Imágenes de página

am growing old, and am soon about she was as young as a bride, he knew to leave the stage for ever: to whom what others said of her—what others could I so fitly leave the inheritance thought of her. For himself he felt of my renown, did I not perceive that that it would entail lasting misery upon

“Age could not wither, nor custom stale him, as it has entailed it upon me?

Her infinite variety ;”. No, no, you must relinquish this boyish notion, - you shall marry Bertha yet he trembled at his father's knowSchmidt, and quit the stage for ever." ing she was his wife. “Oh, do not ask it !"

Schoenlein, who had observed the "I do more than ask it-I com- blush on Franz's countenance, walked mand !"

up to him and, placing one hand upon “Do not-dear father-do not force his shoulder, said me to disobey you."

Franz, Franz, beware! You are " You - you will not leave the on the edge of an abyss: the worst stage?

temptations of our miserable profes"I-I cannot! It would be hypo- sion beset you. Beware of that artcrisy in me to pretend it. I have a ful old woman :do not frown, she is passion for the stage; and whether artful, -I have heard of her! She that passion lead me to happiness or has ruined more young men than to ruin, I must gratify it."

any woman now upon the stage. " And think you Bertha will marry She has ensnared you; do not atan actor?”

tempt to deny it, -I see it in your "Perhaps not."

countenance. She has flattered and " Are you indifferent to that?" cajoled you. She has lured you with

"Why the truth is - I cannot languishing looks and sweet low marry her."

words. You are already her dupe; - You cannot? You shall !" beware lest you become her victim!” "I love another!"

"I cannot," said Franz, rising " You love another!” angrily ex- wrathfully, “I must not, I will not, claimed his father, and then adding, hear this language of her." with a smeer

" You must and shall hear it. Why " Some actress, I presume !". should I hesitate to utter the conFranz coloured.

tempt I feel for that refuse of a hun"It is so," said his father. "Old dred libertines !" Clara Kritisch, I shouldn't wonder!" Franz was purple with suppressed

A deeper blush overspread Franz's passion, and, with terrible calmness, face, and a look of anger shot from said: his eyes, as his father contemptuously " You are speaking, sir, of my let fall those words.

WIFE!" Franz loved his wife; but he knew Schoenlein's lower jaw fell; his the disparity between them. She was eyes became glazed, and, slowly sinknot old to him, for he loved her,-was ing on the sofa, he waved his hand happy with her; but although to him for his son to withdraw.


The following week Schoenlein was arrived, he should weary the public again in Berlin, and playing three of those plays, and so prevent large nights a-week - a thing quite unpre- audiences welcoming the new actor. cedented with him. All his repertory He hoped, also, that by this means was brought forward. A sort of rage the public would better appreciate the possessed him. He was tormented difference between his finished style with the idea of producing such an and the crude energy of his rival. The effect upon the public as should per- consequence of this procedure he exfectly eclipse his rival and son.

pected to be, -small audiences and unWith true actor's ingenuity in such favourable criticisms. By these he matters, he gave the preference to his hoped to disgust his son, and so wean son's favourite parts. He hoped, by him from the stage. repeatedly performing them cre Franz Unhappily, he was so goaded by the desire to produce a greater effect than not bring a studious mind; to the heretofore, as to act much worse than other he did not bring a religious heretofore. He overdid every thing. heart. Lacerated with envy and huHe was too violent; his contrasts miliation, his soul found no comfort were too marked; the elaboration was in books. He could not forget the painful. People lamented his exagge- past; he could not shut the world ration, and began to whisper that his from his heart. The solemn organ day was gone.

strains, which stirred his soul when in Franz appeared. Young, hand- church, recalled to him the stage: some, ambitious, full of hope and still more so did the inflections of the energy-around him the charm which preacher's voice recall it to him; -he always belongs to novelty, and within could not refrain from criticising the him the inappreciable wealth of genius preacher's declamation, -how could he fail to produce a deep He ceased to go to church, and tried impression? The calculation of his the efficacy of lonely prayer. In vain! rival turned out a mistake : so far The stage was for ever present before from the public keeping away because his mind. He tried to renounce the they had so recently seen the pieces world, but the world held possession performed, they flocked to the house of his heart. His renunciation was not because they wished to compare the prompted by weariness, but by rage: two rivals in the same parts. As in the world weighed not too heavily and the case of all well-known plays, the sorely upon his spirit, making him attraction was in the actor, not in the weary, making him yearn “ for the piece.

wings of the dove, to flee away and Berlin never witnessed such a de- be at rest ; ” on the contrary, he was but. Franz was called sixteen times only angry at his unjust appreciation. before the curtain to receive their His retreat was not misanthropy but boisterous homage. The whole town sulking. He could not forget his dewas in a state of excitement. Every feat. body talked about him ; every body Months passed away in this unacompared him with Schoenlein-to the vailing struggle. general disadvantage of the latter; Suddenly he reappeared upon the and the secret of the relationship soon stage. His reappearance created intranspired, which led to endless dis- tense interest, and the theatre trembled cussion. The actors mostly stood by with applause. The public was so Schoenlein: they do not like new fa- glad to see its old favourite again! vourites. But the public, undisguis- Schoenlein's heart bounded, as of old, edly, unequivocally preferred Franz. responsive to that thunder of applause;

Exasperated by what he called the but the joy was transient : his pride fickleness of the public, Schoenlein was soon once more to be laid low. went to Dresden, there to eclipse the That very public, which had welcomed remembrance of his son. He played him so enthusiastically, grew indiffeto crowded houses. But if at Berlin rent by the end of the week. In truth he overacted, at Dresden he “tore his acting had lost its former grandeur. the passion to tatters.” Instead of Flashes of the old genius there still crushing Franz's reputation he nearly were, from time to time, but they only ruined his own. One paper had the served to make more obvious the inmalice to recommend him to retire difference of the whole performance. from the stage.

People shook their heads, and said, He did retire; but not till after a " He was certainly grown too old for fearful struggle with himself, and many the stage." a bitter reflection on the world's in- He never reappeared. gratitude, and the worthlessness of Meanwhile Franz continued his his efforts. He was deeply hurt. He triumphant career. He played at secluded himself from every one. In almost every town in Germany; and the practices of devotion, and in brood- even the old men thought him supeing solitude, he endeavoured to forget rior to the actors of " their day." the world and its frivolities. He tried The greatest triumph an actor can to find occupation in study, and solace achieve is to make the “laudator in religion. But to the one he did temporis acti" forget for a moment the illusions of his youth, and confess because you have so often rehearsed that, even seen through the magnify. it in private." ing mist which envelops and aggran- “ Clara ! Clara! this jealousy is dises the past, this living actor is as insupportable !" great as those who are no more.

"Yes, yes—that is the answer I But Franz, amidst his brilliant always receive; but it is no answer success, was far from happy. The to my accusation.” stage was the scene of his triumphs, “Why, Lieschen is betrothed to but home was the scene of his de- Fechter!" spair. He was in a false, a very “What matters that? Are you false position. Petted and idolised not married to me—and does that by the loveliest women in Germany, interfere with your making love to he had learned to look upon his wife her?" as what she was a woman past “This is perfectly ridiculous ! Last her prime, faded in beauty, insigni- week you were jealous of Rosa Behr, ficant in mind. He began to blush because she played Juliet ; now it is for her! This is perhaps the cruellest Lieschen Flemming, because she plays torture a husband can know, because Gretchen. I presume every actress it affects his self-love as keenly as his whom I have to make love to on the love. It is a torture which generally stage will come under your suspiresults from such ill-assorted unions. cions ?”. Slowly had the conviction dawned "Every one to whom I see you upon him-but it had come. He making evident love. I know I am struggled against it, but it would not old. I have lost the charm I once be set aside ; it pressed on and on, had in your eyes." till at last it fairly gained admit “This is not the way to regain it," tance into his mind, and made him he said, as he put on his hat and wretched.

angrily left the room. For observe, it was not her faded He that day confessed to himself beauty which made him blush-it that she was old, that she had lost was not that she was so much older the charm which once had captivated it was because this faded insignificant him ! But Franz was a man of honour; woman was fretful, jealous, ungene. and although he found himself in this rous, and unprincipled. The percep false position, he resolved to support tion of these faults of disposition his lot with courage. He was wedopened his eyes to the perception of ded to a woman too old for him, her faults of person ; they raised the unsuited to him; but the wedding question in his mind — who is this had been his act and desire. It had whose jealousy irritates, whose fret- been the crown upon his hopes. He fulness distresses me? He began to had loved her-been happy with her. scrutinise her, and the scales fell from He could not forget that. And alhis eyes!

though divorces are easily obtained "My dear Clara,” he said to her in Germany, he could not bring himone day, “what in heaven's name self to abandon her, to separate from: has changed you so? You used to her, now she was past her prime. He be cheerful - now you are unbear. had offered her an independence if ably peevish.”

she wished to part from him ; but she "And what has changed you so, did not wish to part-she still clung Franz ?"

to the idea of regaining his lost affec"I am not aware of any change !" tion—and made home miserable as a “No!" she said ironically.

means of regaining it! "In what, pray ?

For five years did Franz drag about " You used to be fond and atten- with him this load of wretchedness. tive, and now you are cold and ne. To render his situation still more glectful."

pitiable, he became conscious that he "If I am so, whose fault is it?" loved another. Madame Röckel's

“Lieschen Flemming's. Oh, yes ! youngest daughter-a sweet innocent pretend astonishment; but I see girl of eighteen-had conceived a pasclearly enough. Your tenderness on sion for the young tragedian, which the stage with her is so well acted, her artless nature had but ill con


2 A

cealed. Franz read it in her eyes, in love, and which had shut him for her tones, in her confusion; and ever from the love of another. reading it, he also read in his own Then, indeed, the thought of a heart that her passion was returned. divorce rose constantly before him ;

He left Berlin in two days after but he wrestled with the temptation, the discovery, with bitter curses on and subdued it. He resolved to bear his youthful error, which had yoked his fate. His only hope was that him to a woman he could no longer death might interpose to set him free!


If in these brief sentences I have acting—for on that Dresden night he indicated the misery of Franz's con- saw nothing-a mist was before his dition--the depth of the shadows eyes. He was now sufficiently calm which accompanied the lustre of his to be critical. success—if I have truly presented the Franz played the wronged husband main outlines of his domestic his- with such intense feeling, such depth tory, the reader will imagine Franz's of passion, such thrilling intonation feelings when a hand as friendly as of voice, that the old man shared the that of death did interfere to set him rapture of the audience, and wept free.

tearg of joy and of pride as he conClara ran away with the low come fessed that his son was really a great dian of the troop!

actor. She had worn away in tears and The curtain had no sooner descended fretfulness all the affection she once than Schoenlein, hurrying out of the had felt for Franz, and having in- house, went round to the stage-door, spired a sort of passion in the breast knocked at his son's dressing-room, of this comedian, lent a willing ear to and in another instant had fallen on his romantic proposal of an elope- his shoulders, sobbing-“My boy! my ment. To a woman of her age an dear, dear Franz! you have conelopement was irresistible !

quered me!She fled, and left Franz at liberty. “My dear father !" exclaimed

The very day on which Franz re- Franz, pressing him convulsively to ceived this intelligence he had to his heart. perform in Kotzebue's Menschenhass Franz, I retract all that I have und Reue (our “Stranger.") He went said. I forgive you. You have a to the theatre extremely agitated. real vocation for the stage !" Great as was his delight at being This happy reconciliation was soon released from his wife, and released followed by the betrothal of Franz by no act of his own-he could not Schoenlein to Matilda Röckel; and think without a shudder upon the the old man had not only the delight probable fate which awaited her; and of seeing his son wedded to a woman a remembrance of his former love worthy of him, but also to hear him and happiness with her returned to announce his intention of retiring for make him sad.

ever from the stage. He had realised It happened that old Schoenlein an independence, and the stage was had that night been seized with a connected with too many disagreesudden impulse to see his son act, and able associations for him not to quit had gone privately into the parterre. it on this opening of a new era in his It was the first time he saw his son life.


" It is scarcely necessary," says Mr sidered in some degree supplementary Rellstab, in the preface to an early or parenthetical, is the best part edition of his romance of “ 1812," of the work; and Mr Rellstab dis" for the author to confess how largely plays great power of pen, and he has availed himself of Ségur's artistical skill, in his handling and narrative of the Russian campaign. adaptation of the materials furnished It will be evident to all readers that by his French leader. The last strictly he has followed, at times almost word original chapters of the romance are for word, the descriptions of that skil. those composing the eleventh book, ful historian." Without taxing Mr commencing immediately after LudRellstab with exceeding the romance- wig is rescued by hostile peasants from writer's legitimate privilege in thus death at the hands of his own friends. largely helping himself from the pages Here for a while we lose sight of the of General Count Ségur, we may con- fugitive army, and abide amongst the gratulate him on having had as a Russians. guide, in the historical portions of his The chief ground of apprehension book, so admirable a work as the His with the Russian nobles, upon Napotoire de Napoleon et de la Grande leon's invasion of their country, was Armée. As interesting as any ro- lest he should proclaim the emancipamance, it at the same time conveys tion of the serfs, and thus enlist in his the conviction that the author has behalf millions of oppressed peasants. determined to merit the character of The plan occurred, and was suggested historian, and to avoid that of the to the French Emperor, but various retailer of campaigning gossip and considerations deterred him from atanecdotes. Indeed one often feels dis- tempting its realisation. He appreappointed and almost vexed at the hended a frightful amount of license extreme brevity with which the Count and excess amongst a barbarous people refers to all matters not strictly essen- thus suddenly released from bondage. tial to the history of the grand army Tremendous destruction of property,

and great chief whose history, during and frightful massacres of the higher - the brief existence of the former and classes, were the almost certain results.

the first reverses of the latter, he un. He might succeed in raising the storm, dertakes to portray. He dismisses in but he could never hope to guide it. three lines many an incident of strange Moreover, although the child of revoromance or thrilling horror, whose de lution, his sympathies were not with tails one would gladly see extended the masses. The Russian landholders, over as many pages. Mr Rellstab has however, did not reckon upon his forcleverly availed himself of this dignified bearance, and took every means in their and military conciseness, improving power to counteract any propagandist upon hints, and filling up blanks. projects he might have in view. “In With a few bold dashes of his graphic the first place," says Ségur, “ they pen, Count Ségur furnishes the rough worked upon the minds of their unsketch; this his German follower fortunate serfs, brutalised by every seizes, adds figures, tints, and names, kind of servitude. Their priests, in and expands it into a picture. The whom they are accustomed to confide, account in "1812" of the retreat from misled them by deceitful discourse, Moscow to Wilna is, in fact, a poetical persuading these peasants that we paraphrase of that given in Ségur's his. were legions of demons, commanded tory, and this paraphrase Mr Rell- by Antichrist,-infernal spirits, whose stab, seduced by the excellence of his aspect excited horror, and whose context, allows somewhat to impede the tact polluted. Our prisoners perprogress of his plot; or rather it pro- ceived that when they had used a dish tracts the book after the plot has, in or vessel, their captors would not all essential respects, been wound up. touch it again, but kept it for the most Nevertheless, as we have already said, unclean animals. As we advanced this paraphrase, which may be con- into the country, however, it was

« AnteriorContinuar »