Category Archives: Jean Paul

Jean Paul: Scene in the Polar Regions

From the prose of ‘Titan.’ Excerpt, German Lyric Poetry: Songs and Ballads. Translated by Charles T. Brooks. 1863.

Far in the North, behind the Orcades
The setting sun a twilight glimmer shed,
Eastward afar the coasts of men were seen
Dim, shadowy and spectral; like a still,
Broad land of spirits lay the vacant sea
Beneath the empty heavens; — here and there
Perchance a vessel skimmed the watery waste,
Like a white-winged sea bird; but it moved
Too pale and small beneath the veil of space.

Sublime and awful solitude! the heart,
As it broods over thee, beats fast and feels
Ennobled! —Thou, too, goest forth , pale sun;
Like a white angel, goest down to visit
The silent, ice-walled cloister of the pole,
And, drawing after thee thy bridal garment,
That floats in gold upon the weltering wave,
Veilest thyself around! Where art thou now.

Pale one in rosy robes? Wilt glimmer forth
Again into a warm and glowing eye
Among the ice fields? — Standing here, I gaze
Down on the dreary winter of the world.

How dumb and endless is it down below!
The almighty, outstretched giant stirs himself
In all his thousand limbs, and wrinkles up,
And nothing remains great before him, save
His Father, the great Heaven! — Mighty Son!
Wilt lead me to the Father, when, at last
I come to thee?

Lo, what a gorgeous spectacle!  Aurora
Upon the ruddy evening twilight glows,
With fast increasing light. What can it be
That rends away so suddenly the dark
Shroud of the watery Orcus?  How the shores
Of men like golden morning blaze!  O, art thou
Already come to us again, thou fair,
Majestic Sun, so young and rosy red?

And wilt thou journey kindly yet once more
A long day’s journey o’er the fields of men?—
Glow upward, then, immortal one! — I stand
Yet cold and pale on my horizon:  soon
I must go down to the dark realms of ice.

But shall I too, like him, O God, arise
More warm and bright again, to journey through
A long, bright day in thy eternity?


Jean Paul 5

Jean Paul Friedrich Richter


Thomas Carlyle: “The Imagination of Jean Paul”

Excerpt, “Critical and Miscellaneous Essays: Jean Paul Friedrich Richter,” Thomas Carlyle. 1830
We have spoken warmly of Jean Paul’s Imagination, of his high devout feeling, which is now a still more grateful part of our task to exhibit. But in this also our readers must content themselves with some imperfect glimpses. What religious opinions and aspirations he specially entertained, how that noblest portion of man’s interest represented itself in such a mind, were long to describe, did we even know it with certainty.
He hints somewhere that ‘the soul, which by nature looks Heavenward, is without a Temple in this age ; ‘ in which little sentence, the careful reader will decipher much.
‘But there will come another era,’ says Paul, ‘when it shall be light, and man will awaken from his lofty dreams, and find — his dreams still there, and that nothing is gone save his sleep,’The stones and rocks, which two veiled Figures (Necessity and Vice), like Deucalion and Pyrrha, are casting behind them, at Goodness, will themselves become men.
‘And on the Western-gate of this century stands written: Here is the way to Virtue and Wisdom; as on the Western-gate at Cherson stands the proud Inscription: Here is the way to Byzance.
‘Infinite Providence, Thou wilt cause the day to dawn,’But as yet, struggles the twelfth-hour of the Night: the nocturnal birds of prey are on the wing, spectres uproar, the dead walk, the living dream.’
Connected with this, there is one other piece, which also,for its singular poetic qualities, we shall translate here. The reader has heard much of Richter’s Dreams, with what strange prophetic power he rules over that chaos of spiritual Nature, bodying forth a whole world of Darkness, broken by pallid gleams or wild sparkles of light, and peopled with huge, shadowy, bewildered shapes, full of grandeur and meaning.
No Poet known to us, not Milton himself, shows such a vastness of Imagination; such a rapt, deep, Old-Hebrew spirit as Richter in these scenes. He mentions, in his Biographical notes, the impression which these lines of the Tempest had on him, as recited by one of his companions:
“We are such stuff
As Dreams are made of, and our little Life
Is rounded with a sleep.”
‘The passage of Shakespeare,’ says he, ’rounded with a sleep in Plattner’s mouth, created whole ‘books in me.’ — The following Dream is perhaps his grandest, as undoubtedly it is among his most celebrated. We shall give it entire, long as it is, and therewith finish our quotations. What value he himself put on it, may be gathered from the following Note:
‘If ever my heart,’ says he, ‘were to grow so wretched and so dead that all feelings ‘in it which announce the being of a God were extinct’there, I would terrify myself with this sketch of mine ; it’ would heal me, and give me my feelings back.’ We translate from Siebenkas, where it forms the first Chapter, or Blumenstuck (Flower-Piece).
‘The purpose of this Fiction is the excuse of its boldness. Men deny the Divine Existence with as little feeling as the most assert it.
Even in our true systems we go on collecting- mere words, playmarks and medals, as misers do coins; and not till late do we transform the words into feelings, the coins into enjoyments, A man may, for twenty years, believe the Immortality of the Soul; — in the one-and-twentieth, in some great moment, he for the first time discovers with amazement the rich meaning of this belief, the warmth of this Naphtha-well, ‘Of such sort, too, was my error, at the poisonous stifling vapour which floats out round the heart of him who, for the first time, enters the school of Atheism.
I could with less pain deny Immortality than Deity : there I should lose but a world covered with mists, here I should lose the present world, namely, the Sun thereof: the whole spiritual Universe is dashed asunder by the hand of Atheism into numberless quicksilver-points of Me’s, which glitter, run, waver, fly together or asunder, without unity or continuance.
No one in Creation is so alone, as the denier of God ; he mourns, with an orphaned heart that has lost its great Father, by the Corpse of Nature, which no World-spirit moves and holds together, and which grows in its grave ; and he mourns by that Corpse till he himself crumble off from it. The whole world lies before him, like the Egyptian Sphinx of stone, half-buried in the sand; and the All is the cold iron mask of a formless Eternity…
‘I merely remark farther, that with the belief of Atheism, the belief of Immortality is quite compatible; for the same Necessity, which in this Life threw my light dewdrop of a Me into a flower-bell and — under a Sun, can repeat that process in a second life; nay,more easily embody me the second time than the first.
‘If we hear, in childhood, that the Dead, about midnight, when our sleep reaches near the soul, and darkens even our dreams, awake out of theirs, and in the church mimic the worship of the living, we shudder at Death by reason of the dead, and in the night-solitude turn away our eyes from the long silent windows of the church and fear to proceed from the moon.
“Childhood, and rather its terrors than its raptures, take wings and radiance again in dreams, and sport like fire-flies in the little knight of the soul. Crush not these flickering sparks!
Leave us even our dark painful dreams as higher half-shadows of reality! And wherewith will you replace to us those dreams, which bear us away from under the tumult of the stream of life yet ran silent in its little plain, and flowed towards it abysses, a mirror of the Heaven?
‘I was lying once, on a summer evening, in the sunshine; and I fell asleep. Methought I awoke in the Churchyard. The downrolling wheels of the steeple-clock which was striking eleven, had awakened me. In the emptied night-heaven I looked for the Sun;for I thought an eclipse was veiling him with the Moon.
All the Graves were open and the iron doors of the charnel-house were swinging to and fro by invisible hands. On the walls flitted shadows, which proceeded from no one, and other shadows stretched upwards in the pale air. In the open coffins none now lay sleeping, but the children. Over the whole heaven hung, in large folds, a gray sultry mist; which a giant shadow, like vapour, was drawing down,nearer, closer and hotter.
Above me I heard the distant fall of avalanches; under me the first step of a boundless earthquake. The Church wavered up and down with two interminable Dissonances, which strutted with each other in it; endeavouring in vain to mingle in unison. At times, a gray glimmer hovered along the windows, and under it the lead and iron fell down molten.
The net of the mist,and the tottering Earth brought me into that hideous Temple; at the door of which, in two poison-bushes, two glittering Basilisks lay brooding. I passed through unknown Shadows, on whom ancient centuries were impressed. — All the Shadows were standing round the empty Altar; and in all, not the heart, but the breast quivered and pulsed.
One dead man only, who had just been buried there, still lay on his coffin without quivering breast; and on his smiling countenance stood a happy dream. But at the entrance of one Living, he awoke, and smiled no longer ; he lifted his heavy eyelids, but within was no eye; and in his beating breast there lay, instead of a heart, a wound. He held up his hands, and folded them to pray; but the arms lengthened out and dissolved ; and the hands, still folded together, fell away.
Above, on the Church-dome, stood the dial-plate of Eternity, whereon no number appeared, and which was its own index : but a black finger pointed thereon, and the Dead sought to see the time by it,
“Now sank from aloft a noble, high Form, with a look of uneffaceable sorrow, down to the Altar, and all the Dead cried out, ” Christ, is there no God ?” He answered, “There is none!” The whole Shadow of each then shuddered, not the breast alone; and one after the other, all, in this shuddering, shook into pieces.
“Christ continued: “I went through the Worlds, I mounted into the Suns, and flew with the Galaxies through the wastes of Heaven ;but there is no God! I descended as far as Being casts its shadow, and looked down into the Abyss and cried, Father, where art thou? But I heard only the everlasting storm which no one guides, and this gleaming Rainbow of Creation hung without a Sun that made it,over the Abyss, and trickled down.
And when I looked up to the immeasurable world for the Divine Eye, it glared on me with an empty, black, bottomless Eye-socket; and Eternity lay upon Chaos, eating it and ruminating it. Cry on, ye Dissonances; cry away the Shadows, for He is not I!”
‘The pale-grown Shadows flitted away, as white vapour which frost has formed with the warm breach disappears ; and all was void. 0, then came, fearful for the heart, the dead Children who had been awakened in the Churchyard, into the Temple, and cast themselves before the high Form on the Altar, and said, ” Jesus, have we no Father?” And he answered, with streaming tears, ” We are all orphans, I and you : we are without Father ! ”
‘Then shrieked this Dissonances still louder, — the quivering walls of the Temple parted asunder; and the Temple and the Children sank down, and the whole Earth and the Sun sank after it, and the whole Universe sank with its immensity before us; and above, on the summit of immeasurable Nature, stood Christ, and gazed down into the Universe chequered with its thousand Suns, as into the Mine bored out of the Eternal Night, in which the Suns run like mine-lamps, and the Galaxies like silver veins.
‘And as he saw the grinding press of Worlds, the torch-dance of celestial wildfires, and the coral-banks of beating hearts ; and as he saw how world after world shook off its glimmering souls upon the Sea of Death, as a water-bubble scatters swimming lights on the waves, then majestic as the Highest of the Finite, he raised his eyes towards the Nothingness, and towards the void Immensity, and said: ” Dead, dumb Nothingness!
Cold, everlasting Necessity! Frantic Chance! Know ye what this is that lies beneath you? When will ye crush the Universe in pieces, and me? Chance, knowest thou what thou doest, when with thy hurricanes thou walkest through that snow powder of Stars, and extinguishest burn after Sun, and that sparkling dew of heavenly lights goes out as thou passest over it? How is each so solitary in this wide grave of the All?
I am alone with myself! O Father, O Father! Where is thy infinite bosom, that I might rest on it? Ah, if each soul is its own father and creator, why cannot it be its own destroyer, too?
“Is this beside me yet a Man! Unhappy one! Your little life is the sigh of Nature, or only its echo ; a convex-mirror throws its rays into that dust-cloud of dead men’s ashes, down on the Earth; and thus you, cloud-formed wavering phantasms, arise. — Look down into the Abyss, over which clouds of ashes are moving; mists full of Worlds reek up from the Sea of Death ; the Future is a mounting mist, and the Present is a falling one. — Knowest thou thy Earth again?’
‘Here Christ looked down, and his eye filled with tears, and he said: “Ah, I was once there; I was still happy then; I had still my Infinite Father, and looked up cheerfully from the mountains, into the immeasurable Heaven, and pressed my mangled breast on his healing form, and said even in the bitterness of death: Father, take thy son from this bleeding hull, and lift him to thy heart! —
Ah, ye too happy inhabitants of Earth, ye still believe in Him. Perhaps even now your Sun is going down, and ye kneel amid blossoms, and brightness, and tears, and lift trustful hands, and cry with joy-streaming eyes, to the opened Heaven; “Me too thou knowest. Omnipotent, and all my wounds; and at death thou receivest me, and closest them all!
“Unhappy creatures, at death they will not be closed! Ah, when the sorrow-laden lays himself, with galled back, into the Earth,to sleep till a fairer Morning full of Truth, full of Virtue and Joy, — he awakens in a stormy Chaos, in the everlasting Midnight, — and there comes no Morning, and no soft healing hand, and no Infinite Father! — Mortal, beside me! if thou still livest, pray to Him; else hast thou lost him forever!”
‘And as I fell down, and looked into the sparkling Universe, I saw the upborne Rings of the Giant-Serpent, the Serpent of Eternity, which had coiled itself round the ALL of Worlds,— and the Rings sank down, and encircled the ALL doubly ; and then it wound itself, innumerable ways, round Nature, and swept the Worlds from their places, and crashing, squeezed the Temple of Immensity together, into the Church of a Burying-ground, —and all grew strait, dark, fearful, — and an immeasurably extended Hammer was to strike the last hour of Time, and shiver the Universe asunder . . . WHEN I AWOKE.
‘My soul wept for joy that I Could still pray to God; and the joy, and the weeping, and the faith on him were my prayer. And as I arose, the Sun was glowing deep behind the full purpled corn-ears,and casting meekly the gleam of its twilight-red on the little Moon, which was rising in the East without an Aurora; and between the sky and the earth, a gay transient air-people was stretching out its short wings and living, as I did, before the Infinite Father; and from all Nature around me flowed peaceful tones as from distant evening-bells.’
We must here for the present close our lucubrations on Jean Paul…
We honour Richter, such as he was… and discern under this wondrous guise the spirit of a true Poet and Philosopher. A Poet, and among the highest of his time, we must reckon him, though he wrote no verses; a Philosopher, though he promulgated no systems: for, on the whole,that ‘ Divine Idea of the World ‘ stood in clear ethereal light before his mind; he recognised the Invisible, even under the mean forms of these days, and with a high, strong, not uninspired heart, strove to represent it in the Visible, and publish tidings of it to his fellow-men.
This one virtue, the foundation of all the other virtues, and which a long study more and more clearly reveals to us in Jean Paul … raises him into quite another sphere than that of the thousand elegant Sweet-singers, and cause-and-effect Philosophes, in his own country, or in this…

Wilhelm Hauff: “The Begger of the Pont Des Arts”

Excerpt, “Josephine, or, The Begger of the Pont Des Arts.”  Translated from the German of Wilhelm Hauff.  1844.



It contributed not a little to Josephine’s interest in the eyes of her friend, that she had selected as her favourite poet the very same author most esteemed by himself.  Indeed, in the perusal of Jean Paul’s admirable poems, she often had occasion for his aid in explaining one and another obscure figure; but her apprehension was very ready; her natural taste and her delicate sensibility, which so entirely prevailed in this poet, enabled her to arrive at much by inference, before its certainty was established to her by her friend.

“There is,” said she one day, “a world of thought in this Hesperus!  Every human feeling, whether in joy or in sorrow, in love or in aversion, is there dissected before us; he knows how to describe to us, while we inhale the sweet fragrance of the flower, its innermost properties, its delicate leaves, its admirably fine stamina, without destroying the flower and plucking off its leaves.

For it is, in my opinion, the great secret of this author, that he does not describe any of the deeper human feelings, but exhibits them by intimation; and that, too, not by slight intimation, but, as if by the delicate microscope of a comparison, he gives us a deep look into the human mind, where thoughts rise upon thoughts, and the eye, surprised and yet delighted, passes over the wonderful creation, and begins to weep.”

“You have, in these words, as it seems to me,” replied Froben, “actually described the true secret of this author.  To me, I freely confide, there is nothing so absolutely repulsive and disgusting as the manifest effort of an author to give his reader a minute and exact apprehension of what his hero or his heroine, or a third or fourth person, thought or felt in this or that case.

But our poet!  How splendid, how rich in his invention in this respect!  We live, we think, we weep involuntarily with Victor; and we are more deeply affected by Clotilda’s pale cheeks, her uncomplaining sorrow, than by a description of it that could be given; and in the warm, tender felicity of the lovers, we could wish to be a beam of that evening sun which played around their embrace in the arbour, or that nightingale whose voice of silvery note announced to them, the sacred festival of their bliss.”

“It is singular,” remarked Josephine, “that the thread of this romance, or what is otherwise called its skeleton, would not, in the hands of another author, be of the least interest to us, and perhaps might even appear quaint and tedious.  Conceive to yourself these ordinary things … But what life, what a world of interest comes from this tale, when invested with the flowery mantle of that writer!

What a spirited air, higher or purer than any that is earthly, comes to us from the respectful love of Victor and Clotilda towards their teacherl – what sorrow from the illusions of a cruel and treacherous life, when Victor and that lovely being mistake and do not find each other!  What gladness at last, when their minds, beneath the nightly star-lit heavens – amidst the pains of separation – disclose themselves to each other, and overflow with love!”

“Yes,” replied Froben, “our author is like a great musician.  He has taken an old, trite, long-heard theme; but while he retains the peculiar turn of the old song, he still carries out the thoughts in a manner that so agreeably surprises us, and exhibits such an aspect of novelty, that we forget the theme, and listen only to the variations into which he passes – in which he, like an angel, goes up and down the heavenly scale of tones, and shows us, in our delighted vision, the open glory of the world above; while, like Jacob, we really repose on a hard and cheerless bed.

For at one time he is tender like the flute and thrilling as the oboe; at another, full and touching as the bugle-horn in the distance; again he roars along, as with the most deep and overwhelming bass, majestic and sublime, and yet again he moves in gentle-breathing notes, like those of the Aeolian harp; or resolves into a pensive melancholy, like the tones of the harmonica.”

“How I thank him,” said Josephine, with a tender expression, “that he relieves, that he heals the wounds of our sorrows.  He might have let Clotilda perish in the pain of unrequited love…   Think of the heart’s keen distress – of its bitterness towards the decisions of Heaven – if we had thus seen these persons perish, without hope, without consolation!  But it would not, indeed have been possible; Victor could not have loved so long; for a man cannot love without a reciprocity of his affect?”

“Do you really believe that?” rejoined Froben, with a pensive smile.  “Oh, how little must you know us – how lightly must you think of us – to suppose we do not possess the firmness of mind to remain true in our affection throughout this short life, even without being loved in return!”

“I do not regard it as possible, in the case of woman,” replied the lovely fair one.   “Love without love in return is a great misfortune, and women are more adapted by nature to bear silent suffering during an earthly life than you are.  Men would throw off such an affliction, or, subjected to its continued glow, they would be consumed!”

“Not either – I still live, and yet I love,” said Froben, looking vacantly before him.

“You love!” exclaimed Josephine, and with such a peculiar tone that Froben was started by it, and suddenly looked up; she cast down her eyes as his look met hers; a deep red came over her face, and immediately passed into a deadly paleness.

“Yes,” said he, with the utmost difficulty, giving a jesting turn to his manner; “the case which you have supposed is my own, and still I love – more calmly perhaps, but not less cordially and really, than on the first day of my affection; I love almost even without hope, for the lady of my heart does not know of my affection, and yet, as you see, I have not died of grief.”

“And do you allow it to be known,” said she, in a confidential manner, but, as it seemed to Froben, with a tremulous voice.    “Do you allow it to be known who the fortunate one is?”

“Ah, you see, that is just my misfortune – I do not myself know who she is, nor where she resides, and yet I love her.  Surely you will take me to be a second Don Quixote, when I confess to you that I only once saw her, and that too but transiently.  I recollect only once I saw her, and that too but transiently.  I can only recollect some parts of her face, and yet I am roving about the world in pursuit of her, because I can enjoy no rest at home.”

“Strange!” remarked Josephine, looking at him in a thoughtful manner.  “Strange! It is true I can imagine such a case to be possible; but after all, dear Froben, you form a rare exception to the rule.  Do you know, then, whether you are loved?  Whether the lady is true to you?”

“I know nothing at all of this,” rejoined he earnestly, and with suppressed sadness.  “I know nothing at all, except alone that I should be happy if I could call that being mine; and I know but too well that probably I must forever relinquish the idea, and am destined never to see the consummation of my felicity!”

The more rarely Froben had expressed his feelings on this subject, the more oppressively at this moment did all the painful recollections of sorrowful hours crowd upon his mind, and overwhelm him with a grief too great for him to bear.

He instantly arose, and went from the arbour into the castle.  But Josephine’s eyes followed him, with a look full of infinite love; tear upon tear trickled from her eyelashes, and it was only when they fell like a fountain upon her fair hand, that they awoke Josephine from her dreams.  Ashamed, as if she had detected herself in a secret crime, she deeply blushed, and covered her eyes with her handkerchief.



Jean Paul Friedrich Richter: “The Moon”

Excerpt, “Tales from the German, Comprising Specimens from the Most Celebrated Authors.” London: 1844. Translator: John Oxenford.




Oh Eugenius and Rosamond — you, whom I may no longer designate by your right names — I was about to tell your short history as my friends and I walked into an English garden. We went by a new-painted coffin, on the foot-board of which was written, “I pass away.” Above the verdant garden rose a white obelisk, marking where two sister-princesses had once embraced. “Here we found each other again” the inscription read. The point of the obelisk glittered in the full moon, and here I told my simple tale.

But do thou, gentle reader, draw which is as much as coffin and obelisk draw — I say, the inscription on the coffin into the ashes of oblivion — and write the letters of the obelisk with pure human heart’s blood in thy inmost self.

Many souls drop from heaven like flowers; but, with their white buds, they are trodden down into the mud, and lie soiled and crushed in the print of a hoof. You also were crushed, Eugenius and Rosamond. Tender souls like yours are attacked by three robbers of their joys

— The mob, whose rough gripe gives to such soft hearts nothing but scars;

— Destiny, which does not wipe away the tear from a fair soul full of brilliancy, but the lustre should perish also, as we do not wipe a wet diamond, lest it should grow dim;

— Your own hearts which rejoice too much, and enjoy too little, have too much hope, and too little power of endurance.

Rosamond was a bright pearl, pierced by anguish. parted from all that belonged to her. She only quivered in her sorrows like a detached twig of the sensitive plant at the approach of night. Her life was a quiet warm rain and that of her husband was a bright lost sunshine. In his presence she averted her eyes. When they had just been fixed on her sick child, only two years old; and was in this life a wavering thin-winged butterfly, beneath a pelting shower.

The imagination of Eugenius, with its too large wings, shattered his slight, delicate frame; the lily bell of his tender body could not contain his mighty soul; the place whence sighs originate, his breast, was destroyed like his happiness.

He had nothing left in the world but his affectionate heart, and for that heart there were but two human beings.

These persons wished, in the spring-time, to quit the whirlpool of mankind, which beat so hardly and so coldly against their hearts.

They had a quiet cottage prepared for them on one of the high Alps opposite to the silver chain of the Staiibbach. On the first fine spring morning they went the long road to the high mountain.

There is a holiness which sorrow alone can give in its purity; the stream of life becomes white as snow when it is dashed against rocks.

There is an elevation where little thoughts no more intrude between sublime ones, as when upon a mountain one sees the summits close to each other without their connection in the depth below. Thou hadst that holiness, Rosamond, and thou that elevation, Eugenius.

A morning mist was gathered round the foot of the mountain, and in that three fluttering forms were suspended. These were the reflections of the three travelers, and the timid Rosamond started, thinking she saw herself. Eugenius thought, “That which the immortal spirit hath around it is, after all, but a denser mist.”

And the child snatched at the cloud, and wished to play with its little misty brother. One single invisible angel of the future accompanied them through life and up this mountain. They were so good and like each other that one angel was all they needed.

As they ascended the angel opened the book of fate, one leaf of which contained the sketch of a three-fold life. Every line was a day and when the angel had read the line that belonged to this day, he wept and closed the book for ever.

The travelers, in their delicate condition, required nearly a day to arrive at the desired spot. The earth crept back into the valleys, the sky rested itself on the mountains. The waving, glimmering sun seemed to our Eugenius a mirror of the moon. He spoke to his beloved, when the icy summits had already cast their flames upon the earth.

“I feel so weary, and yet so well. Will it not be as if we left two dreams — the dream of life and the dream of death — if we enter the cloudless moon, as the first shore beyond the hurricanes of life?”

“It will be still better,” replied Rosamond, “for in the moon, as thou hast taught me, dwell the little children of this earth. Their parents remain with them till they themselves become as mild and tranquil as children.” Then they proceed further.

“Ay, from heaven to heaven from world to world!” said Eugenius, ecstatically.

They ascended as the sun declined. When they climbed more slowly, the mountain summits, like rising, loosened branches, concealed them from the luminary. They hastened on into the evening glimmer, which was already advancing, but when they had reached the mountain where their cottage stood, the eternal mountains stepped before the sun.

The earth then veiled her graces and her cities, adoring heaven, before it looked upon her with all its star-eyes; while the waterfalls laid aside their rainbows. The earth spread higher for heaven, which was bending over her with out-stretched cloud arms, a gauze of golden exhalations, and hung it from one mountain to another.

The icebergs were set on fire, so that they glared even to midnight; while opposite to them on the grave of the sun was raised a towering funeral pile of clouds, forming the evening glow and the evening ashes. But through the glimmering veil kind heaven let its evening tears fall deep into the earth, even upon the humblest grass and the smallest flower.

Oh, Eugenius, how great then did thy soul become! The life of earth lay at a distance and far below thee, free from all the distortions which we see in it, because we stand too near, as the decorations of shorter scenes change from landscapes to misshapen strokes when we look at them closely.

The two living ones embraced each other with a long and gentle embrace, as they stood before the cottage, and Eugenius said: “Oh, thou quiet, eternal heaven, take nothing more from us!” But his pale child with its snapped lily-head was before him; he looked at the mother, and she lay with her moistened eye reaching into heaven, and said softly: “O take us all at once!”

The angel of futurity, whom I will call the angel of rest, wept as he smiled, and his wings swept away the sighs of the parents with an evening breeze, that they might not sadden each other.

The transparent evening flowed round the red mountain like a bright lake, and washed it with the circles of cool evening waves.

The more the evening and earth grew, still the more did the two souls feel that they were in the right place. They had no tears too many, none too few, and their bliss needed no other increase than its repetition. Eugenius sent the first harmonious tones floating like swans through the pure Alpine sky. The weary child, twined in a flowery wreath, leaned against a sun-dial, and played with the flowers which it drew around it, to entwine them in its circle.

The mother at last awoke from her harmonious transport; her eye fell on the large eyes of her child, which opened wide upon her. Singing and smiling, and, with overflowing motherly love, she stepped to the little angel, who was cold and dead. For his life, which had descended from heaven, had, like other tones, been dissipated in the atmosphere of earth.

Death had breathed upon the butterfly, and it had ascended from the rushing streams of air to the ever-refining ether; from the flowers of earth to the flowers of paradise.

Oh, ever flutter away, ye blessed children! The angel of rest wakes you in the morning-hour of life with cradle songs. Two arms bear you and your little coffin, and your body, with the two red cheeks; the forehead free from the print of grief, and the white hands, glide down by a chain of flowers to the second cradle — you have only exchanged one paradise for another.

But oh, we are crushed by the storm winds of life; our heart is weary, our face is deeply marked with earthly care, and our soul stiffened, still clings to the earthy clod.

Turn away thine eye from Rosamond’s piercing shriek, fixed glance, and petrifying features, if thou art a mother, and hast already felt this pain! Look not upon the mother, who, with senseless hand, squeezes against her the love which she now cannot stifle; but look at the father, who, with his breast, silently covers his struggling heart, although black grief has twined around it with an adder’s folds, and poisoned it with an adder’s teeth.

Ah, when he at last had conquered the pain, his heart was envenomed and riven. A man bears the pain of the wound, but sinks under the scar: a woman seldom combats her grief, but yet she survives it. “Remain here,” he said, with a suppressed voice, “I will lay him to rest before the moon rises.” She said nothing, kissed the child in silence, broke up its wreath of flowers, sunk down upon the sun-dial, and laid her cold face upon her arm, that she might not see him carried away.

On the way the dawning light of the moon shone upon the shaking body of the infant, and the father said: “Burst forth, oh moon! that I may see the land wherein He dwells. Rise, oh Elysium! that I may think his soul is within thee. Oh child, child, dost thou know me? Dost thou hear me? Hast thou above so fair a face as this one, so sweet a mouth? Oh thou heavenly mouth, thou heavenly eye, no more spirit visits thee!”

He laid the child beneath flowers which supplied the place of all that we are generally laid upon for the last time; but his heart was breaking when he covered the pale lips, the open eyes, with flowers and earth, and streams of tears fell first into the grave.

When with the verdant coating of the clods he had built a little mound, he felt that he was weary of his journey and of life; that his weakly chest could not endure the thin mountain air, and that the ice of death had settled in his heart. He cast a longing glance at the bereaved mother, who had long stood trembling behind him, and they fell silent into each other’s arms, and their eyes could scarcely weep more.

At last, from behind a glacier that was glimmering out, the glorious moon flowed forth in loveliness on the two silent unhappy ones, and showed them its white peaceful meadows, and the gentle light with which it softens man. “Mother, look up,” said Eugenius; “yonder is thy son! See there, the white flowery groves, in which our child will play, are passing over the moon.

“Now a burning fire filled his inmost self with consuming power, the moon made his eye blind to all that was not light; sublime forms rolled before him in the light stream, and he heard in his soul, new thoughts which are not indigenous in man, and are too great for memory; just as in a dream small melodies may come to the man who can make none when awake. Death and pleasure press upon his heavy tongue.

“Rosamond, why sayest thou nothing? Dost thou see thy child? I look beyond the long earth, even to where the moon begins. There is my son flying between angels. Full flowers cradle him, the spring of earth waves over him, children lead him, angels instruct him, God loves him. Oh! thou dear one, thou art smiling; the silver light of paradise flows with heavenly radiance about thy little mouth, and thou hearest me, and callest thy parents. Rosamond, give me thy hand; we will go and die!”

The slight corporeal chains grew longer. His advancing spirit fluttered higher on the borders of life. With convulsive power he seized the paralysed Rosamond, and blind and sinking, stammered forth, “Rosamond, where art thou ? I fly! I die! We remain together!”

His heart burst, his spirit fled; but Rosamond did not remain with him, for fate snatched her from his dying hand, and cast her back upon earth, living. She felt if his hand had the coldness of death, and placed it softly against her heart, sunk slowly upon her failing knees. She raised her face, which had become inexpressibly serene, towards the starry power.

Her eyes, from their tearless sockets, pressed forth dry, large, and happy, into the sky, and therein calmly sought a supernatural form, which should descend and bear her up. She almost fancied she was dying then, and prayed thus: “Come, thou angel of rest, come and take my heart, and bear it to my beloved. Angel of rest!

Leave me not so long alone. Oh, God! Is there then nought invisible about me? Angel of death! thou must be here, thou hast already snatched away two souls close by me, and hast made them ascend. I, too, am dead, draw forth my glowing soul from its cold kneeling corse.”

With mad disquiet, she looked about in the vacant sky. Suddenly, in that still desert, a star shone forth, and wound its way towards the earth. She spread her arms in transport, and thought the angel of rest was rushing towards her. Alas! the star passed away, but she did not. “Not yet? Do I not die yet, All-merciful One?” sighed poor Rosamond.

In the east a cloud arose. It passed over the moon, sailed in loneliness across the clear sky, and stood over the most agonised heart upon earth. She threw back her head, so as to face the cloud, and said to the lightning, “Strike this head, and release my heart!”

But the cloud passed darkly over the head that was thrown back for it, and flying down the sky, sunk behind the mountains. Then, with a thousand tears, she cried, “Can I not die? Can I not die?”

Poor Rosamond ! How did pain roll itself together, give an angry serpent-spring at thy heart, and fix in it all its poisonous teeth. But a weeping spirit poured the opium of insensibility into thine heart, and the bursts of agony flowed away in a soft convulsion.

She awoke in the morning, but her mind was unsettled. She saw the sun and the dead man, but her eye had lost all tears, and her burst heart had, like a broken bell, lost all tone; she merely murmured, “Why can I not die?” She went back cold into her hut, and said nothing but these words. Every night she went half an hour later to the corpse, and every time she met the rising moon, which was now broken, and said, while she turned her mourning, tearless eye towards its gleaming meadows, “Why cannot I die?”

Ay, why canst thou not, good soul? for the cold earth would have sucked out of all thy wounds the last venom with which the human heart is laid beneath its surface, just as the hand when buried in earth recovers from the sting of a bee. But I turn mine eye away from thy pain, and look up at the glimmering moon, where Eugenius opens his eyes among smiling children, and his own child, now with wings, falls upon his heart.

How quiet is every thing in the dimly lit portico of the second world, a misty rain of light silvers o’er the bright fields of the first heaven, and beads of light instead of sparkling dew hang upon flowers and summits. The blue of heaven is darker over the lily plains, and all the melodies in the thinner air are but a dispersed echo. Only night-flowers exhale their scents and dazzle, waving around calmer glances.

Here the waving plains rock as in a cradle the crushed souls, and the lofty billows of life fall gliding apart. Then the heart sleeps, the eye becomes dry, the wish becomes silent. Children flutter like the hum of bees around the heart which is sunk in earth, and is still palpitating; and the dream after death represents the earthly life, as a dream here represents childhood here — magically, soothingly, softly, and free from care.

Eugenius looked from the moon towards the earth, which for a long moon-day — equal to two earth-weeks — floated like a thin white cloud across the blue sky; but he did not recognise his old mother-land. At last the sun set to the moon, and our earth rested, large, glimmering, and immoveable, on the pure horizon of Elysium; scattering, like a water-wheel upon a meadow, the flowing beams upon the waving Elysian garden.

He then recognised the earth, upon which he had left a heart so troubled, in a breast so beloved; and his soul, which reposed in pleasure, became full of melancholy, and of an infinite longing after the beloved of his former life, who was suffering below. “Oh, my Rosamond! why dost thou not leave a sphere where nothing more loves thee?”

And he cast a supplicating look at the angel of rest. “Beloved one, take me down from the land of quiet, and lead me to the faithful soul, that I may see her, and again feel pain, so that she may not pine alone.”

Then his heart began suddenly to float without any bounds. Breezes fluttered around him, as though they raised him flying, wafted him away as they swelled, and veiled him in floods. He sank through the red evening twilights as through roses, and through the night as through bowers, and through a damp atmosphere which filled his eye with drops. Then it seemed as though old dreams of childhood had returned.

A complaint arose from the distance, which reopened all his closed wounds; the complaint, as it drew nearer, became Rosamond’s voice. At last she herself was before him, unrecognisable, alone, without solace, without a tear.

And Rosamond dreamed upon the earth, and it was to her as though the sun took wings, and became an angel. This angel, she dreamed, drew down towards her the moon, which became a gentle face. Beneath this face, as it approached her, a heart at last formed itself. It was Eugenius, and his beloved arose to meet him. But as she exclaimed, with transport, “Now I am dead!” the two dreams, both hers and his, vanished, and the two were again severed.

Eugenius waked above, the glimmering earth still stood in the sky, his heart was oppressed, and his eye beamed with a tear which had not fallen on the moon. Rosamond waked below, and a large warm dew-drop hung in one of the flowers of her bosom.

Then did the last mist of her soul shower down in a light rain of tears, her soul became light and sun-clear, and her eye hung gently on the dawning sky. The earth was indeed strange to her, but no longer hateful; and her hands moved as though they were leading those who had died.

The angel of rest looked upon the moon, and looked upon the earth, and he was softened by the sighs from both. On the morning-earth he perceived an eclipse of the sun, and a bereft one.

He saw Rosamond during this transient night sink upon the flowers that slept in the darkness, and into the cold evening-dew which fell upon the morning-dew; and stretching forth her hands towards the shaded heaven, which was full of night-birds, look up towards the moon with inexpressible longing, as it floated trembling in the sun.

The angel looked upon the moon, and near him wept the departed one, who saw the earth swimming deep below, a flood of shade, fitted into a ring of fire, and from whom the mourning form that dwelt upon it, took all the happiness of heaven. Then was the heavenly heart of the angel of peace broken.

He seized the hand of Eugenius and that of his child, drew both through the second world, and bore them down to the dark earth. Rosamond saw three forms wandering through the obscurity; the gleam from whom reached the starry heaven, and went along hovering over them. Her beloved and her child flew like spring-days to her heart, and said, “Oh, thou dear one, come with us!”

Her maternal heart broke with maternal love, the circulation of earth-blood was stopped, her life was ended; and happily, happily, did she stammer forth to the two beloved hearts, “Can I not then die?”

“Thou hast died already,” said the angel of the three fond ones, weeping with joy,

“Yonder thou seest the sphere of earth, whence thou comest, still in shade.” And the waves of joy closed on high over the blessed world, and all the happy and all children looked upon our sphere which still trembled in the shade.


Yea, indeed, is it in shade! But man is higher than his place. He looks up and spreads the wings of his soul, and when the sixty minutes, which we call sixty years, have finished striking, he then, lifts himself up, and kindles himself as he rises, and the ashes of his plumage fall back, and the unveiled soul rises alone, free from earth, and pure as a musical tone. But here, in the midst of dark life, he sees the mountains of the future world standing in the morning gold of a sun that does not arise here. Thus, the inhabitant of the North Pole in the long night, when the sun has ceased to rise, discerns at twelve o’clock, a dawn gilding the highest mountains, and he thinks of his long summer, when it will set no more. J. O.



Next page →