handsome leg, belonging to a well-formed though somewhat compressed figure, which carried gracefully a twenty-year-old head, of a jovial, comely appearance, with the hair dressed after the newest mode. It was the Candidate. He cast a glance first at his foot, and then at the lady of the house, whom he approached with the most unconstrained self-possession, exhibiting the while a row of dazzlingly white teeth. Odour of eau de Portugal diffused itself though the room.
The Judge, who followed, and whose bearing and simple demeanour contrasted with those of the new guest, introduced the Candidate Jacobi. Various unimportant polite speeches were made by everybody, and then they all took their seats. The children then came forward, and made their bows and curtseys. Henrik eyed his future preceptor with a joyous, confiding glance; the Queen-bee curtseyed very becomingly, and then made several steps backward as the young man seemed inclined to take the great liberty of kissing her; whilst Petrea turned up her nose with an inquisitive saucy air. The Candidate took the kindest notice of them all; shook all of them by the hand; inquired all their names; looked at himself in the glass, and arranged his curls.
"Whom have we here?" thought Elise, with secret anxiety. "He is a fop—a perfect fop! How in all the world could Bishop B. select him as teacher for my poor little children? He will think much more of looking at himself in the glass than of looking after them. The fine breast-pin that he is wearing is of false stones. He laughs to show his white teeth. An actual fop—a fool, perhaps! There, now, he looks at himself again in the glass!"
Elise sought to catch her husband's eye, but he evidently avoided meeting hers; yet something of discontent, and something of trouble too, showed itself in his manner. The Candidate, on the contrary, appeared not in the slightest degree troubled, but reclined perfectly at his ease in an armchair, and cast searching glances on three ladies, who evidently were strangers in the company. The eldest of these, who kept on sewing incessantly, appeared to be upwards of forty, and was distinguished by a remarkably quiet, bright, and friendly aspect. Judge Frank and she talked much together. The other two appeared neither of them to have attained her twentieth year: the one was pale and fair; the other a pretty brunette; both of them were agreeable, and looked good and happy. These ladies were introduced to Jacobi as Miss Evelina Berndes and her adopted daughters, Laura and Karin. Laura had always one of the children on her knee, and it was upon her that his eyes were most particularly fixed. It was indeed a very pretty picture, which was formed by Laura, with the lovely little Gabriele on her knee, decorated with the flowers, bracelets, necklace, in short, with all the pretty things that just before had ornamented herself.
The conversation soon became general, and was remarkably easy, and the Candidate had an opportunity of taking his part well and interestingly in it whilst speaking of certain distinguished men in the University from which he was just come. Elise mentioned one celebrated man whom she had a great desire to see, upon which Jacobi said he had lately made a little sketch of him, which, on her expressing a wish to see, he hastened to fetch.
He returned with a portfolio containing many drawings and pictures; partly portraits, and partly landscapes, from his own pencil; they were not deficient in talent, and afforded pleasure. First one portrait was recognised and then another, and at last the Candidate himself. The children were quite enchanted, and thronged with enthusiasm round the table. The Candidate placed some of them on his knee, and seemed particularly observant of their pleasure, and it was not long, therefore, before they appeared entirely to forget that he was only a new acquaintance—all at least excepting Louise, who held herself rather fiere, and "the baby," which was quite ungracious towards him.
Above all the pictures which the portfolio contained, were the children most affected and enchanted by one in sepia, which represented a girl kneeling before a rose-bush, from which she was gathering roses, whilst a lyre lay against a gravestone near her.
"Oh, how sweet! how divinely beautiful!" exclaimed they. Petrea seemed as if she actually could not remove her eyes from the charming picture, which the Candidate himself also seemed to regard with a fatherly affection, and which was the crown of his little collection.
It was the custom at the Franks, that every evening, as soon as the clock had struck eight, the little herd of children, conducted by the Queen-bee, withdrew to their bed-chamber, which had once occasioned the wakeful Petrea to say that night was the worst thing God had ever made: for which remark she received a reproving glance from the Queen-bee, accompanied by the maxim, "that people should not talk in that way."
In order, however, to celebrate the present day, which was a remarkable one, the children were permitted to take supper with their parents, and even to sit up as late as they did. The prospect of this indulgence, the Candidate, the pictures, all combined to elevate the spirits of the children in no ordinary degree; so much so indeed that Petrea had the boldness, whilst they were regaling on roast chicken, to propose to the Candidate that the picture of the girl and the rose-bush should be put up for a prize on the breaking of a merrythought between them; promising, that if she had the good fortune to win it, she would give as a recompense a picture of her own composition, which should represent some scene in a temple. The Queen-bee appeared scandalised at her sister's proposal, and shook her little wise head at her.
The mother also violently opposed Petrea's proposition; and she, poor girl, became scarlet, and deeply abashed, before the reproving glances which were cast upon her; yet the Candidate was good-natured enough, after the first astonishment was over, to yield in the most cheerful manner to Petrea's proposal, and zealously to declare that the affair should be managed just as she would. He accordingly set himself, with an appearance of great accuracy and solemnity, to measure the length of both limbs of the merrythought, and then counted three; the mother all this time hoping within herself that he would so manage it that he himself should retain the head—but no! the head remained in Petrea's hand, and she uttered a loud cry of joy. After supper, the parents again opposed what had taken place; but the Candidate was so cheerful and so determined that it should remain as it was settled already, that Petrea, the happiest of mortals, ventured to carry out the girl and rose-bush; yet, she did not miss a motherly warning by the way, which mingled some tears with her joy. The Candidate had, in the mean time, on account of his kindness towards the children, and his good-nature towards Petrea, made a favourable impression on the parents.
"Who knows," said Elise to her husband, "but that he may turn out very well. He has, probably, his faults, but he has his good qualities too; there is something really very agreeable in his voice and countenance; but he must leave off that habit of looking at himself so continually in the glass."
"I feel assured that he must have worth," said the Judge, "from the recommendation of my friend B. This vanity, and these foppish habits of his, we shall soon know how to get rid of; the man himself is unquestionably good; and, dear Elise, be kind to him, and manage so that he shall feel at home with us."
The children also, in their place of rest, made their observations on the Candidate.
"I think he is much handsomer than my father," said little Petrea.
"I think," said the Queen-bee, in a tone of correction, "that nobody can be more perfect than my father."
"That is true, excepting mamma," exclaimed Eva, out of her little bed.
"Ah," said Petrea, "I like him so much; he has given me that lovely picture. Do you know what I shall call that girl? I shall call her Rosa; and I'll tell you a long story about her. There was once upon a time——"
All the sisters listened eagerly, for Petrea could relate better and prettier stories than any of them. It was therefore said among themselves that Petrea was very clever; but as the Queen-bee was desirous that Petrea should not build much on this opinion, she now listened to her history without bestowing upon it one token of applause, although it was found to be sufficiently interesting to keep the whole little auditorium awake till midnight.
"What will become of my preserves?" thought Elise, one day as she remarked the quantity which vanished from the plate of the Candidate; but when that same evening she saw the little Gabriele merrily, and without reproof, pulling about his curls; when she saw him join the children at their play, and make every game which they played instructive to them; when she saw him armed with a great paper weapon, which he called his sword, and deal about blows to those who counted false, thereby exciting greater activity of mind as well as more mirth, she thought to herself, "he may eat just as much preserves as he likes; I will take care that he never goes short of them."
If, however, the Candidate rose higher in the regards of one party, there still was another with which his actions did not place him in the best point of view. Brigitta, to whom the care of some few things in the house was confided, began to look troubled, and out of sorts. For several days, whatever her cause of annoyance might be, she preserved silence, till one evening, when expanding the nostrils of her little snubby nose, she thus addressed her mistress:
"The gracious lady must be so good as to give out to the cook just twice as much coffee as usual; because if things are to go on in this way, we cannot do with less. He, the master there, empties the little coffee-pot himself every morning! Never, in all my life, have I seen such a coffee-bibber!"
The following evening came a new announcement of trouble.
"Now it is not alone a coffee-bibber," said poor Brigitta, with a gloomy countenance and wide-staring eyes, "but a calf it is, and a devourer of rusks! What do you think, gracious lady, but the rusk-basket, which I filled only yesterday, is to-day as good as empty—only two rusks and two or three crumbs remaining! Then for cream! Why every morning he empties the jug!"
"Ah, it is very good," said Elise, mildly, yet evasively, "that he enjoys things so much."
"And only look, in heaven's name!" lamented poor Brigitta another day, "he is also quite a sugar-rat! Why, dear, gracious lady, he must put in at least twenty pieces of sugar into one cup of coffee, or he never could empty a sugar-basin as he does! I must beg you to give mo the key of the chest, that I may fill it again. God grant that all this may have a good ending!"
Brigitta could venture to say much, for she had grown old in the house; had carried Elise as a child in her arms; and from affection to her, had followed her when she left her father's house: besides this, she was a most excellent guardian for the children; but as now these complaints of hers were too frequently repeated, Elise said to her seriously: "Dear Brigitta, let him eat and drink as much as he likes, without any observation: I would willingly allow him a pound of sugar and coffee a day, if he only became, as I hope he may, a good friend and preceptor for the children."
Brigitta walked away quite provoked, and grumbling to herself: "Well, well!" said she, "old Brita can be silent, yes, that she can;—well, well! we shall see what will be the end of it. Sugar and rusks he eats, and salt-fish he can't eat!—well, well!"
All this time Jacobi was passing his days in peace, little dreaming of the clouds which were gathering over his head, or of his appellations of coffee-bibber, calf, rusk-devourer, and sugar-rat; and with each succeeding day it became more evident that Elise's hopes of him were well grounded. He developed more and more a good and amiable disposition, and the most remarkable talents as teacher. The children became attached to him with the most intense affection; nor did their obedience and reverence for him as preceptor prevent them, in their freer hours, from playing him all kind of little pranks. Petrea was especially rich in such inventions; and he was too kind, too much delighted with their pleasure, not willingly to assist, or even at times allow himself to be the butt of their jokes.
Breakfast, which for the elder members of the family was commonly served at eleven o'clock, furnished the children with an excellent opportunity for their amusement. The Candidate was particularly fond of eggs, and therefore, when under a bulky-looking napkin he expected to find some, and laid hasty hands on it, he not unfrequently discovered, instead of eggs, balls of worsted, playing-balls, and other such indigestible articles; on which discovery of his, a stifled laughter would commonly be heard at the door, and a cluster of children's heads be visible, which he in pretended anger assailed with the false eggs, and which quickly withdrew amid peals of laughter. Often too, when, according to old Swedish usage, he would take a glass of spirits, he found pure water instead of Cognac in his mouth; and the little advocates of temperance were always near enough to enjoy his astonishment, although sufficiently distant, also, that not one drop of the shower which was then sent at them should reach them, though it made them leap high enough for delight. And really it was wonderful how often these little surprises could be repeated, and how the Candidate let himself so constantly be surprised. But he was too much occupied by his own thoughts (the thoughts of course of a student of philosophy!) in order to be on his guard against the tricks of these young merry-andrews. One day——
But before we proceed further we must observe, that although the toilette of the Candidate seemed externally to be always so well supplied, yet still it was, in fact, in but a very indifferent condition. No wonder, therefore, was it, that though his hat outwardly was always well brushed, and was apparently in good order, yet that it had within a sadly tattered lining.
One day, therefore, as the Candidate had laid his hat in a corner of the room, and was sitting near the sofa in a very earnest conversation, Henrik, Petrea, and Eva gathered themselves about that symbol of freedom with the most suspicious airs and gestures of conspiracy. Nobody paid any attention to them, when after awhile the Candidate rose to leave the room, and going through the door would have put on his hat—but, behold, a very singular revolution had taken place within it, and a mass of tin soldiers, stones, matches, and heaven knows what besides, came rattling down upon his head; and even one little chimney-sweeper fell astride on his nose. Nothing could compare with the immeasurable delight of the children at the astonishment of the Candidate, and the comic grimaces and head-shakings with which he received this their not very polite jest.
No wonder was it, therefore, that the children loved the Candidate so well.
The little Queen-bee, however, who more and more began to reckon herself as one of the grown people, and only very rarely took part in the conspiracies against the Candidate, shook her head at this prank of her brother and sisters, and looked out a new piece of dark silk from her drawer (Louise was a hoarder by nature), possessed herself secretly of the Candidate's hat, and with some little help from her mother, had then her secret pleasure also, and could laugh in her own sleeve at his amazement when he discovered a bran new lining in his hat.
"Our little Queen-bee is a sensible little girl," said the Judge, well-pleased, to his wife, who had made him a third in this plot; and after that day she was called both by father and mother "our sensible little Queen-bee."
Scarcely had Jacobi been three weeks in the family of the Franks, before Elise felt herself disposed to give him a new title, that of Disputer-General, so great was the ability he discovered to dispute on every subject, from human free-will to rules for cookery; nay, even for the eating of eggs.
On this subject Elise wrote thus to her sister Cecilia:—"But however polite and agreeable the Candidate may be generally, still he is just as wearisome and obstinate in disputation; and as there is nobody in the house that makes any pretension to rival him in certain subtleties of argument, he is in great danger of considering himself a miracle of metaphysical light, which he is not, I am persuaded, by any means, since he has much more skill in rending down than in building up, in perplexing than in making clear. Ernst is no friend of metaphysical hair-splitting, and when Jacobi begins to doubt the most perceptible and most certain things—'what is perceptible, what is certain?' the Candidate will inquire—he grows impatient, shrugs his shoulders, goes to his writing-table, and leaves me to combat it out, although, for my part, I would gladly have nothing to do with it. Should I, however, for awhile carry on the contest boldly, the scholar then will overwhelm me with learned words and arguments, and then I too flee, and leave him maitre du champ de bataille. He believes then that I am convinced, at least of his power, which yet, however, is not the case; and if fortune do not bestow upon me a powerful ally against him, he may imagine so. Nevertheless, I am not without some curiosity to hear a system which he has promised to explain to me this evening, and according to which everything in the world ought to be so good and consistent. These subjects have always an interest for me, and remind me of the time when you and I, Cecilia, like two butterflies, went fluttering over the earth, pausing about its flowers, and building up for ourselves pretty theories on the origin of life and all things. Since then I had almost forgotten them. Think only if the mythology of our youth should present itself again in the system of the Candidate!"
Here Elise was interrupted by the entrance of the troop of children.
"Might we borrow Gabriele?" "Mother, lend us Gabriele!" besought several coaxing little voices.
"Gabriele, wilt thou not come and play with us? Oh, yes, certainly thou wilt!" and with these words Petrea held up a gingerbread heart, winch so operated on the heart of the little one, that she yielded to the wishes of brother and sisters.
"Ah, but you must take great care of her, my little angel!" said the mother; "Louise, dear, take her under your charge; look after her, and see that no harm befal her!"
"Yes, of course," said Louise, with a consequential countenance; and the jubilant children carried off the borrowed treasure, and quickly was their sport in full operation in the hall.
Elise took her work, and the Candidate, with a look of great importance, seated himself before her, in order to initiate her into the mysteries of his system. Just, however, at the moment when he had opened his mouth to begin, after having hemmed a few times, a shrill little barking, and the words "your most devoted servant," were heard at the door, and a person entered curtseying with an air of conscious worth, said with a little poodle in her arms—a person with whom we will have the honour to commence a new chapter.
 Borrowing fire; a Swedish child's play.
THE CHAMBERLAIN'S LADY.
Where is there not haute volee? Above the heavenly hosts are outspread the wings of cherubim and seraphim; and in the poultry-yards of earth the geese exalt their wings high over the other lesser feathered creatures. It belongs to the ordination of the world.
The Chamberlain's lady, Gunilla W., belonged incontestibly to the highest haute volee in the excellent city of X., where we have had the honour of making the acquaintance of the family of the Franks. She was the sister of Governor Stjernhoek, and inhabited the third story of the house of which the Franks inhabited the second, and Evelina Berndes the first.
This lady had spent her youth at court, and passed many a day of wearisome constraint, and many a night in making those clothes which were to conceal from the world how poor Miss Gunilla was; yet neither night nor day did she complain either of constraint or of poverty, for she possessed under a plain exterior a strong and quiet spirit.
An old aunt used to preach to her thus: "Eat, that thou mayst grow fat; if thou art fat, thou wilt grow handsome; and if thou art handsome, thou wilt get married."
Miss Gunilla, who never ate much, and who did not eat one mouthful more for this warning, grew neither fat nor handsome; yet on account of her excellent disposition she was beloved by every one, and especially by a young rich Chamberlain of the court, who, through his own good qualities and excellent heart, won her affections, and thus Miss Gunilla became Mistress. After this, in the circle of her friends she was accustomed to be called Mrs. Gunilla; which freedom we also shall sometimes take with her here.
Shortly after her marriage, and in consequence of cold, her husband became a sad invalid. For thirty years she lived separated from the world, a faithful and lonely attendant of the sick man; and what she bore and what she endured the world knew not, for she endured all in silence. For several years her husband could not bear the light; she learned, therefore, to work in darkness, and thus made a large embroidered carpet. "Into this carpet," said she, as she once spoke accidentally of herself, "have I worked many tears."
One of the many hypochondriacal fancies of her husband was, that he was about to fall into a yawning abyss, and only could believe himself safe so long as he held the hand of his wife. Thus for one month after another she sate by his couch.
At length the grave opened for him; and thanking his wife for the happiness he had enjoyed in the house of sickness on earth, he sank to rest, in full belief of a land of restoration beyond. When he was gone, it seemed to her as if she were as useless in the world as an old almanack; but here also again her soul raised itself under its burden, and she regulated her life with peace and decision. In course of years she grew more cheerful, and the originality of her talents and disposition which nature had given to her, and which, in her solitude, had undisturbedly followed their own bent, brought a freshness with them into social life, into which she entered at first rather from resolution than from feeling at ease in it.
"The Lord ordains all things for the best;" that had always been, and still remained, the firm anchorage of her soul. But it was not this alone which gave to her the peace and gentleness which announced themselves in her voice, and diffused a true grace over her aged and not handsome countenance; they had yet another foundation: for even as the sunken sun throws the loveliest light upon the earth which it has left, so does the holy memory of a beloved but departed human being on the remaining solitary friend. Mrs. Gunilla herself lived in such a remembrance: she knew it not, but after the death of her husband the dark pictures of his suffering vanished more and more, and his own form, purified by patience and suffering, rose continually higher in its noble glorification; it beamed into her soul, and her soul became brightened thereby. Seldom mentioned she the name of her husband; but when she did so, it was like a breath of summer air in voice and countenance.
She collected good people about her, and loved to promote their happiness; and whenever there was a young couple whose narrow circumstances, or whose fears for the future, filled them with anxiety, or a young but indigent man who was about to fall into debt and difficulty, Mrs. Gunilla was ever at hand, although in most cases behind others. She had nevertheless her faults; and these, as we proceed, we shall become acquainted with.
We now hastily sketch her portrait the size of life. Age between fifty and sixty; figure tall, stiff, well-made, not too thin—beside Jeremias Muntor she might be called stout—complexion, pale yellow; the nose and chin coming together, the mouth fallen in; the eyes grey and small, forehead smooth, and agreeably shaded by silver hair; the hands still handsome, and between the thumb and delicate tip of the forefinger a pinch of snuff, which was commonly held in certain perspective towards the nose, whilst with an elbow resting on the arm of sofa or easy-chair she gave little lectures, or read aloud, for it was one of her weaknesses to suppose that she knew everything.
During her long hermit-life she had been accustomed wholly to neglect her toilet, and this neglect she found it difficult afterwards to overcome; and her old silk gown, from which the wadding peeped out from many a hole, especially at the elbows; her often-mended collar, and her drooping cap, the ribbons of which were flecked with many a stain of snuff, were always a trouble to Elise's love of order and purity. Notwithstanding all this, there was a certain air about Mrs. Gunilla which carried off all; and with her character, rank, property, and consideration, she was haute volee, spite of torn gown and snuff-beflecked ribbons, and had great influence among the best society of the city.
She considered herself somewhat related to Elise, was very fond of her, and used very often to impart to her opinions on education (N. B.—Mrs. Gunilla never had children), on which account many people in the city accused Elise of weakness towards the haute volee, and the postmistress Bask and the general-shopkeeper Suur considered it quite as much a crime as a failing.
There was in Mrs. Gunilla's voice, manners, and bearing, a something very imposing; her curtsey was usually very stately and low, and this brings us again to her entrance into Elise's room. Elise, the moment she entered, quickly rose and welcomed her, introducing Jacobi at the same time.
At the first glance Jacobi uttered an exclamation of joyful surprise, approached her with an appearance of the greatest cordiality, seized her hand, which he kissed reverentially, and felicitated himself on the happiness of seeing her again.
The little eyes of the Chamberlain's lady twinkled, and she exclaimed, "Oh, heavens! my heart's dearest! Nay, that is very pleasant! He, he, he, he!"
"How!" exclaimed Elise, in astonishment, "Mr. Jacobi, do you know——Aunt W., do you know Mr. Jacobi?"
The Candidate appeared about to give an explanation of the acquaintance, but this Mrs. Gunilla, with a faint crimson overspreading the pale yellow cheek, and a twitch of the eyebrow, prevented, and with a quick voice she said, "We once lived in the same house."
She then desired that the conversation which her entrance had interrupted, and which appeared to have been very important, might proceed. "At least," added she, with a penetrating glance on Elise and the Candidate, "if I should not disturb you."
The Candidate needed only the sixteenth of a hint to rush armed with full fervour into the mysteries of his system. Mrs. Gunilla took up a packet of old gold thread, which she set herself to unravel, whilst the Candidate coughed and prepared himself.
MONADS AND NOMADS.
"All beings," commenced the Candidate, "have, as their most intrinsic foundation and substance, a simple unity, a soul, a—in one word, a monad."
"A—a what?" asked the Chamberlain's lady, fixing her eyes upon him.
"A monad, or a simple unity," continued he. "The monads have a common resemblance in substance one with another; but in respect of qualities, of power, and size, they are substantially unlike. There are the monads of people; there are human monads, animal monads, vegetable monads; in short, the world is full of monads—they compose the world——"
"Heart's dearest!" interrupted the old lady, in a tone of displeasure, "I don't understand one word of all this! What stuff it is! What are monads?—fill the world, do they?—I see no monads!"
"But you see me, dear lady," said Jacobi, "and yourself. You are yourself a monad."
"I a monad!" exclaimed she, in disgust.
"Yes, certainly," replied he, "your Honour, just the same as any other living creature——"
"But," interrupted she, "I must tell you, dear friend, that I am neither a monad nor a creature, but a human being—a sinful human being it is true—but one that God, in any case, created in his own image."
"Yes, certainly, certainly," acceded the Candidate. "I acknowledge a principal monad, from which all other monads emanate——"
"What!" exclaimed she, "is our Lord God to be a monad also?"
"He may be so designated," said the Candidate, "on account of oneness, and also to preserve uniformity as to name. For the rest, I believe that the monads, from the beginning, are gifted with a self-sustaining strength, through which they are generated into the corporeal world; that is to say, take a bodily shape, live, act, nay even strive—that is to say, would remove themselves from one body into another without the immediate influence of the Principal Monad. The monads are in perpetual motion—perpetual change, and always place and arrange themselves according to their power and will. If, now, we regard the world from this point of view, it presents itself to us in the clearest and most excellent manner. In all spheres of life we see how the principal monad assembles all the subject monads around itself as organs and members. Thus are nations and states, arts and sciences, fashioned; thus every man creates his own world, and governs it according to his ability; for there is no such thing as free-will, as people commonly imagine, but the monad in man directs what he shall become, and what in regard to——"
"That I don't believe," interrupted Mrs. Gunilla; "since, if my soul, or monad, as you would call it, had guided me according to its pleasure, it would have led me to do many wicked things; and if our Lord God had not chastised me, and in his mercy directed me to something that was good—be so good as to let alone my cotton-balls—it would have gone mad enough with my nomadic soul—that I can tell you."
"But, your Honour," said Jacobi, "I don't deny at all the influence of a principal monad; on the contrary, I acknowledge that; and it is precisely this influence upon your monad which——"
"And I assert," exclaimed she, warming, and again interrupting him, "that we should do nothing that was right if you could establish your nomadic government, instead of the government of our Lord God. What good could I get from your nomads?"
"Monads," said the Candidate, correcting her.
"And supposing your monads," continued Mrs. Gunilla, "do keep in such perpetual movement, and do arrange themselves so properly, what good will that do me in moments of temptation and need? It is far wiser and better that I say and believe that our Lord God will guide us according to his wisdom and good, than if I should believe that a heap of your nomads——"
"Monads, monads!" exclaimed the Candidate.
"Monads or nomads," answered angrily Mrs. Gunilla, "it is all one—be so good as to let my cotton alone, I want it myself—your nomads may be as magnificent and as mighty as they please, and they may govern themselves, and may live and strive according to their own wisdom; yet I cannot see how the world, for all that, can be in the least the more regular, or even one little grain the more pleasant, to look at. And why are things so bad here? Why, precisely for this very reason, because you good people fancy yourselves such powerful monads, and think so much of your own strength, without being willing to know that you are altogether poor sinners, who ought to beseech our Lord God to govern their poor nomadic souls, in order that they might become a little better. It is precisely such nomadic notions as these that we have to thank for all kind of rapscallion pranks, for all uproars and broken windows. If you had only less of nomads, and more of sensible men in you, one should live in better peace on the earth."
The Candidate was quite confounded; he had never been used to argument like this, and stared at Mrs. Gunilla with open mouth; whilst little Pyrrhus, excited by the warmth of his mistress, leapt upon the table, and barking shrilly seemed disposed to spring at the Candidate's nose. All this appeared so comic, that Elise could no longer keep back the merriment which she had felt during the former part of the dispute, and Jacobi himself accompanied her hearty laugh. Mrs. Gunilla, however, looked very bitter; and the Candidate, nothing daunted, began again.
"But, in the name of all the world," said he, "your Honour will not understand me: we speak only of a mode of observing the world—a mode by which its phenomena can be clearly expounded. Monadology, rightly understood, does not oppose the ideas of the Christian religion, as I will demonstrate immediately. Objective revelation proves to us exactly that the subject-objective and object-subjective, which——"
"Ah!" said Mrs. Gunilla, throwing herself back, "talk what nonsense you will for me, I know what I know. Nomads may be just what they please for me: but I call a man, a man; I call a cat, a cat, and a flower, a flower; and our Lord God remains to me our Lord God, and no nomad!"
"Monad, monad!" cried the Candidate, in a sort of half-comic despair; "and as for that word, philosophy has as good a right as any other science to make use of certain words to express certain ideas."
During the last several minutes suspicious movements had been heard at the parlour door, the cause of which now became evident; the children had stolen in behind the Candidate, and now cast beseeching glances towards their mother that she should let all go on unobserved. Petrea and Eva stole in first, carrying between them a heavy pincushion, weighted with lead, five pounds in weight at least. The Candidate was standing; and at the very moment when he was doing his best to defend the rights of philosophy, the leaden cushion was dropped down into his coat-pocket. A motion backwards was perceptible through his whole body, and his coat was tightly pulled down behind. A powerful twitching showed itself at the corners of his mouth, and a certain stammering might be noticed in his speech, although he stood perfectly still, and appeared to observe nothing; while the little rascals, who had expected a terrible explosion from their well-laid train, stole off to a distance; but oh, wonder! the Candidate stood stock-still, and seemed not at all aware that anything was going on in his coat-laps.