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however, stood near enough behind the side-scenes.
Thus I may also mention, that I Diderot's Père de Famille, and the Philosophers of Palipot, and still perfectly remember the figure of the philosopher, in the latter play, going on all fours and eating a raw lettuce; yet all this dramatic variety could not always keep us children in the theatre. We played in fine weather in front of it, and in the neighbourhood, and prac tised all manner of absurdities, which, especially on Sundays and festivals, by no means agreed with our exterior. For I and my equals then appeared dressed, as was described in that tale, with the hat under the arm, and a little sword, of which the hilt was adorned with a large silken knot. Once when we had long proceeded in this way, and Derones had mixed among us, he took it into his head to assert to me that I had offended him, and must give him satisfaction. I had in truth no notion of the cause for this, but accepted his challenge, and was going to draw. But he assured me that it was usual in such cases to go to a solitary place, in order to settle the matter conveniently. We repaired, therefore, behind some barns, and placed ourselves in the proper attitude. The combat took place in a somewhat theatric style; the blades clinked, and the thrusts followed close upon each other. But in the heat of the contest, the point of his sword remained fixed in the knot of my hilt. This appendage was pierced through, and he assured me that he had now received the most perfect satisfaction; then embraced me, also very theatrically, and we went to the next coffeehouse to refresh ourselves after our excitement with a glass of almondmilk, and to knit our old friendship all the closer.
I will relate on this occasion another adventure, which also befell me in the theatre, though at a later time. I sat with one of my companions very quietly in the pit, and we looked with pleasure at a pas-seul, executed with much skill and grace by a handsome boy, about our age, the son of a French dancing-master who was passing through the town. He was dressed, in dancer fashion, in a close waistcoat of red silk ending in a short frock, like
a runner's apron, which floated above the knees. Together with the whole public we had given our applause to this young artist, when it occurred to me, I know not how, to make a moral reflection. I said to my companionhandsomely as this boy is adorned, and fine as is his appearance, who knows in how tattered a jerkin he may sleep to-night? All had risen to go, only the crowd prevented us moving. A woman who sat near me, and now stood close to me, happened to be the mother of the young performer, and felt herself much injured by my reflection. For my misfortune, she knew enough of German to understand me, and spoke it just well enough to scold. She abused me violently: Who, then, was I, she should like to know, who presumed to suspect the family and condition of this young man? At all events, she would warrant him as good as me, and his talents might very likely procure him advantages of which I should not dare to dream for myself. She inflicted this rebuke on me in the midst of the crush, and made those about me wonder what possible excess of rudeness I could have committed. As I could neither excuse myself, nor escape from her, I was really perplexed; and when she paused for a moment I said, without any special meaning, "Why so much noise about it? To-day he's red-tomorrow dead !"* These words seemed to strike the woman dumb. looked at me, and moved away as soon as it was at all possible. I thought no more of my expressions: only some time after they occurred to me, when the boy, instead of continuing to perform, became ill, and that very dangerously. I cannot say whether he died. Such intimations, conveyed in a word unseasonably, or even improperly spoken, were held of weight among the ancients; and it is highly remarkable that the forms of belief and superstition among all peoples, and in all times, have always remained the same.
From the first day of the occupation of our town there was no want of perpetual diversion, especially for children and young people. Plays and balls, parades and marches, drew our attention this way and that. The last
* Doubtless a German proverb.-Tr.
particularly, were always on the increase, and the soldier's life seemed to us most joyous and delightful.
The residence of the King's lieutenant in our house procured us the advantage of seeing, one after another, all the important persons of the French army, and especially of beholding, close at hand, the leaders whose names had already been brought to us by report. Thus, from stairs and landing-places, as if from galleries, we looked on very conveniently while the generals went by. Above all of them, I remember the Prince of Soubise as a handsome and affable man; but recall most distinctly the Maréchal de Broglie, as younger, not tall, but well-made, lively, and look ing about him with keen-witted glances, and active in his movements.
He came often to the King's lieutenant, and it was easy to observe that the conversation was on important matters. The first quarter of a year had hardly accustomed us to the intrusion of our guest, when the rumour began to spread obscurely that the Allies were marching forward, and Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick was coming to drive the French from the Maine. Of these, who could boast no great success in the war, there was no high opinion; and, since the battle of Rossbach, they were thought contemptible. There was the utmost reliance on Duke Ferdinand, and those inclined towards Prussia expected eagerly their deliverance from their actual burden. My father was somewhat more cheerful-my mother in anxiety. She had sense enough to see that a present small evil might easily be exchanged for a great vexation; for it was only too plain that they would not retire before the Duke, but give battle in the neighbourhood of the city. A defeat of the French, a flight, a defence of the city-were it but in order to cover the rear and hold the bridge-a bombardment, a sack-all rose before the excited imagination, and gave anxiety to both parties. My mother, who could bear every thing but anxiety, made the interpreter inform the Count of her apprehensions. She received the answer usual in such cases-She might be quite at ease, as there was no danger; and also must keep herself quiet, and speak to no one of the matter.
Many troops passed through the
city, and it was known that they halted at Berg. The coming and going, the riding and running, increased constantly, and our house was in uproar day and night. At this time I often saw Marshal Broglie, always cheerful, just the same in look and demeanour one time as another; and I was after. wards glad to find a man celebrated in history, whose appearance had made so good and lasting an impression on me.
Thus at last, after a restless EasterWeek, came on the Good Friday of 1759. A great stilluess announced the approaching storm. We children were forbidden to leave the house; but my father could not be quiet, and went out. The battle began; I went to the highest loft, whence, indeed, I was prevented seeing the country round, but could hear perfectly the thunder of the cannons, and the continuous fire of the small arms. After some hours we saw the first tokens of the battle in a line of waggons, on which the wounded, with their various woeful mutilations and aspects, were slowly drawn past us, and taken to the mo nastery of St Mary, which had been turned into an hospital. The compassion of the citizens was immediately excited. Beer, wine, bread, money were handed to those who could still receive any thing. But when, some time after, wounded and captured Germans were seen in the procession, the pity passed all bounds, and it seemed that every one would strip himself of all his moveable property in order to assist his afflicted country
The prisoners, however, were signs of a battle unfavourable to the Allies. My father being quite certain, from his party feeling, that they would conquer, had the passionate daring to go to meet the hoped-for victors, without considering that the beaten forces would necessarily beforehand pass over him in their flight. He went first to his garden in front of the Friedberg gate, where he found every thing in loneliness and quiet. Then he ventured to the Bornheim heath, where, however, he descried several scattered
camp-followers, who amused themselves with shooting at the boundary stones, so that the rebounding balls whizzed about the head of the inquisitive wanderer. He therefore thought it more prudent to retire, and learned
My mother and we children, who had previously reckoned on the Count's word, and had therefore passed a tolerably quiet day, were highly pleased, and my mother doubly comforted, when she enquired the next day at the oracle of her little treasure-box by means of the point of a needle, and received a very cheering answer for the present as well as the future. We wished our father the same faith and the same feelings; we flattered him all we could; we entreated him to take some food, which he had abstained from all day. But he rejected our caresses and every kind of enjoyment, and betook himself to his room. joy, nevertheless, was not disturbed; the business was decided; the King's lieutenant, who, contrary to his custom, had to-day been on horseback, returned at last, and his presence at home was more necessary than ever. We sprang to meet him, kissed his hands, and expressed our joy to him. This seemed to give him much pleasure. "Well," he said, more mildly than usual, "I am glad also on your account, my dear children!" He immediately ordered us sweetmeats, sweet wine, and the best of every thing, and went to his apartment, surrounded already by a throng of the urgent, the clamant, and the suppliant.
We had now a rich collation-pitied our good father who could not share in it, and pressed my mother to call him. But she had more prudence, and knew well how unpleasant such gifts would be to him. Meanwhile she had prepared some supper, and would fain have sent it to his room, but he never permitted such an irregularity, not even in the extremest cases; and after the sweet presesnts had been put aside, we tried to persuade him to come down into the usual eating-room. At last he let himself be prevailed on unwil
lingly, and we had no foreboding of the mischief which we were preparing for him and for ourselves. The staircase ran freely through the whole house, past all the sitting rooms. My father, in going down, could not pass by the Count's apartment. His anteroom was so full of people, that, in order to get through more at once, he would come out, and this unhappily took place in the moment when my father was passing. The Count went up to him cheerfully, and said, “You must congratulate me and yourself that this dangerous business is so well ended." "Not at all!" answered my father, with rage, "I wish it had sent you to the devil, even if I had been forced to keep you company." The Count paused a moment, but then burst out furiously, "You shall suffer for this. You shall find that it is not for nothing you offered this insult to the good cause and to me!"
In the mean while my father came quietly down, seated himself near us, seemed more cheerful than usual, and began to eat. We rejoiced at this, and did not know in how perilous a way he had rolled the stone off his heart. Soon after my mother was called out, and we had great delight in chattering to my father of all the sweet things that the Count had given us. My mother did not come back. At last the interpreter came in. On a hint from him we were sent to bed, and as it was already late, we obeyed willingly. After a night of quiet sleep, we heard of the violent movement which had shaken the house on the previous evening. The King's lieutenant had immediately commanded my father to be taken to the guard-house. The subalterns were perfectly aware that he was never to be contradicted; but they had often earned thanks by delaying their obedience. The interpreter, so closely connected with my mother, and whose presence of mind never abandoned him, was able to excite this disposition very strongly in them. The confusion besides was so great, that a delay naturally concealed and excused itself. He had called out my mother, and put her, as it were, into the hands of the aides de camp, that by entreaties and representations she might gain at least a little time. He himself hastened quietly up to the Count, who, from his great self-command, had immediately retired into his inner room and
rather let the most urgent business stop for a while, than wreak on an innocent person the bad feeling which had been excited in him, and give a decision unworthy of his dignity.
The address of the interpreter to the Count, and the course of the whole conversation, were often enough repeated to us by the fat mediator, who exulted not a little in his success. Thus I am still able to repeat what passed.
The interpreter had intended to open the cabinet and enter, an act which was held highly penal.
"What do you want?" exclaimed the Count angrily to him. "Begone! No one but Saint Jean has a right to enter here."
"Take me, then, a moment for Saint Jean," answered the interpreter.
A strong imagination would be needed for that. Two of him would not make one like you. Leave me !" "Count, you have received a great gift from heaven, and to it I appeal.' "You try to flatter me! But do not think you will succeed."
"Count, you have the great gift of listening to the opinions of others even in moments of passion-of anger."
"Well, well; it is now just a case of having listened too long to opinions. I know but too well that here we are not loved; that these citizens look as. kance at us."
"Very many. What! do these towns pretend to be imperial towns? They saw their Emperor elected and crowned, and when, from an unjust attack, he is in danger of losing his dominions and yielding to an usurper, when he fortunately finds faithful allies who spend their gold, their blood for his advantage-they will not endure the slight burden which they must bear as their share towards humbling the enemy."
"In truth, you have long known these opinions, and have put up with them like a wise man. Besides, the culpable are but the smaller number. A few, dazzled by the brilliant qualities of the enemy, whom you yourself value as an extraordinary man-only a few-you know it well?"
"Yes, indeed! I have known it too long, and endured it. Otherwise this man would not have dared, at a most important time, to utter such injuries
to my face. Be they as many as they may, they shall be punished in the person of this audacious representative, and so learn what they have to expect."
"Count, only some delay!"
"In certain matters one cannot proceed too quickly."
"Only a short delay."
"Neighbour, you think you can mislead me to a false step, but you shall not succeed."
"I neither wish to mislead you to a false step, nor to restrain you from a false one. Your resolution is just; it becomes the Frenchman, the King's lieutenant; but consider that you are also Count Thorane."
"He has nothing to say to us here." "Yet the worthy man has also a claim to be heard."
"What then is it that he would say?"
"Sir King's Lieutenant!" would he say, "you have had patience so long with so many gloomy, unwilling, blundering men, while they did not go altogether too far. This one, in truth, has gone very far; but prevail on yourself, Sir King's Lieutenant! aud every one will praise and extol you for it.
"You know that I often put up with your jokes; but do not abuse my indulgence. Are these men, then, entirely blinded? Had we lost the battle, what, at this moment, would be their fate? We fight up to the gates; we close them behind us; we halt; we defend ourselves in order to cover our retreat over the bridge. Do you suppose the enemy would have put his hands in his pockets? He throws grenades and every thing within his reach, and the fire catches where it
What, then, does this precious householder want? He would have, perhaps, a shell bursting in these rooms, and another following it; in these rooms where I spared his cursed Chinese paper, and put myself to inconvenience by not nailing up my maps! They ought to have spent the whole day upon their knees."
"How many have done so ?"
"They should have been praying for a blessing on us, and have gone to meet the generals and officers with emblems of honour and of joy, and the wearied soldiers with refreshments. Instead of which, the poison of this
party spirit destroys those fairest, happiest hours of my life, even with so many anxieties and efforts."
"It is party spirit. But you will only increase it by punishing this man. Those of his opinion will cry out on you as a tyrant and barbarian. They will regard him as a martyr who has suffered for the good cause. Even those on the other side, now his opponents, will then see in him only their fellow-citizen, will compassionate him; and while they allow that you are just, will yet think that you have proceeded too harshly."
“I have listened to you too long. Now be good enough to go!"
"Hear only this! Consider that it is the most unheard-of thing that could possibly happen to this man, to this family. You have had no reason to be pleased with the good-will of the master. But the mistress of the house has anticipated all your wishes, and the children have regarded you as their uncle.
With this one blow you will destroy for ever the peace and happiness of this dwelling. Nay, I may well say that a bomb-shell falling in the house would not have caused greater havoc in it. Count! I have often admired your self-command. You may give me reason to adore you. It is noble of a warrior to regard himself in an enemy's house as only a guest; here there is no enmity, only error. Prevail so far upon yourself, and you will gain eternal renown!"
"That would be a marvellous consequence," answered the Count, with a smile.
"Only the natural one," replied the interpreter. "I have not sent the wife, the children to your feet; for I know that such scenes are a vexation to you. But I would paint the wife and children to you, and all their thanks. I would paint them to you conversing all their lives about the day of the bat. tle at Berg, and about your magnanimity, relating it to their children and children's children, and inspiring even strangers with their own feelings towards you. An act of this kind cannot perish."
"You do not touch my weak side, Mr Interpreter; I do not concern myself about posthumous repute; it is for others, not for me. But, to do right at the moment, not to postpone my
duties, to yield no jot of my honour— this is my anxiety. We have already talked too much. Now go-and get the thanks of the thankless, whom I spare!"
The interpreter, surprised and af fected by this unlooked-for happiness, could not refrain from tears, and tried to kiss the Count's hands. The Count, however, repelled him, and said, gravely and severely, "You know that I cannot endure these things!"-And, with these words, he went into the anteroom to attend to urgent affairs which awaited him, and to listen to the multitude of applicants. Thus the business was laid aside, and the next day we celebrated, over the remains of the sweet things of the day before, the disappearance of an evil, through the threatenings of which we had happily slept.
Whether the interpreter had, in fact, spoken so wisely, or only so painted the scene to himself, as, after a good and successful action, one is apt to do, I will not decide. At least he never varied in the repetition of his statement. In fine, this day seemed to him at once the most anxious and the most glorious of his life.
How absolutely the Count in general rejected all false ceremonial, abstained at all times from any title which did not belong to him, and how sprightly he always was in his more cheerful hours, one little anecdote will testify.
A man of the higher class, but who was also one of those abstruse solitary Frankforters, thought he had some reason to complain as to the quartering the French in his house. He came in person, and the interpreter offered him his services, which the other believed he had no need of. He made his appearance before the Count with a suitable bow, and said:-" Your Excellency!" The Count returned his bow, as well as the word Excellency. Struck by this honour, and fancying that the title must have been too humble, he bent lower and said—“ My Lord!"