Musäus: “Libussa” 5/5
Excerpt from Thomas Carlyle’s “German Romance: Specimens of its Chief Authors; with Biographical and Critical Notices.” Vol. I, 1827.
By Johann Karl August Musäus
The fair speaker ceased ; and a deep reverent silence reigned throughout the hall of meeting ; none presumed to utter a word against her. Yet Prince Wladomir and his allies desisted not from their intention, but whispered in each other’s ear : ” Then sly Doe is loath to quit the fat pastures ; but the hunter’s horn shall sound yet louder, and scare her forth.” Next day they prompted the knights to call loudly on the Princess to choose a husband within three days, and by the choice of her heart to give the people a Prince, who might divide with her the cares of government.
At this unexpected requisition, coming as it seemed from the voice of the nation, a virgin blush overspread the cheeks of the lovely Princess ; her clear eye discerned all the sunken cliffs, which threatened her with peril. For even if, according to the custom of the great world, she should determine upon subjecting her inclination to her state-policy, she could only give her hand to one suitor, and she saw well that all the remaining candidates would take it as a slight, and begin to meditate revenge. Besides, the private vow of her heart was inviolable and sacred in her eyes.
Therefore she endeavoured prudently to turn aside this importunate demand of the States ; and again attempted to persuade them altogether to renounce their schemes of innovation. ” The eagle being dead,” said she, “the birds chose the Ring-dove for their queen, and all of them obeyed her soft cooing call. But light and airy, as is the nature of birds, they soon altered their determination, and repented them that they had made it. The proud Peacock thought that it beseemed him better to be ruler ; the keen Falcon, accustomed to make the smaller birds his prey, reckoned it disgraceful to obey the peaceful Dove ; they formed a party, and appointed the weak-eyed Owl to be the spokesman of their combination, and propose a new election of a sovereign.
The sluggish Bustard, the heavy-bodied Heath-cock, the lazy Stork, the small-brained Heron, and all the larger birds chuckled, flapped, and croaked applause to him ; and the host of little birds twittered, in their simplicity, and chirped out of bush and grove to the same tune. Then arose the warlike Kite, and soared boldly up into the air, and the birds cried out : ‘ What a majestic flight ! The brave, strong Kite shall be our King !’ Scarcely had the plundering bird taken possession of the throne, when he manifested his activity and courage on his winged subjects, in deeds of tyranny and caprice : he plucked the feathers from the larger fowls, and eat the little songsters.”
Significant as this oration was, it made but a small impression on the minds of the people, hungering and thirsting after change; and they abode by their determination, that within three days, Fraulein Libussa should select herself a husband.
At this, Prince Wladomir rejoiced in heart ; for now, he thought, he should secure the fair prey, for which he had so long been watching in vain. Love and ambition inflamed his wishes, and put eloquence into his mouth, which had hitherto confined itself to secret sighing. He came to Court, and required audience of the Duchess.
“Gracious ruler of thy people and my heart,” thus he addressed her, ” from thee no secret is hidden ; thou knowest the flames which burn in this bosom, holy and pure as on the altar of the gods, and thou knowest also what fire has kindled them. It is now appointed, that at the behest of thy people, thou give the land a Prince. Wilt thou disdain a heart, which lives, and beats for thee ? To be worthy of thy love, I risked my life to put thee on the throne of thy father. Grant me the merit of retaining thee upon it by the bond of tender affection : let us divide the possession of thy throne and thy heart ; the first be thine, the second be mine, and my happiness will be exalted beyond the lot*of mortals.”
Fraulein Libussa wore a most maidenlike appearance during this oration, and covered her face with her veil, to hide the soft blush which deepened the colour of her cheeks. On its conclusion, she made a sign with her hand, not opening her lips, for the Prince to step aside ; as if she would consider what she should resolve upon, in answer to his suit. Immediately the brisk Knight Mizisla announced himself, and desired to be admitted. “Loveliest of the daughters of princes,” said he, as he entered the audience-chamber, “the fair Ring-dove, queen of the air, must no longer, as thou well knowest, coo in solitude, but take to herself a mate.
The proud Peacock, it is talked, holds up his glittering plumage in her eyes, and thinks to blind her by the splendour of his feathers ; but she is prudent and modest, and will not unite herself with the haughty Peacock. The keen Falcon, once a plundering bird, has now changed his nature; is gentle and honest, and without deceit ; for he loves the fair Dove, and would fain that she mated with him. That his bill is hooked and his talons sharp, must not mislead thee : he needs them to protect the fair Dove his darling, that no bird hurt her, or disturb the habitation of her rule ; for he is true and kindly to her, and first swore fealty on the day when she was crowned. Now tell me, wise Princess, if the soft Dove will grant to her trusty Falcon the love which he longs for ?”
Fraulein Libussa did as she had done before : beckoned to the Knight to step aside ; and, after waiting for a space, she called the two rivals into her presence, and spoke thus : ” I owe you great thanks, noble Knights, for your help in obtaining me the princely crown of Bohemia, which my father Krokus honourably wore. The zeal, of which you remind me, had not faded from my remembrance ; nor is it hid from my knowledge, that you virtuously love me, for your looks and gestures have long been the interpreters of your feelings. That I shut up my heart against you, and did not answer love with love, regard not as insensibility ; it was not meant for slight or scorn, but for harmoniously determining a choice which was doubtful.
I weighed your merits, and the tongue of the trying balance bent to neither side. Therefore I resolved on leaving the decision of your fate to yourselves ; and offered you the possession of my heart, under the figure of an enigmatic; that it might be seen to which of you the greater measure of judgment and wisdom had been given, in appropriating to himself this gift, which could not be divided. Now tell me without delay, In whose hands is the apple ? Whichever of you has won it from the other, let him from this hour receive my throne and my heart as the prize of his skill.”
The two rivals looked at one another with amazement ; grew pale, and held their peace. At last, after a long pause, Prince Wladomir broke silence, and said : “The enigmas of the wise are, to the foolish, a nut in a toothless mouth, a pearl which the cock scratches from the sand, a lantern in the hand of the blind. O Princess, be not wroth with us, that we neither knew the use nor the value of thy gift ; we misinterpreted thy purpose ; thought that thou hadst cast an apple of contention on our path, to awaken us to strife and deadly feud ; therefore each gave up his share, and we renounced the divisive fruit, whose sole possession neither of us would have peaceably allowed the other !”
“You have given sentence on yourselves,” replied the Fraulein : “if an apple could inflame your jealousy, what fighting would ye not have fought for a myrtle-garland twined about a crown !”
With this response she dismissed the Knights, who now lamented that they had given ear to the unwise arbiter, and thoughtlessly cast away the pledge of love, which, as it appeared, had been the casket of their fairest hopes. They meditated severally how they might still execute their purpose, and by force or guile get possession . of the throne, with its lovely occupant.
Fraulein Libussa, in the mean while, was not spending in idleness the three days given her for consideration ; but diligently taking counsel with herself, how she might meet the importunate demand of her people, give Bohemia a Duke, and herself a husband according to the choice of her heart. She dreaded lest Prince Wladomir might still more pressingly assail her, and perhaps deprive her of the throne. Necessity combined with love to make her execute a plan, with which she had often entertained herself as with a pleasant dream ; for what mortal’s head has not some phantom walking in it, towards which he turns in a vacant hour, to play with it as with a puppet ?
There is no more pleasing pastime for a strait-shod maiden, when her galled corns are resting from the toils of the pavement, than to think of a stately and commodious equipage ; the coy beauty dreams gladly of counts sighing at her feet ; Avarice gets prizes in the Lottery ; the debtor in the jail falls heir to vast possessions ; the squanderer discovers the Hermetic Secret ; and the poor woodcutter finds a treasure in the hollow of a tree; all merely in fancy, yet not without the enjoyment of a secret satisfaction.
The gift of prophecy has always been united with a warm imagination ; thus the fair Libussa had, like others, willingly and frequently given heed to this seductive playmate, which, in kind companionship, had always entertained her with the figure of the young Archer, so indelibly impressed upon her heart. Thousands of projects came into her mind, which Fancy palmed on her as feasible and easy.
At one time she formed schemes of drawing forth her darling youth from his obscurity, placing him in the army, and raising him from one post of honour to another ; and then instantly she bound a laurel garland about his temples, and led him, crowned with victory and honour, to the throne she could have been so glad to share with him. At other times, she gave a different turn to the romance : she equipped her darling as a knight-errant, seeking for adventures ; brought him to her Court, and changed him into a Huon of Bourdeaux ; nor was the wondrous furniture wanting, for endowing him as highly as Friend Oberon did his ward.
But when Common Sense again got possession of the maiden’s soul, the many-coloured forms of the magic-lantern waxed pale in the beam of prudence, and the fair vision vanished into air. She then bethought her what hazards would attend such an enterprise ; what mischief for her people, when jealousy and envy raised the hearts of her grandees in rebellion against her, and the alarum beacon of discord gave the signal for uproar and sedition in the land. Therefore she sedulously hid the wishes of her heart from the keen glance of the spy, and disclosed no glimpse of them to any one.
But now, when the people were clamouring for a Prince, the matter had assumed another form : the point would now be attained, could she combine her wishes with the national demand. She strengthened her soul with manly resolution ; and as the third day dawned, she adorned herself with all her jewels, and her head was encircled with a myrtle crown. Attended by her maidens, all decorated with flower garlands, she ascended the ‘throne, full of lofty courage and soft dignity.
The assemblage of knights and vassals around her stood in breathless attention, to learn from her lips the name of the happy Prince with whom she had resolved to share her heart and throne. “Ye nobles of my people,” thus she spoke, “the lot of your destiny still lies untouched in the urn of concealment ; you are still free as my coursers that graze in the meadows,before the bridle and the bit have curbed them, or their smooth backs have been pressed by the burden of the saddle and the rider. It now rests with you to signify, Whether, in the space allowed me for the choice of a spouse, your hot desire for a Prince to rule over you has cooled, and given place to more calm scrutiny of this intention ; or you still persist inflexibly in your demand.”
She paused for a moment ; but the hum of the multitude, the whispering and buzzing, and looks of the whole Senate, did not long leave her in uncertainty, and their speaker ratified the conclusion, that the vote was still for a Duke. ” Then be it so” said she ; “the die is cast, the issue of it stands not with me ! The gods have appointed, for the kingdom of Bohemia, a Prince who shall sway its sceptre with justice and wisdom. The young cedar does not yet overtop the firm-set oaks ; concealed among the trees of the forest it grows, encircled with ignoble shrubs ; but soon it shall send forth branches to give shade to its roots ; and its top shall touch the clouds.
Choose a deputation, ye nobles of the people, of twelve honourable men from among you, that they hasten to seek out the Prince, and attend him to the throne. My steed will point out your path ; unloaded and free it shall course on before you”; and as a token that you have found what you are sent forth to seek, observe that the man whom the gods have selected for your Prince, at the time when you approach him, will be eating his repast on an iron table, under the open sky, in the shadow of a solitary tree. To him you shall do reverence, and clothe his body with the princely robe. The white horse will let him mount it, and bring him hither to the Court, that he may be my husband and your lord.”
She then left the assembly, with the cheerful yet abashed countenance which brides vear, when they look for the arrival of the bridegroom. At her speech there was much wondering ; and the prophetic spirit breathing from it worked upon the general mind like a divine oracle, which the populace blindly believe, and which thinkers alone attempt investigating. The messengers of honour were selected, the white horse stood in readiness, caparisoned with Asiatic pomp, as if it had been saddled for carrying the Grand Signior to mosque. The cavalcade set forth, attended by the concourse, and the loud huzzaing of the people ; and the white horse paced on before.
But the train soon vanished from the eyes of the spectators : and nothing could be seen but a little cloud of dust whirling up afar off: for the spirited courser, getting to its mettle when it reached the open air, began a furious gallop, like a British racer, so that the squadron of deputies could hardly keep in sight of it. Though the quick steed seemed abandoned to its own guidance, an unseen power directed its steps, pulled its bridle, and spurred its flanks. Fraulein Libussa, by the magicvirtues inherited from her Elfine mother, had contrived so to instruct the courser, that it turned neither to the right hand nor to the left from its path, but with winged steps hastened on to its destination : and she herself, now that all combined to the fulfilment of her wishes, awaited its returning rider with tender longing.
The messengers had in the mean time been soundly galloped ; already they had travelled many leagues, up hill and down dale ; had swum across the Elbe and the Moldau ; and as their gastric juices made them think of dinner, they recalled to mind the strange table, at which, according to the Fraulein’s oracle, their new Prince was to be feeding. Their glosses and remarks on it were many. A forward knight observed to his companions : “In my poor view of it, our gracious lady has it in her eye to bilk us, and make April messengers of us ; for who ever heard of any man in Bohemia that ate his victuals off an iron table ? What use is it ? our sharp galloping will bring us nothing but mockery and scorn.”
Another, of a more penetrating turn, imagined that the iron table might be allegorical ; that they should perhaps fall in with some knight-errant, who, after the manner of the wandering brotherhood, had sat down beneath a tree, and spread out his frugal dinner on his shield. A third said, jesting :* ” I fear our way will lead us down to the workshop of the Cyclops ; and we shall find the lame Vulcan, or one of his journeymen, dining from his stithy, and must bring him to our Venus.”
Amid such conversation, they observed their guiding quadruped, which had got a long start of them, turn across a new-ploughed field, and, to their wonder, halt beside the plough-man. They dashed rapidly forward, and found a peasant sitting on an upturned plough, and eating his black bread from the iron plough-share, which he was using as a table, under the shadow of a fresh pear-tree. He seemed to like the stately horse ; he patted it, offered it a bit of bread, and it ate from his hand. The Embassy, of course, was much surprised at this phenomenon ; nevertheless, no member of it doubted but that they had found their man.
They approached him reverently, and the eldest among them opened his lips, and said : “The Duchess of Bohemia has sent us hither, and bids us signify to thee the will and purpose of the gods, that thou change thy plough with the throne of this kingdom, and thy goad with its sceptre. She selects thee for her husband, to rule with her over the Bohemians.” The young peasant thought they meant to banter him ; a thing little to his taste, especially as he supposed that they had guessed his love-secret, and were now come to mock his weakness.
Therefore he answered somewhat stoutly, to meet mockery with mockery: “But is your dukedom worth this plough ? If the prince cannot eat with better relish, drink more joyously, or sleep more soundly than the peasant, then in sooth it is not worth while to change this kindly furrow-field with the Bohemian kingdom, or this smooth ox-goad with its sceptre. For, tell me, Are not three grains of salt as good for seasoning my morsel as three bushels?”
Then one of the Twelve answered : ” The purblind mole digs underground for worms to feed upon ; for he has no eyes which can endure the daylight, and no feet which are formed for running like the nimble roe ; the scaly crab creeps to and fro in the mud of lakes and marshes, delights to dwell under tree-roots and shrubs by the banks of rivers, for he wants the fins for swimming ; and the barn-door cock, cooped up within his hen-fence, risks no flight over the low wall, for he is too timorous to trust in his wings, like the high-soaring bird of prey.
Have eyes for seeing, feet for going, fins for swimming, and pinions for flight been allotted thee, thou wilt not grub like a mole underground ; nor hide thyself like a dull shellfish among mud ; nor, like the king of the poultry, be content with crowing from the barn-door : but come forward into day ; run, swim, or fly into the clouds, as Nature may have furnished thee with gifts.
For it suffices not the active man to continue what he is ; but he strives to become what he may be.
Therefore, do thou try being what the gods have called thee to ; then wilt thou judge rightly whether the Bohemian kingdom is worth an acre of corn-land in barter, yea or not.”
This earnest oration of the Deputy, in whose face no jesting feature was to be discerned ; and still more the insignia of royalty, the purple robe, the sceptre and the golden sword, which the ambassadors brought forward as a reference and certificate of their mission’s authenticity, at last overcame the mistrust of the doubting ploughman. All at once, light rose on his soul ; a rapturous thought awoke in him, that Libussa had discovered the feelings of his heart ; had, by her skill in seeing that was secret, recognised his faithfulness and constancy : and was about to recompense him, so as he had never ventured even in dreams to hope.
The gift of prophecy predicted to him by her oracle, then came into his mind ; and he thought that now or never it must be fulfilled. Instantly he grasped his hazel staff ; stuck it deep into the ploughed land ; heaped loose mould about it as you plant a tree ; and, lo, immediately the staff got buds, and shot forth sprouts and boughs with leaves and flowers. Two of the green twigs withered, and their dry leaves became the sport of the wind ; but the third grew up the more luxuriantly, and its fruits ripened. Then came the spirit of prophecy upon the rapt ploughman ; he opened his mouth, and said : “Ye messengers of the Princess Libussa and of the Bohemian people, hear the words of Primislaus the son of Mnatha, the stout-hearted Knight, for whom, blown upon by the spirit of prophecy, the mists of the Future part asunder.
The man who guided the ploughshare, ye have called to seize the handles of your princedom, before his day’s work was ended. O that the glebe had been broken by the furrow, to the boundary-stone ; so had Bohemia remained an independent kingdom to the utmost ages ! But since ye have disturbed the labour of the plougher too early, the limits of your country will become the heritage of your neighbour, and your distant posterity will be joined to him in unchangeable union.
The three twigs of the budding Staff are three sons which your Princess shall bear me : two of them, as unripe hoots, shall speedily wither away ; but the third shall inherit the throne, and by him shall the fruit of late grandchildren be matured, till the Eagle soar over your mountains and nestle in the land ; yet soon fly thence, and return as to his own possession. And then, when the Son of the Gods arises, who is his plougher’s friend, and smites the slave-fetters from his limbs, then mark it, Posterity, for thou shalt bless thy destiny !
For when he has trodden under his feet the Dragon, of Superstition, he will stretch out his arm against the waxing moon, to pluck it from the firmament, that he may himself illuminate the world as a benignant star.”
The venerable deputation stood in silent wonder, gazing at the prophetic man, like dumb idols : it was as if a god were speaking by his lips. He himself turned away from them to the two white steers, the associates of his toilsome labour ; he unyoked and let them go in freedom from their farm-service ; at which they began frisking joyfully upon the grassy lea, but at the same time visibly decreased in bulk ; like thin vapour melted into air, and vanished out of sight. Then Primislaus doffed his peasant wooden shoes, and proceeded to the brook to clean himself.
The precious robes were laid upon him ; he begirt himself with the sword, and had the golden spurs put on him like a knight ; then stoutly sprang upon the white horse, which bore him peaceably along. Being now about to quit his still asylum, he commanded the ambassadors to bring his wooden shoes after him, and keep them carefully, as a token Emperor Joseph II, that the humblest among the people had once been exalted to the highest dignity in Bohemia ; and as a memorial for his posterity to bear their elevation meekly, and, mindful of their origin, to respect and defend the peasantry, from which themselves had sprung.
Hence came the ancient practice of exhibiting a pair of wooden shoes before the Kings of Bohemia on their coronation ; a custom held in observance till the male line of Primislaus became extinct. The planted hazel rod bore fruit and grew ; striking roots out on every side, and sending forth new shoots, till at last the whole field was changed into a hazel copse ; a circumstance of great advantage to the neighbouring township, which included it within their bounds; for, in memory of this miraculous plantation, they obtained a grant from the Bohemian Kings, exempting them from ever paying any public contribution in the land, except a pint of hazel nuts ; which royal privilege their late descendants, as the story runs, are enjoying at this day.
Though the white courser, which was now proudly carrying the bridegroom to his mistress, seemed to outrun the winds, Primislaus did not fail now and then to let him feel the golden spurs, to push him on still faster. The quick gallop seemed to him a tortoise-pace, so keen was his desire to have the fair Libussa, whose form, after seven years, was still so new and lovely in his soul, once more before his eyes ; and this not merely as a show, like some bright peculiar anemone in the variegated bed of a flower-garden, but for the blissful appropriation of victorious love.
He thought only of the myrtle-crown, which, in the lover’s valuation, far outshines the crown of sovereignty ; and had he balanced love and rank against each other, the Bohemian throne without Libussa would have darted up, like a clipped ducat in the scales of the money-changer.
The sun was verging to decline, when the new Prince, with his escort, entered Vizegrad. Fraulein Libussa was in her garden, where she had just plucked a basket of ripe plums, when her future husband’s arrival was announced to her. She affirms that he saw, with his own eyes, a renewal of this charter from Charles IV went forth modestly, with all her maidens, to meet him ; received him as a bridegroom conducted to her by the gods, veiling the election of her heart under a show of submission to the will of Higher Powers.
The eyes of the Court were eagerly directed to the stranger ; in whom, however, nothing could beseen but a fair handsome man. In respect of outward form, there were several courtiers who, in thought, did not hesitate to measure with him ; anfl could not understand why the gods should have disdained the anti-chamber, and not selected from it some accomplished and ruddy lord, rather than the sunburnt ploughman, to assist the Princess in her government. Especially in Wladomir and Mizisla, it was observable that’ their pretensions were reluctantly withdrawn. It behoved the Fraulein then to vindicate the work of the gods ; and show that Squire Primislaus had been indemnified for the defect of splendid birth, by a fair equivalent in sterling common sense and depth of judgment.
She had caused a royal banquet to be prepared, no whit inferior to the feast with which the hospitable Dido entertained her pious guest ^neas. The cup of welcome passed diligently round, the presents of the Princess had excited cheerfulness and good-humour, and a part of the night had already vanished amid jests and pleasant pastime, when Libussa set on foot a game at riddles ; and, as a discovery of hidden things was her proper trade, she did not fail to solve, with satisfactory decision, all the riddles that were introduced.
When her own turn came to propose one, she called Prince Wladomir, Mizisla and Primislaus to her, and said : ” Fair sirs, it is now for you to read a riddle, which I shall submit to you, that it may be seen who among you is the wisest and of keenest judgment. I intended, for you three, a present of this basket of plums, which I plucked in my garden. One of you shall have the half, and one over ; the next shall have the half of what remains, and one over ; the third shall again have the half, and three over. Now, if so be that the basket is then emptied, tell me, How many plums are in it now ?”
The headlong Ritter Mizisla took the measure of the fruit with his eye, not the sense of the riddle with his understanding, and said : “What can be decided with the sword I might undertake to decide ; but thy riddles, gracious Princess, are, I fear, too hard for me. Yet at thy request I will risk an arrow at the bull’s-eye, let it hit or miss : I suppose there is a matter of some three score plums in the basket.”
“Thou hast missed, dear Knight,” said Fraulein Libussa. ” Were there as many again, half as many, and a third part as many as the basket has in it, and five over, there would then be as many above three score as there are now below it.”
Prince Wladomir computed as laboriously and anxiously, as if the post of Comptroller-General of Finances had depended on a right solution ; and at last brought out the net product five-and-forty. The Fraulein then said : “Were there a third, and a half, and a sixth as many againof them, the number would exceed forty-five as much as it now falls short of it.”
Though, in our days, any man endowed with the arithmetical faculty of a tapster, might have solved this problem without difficulty, yet, for an untaught computant, the gift of divination was essential, if he meant to get out of the affair with honour, and not stick in the middle of it with disgrace. As the wise Primislaus was happily provided with this gift, it cost him neither art nor exertion to find the answer.
“Familiar companion of the heavenly Powers,” said he, ” whoso undertakes to pierce thy high celestial meaning, undertakes to soar after the eagle when he hides himself in the clouds. Yet I will pursue thy hidden flight, as far as the eye, to which thou hast given its light, will reach. I judge that of the plums which thou hast laid in the basket, there are thirty in number, not one fewer, and none more.”
The Fraulein cast a kindly glance on him, and said : “Thou tracest the glimmering ember, which lies deep-hid among the ashes ; for thee light dawns out of darkness and vapour : thou hast read my riddle.”
Thereupon she opened her basket, and counted out fifteen plums, and one over, into Prince Wladomir’s hat, and fourteen remained. Of these she gave Ritter Mizisla seven and one over, and there were still six in the basket ; half of these she gave the wise Primislaus and three over, and the basket was empty. The whole Court was lost in wonder at the fair Libussa’s ciphering gift, and at the penetration of her cunning spouse. Nobody could comprehend how human wit was able, on the one hand, to enclose a common number so mysteriously in words ; or, on the other hand, to drag it forth so accurately from its enigmatical concealment.
The empty basket she conferred upon the two Knights, who had failed in soliciting her love, to remind them that their suit was voided. Hence comes it, that when a wooer is rejected, people say, His love has given him the basket, even to the present day.
So soon as all was ready for the nuptials and coronation, both these ceremonies were transacted with becoming pomp. Thus the Bohemian people had obtained a Duke, and the fair Libussa had obtained a husband, each according to the wish of their hearts ; and what was somewhat wonderful, by virtue of Chicane, an agent who has not the character of being too beneficent or prosperous. And if either of the parties had been overreached in any measure, it at least was not the fair Libussa.
Bohemia had a Duke in name, but the administration now, as formerly, continued in the female hand. Primislaus was the proper pattern of a tractable obedient husband, and contested with his Duchess neither the direction of her house nor of her empire. His sentiments and wishes sympathised with hers, as perfectly as two accordant strings, of which when the one is struck, the other voluntarily trembles to the self-same note. Nor was Libussa like those haughty overbearing dames, who would pass for great matches ; and having, as they think, made the fortune of some hapless wight, continually remind him of his wooden shoes : but she resembled the renowned Palmyran Queen ; and ruled, as Zenobia did her kindly Odenatus, by superiority of mental talent.
The happy couple lived in the enjoyment of unchangeable love ; according to the fashion of those times, when the instinct which united hearts was as firm and durable, as the mortar and cement with which they built their indestructible strongholds. Duke Primislaus soon became one of the most accomplished and valiant knights of his time, and the Bohemian Court the most splendid in Germany.
By degrees, many knights and nobles, and multitudes of people from all quarters of the empire, drew to it so that Vizegrad became too narrow for its inhabitants ; and, in consequence, Libussa called her officers before her, and commanded them to found a city, on the spot where they should find a man at noontide making the wisest use of his teeth. They set forth, and at the time appointed found a man engaged in sawing a block of wood. They judged that this industrious character was turning his saw-teeth, at noontide, to a far better use than the parasite does his jaw-teeth by the table of the great ; and doubted not but they had found the spot, intended by the Princess for the site of their town.
They marked out a space upon the green with the ploughshare, for the circuit of the city walls. On asking the workman what he meant to make of his sawed timber, he replied, ” Prah,” which in the Bohemian language signifies a door-threshold. So Libussa called her new city Praha, that is Prague, the well-known capital upon the Moldau. In process of time, Primislaus’s predictions were punctually fulfilled. His spouse became the mother of three Princes ; two died in youth, but the third grew to manhood, and from him went forth a glorious royal line, which flourished for long centuries on the Bohemian throne.