Weimar in June
JUNE is late in reaching Northern Germany, but all the fairer for its delay. The region is a field where two climates meet and contend, so that, while snowdrops often come with February and violets with March, as in England, the air keeps its raw chillness into May, and frost is a possibility until after the three dreaded days of Pancratius, Servatius, and Bonifacius. Then the sun gains suddenly in power, and the long, lingering twilights seem to come all at once. Gardens that have been wearily budding for a month make a glorious show of lilac, white and red thorn, and laburnum blossoms ; the hard, green globes of the peony burst into heavy roses, that lean on the gleaming sward ; but not until the first bud on the rosetree opens is it really June.
There are also two varieties of climate in Thüringia, depending on the elevation of the soil. A difference of four or five hundred feet is equivalent to several degrees of latitude. The river Saale and its tributaries possess the deepest valleys, and there the chestnut and walnut thrive almost as luxuriantly as in Baden, the vine is cultivated, and the harvest begins three weeks earlier than on the windy upland region. The wine country of the Saale, beginning near Rudolstadt, extends even to the famous Golden Mead, at the foot of the Hartz. About Naumburg and Rossbach, where the Hussites were conquered by the children, and Frederick the Great scattered the French army like chaff with the wind of his charge, you see nothing but vineyards. It is rather an acrid juice which they yield, and the rest of Germany delights in ridiculing its claim to the noble name of wine. This is one of the places where three men are required to drink a glass, — one to swallow the beverage, and two to hold him during the act ! Claudius, in his RhineWine Song, says, —
A stuff that looks like wine,
But is not : he who drinketh never singeth,
Nor gives one cheerful sign.”
It would be wrong, however, to infer a corresponding sourness in the temper of the inhabitants. They manage to extract, through that fine human distillation which no chemistry can quite fathom, the same genial and kindly mellowness of nature from those " berries crude ” as the Markgräfler or the vintager of the Palatinate from his warmer growths. To be sure, there is here a sober Saxon exterior, and some aspects of life are faced with apparent severity ; but frankness, fidelity, and a warm good-fellowship are the prevailing characteristics, At Nebra, in the valley of the Unstrut, I once stopped at a tavern called “ The Inn of Care,” the sign whereof was a man with a most lugubrious face, leaning his head upon his hand. Perhaps it was meant to symbolize the condition of the outside world ; for certainly there was no care, nor sign of the like, within the walls of the cheerful and home-like hostel.
In speaking of the population of the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar, I use the name of Saxon in its modern geographical sense. The ancient tribe, the Thüringians, were a decidedly more genial and impressible people than their tough and stubborn Saxon neighbors on the north. The best modern representatives of the latter are the Scotch, who also retain much of their physical character. During the early Middle Ages the Sorbs (or Servians) pressed into Thüringia as far as the Saale, but the traces of their Slavic blood are now found principally in the mountain districts. Even in the kingdom of Saxony a great part of the so-called “ Saxon” population is strongly mixed with the Slavic element ; yet as the mixture usually reaches beyond all traditions of ancestry, it shows itself only in features or temperament, not in general character and habits. The Saxons, then, are a strong, toiling, patient race; capable of warm and constant attachments; naturally intelligent, social, and with a tolerable sense of humor ; given to enthusiasms and equally liable to prejudices, yet neither so stubborn nor so egotistic as the North-Germans ; and only delayed somewhat in their further development by their adherence to an easy, conventional habit of life.
When I returned to Weimar in June, the great sweep of upland around the city seemed quite as monotonous in its silver-gray mantle of rye-fields as under the brown stubble of October ; only the gardens and the park beside the Ilm showed the bloom and delight of summer. It was a new pleasure to go back to my old quarters at the Russischer Hof, to find the old circle of friends at the reserved end of the dining - table, and to hear art and literature taken up and discussed as if at the point where I had withdrawn from the conversation six months before. The streets, now, were full of old acquaintance ; odors of linden-blossoms floated into the library through open windows, and when, in company with Schöll and Köhler, I walked to Ober-Weimar for the afternoon coffee, the park meadows were literally mats of wild flowers.
Yet there was less of the past in the air than during those fading autumn days. Ghosts seem to like the smell of dead leaves better than that of opening roses : the overpowering life of Nature which filled the beautiful valley banished every shadowy foot from its paths, and the lives of the great poets receded far away from ours. One melody, only, floated everywhere : it was the perfect voice of the time, and every word was so steeped in the only musical tones which could convey its spirit to the ear, that neither could possibly be remembered alone. Goethe gave one, Beethoven the other ; and whoever knows both knows them for life : —
Mir die Natur !
Wie glänzt die Sonne,
Wie lacht die Flur !
Es dringen Blüthen
Aus jedem Zweig,
Und tausend Stimmen
Aus dem Gesträuch,
Und Freud’ und Wonne
Aus jeder Brust :
O Erd’, O Sonne,
O Glück, O Lust ! ”
I am forced to quote the original, because no one can translate Goethe and Beethoven at the same time. Is it not singular how few poets have sung of the opening summer ? I think there is scarcely a quotable verse in English before Lowell’s Day in June— which was published twenty years before it trickled through the widening layers of appreciation and reached the universal public. How many accomplished musical scholars have I not found who were quite ignorant of this perfect idyl of Beethoven ! — perfect, because it exactly repeats Goethe’s words in the inarticulate speech of a kindred art.
Thus we come back again to Goethe, as we always must in Weimar. There may be some persons in the little capital who now and then pass an entire day of their lives without thinking of Goethe or hearing his name uttered, but I imagine they are very few. The stranger, of course, does not seek to escape him. I could not get out of my bed in the morning and take the first eastward look from the window without, finding Herder, Musaeus, and Bertuch in the spire of the Stadtkirche and the trees of the Erholung ; nor walk through the streets without noticing one that led into the Schillerstrasse or the Goethe-Platz ; nor look off into the country without seeing a road that made for the Ettersburg, or Tieffurt, or Berka ; nor pick up a newspaper, read a programme, or meet a friend, without the suggestion of one or all of the names.
During this last visit I saw a great deal of one of the most estimable of women, whom I never supposed I was seeing for the last time. Although old — I believe just as old as the century — and somewhat infirm, there was so much freshness of feeling in her speech, such eager human interest in all true and good things, that her spiritual life seemed competent to bear up the failing body for many years longer. When, six or seven months ago, Alwine Frommann died, one of the most intimate remaining links between Goethe and our generation was lost. Daughter of the former, and sister of the present Friedrich Frommann, the publishers in Jena, she knew the poet almost as a member of her family. He was the welcome friend who brought her toys when she was a little girl, the teacher and kindly counselor of her years of early maidenhood, and the honored and beloved old man whose memory was a blessing, as it was a pride, to her whole life. Minna Herzlieb, the “ Ottilie ” of Goethe’s Wahlverwandtschaften, was her foster-sister; and I heard the same simple, truthful, and easily intelligible story of Goethe’s relations to Minna, from her own lips, as Mr. Andrew Hamilton (through whom I made the acquaintance of Alwine Frommann) has lately published in The Contemporary Review.
No author has ever been so persistently misjudged in regard to his relations with women as Goethe. The world forgets that during the greater part of his life he was the object of the intensest literary jealousy and hostility, and that the most of the stories now current had their origin therein. The scandal occasioned in Weimar by his marriage to Christiane Vutpius — another part of his life which has never yet been correctly related — is an additional source of misconception. The impression thus produced, combined with a false apprehension of Goethe’s true character as a man, have kept alive to this day the most unfounded slanders. Schiller’s life contains exactly the same number of love-passages, but they ceased to be remembered against him after he had married a refined and noble - natured patrician lady. Goethe offended the sentiment of the circle in which he moved less by his non-marriage than by his final marriage with the plebeian Christiane, the much-maligned woman whose memory still waits for justice. Old prejudices and slanders have a tremendous local vitality. It is rather a sorry business to pry into the intimacies of an individual life, even for the sake of explanation or defense; but one who undertakes the study of Goethe has no alternative. When the beautiful eyes of Minna Herzlieb looked at me from the wall, as I listened to Alwine Frommann’s story of days now nearly seventy years gone by, and I saw many a simple relic of a man’s guarded tenderness for a girl’s transient enthusiasm, which made the relation clear in its innocence, I could but lament anew the reluctance of the world to give up its belief in evil.
A Weimar friend, one day, gave me an amusing illustration of the blunders which even the most careful writer may make. When Mr. Lewes was in Weimar, collecting materials for his biography of Goethe, my friend, who had made his personal acquaintance, told him a story illustrative of the sentimental admiration which women, in Lavater’s day, lavished upon him. The Marchesa Branconi, mistress of the Duke of Brunswick, famous alike for her beauty and her wit (Goethe and Karl August visited her in Switzerland), sent her garters to Lavater, as the most marked sign of homage which she could render. When the biography was published, my friend was amazed to find that the lines from the marchesa’s letter were attributed to Lavater, who was thus made guilty of sending both garters and “gush” to her ! Assuredly, no man ever gained a wider reputation by means of a softer head, than Lavater ; but he was hardly idiotic enough for an act like this.
Alwine Frommann was a charming specimen of the old Weimar society. She had that low, clear, gentle voice which invites confidences, and she received them frankly because she was always ready to return them. Whenever she said to a man, “I feel that I can trust you,” I cannot imagine that the trust was ever betrayed. Her eyes were still youthfully soft, and her smile exquisitely sweet. In her dark silk dress, cap, and the lace which was her only ornament, leaning forward in her earnestness as she spoke and making slight gestures with her delicate hands, she brought something of the storied “ Wednesday Circle,” nearly all the members of which she had known, vividly into my imagination. For many years she was companion and reader to the present Empress Augusta, and the Empress’s nieces, the Princesses of SaxeWeimar, were her most devoted friends. When I last called upon her, she exclaimed, “ If you had only been ten minutes sooner ! The dear princesses have just left. ”
Soon, however, she returned to the one topic about which she was never weary of talking or I of listening. “It was simply impossible to know Goethe without loving him,” she said. “ When I grew up to girlhood, and began to hear and understand the old scandals, supposing them to be true, I said to myself, ‘ I cannot have such a man for a friend ; I will not see him when he comes again!’ Well, he came; so frank, so kindly, so fatherly and considerate to me in every word and thought, that I could neither remember my resolution nor believe the stories. ”
“ Do you think this was the usual impression he made ? ” I asked.
“ Always, — that is, where he felt free and unconstrained. Our servants were devoted to him, because, with all his personal dignity, he was so kind and human in his treatment of them. I remember we had once a cook, a young woman from the country, who took great pains to observe what dishes he particularly relished. When he visited Jena he usually lived in our garden-house, and his meals were carried to him there. So, the next time he came over from Weimar, the cook prepared the dinner she thought he would like. Goethe was tired and hungry, and was so touched by this attention to his tastes that he said to her, ‘ Thou art a good child ! ’ took her head between his two hands, and kissed her on the forehead. She rushed back to the house, breathless, her hands clasped, and her eyes shining as I never saw them before, and said to us, ‘ Oh, he kissed me on the forehead ! ’ And for days afterward she moved about the house with such a quiet, serene, solemn air, that one could only believe that she felt the kiss as a consecration. Yes, and for me, too, his friendship is a consecration.”
There was a touch of sadness and absence in her tone as she said this, and the vision of the eye went back with the memory in a pause which I did not dare to disturb, except to say farewell. As she sits there, facing the portrait of Minna Herzlieb, with her thin hands clasped under her lace shawl, and the bouquet of red roses which the Princess Elizabeth had brought from Belvedere on the table, I still see her.
From another lady, intimate with the Goethe family from childhood, I heard many picturesque anecdotes of Weimar life; but she was too young to have known more than the close of the great era. One of the distinctest figures in her memory was that of Frau von Pogwisch, the mother of Ottilie, Goethe’s daughter-in-law, a tall, determined, masculine lady, with a passion, accompanied by a talent (the two are not always found together ! ), for playing upon the bugle. What free and clear individualities the women of that day show ! How they strove to keep pace with the men in all current knowledge, reading history and philosophy, studying languages and arts, criticising and corresponding ! Yet I cannot discover that any one was the less attractively feminine, or made herself unhappy by the longing for a prohibited political destiny.
Furthermore, they seem to have been good housekeepers. Even the enemies of Christiane Vulpius were compelled to allow her that virtue. Schiller’s Lotte kept good count of her groschen when she took table-boarders in Jena, and I dare say she would have made both ends meet evenly but for her husband’s rather thoughtless hospitality. It was hardly fair to bring in six guests for a late supper, when there was only a small bit of roast veal and a big dish of lettuce in the house. Frau von Stein, at her estate of Kochberg, was once surprised by a message that the duke would arrive in an hour or so, to dine with her. There was small time for preparation, and very little in the house. A good, savory soup, to be sure : no German household can fail there ; some potatoes, and a single haunch of venison, the latter a lucky gift, just received. Orders were given, house and hostess put on their best appearance, the duke arrived, and dinner was announced. All went well until the venison came, when — oh, woe ! — the attendant footman awkwardly tilted the dish in carrying it to the table, and the haunch fell upon the floor.
Frau von Stein, “ with death in her heart ” (as the French novelists say), smiled and serenely said, “ Take it away, and bring the other ! ”
The haunch was taken out, regarnished, and brought back again. The hostess took her carving-knife and fork, sliced the most tempting portion, and offered it to Karl August, with the words, “ Will your royal highness have a piece of this ? ”
“ Thank you,” he answered, “ if you please, I will take a piece of the first.” He was too shrewd not to perceive the artifice, and too plain in his habits to care for the accident.
I made the acquaintance, in Weimar, of Count York von Wartenherg, son of Field-Marshal York of the Napoleonic wars, a gentleman of fine taste, and culture ; and Baron Wendelin von Maltzahn, whose scholarship needs no other illustration than his edition of Lessing’s works. In fact, there is scarcely any province of the society of the place without a few distinguished members ; but the culture of the aristocratic class seems most prominent because it is so unusual elsewhere. The house of the State Councilor, Stichling, the grandson of Herder, is the centre of the most agreeable circle ; and those old friends, Chief-Librarian Schöll and the artist Preller, know how to make the evenings speed with anecdote and friendly repartee.
My summer visit was all too brief. I could only verify a few points, and perform the pleasant social duties required by the hospitality I had enjoyed, when the time came for me to say farewell. The grand duke and his family were then staying at the Belvedere, a summer castle on an airy hill, about three miles from Weimar, and I spent part of two days very delightfully there. Nothing could have been more frank, genial, and unrestrained than the spirit which prevailed at that summer court. The view southward from the hill overlooks the valley of the Ilm, and ranges over scattered forests to the uplands dividing it from the Saale, a landscape such as one often sees in the English county of Kent. To the north, over Weimar, the Ettersberg rises in a dark, level line. Although so near to the city, the place has an unexpected air of privacy and seclusion. Since the days of the Duchess Anna Amalia, it has been a favorite residence of the reigning family.
One road yet remained to be trodden, — the old highway crossing the uplands from Weimar to Jena. There is now a roundabout connection by rail between the two places, scarcely a saving of time and certainly no increase of comfort, in fine weather ; but the German people, like the Americans, imagine that it is both. The old road, which, even a hundred years ago, brought Weimar and Jena as near as the opposite suburbs of a great capital, will soon be deserted except by country carts and an occasional pilgrim from abroad.
Fortunate in having such an accomplished scholar as Mr. Andrew Hamilton for a companion, a gentleman whose studies during his ten years’ residence in Weimar made him the best possible guide and commentator, I set out one bright morning in an open post-chaise. After climbing the hill beyond the Ilm, we passed the Webicht, a local name for a grove lying between Weimar and Tieffurt. It is a natural wood, with undergrowth of thickets and scattered planting of wild-flowers, such as we see everywhere in this country. I first knew it in its late autumn garb, with the accessories of falling leaves and wheeling ravens, from the lovely picture of Baron von Gleiehen - Russwurm (Schiller’s grandson).
As we turned to the southeast across the high, rolling country, Weimar soon dropped behind us into the valley of the Ilm, and became invisible ; the Belvedere rose a little above the horizon line, but in all other directions the landscape was as lonely and monotonous as Central Russia. It was that season when grass is not quite ripe for the scythe, wheat and rye are just coming into head, beets and potatoes have been hoed, and the farmers have a few idle days ; consequently the broad miles of cultivated land on either side were almost deserted. Yet it was a region where a poetic brain would involuntarily begin, or go on with, its work, — just enough suggestion in the open expanse of sky, in occasional low, distant gleams of blue, and in the two or three dells that deepen to the northward, disclosing sheltered meadows and groves.
There are three or four little villages on or near the road. I remember the names of Umpferstedt and Hohlstedt, and the brown old buildings of the latter, clustering about a big Lutheran church, as dark and heavy in appearance as the square bastion of a fortress. There were always lilacs, peonies, and snow-balls — the unfailing flowers of the Teutonic and Anglo - Saxon peoples — in the garden ; there was linen bleaching on the grass-plots beside the pool ; there were two women to be seen gossiping in the shade, and possibly two men behind their beer, in the tavern ; the toll-man lifting his bar from the highway, and glad of a chance to exchange a few wise remarks with our postilion ; and lastly, the goose-girl, with her bare feet, her long stick, and her quacking flocks. These features seem sufficiently picturesque, when you set them together for the reader of another land ; yet, divested of its rich associations, the road from Weimar to Jena is about as uninteresting as any twelve miles in the world.
The upland drains to the northward, and its highest crest forms the rim of the Saale valley. Thus Napoleon, by climbing it from Jena under cover of an autumn fog, secured at once the advantage of position. The battle was fought mostly to the eastward of the highway, over a continuance of the undulating plain. Here Rossbach was avenged, even as Sedan has avenged Jena. The people do not make a show of the battleground, for an obvious reason, as they do at Leipzig and Waterloo. Yet the battle here was a wholesome, if an exceedingly bitter lesson : here the feudal spirit really fell, with the sword in its heart, although it maintained a galvanic semblance of life until 1848. The highest part of the field, now overgrown with pines, is called the Napoleonsberg.
We descend into the Muhlthal (mill valley), at present, by a new and admirable piece of road - engineering. Mr. Hamilton, pointing it out to me, said, “ The Botenfrau never went this way ; she took yonder path, which you can see rising straight through the woods.” Ah, the Botenfrau ! I had almost forgotten that classic personage. Many of her sisters still travel, in shine or rain, the mountain-roads of Thüringia ; nay, have not I, myself, entrusted her with messages, and money for purchases, and has she not always faithfully rendered account ? The “ messenger - woman ” is an ancient institution in the land. She has her stated days, when she makes her appearance with a deep, square basket, slung knapsack-wise to her shoulders, with her ever-reliable memory and her unchallenged honesty, to take your commission for a volume of poetry or a leg of mutton, to borrow for you of a friend or pay an importunate enemy. On the second day, punctually to the hour, you will see her again, — all your business promptly attended to for a very trifling charge, and a budget of gossip thrown in, which you cannot be cruel enough to refuse hearing.
I wonder what Schiller and Goethe would have done without their messenger-woman. She undoubtedly took five hours for the walk between Jena and Weimar, for she gossiped and had her beer at Hohlstedt and Umpferstedt ; but the manuscript scene of Wallenstein which Schiller sent in the morning was in Goethe’s hands in the afternoon, and the latter could frequently return his criticism by ducal estafette before the author had gone to bed. Not only manuscripts passed between the two. The messenger - woman very often carried Teltow beets to Goethe, and fresh pike or perch to Schiller. (I cannot understand how either should be much of a delicacy : Teltow beets are dark roots, like stunted parsnips, with a flavor half bitter and half medicinal ; and the Elbe pike is as coarse a fish as ever tempted an inland palate.) Sometimes the messenger carried birthday presents, sometimes money, often proof-sheets ; and it is startling to think what hostilities of the Schlegels, and Bürger, and Kotzebue, may have been stowed away in the same basket ! If we had any tears to spare, we would drop one to thy memory, good messenger-woman ! We know thou went tanned and leathery of visage, stouter of leg than the Graces, and as garrulous as any Muse ; yet thou wert the go-between of the Olympians, a peasant-Iris, and shalt not wholly lack the honor thou couldst not comprehend !
Descending into the Mühlthal, we soon emerged into the broad, warm, luxuriant valley of the Saale. Here the bluffs and forelands of the upper region have almost the dignity of mountains, as they stand apart to leave ample space for the town and its garden suburbs, and the spacious river - meads. Here, below, there was no breeze, and the June sun had its voluptuous will ; every mansion and cottage was clasped in a ring of blossoming rose-trees. And such roses ! richly-fed and tenderly-tended rémontants, opening great circles of white, pink, crimson, maroon, or salmon-colored petals, such as Persia or Cashmere never dreamed of. The rose, indeed, is but a gypsy in the Orient : here she is princess of an ancient line, and the commonest gardener loves her better than Hafiz. How could one echo, looking on this peerless perfection of bloom, and inhaling the breath that turns sense into soul, the mournful afterthought of Omar Khayyàm ?
As we drove into the city, my friend pointed out the old Frommann house, where Alwine’s childhood was passed. There is still a little garden attached to it, and also a garden-house, but the latter is surely too new to have been Goethe’s residence from sixty to seventy years ago. We stopped at The Black Bear, the same hostel wherein Luther spent one night, wearing a trooper’s armor and calling himself “ Squire George,” on his secret journey from the Wartburg to Wittenberg. There was quite a crowd in the little university town, by reason of Bach’s Passion being given in the church ; and thus the Frommann family was not at home when we first called there.
Through Mr. Hamilton’s kind offices, however, I made the acquaintance of a lady who was familiar with the court of Duke Karl August, and had known Goethe in the still fresh and vigorous beginning of his age. As a young girl, she was one of the principal performers in a masque which he wrote, on the occasion of the Empress of Russia’s visit to Weimar ; and her account of the kindly patience with which he drilled her and other maidens in their tasks was very vivid and delightful. They all went to his house to rehearse, and in such a state of fright that the most of them were on the point of running away. The imposing presence of the poet, his deep, powerful voice, and the supreme place in German literature which was then, at least, universally conceded to him, affected both the sense and the imagination. But the lady who told the story concealed her trepidation and stood her ground. Goethe, she soon saw, was pleased with her apparent self-possession, even as he seemed to be annoyed by the shyness of her companions. He praised while he corrected her delivery of his verses, declaimed them for her, and instructed her so gently, yet so wisely, that her performance was a famous success. She represented a Genius, with wings, gauze, and spangles ; her part was to address the empress, face to face. “ I felt Goethe’s eye on me,” she said to us; “ and I thought only of him while I spoke. I forgot all about the empress, and everybody was astonished at the coolness with which I looked at her.”
There is no great significance in this anecdote, by itself. But it is one of hundreds which I heard, and which produce the same impression of a grand, noble, and simply humane personality. I cannot further, now, into any presentation of Goethe as a character, for this is a part of the larger task which led me to Weimar ; yet I cannot help now and then dropping such illustrative details as entered into my experience in making acquaintance with those who knew the poet and the circumstances and associations of his life. From a long study of his works and the special literature they have called forth, I went to the place — as was, in fact, inevitable — with a tolerably complete mental outline of the man ; and it was my greatest cheer and satisfaction, when I left Weimar to return home, to find that I was only obliged to add the necessary light and shade, with scarcely the need of a variation in the, drawing.
After dinner, Bach’s Passion being ended, we found Friedrich Frommann, and were received like old friends. The quaint old house, with its long and winding passages leading to chambers looking upon little verdurous courts, where there was no sound of the streets, quite fascinated me. The dark wooden floors, the simple yet comfortable furniture, the few choice pictures and busts, the absence of mere show, of every sign of struggle and emulation, and the not-tobe-deseribed atmosphere ; of art and taste and thought which they who know never fail to detect with their first sniff of the air, — all these were blissfully welcome. Herr Frommann and his daughter bestowed upon us the hospitality of the house in full unreserve. His sister, Alwine, had given me no letter of introduction ; she simply said, “My brother will expect to see you, when you go to Jena,” and the introduction was thereby already made.
I here feel inclined to enter a protest against the astonishing distortions of Mr. Julian Hawthorne’s Saxon Studies. I cannot but suspect that the author, who has so much original as well as inherited talent, must have had some unpleasant personal experience which has insensibly colored his pictures. It is difficult, otherwise, to account for exaggerations which themselves so clearly proclaim their character, and therefore defeat their purpose.
I have found as true, — in America, England, Russia, Sweden, France, and Italy, — but nowhere truer gentlemen and ladies, than in Germany. To doubt this is simply to doubt the quality of our own original stock. Furthermore, although the general average of culture may he higher (and I think it is, in our Atlantic States), there is no country where high culture includes a larger class than in Middle and Northern Germany. To learn this, one must not be merely a member of an American colony, in a capital; one must know the various circles of society, especially in the smaller principalities, freely and familiarly. I assume, of course, that the narrower prejudices which spring from convention and habit must he given up. I have known certain persons to be inexpressibly shocked because, in accordance with old customs, the pudding comes before the roast and salad, on some very respectable German tables.
But the Germans have one fault which especially grates upon American nerves, because each individual of us is sensitive with the consciousness that he represents the nation. Almost every intelligent German has his fixed theory, wherein each fact of our day is fitted into its place, and he finds it very inconvenient to change their relative position. Consequently, whenever he hears something that conflicts with the theory, he abruptly rejects it, and is very often unconsciously discourteous in his manner of doing so. At a public supper in Weimar, for example, I sat beside an official who gravely stated that the laws of the United States had permitted the slave trade with Africa until the year 1861 ! When I quietly told him he was mistaken, he cried, “ But it ’s true ! it ’s a wellknown fact ! ” Then I was provoked to say, “ Sir, this is a subject which I, as an American, understand, but which you, as a German, do not ; I demand, therefore, that you shall not contradict me again ! ” The blank surprise on the man’s face was a study ; I saw at once that his contradiction was only the prevailing habit of his class, and repented me of my temporary irritation.
This form of egotism is constantly encountered, although it is not often so offensively expressed. It is a species of chauvinisme which, like individual vanity, is seldom consciously possessed by a people. I dare say our American variety makes itself felt quite as aggressively by any other nation.
We drove back to Weimar towards sunset, when every long swell of the upland or crest of a distant wood was outlined by a keen, golden edge of light. The valley of the Ilm opens suddenly, like that of the Saale, only half as deep and broad, but made very picturesque by the old mill and bridge, the high-towered castle and the park. The old paths of the poets, visible through the gaps in the heavy foliage, were doubly cool and secluded in the evening shadow. Families sat at tables in their gardens and took their tea in the open air. Beyond, on the avenue stretching away to Belvedere, gleams of fresh color moved to and fro ; and we met no face which had not cast away its anxious look of labor, in a glad surrender to the influences of the hour. The scene recalled Goethe’s line :
Another day of farewells, and I left Weimar. There is no Fountain of Trevi there, the drinking of whose waters would insure me a return ; but I might have taken a parting cup at the fountain which is guarded by the lovely bronze group of Death and Immortality. Perhaps the acceptance of an earnest task is a better guarantee than either, for it seems to give a presumptive right to the years required to perform it.