The Earl of Beaconsfield
Part 7 out of 11
"Again, Sir Stranger, briefly, but heartily, welcome! Welcome from us,
and welcome from all; and first from us, and now from the Margrave of
The Margrave of Rudesheimer was a slender man of elegant appearance. As
Vivian watched the glance of his speaking eye, and the half-satirical
and half-jovial smile which played upon his features, he hardly expected
that he would be as silent as his predecessors. But the Margrave spoke
no word. He gave a kind of shout of savage exultation as he smacked his
lips after dashing off his glass of Rudesheimer; and scarcely noticing
the salutations of those who drank his health, he threw himself back in
his chair, and listened seemingly with a smile of derision, while the
Grand Duke of Johannisberger again spoke:
"Again, Sir Stranger, briefly, but heartily, welcome! Welcome from us,
and welcome from all; and first from us, and now from the Landgrave of
The Landgrave of Grafenberg was a rude, awkward-looking person, who,
when he rose from his seat, stared like an idiot, and seemed utterly
ignorant of what he ought to do. But his quick companion, the Margrave
of Rudesheimer, soon thrust a bottle of Grafenberg into the Landgrave's
hand, and with some trouble and bustle the Landgrave extracted the cork;
and then helping himself sat down, forgetting either to salute, or to
return the salutations of those present.
"Again, Sir Stranger, briefly, but heartily, welcome! Welcome from us,
and welcome from all; and first from us, and now from the Palsgrave of
The Palsgrave of Geisenheim was a dwarf in spectacles. He drew the cork
from his bottle like lightning, and mouthed at his companions even while
he bowed to them.
"Again, Sir Stranger, briefly, but heartily, welcome! Welcome from us,
and welcome from all; and first from us, and now from the Count of
The Count of Markbrunnen was a sullen-looking personage, with lips
protruding nearly three inches beyond his nose. From each side of his
upper jaw projected a large tooth.
"Thanks to Heaven!" said Vivian, as the Grand Duke again spoke; "thanks
to Heaven, here is our last man!"
"Again, Sir Stranger, briefly, but heartily, welcome! Welcome from us,
and welcome from all; and first from us, and now from the Baron of
The Baron of Asmanshausen sat on the left hand of the Grand Duke of
Johannisberger, and was dressed, as we have before said, in an unique
costume of crimson purple. The Baron stood, without his boots, about six
feet eight. He was a sleek man, with a head not bigger than a child's,
and a pair of small, black, beady eyes, of singular brilliancy. The
Baron introduced a bottle of the only red wine that the Rhine boasts;
but which, for its fragrant and fruity flavour and its brilliant tint,
is perhaps not inferior to the sunset glow of Burgundy.
"And now," continued the Grand Duke, "having introduced you to all
present, sir, we will begin drinking."
Vivian had submitted to the introductory ceremonies with the good grace
which becomes a man of the world; but the coolness of this last
observation recalled our hero's wandering senses; and, at the same time,
alarmed at discovering that eight bottles of wine had been discussed by
the party merely as preliminary, and emboldened by the contents of one
bottle which had fallen to his own share, he had the courage to confront
the Grand Duke of Johannisberger in his own castle.
"Your wine, most noble Lord, stands in no need of my commendation; but
as I must mention it, let it not be said that I ever mentioned it
without praise. After a ten hours' ride, its flavour is as grateful to
the palate as its strength is refreshing to the heart; but though old
Hock, in homely phrase, is styled meat and drink, I confess to you that,
at this moment, I stand in need of even more solid sustenance than the
juice of the sunny hill."
"A traitor!" shrieked all present, each with his right arm stretched
out, glass in hand; "a traitor!"
"No traitor," answered Vivian, "noble and right thirsty lords, but one
of the most hungry mortals that ever yet famished."
The only answer that he received for some time was a loud and ill-boding
murmur. The long whisker of the Archduke of Hockheimer curled with
renewed rage; audible, though suppressed, was the growl of the hairy
Elector of Steinberg; fearful the corporeal involutions of the tall
Baron of Asmanshausen; and savagely sounded the wild laugh of the
bright-eyed Margrave of Rudesheimer.
"Silence, my Lords!" said the Grand Duke. "Forget we that ignorance is
the stranger's portion, and that no treason can exist among those who
are not our sworn subjects? Pity we rather the degeneracy of this
bold-spoken youth, and in the plenitude of our mercy let us pardon his
demand! Know ye, unknown knight, that you are in the presence of an
august society who are here met at one of their accustomed convocations,
whereof the purport is the frequent quaffing of those most glorious
liquors of which the sacred Rhine is the great father. We profess to
find a perfect commentary on the Pindaric laud of the strongest element
in the circumstance of the banks of a river being the locality where the
juice of the grape is most delicious, and holding, therefore, that water
is strongest because, in a manner, it giveth birth to wine, we also hold
it as a sacred element, and consequently most religiously refrain from
refreshing our bodies with that sanctified and most undrinkable fluid.
Know ye that we are the children of the Rhine, the conservators of his
flavours, profound in the learning of his exquisite aroma, and deep
students in the mysteries of his inexplicable näre. Professing not to be
immortal, we find in the exercise of the chase a noble means to preserve
that health which is necessary for the performance of the ceremonies to
which we are pledged. At to-morrow's dawn our bugle sounds, and thou,
stranger, may engage the wild boar at our side; at to-morrow's noon the
castle bell will toll, and thou, stranger, may eat of the beast which
thou hast conquered; but to feed after midnight, to destroy the power of
catching the delicate flavour, to annihilate the faculty of detecting
the undefinable näre, is heresy, most rank and damnable heresy!
Therefore at this hour soundeth no plate or platter, jingleth no knife
or culinary instrument, in the PALACE or THE WINES. Yet, in
consideration of thy youth, and that on the whole thou hast tasted thy
liquor like a proper man, from which we augur the best expectations of
the manner in which thou wilt drink it, we feel confident that our
brothers of the goblet will permit us to grant thee the substantial
solace of a single shoeing horn."
"Let it be a Dutch herring, then," said Vivian, "and as you have souls
to be saved grant me one slice of bread."
"It cannot be," said the Grand Duke; "but as we are willing to be
indulgent to bold hearts, verily, we will wink at the profanation of a
single toast; but you must order an anchovy one, and give secret
instructions to the waiting-man to forget the fish. It must be counted
as a second shoeing horn, and you will forfeit for the last a bottle of
"And now, illustrious brothers," continued the Grand Duke, "let us drink
All present gave a single cheer, in which Vivian was obliged to join,
and they honoured with a glass of the very year the memory of a
"1748!" said the Grand Duke.
Two cheers and the same ceremony.
1766 and 1779 were honoured in the same manner, but when the next toast
was drank, Vivian almost observed in the countenances of the Grand Duke
and his friends the signs of incipient insanity.
"1783!" hallooed the Grand Duke in a tone of the most triumphant
exultation, and his mighty proboscis, as it snuffed the air, almost
caused a whirlwind round the room. Hockheimer gave a roar, Steinberg a
growl, Rudesheimer a wild laugh, Markbrunnen, a loud grunt, Grafenberg a
bray, Asmanshausen's long body moved to and fro with wonderful
agitation, and little Geisenheim's bright eyes glistened through their
glasses as if they were on fire. How ludicrous is the incipient
inebriety of a man who wears spectacles!
Thanks to an excellent constitution, which recent misery, however, had
somewhat shattered, Vivian bore up against all these attacks; and when
they had got down to 1802, from the excellency of his digestion and the
inimitable skill with which he emptied many of the latter glasses under
the table, he was, perhaps, in better condition than any one in
And now rose the idiot Grafenberg; Rudesheimer all the time, with a
malicious smile, faintly pulling him down by the skirt of his coat, as
if he were desirous of preventing an exposure which his own advice had
brought about. He had been persuading Grafenberg the whole evening to
make a speech.
"My Lord Duke," brayed the jackass; and then he stopped dead, and looked
round the room with an unmeaning stare.
"Hear, hear, hear!" was the general cry; but Grafenberg seemed astounded
at any one being desirous of hearing his voice, or for a moment
seriously entertaining the idea that he could have anything to say; and
so he stared again, and again, and again, till at last Rudesheimer, by
dint of kicking his shins under the table, the Margrave the whole time
seeming perfectly motionless, at length extracted a sentence from the
"My Lord Duke!" again commenced Grafenberg, and again he stopped.
"Go on!" shouted all.
"My Lord Duke! Rudesheimer is treading on my toes!"
Here little Geisenheim gave a loud laugh of derision, in which all
joined except surly Markbrunnen, whose lips protruded an extra inch
beyond their usual length when he found that all were laughing at his
friend. The Grand Duke at last procured silence.
"Shame! shame! mighty Princes! Shame! shame! noble Lords! Is it with
this irreverent glee, these scurvy flouts, and indecorous mockery, that
you would have this stranger believe that we celebrate the ceremonies of
our Father Rhine? Shame, I say; and silence! It is time that we should
prove to him that we are not merely a boisterous and unruly party of
swilling varlets, who leave their brains in their cups. It is time that
we should do something to prove that we are capable of better and
worthier things. What ho! my Lord of Geisenheim! shall I speak twice to
the guardian of the horn of the Fairy King?"
The little dwarf instantly jumped from his seat and proceeded to the end
of the room, where, after having bowed three times with great reverence
before a small black cabinet made of vine wood, he opened it with a
golden key, and then with great pomp and ceremony bore its contents to
the Grand Duke. That chieftain took from the little dwarf the horn of a
gigantic and antediluvian elk. The cunning hand of an ancient German
artificer had formed this curious relic into a drinking-cup. It was
exquisitely polished, and cased in the interior with silver. On the
outside the only ornaments were three richly-chased silver rings, which
were placed nearly at equal distances. When the Grand Duke had carefully
examined this most precious horn, he held it up with great reverence to
all present, and a party of devout Catholics could not have paid greater
homage to the elevated Host than did the various guests to the horn of
the Fairy King. Even the satanic smile on Rudesheimer's countenance was
for a moment subdued, and all bowed. The Grand Duke then delivered the
mighty cup to his neighbour, the Archduke of Hockheimer, who held it
with both hands until his Royal Highness had emptied into it, with great
care, three bottles of Johannisberger. All rose: the Grand Duke took
the goblet in one hand, and with the other he dexterously put aside his
most inconvenient and enormous nose. Dead silence prevailed, save the
roar of the liquor as it rushed down the Grand Duke's throat, and
resounded through the chamber like the distant dash of a waterfall. In
three minutes the Chairman had completed his task, the horn had quitted
his mouth, his nose had again resumed its usual situation, and as he
handed the cup to the Archduke, Vivian thought that a material change
had taken place in his countenance since he had quaffed his last
draught. His eyes seemed more apart; his ears seemed broader and longer;
and his nose visibly lengthened. The Archduke, before he commenced his
draught, ascertained with great scrupulosity that his predecessor had
taken his fair share by draining the horn as far as the first ring; and
then he poured off with great rapidity his own portion. But though, in
performing the same task, he was quicker than the master of the party,
the draught not only apparently, but audibly, produced upon him a much
more decided effect than it had on the Grand Duke; for when the second
ring was drained the Archduke gave a loud roar of exultation, and stood
up for some time from his seat, with his hands resting on the table,
over which he leant, as if he were about to spring upon his opposite
neighbour. The cup was now handed across the table to the Baron of
Asmanshausen. His Lordship performed his task with ease; but as he
withdrew the horn from his mouth, all present, except Vivian, gave a
loud cry of "Supernaculum!" The Baron smiled with great contempt, as he
tossed, with a careless hand, the great horn upside downwards, and was
unable to shed upon his nail even the one excusable pearl. He handed the
refilled horn to the Elector of Steinberg, who drank his portion with a
growl; but afterwards seemed so pleased with the facility of his
execution that, instead of delivering it to the next bibber, the
Palsgrave of Markbrunnen, he commenced some clumsy attempts at a dance
of triumph, in which he certainly would have proceeded, had not the loud
grunts of the surly and thick-lipped Markbrunnen occasioned the
interference of the President. Supernaculum now fell to the Margrave of
Rudesheimer, who gave a loud and long-continued laugh as the dwarf of
Geisenheim filled the horn for the third time.
While this ceremony was going on, a thousand plans had occurred to
Vivian for his escape; but all, on second thoughts, proved
impracticable. With agony he had observed that supernaculum was his
miserable lot. Could he but have foisted it on the idiot Grafenberg, he
might, by his own impudence and the other's stupidity, have escaped. But
he could not flatter himself that he should be successful in bringing
about this end, for he observed with dismay that the malicious
Rudesheimer had not for a moment ceased watching him with a keen and
exulting glance. Geisenheim performed his task; and ere Vivian could ask
for the goblet, Rudesheimer, with a fell laugh, had handed it to
Grafenberg. The greedy ass drank his portion with ease, and indeed drank
far beyond his limit. The cup was in Vivian's hand, Rudesheimer was
roaring supernaculum louder than all; Vivian saw that the covetous
Grafenberg had providentially rendered his task comparatively light; but
even as it was, he trembled at the idea of drinking at a single draught
more than a pint of most vigorous and powerful wine.
"My Lord Duke," said Vivian, "you and your companions forget that I am
little used to these ceremonies; that I am yet uninitiated in the
mysteries of the näre. I have endeavoured to prove myself no
chicken-hearted water-drinking craven, and I have more wine within me at
this moment than any man yet bore without dinner. I think, therefore,
that I have some grounds for requesting indulgence, and I have no doubt
that the good sense of yourself and your friends--"
Ere Vivian could finish, he almost fancied that a well-stocked menagerie
had been suddenly emptied in the room. Such roaring, and such growling,
and such hissing, could only have been exceeded on some grand feast day
in the recesses of a Brazilian forest. Asmanshausen looked as fierce as
a boa constrictor before dinner. The proboscis of the Grand Duke heaved
to and fro like the trunk of an enraged elephant. Hockheimer glared like
a Bengal tiger about to spring upon its prey. Steinberg growled like a
Baltic bear. In Markbrunnen Vivian recognised the wild boar he had
himself often hunted. Grafenberg brayed like a jackass, and Geisenheim
chattered like an ape. But all was forgotten and unnoticed when Vivian
heard the fell and frantic shouts of the laughing hyaena, the Margrave
of Rudesheimer! Vivian, in despair, dashed the horn of Oberon to his
mouth. One pull, a gasp, another desperate draught; it was done! and
followed by a supernaculum almost superior to the exulting
A loud shout hailed the exploit, and when the shout had subsided into
silence the voice of the Grand Duke of Johannisberger was again heard:
"Noble Lords and Princes! I congratulate you on the acquisition of a
congenial co-mate, and the accession to our society of one who, I now
venture to say, will never disgrace the glorious foundation; but who, on
the contrary, with heaven's blessing and the aid of his own good palate,
will, it is hoped, add to our present knowledge of flavours by the
detection of new ones, and by illustrations drawn from frequent study
and constant observation of the mysterious näre. In consideration of his
long journey and his noble achievement, I do propose that we drink but
very lightly to-night, and meet by two hours after to-morrow's dawn,
under the moss-man's oak. Nevertheless, before we part, for the
refreshment of our own good bodies, and by way of reward and act of
courtesy unto this noble and accomplished stranger, let us pledge him in
some foreign grape of fame, to which he may perhaps be more accustomed
than unto the ever-preferable juices of our Father Rhine." Here the
Grand Duke nodded to little Geisenheim, who in a moment was at
It was in vain that Vivian remonstrated, excused himself from joining,
or assured them that their conduct had already been so peculiarly
courteous, that any further attention was at present unnecessary. A
curiously cut glass, which on a moderate calculation Vivian reckoned
would hold at least three pints, was placed before each guest; and a
basket, containing nine bottles of sparkling champagne, première
qualité, was set before his Highness.
"We are no bigots, noble stranger," said the Grand Duke, as he took one
of the bottles, and scrutinised the cork with a very keen eye; "we are
no bigots, and there are moments when we drink Champagne, nor is
Burgundy forgotten, nor the soft Bourdeaux, nor the glowing grape of the
sunny Rhone!" His Highness held the bottle at an oblique angle with the
chandelier. The wire is loosened, whirr! The exploded cork whizzed
through the air, extinguished one of the burners of the chandelier, and
brought the cut drop which was suspended under it rattling down among
the glasses on the table. The President poured the foaming fluid into
his great goblet, and bowing to all around, fastened on its contents
with as much eagerness as Arabs hasten to a fountain.
The same operation was performed as regularly and as skilfully by all
except Vivian. Eight burners were extinguished; eight diamond drops had
fallen clattering on the table; eight human beings had finished a
miraculous carouse, by each drinking off a bottle of sparkling
champagne. It was Vivian's turn. All eyes were fixed on him with the
most perfect attention. He was now, indeed, quite desperate; for had he
been able to execute a trick which long practice alone could have
enabled any man to perform, he felt conscious that it was quite out of
his power to taste a single drop of the contents of his bottle. However,
he loosened his wire and held the bottle at an angle with the
chandelier; but the cork flew quite wild, and struck with great force
the mighty nose of Johannisberger.
"A forfeit!" cried all.
"Treason, and a forfeit!" cried the Margrave of Rudesheimer.
"A forfeit is sufficient punishment," said the President; who, however,
still felt the smarting effect of the assault on his proboscis. "You
must drink Oberon's horn full of champagne," he continued.
"Never!" said Vivian. "Enough of this. I have already conformed in a
degree which may injuriously affect my health with your barbarous
humours; but there is moderation even in excess. And so, if you please,
my Lord, your servant may show me to my apartment, or I shall again
mount my horse."
"You shall not leave this room," said the President, with great
"Who shall prevent me?" asked Vivian.
"I will, all will!"
"Now, by heavens! a more insolent and inhospitable old ruffian did I
never meet. By the wine you worship, if one of you dare touch me, you
shall rue it all your born days; and as for you, sir, if you advance one
step towards me, I will take that sausage of a nose of yours and hurl
you half round your own castle!"
"Treason!" shouted all, and looked to the chair.
"Treason!" said enraged majesty. The allusion to the nose had done away
with all the constitutional doubts which had been sported so moderately
at the commencement of the evening.
"Treason!" howled the President: "instant punishment!"
"What punishment?" asked Asmanshausen.
"Drown him in the new butt of Moselle," recommended Rudesheimer. The
suggestion was immediately adopted. Every one rose: the little
Geisenheim already had hold of Vivian's shoulder; and Grafenberg,
instigated by the cowardly but malicious Rudesheimer, was about to
seize him by the neck. Vivian took the dwarf and hurled him at the
chandelier, in whose brazen chains the little being got entangled, and
there remained. An unexpected cross-buttocker floored the incautious and
unscientific Grafenberg; and following up these advantages, Vivian laid
open the skull of his prime enemy, the retreating Margrave of
Rudesheimer, with the assistance of the horn of Oberon; which flew from
his hand to the other end of the room, from the force with which it
rebounded from the cranium of the enemy. All the rest were now on the
advance; but giving a vigorous and unexpected push to the table, the
Johannisberger and Asmanshausen were thrown over, and the nose of the
former got entangled with the awkward windings of the Fairy King's horn.
Taking advantage of this move, Vivian rushed to the door. He escaped,
but had not time to secure the lock against the enemy, for the stout
Elector of Steinberg was too quick for him. He dashed down the stairs
with extraordinary agility; but just as he had gained the large
octagonal hall, the whole of his late boon companions, with the
exception of the dwarf of Geisenheim, who was left in the chandelier,
were visible in full chase. Escape was impossible, and so Vivian,
followed by the seven nobles, headed by their President, described with
all possible rapidity a circle round the hall. He gave himself up for
lost; but, luckily, for him, it never occurred to one of his pursuers to
do anything but follow their leader; and as, therefore, they never
dodged Vivian, and as, also, he was a much fleeter runner than the fat
President, whose pace, of course, regulated the progress of his
followers, the party might have gone on at this rate until all of them
had dropped from fatigue, had not the occurrence of a ludicrous incident
prevented this consummation.
The hall door was suddenly dashed open, and Essper George rushed in,
followed in full chase by Hunsdrich and the guests of the lodge, who
were the servants of Vivian's pursuers. Essper darted in between
Rudesheimer and Markbrunnen, and Hunsdrich and his friends following the
same tactics as their lords and masters, without making any attempt to
surround and hem in the object of their pursuit, merely followed him in
order, describing, but in a contrary direction, a lesser circle within
the eternal round of the first party. It was only proper for the
servants to give their masters the wall. In spite of their very
disagreeable and dangerous situation, it was with difficulty that Vivian
refrained from laughter, as he met Essper regularly every half minute
at the foot of the great staircase. Suddenly, as Essper passed, he took
Vivian by the waist, and with a single jerk placed him on the stairs;
and then, with a dexterous dodge, he brought Hunsdrich the porter and
the Grand Duke in full contact.
"I have got you at last," said Hunsdrich, seizing hold of his Grace of
Johannisberger by the ears, and mistaking him for Essper.
"I have got you at last," said his master, grappling, as he supposed,
with Vivian. Both struggled; their followers pushed on with impetuous
force, the battle was general, the overthrow universal. In a moment all
were on the ground; and if any less inebriated or more active individual
attempted to rise, Essper immediately brought him down with a
"Give me that large fishing-net," said Essper to Vivian; "quick, quick."
Vivian pulled down a large coarse net, which covered nearly five sides
of the room. It was immediately unfolded, and spread over the fallen
crew. To fasten it down with half a dozen boar-spears, which they drove
into the floor, was the work of a moment. Essper had one pull at the
proboscis of the Grand Duke of Johannisberger before he hurried Vivian
away; and in ten minutes they were again on their horses' backs and
galloping through the star-lit wood.
It is the hour before the labouring bee has left his golden hive; not
yet the blooming day buds in the blushing East; not yet has the
victorious Lucifer chased from the early sky the fainting splendour of
the stars of night. All is silent, save the light breath of morn waking
the slumbering leaves. Even now a golden streak breaks over the grey
mountains. Hark to shrill chanticleer! As the cock crows the owl ceases.
Hark to shrill chanticleer's feathered rival! The mountain lark springs
from the sullen earth, and welcomes with his hymn the coming day. The
golden streak has expanded into a crimson crescent, and rays of living
fire flame over the rose-enamelled East. Man rises sooner than the sun,
and already sound the whistle of the ploughman, the song of the mower,
and the forge of the smith; and hark to the bugle of the hunter, and the
baying of his deep-mouthed hound. The sun is up, the generating sun! and
temple, and tower, and tree, the massy wood, and the broad field, and
the distant hill, burst into sudden light; quickly upcurled is the dusky
mist from the shining river; quickly is the cold dew drunk from the
raised heads of the drooping flowers!
A canter by a somewhat clearer light than the one which had so
unfortunately guided himself and his companion to the Palace of the
Wines soon carried them again to the skirts of the forest, and at this
minute they are emerging on the plain from yonder dark wood.
"By heavens! Essper, I cannot reach the town this morning. Was ever
anything more unfortunate. A curse on those drunken fools. What with no
rest and no solid refreshment, and the rivers of hock that are flowing
within me, and the infernal exertion of running round that vile hall, I
feel fairly exhausted, and could at this moment fall from my saddle. See
you no habitation, my good fellow, where there might be a chance of a
breakfast and a few hours' rest? We are now well out of the forest. Oh!
surely there is smoke from behind those pines; some good wife, I trust,
is by her chimney corner."
"If my sense be not destroyed by the fumes of that mulled Geisenheim,
which still haunts me, I could swear that the smoke is the soul of a
"A truce to your jokes, good Essper; I really am very ill. A year ago I
could have laughed at our misfortunes, but now it is very different;
and, by heavens, I must have breakfast! so stir, exert yourself, and,
although I die for it, let us canter up to the smoke."
"No, dear master, I will ride on before. Do you follow gently, and if
there be a pigeon in the pot in all Germany. I swear by the patron saint
of every village for fifty miles round, provided they be not heretics,
that you shall taste of its breast-bone this morning."
The smoke did issue from a chimney, but the door of the cottage was
"Hilloa, within!" shouted Essper; "who shuts the sun out on a September
The door was at length slowly opened, and a most ill-favoured and
inhospitable-looking dame demanded, in a sullen voice, "What's
"You pretty creature!" said Essper, who was still a little tipsy.
The door would have been shut in his face had not he darted into the
house before the woman was aware.
"Truly, a neat and pleasant dwelling! and you would have no objection, I
guess, to give a handsome young gentleman some little sop of something
just to remind him, you know, that it isn't dinner-time."
"We give no sops here: what do you take us for? and so, my handsome
young gentleman, be off, or I shall call the good man."
"Why, I am not the handsome young gentleman; that is my master! who, if
he were not half-starved to death, would fall in love with you at
"Your master; is he in the carriage?"
"Carriage! no; on horseback."
"To be sure, dear dame; travellers true."
"Travellers true, without luggage, and at this time of morn! Methinks,
by your looks, queer fellows, that you are travellers whom it may be
wise for an honest woman not to meet."
"What! some people have an objection, then, to a forty kreüzer piece on
a sunny morning?"
So saying, Essper, in a careless manner, tossed a broad piece in the
air, and made it ring on a fellow coin, as he caught it in the palm of
his hand when it descended.
"Is that your master?" asked the woman.
"Ay, is it! and the prettiest piece of flesh I have seen this month,
"Well! if the gentleman likes bread he can sit down here," said the
woman, pointing to a bench, and throwing a sour black loaf upon
"Now, sir!" said Essper, wiping the bench with great care, "lie you here
and rest yourself. I have known a marshal sleep upon a harder sofa.
Breakfast will be ready immediately."
"If you cannot eat what you have, you may ride where you can find better
"What is bread for a traveller's breakfast? But I daresay my lord will
be contented; young men are so easily pleased when there is a pretty
girl in the case; you know that, you wench I you do, you little hussy;
you are taking advantage of it."
Something like a smile lit up the face of the sullen woman when she
said. "There may be an egg in the house, but I don't know."
"But you will soon, you dear creature! What a pretty foot!" bawled
Essper after her, as she left the room. "Now confound this hag; if there
be not meat about this house may I keep my mouth shut at our next
dinner. What's that in the corner? a boar's tusk! Ay, ay! a huntsman's
cottage; and when lived a huntsman on black bread before! Oh! bless your
bright eyes for these eggs, and this basin of new milk."
So saying, Essper took them out of her hand and placed them before
"I was saying to myself, my pretty girl, when you were out of the room,
'Essper George, good cheer, say thy prayers, and never despair; come
what may, you will fall among friends at last, and how do you know that
your dream mayn't come true after all? Didn't you dream that you
breakfasted in the month of September with a genteel young woman with
gold ear-rings? and is not she standing before you now? and did not she
do everything in the world to make you comfortable? Did not she give you
milk and eggs, and when you complained that you and meat had been but
slack friends of late, did not she open her own closet, and give you as
fine a piece of hunting beef as was ever set before a Jagd Junker?'"
"I think you will turn me into an innkeeper's wife at last," said the
dame, her stern features relaxing into a smile; and while she spoke she
advanced to the great closet, Essper George following her, walking on
his toes, lolling out his enormous tongue, and stroking his mock paunch.
As she opened it he jumped upon a chair and had examined every shelf in
less time than a pistol could flush. "White bread! fit for a countess;
salt! worthy of Poland; boar's head!! no better at Troyes; and hunting
beef!!! my dream is true!" and he bore in triumph to Vivian, who was
nearly asleep, the ample round of salt and pickled beef well stuffed
with all kinds of savoury herbs.
It was nearly an hour before noon ere the travellers had remounted.
Their road again entered the forest which they had been skirting for the
last two days. The huntsmen were abroad; and the fine weather, his good
meal and seasonable rest, and the inspiriting sounds of the bugle made
Vivian feel recovered from his late fatigues.
"That must be a true-hearted huntsman, Essper, by the sound of his
bugle. I never heard one played with more spirit. Hark! how fine it dies
away hi the wood; fainter and fainter, yet how clear! It must be now
half a mile distant."
"I hear nothing so wonderful," said Essper, putting the two middle
fingers of his right hand before his mouth and sounding a note so clear
and beautiful, so exactly imitative of the fall which Vivian had noticed
and admired, that for a moment he imagined that the huntsman was at
"Thou art a cunning knave! do it again." This time Essper made the very
wood echo. In a few minutes a horseman galloped up; he was as spruce a
cavalier as ever pricked gay steed on the pliant grass. He was dressed
in a green military uniform, and a gilt bugle hung by his side; his
spear told them that he was hunting the wild boar. When he saw Vivian
and Essper he suddenly pulled up his horse and seemed astonished.
"I thought that his Highness had been here," said the huntsman.
"No one has passed us, sir," said Vivian.
"I could have sworn that his bugle sounded from this very spot," said
the huntsman. "My ear seldom deceives me."
"We heard a bugle to the right, sir," said Essper.
"Thanks, my friend," and the huntsman was about to gallop off.
"May I ask the name of his Highness?" said Vivian. "We are strangers in
"That may certainly account for your ignorance," said the huntsman; "but
no one who lives in this land can be unacquainted with his Serene
Highness the Prince of Little Lilliput, my illustrious master. I have
the honour," continued the huntsman, "of being Jagd Junker, or
Gentilhomme de la Chasse to his Serene Highness."
"'Tis an office of great dignity," said Vivian, "and one that I have no
doubt you admirably perform; I will not stop you, sir, to admire
The huntsman bowed courteously and galloped off.
"You see, sir," said Essper George, "that my bugle has deceived even the
Jagd Junker, or Gentilhomme de la Chasse of his Serene Highness the
Prince of Little Lilliput himself;" so saying, Essper again sounded his
"A joke may be carried too far, my good fellow," said Vivian. "A true
huntsman like myself must not spoil a brother's sport, so silence
Now again galloped up the Jagd Junker, or Gentilhomme de la Chasse of
his Serene Highness the Prince of Little Lilliput. He pulled up his
horse again apparently as much astounded as ever.
"I thought that his Highness had been here." said the huntsman.
"No one has passed us," said Vivian.
"We heard a bugle to the right," said Essper George.
"I am afraid his Serene Highness must be in distress. The whole suite
are off the scent. It must have been his bugle, for the regulations of
this forest are so strict that no one dare sound a blast but his Serene
Highness." Away galloped the huntsman.
"Next time I must give you up, Essper," said Vivian.
"One more blast, good master!" begged Essper, in a supplicating voice.
"This time to the left; the confusion will be then complete."
"I command you not," and so they rode on in silence. But it was one of
those days when Essper could neither be silent nor subdued. Greatly
annoyed at not being permitted to play his bugle, he amused himself
imitating the peculiar sound of every animal that he met; a young fawn
and various birds already followed him, and even a squirrel had perched
on his horse's neck. And now they came to a small farmhouse, which was
situated in the forest: the yard here offered great amusement to Essper.
He neighed, and half a dozen horses' heads immediately appeared over the
hedge; another neigh, and they were following him in the road. A dog
rushed out to seize the dangerous stranger and recover his charge, but
Essper gave an amicable bark, and in a second the dog was jumping by his
side and engaged in earnest and friendly conversation. A loud and
continued grunt soon brought out the pigs, and meeting three or four
cows returning home, a few lowing sounds soon seduced them from keeping
their appointment with the dairymaid. A stupid jackass, who stared with
astonishment at the procession, was saluted with a lusty bray, which
immediately induced him to swell the ranks; and, as Essper passed the
poultry-yard, he so deceitfully informed its inhabitants that they were
about to be fed, that broods of ducks and chickens were immediately
after him. The careful hens were terribly alarmed at the danger which
their offspring incurred from the heels and hoofs of the quadrupeds; but
while they were in doubt and despair a whole flock of stately geese
issued in solemn pomp from another gate of the farmyard, and commenced a
cackling conversation with the delighted Essper. So contagious is the
force of example, and so great was the confidence which the hens placed
in these pompous geese, who were not the first fools whose solemn air
has deceived a few old females, that as soon as they perceived them in
the train of the horseman they also trotted up to pay their respects at
But it was not a moment for mirth; for rushing down the road with awful
strides appeared two sturdy and enraged husbandmen, one armed with a
pike and the other with a pitchfork, and accompanied by a frantic
female, who never for a moment ceased hallooing "Murder, rape, and
fire!" everything but "theft."
"Now, Essper, here's a pretty scrape!"
"Stop, you rascals!" hallooed Adolph, the herdsman.
"Stop, you gang of thieves!" hallooed Wilhelm, the ploughman.
"Stop, you bloody murderers!" shrieked Phillippa, the indignant mistress
of the dairy and the poultry-yard.
"Stop, you villains!" hallooed all three. The villains certainly made no
attempt to escape, and in half a second the enraged household of the
forest farmer would have seized on Essper George; but just at this
crisis he uttered loud sounds in the respective language of every bird
and beast about him, and suddenly they all turned round and
counter-marched. Away rushed the terrified Adolph, the herdsman, while
one of his own cows was on his back. Still quicker scampered off the
scared Wilhelm, the ploughman, while one of his own steeds kicked him in
his rear. Quicker than all these, shouting, screaming, shrieking, dashed
back the unhappy mistress of the hen-roost, with all her subjects
crowding about her; some on her elbow, some on her head, her lace cap
destroyed, her whole dress disordered. The movements of the crowd were
so quick that they were soon out of sight.
"A trophy!" called out Essper, as he jumped off his horse and picked up
the pike of Adolph, the herdsman.
"A boar-spear, or I am no huntsman," said Vivian: "give it me a moment!"
He threw it up into the air, caught it with ease, poised it with the
practiced skill of one well used to handle the weapon, and with the same
delight imprinted on his countenance as greets the sight of an
"This forest, Essper, and this spear, make me remember days when I was
vain enough to think that I had been sufficiently visited with sorrow.
Ah! little did I then know of human misery, although I imagined I had
suffered so much!"
As he spoke, the sounds of a man in distress were heard from the right
side of the road.
"Who calls?" cried Essper. A shout was the only answer. There was no
path, but the underwood was low, and Vivian took his horse, an old
forester, across it with ease. Essper's jibbed; Vivian found himself in
a small green glade of about thirty feet square. It was thickly
surrounded with lofty trees, save at the point where he had entered; and
at the farthest corner of it, near some grey rocks, a huntsman was
engaged in a desperate contest with a wild boar.
The huntsman was on his right knee, and held his spear with both hands
at the furious beast. It was an animal of extraordinary size and power.
Its eyes glittered like fire. On the turf to its right a small grey
mastiff, of powerful make, lay on its back, bleeding profusely, with its
body ripped open. Another dog, a fawn-coloured bitch, had seized on the
left ear of the beast; but the under tusk of the boar, which was nearly
a foot long, had penetrated the courageous dog, and the poor creature
writhed in agony, even while it attempted to wreak its revenge upon its
enemy. The huntsman was nearly exhausted. Had it not been for the
courage of the fawn-coloured dog, which, clinging to the boar, prevented
it making a full dash at the man, he must have been gored. Vivian was
off his horse in a minute, which, frightened at the sight of the wild
boar, dashed again over the hedge.
"Keep firm, sir!" said he; "do not move. I will amuse him behind, and
make him turn."
A graze of Vivian's spear on its back, though it did not materially
injure the beast, for there the boar is nearly in vulnerable, annoyed
it; and dashing off the fawn-coloured dog with great force, it turned on
its new assailant. Now there are only two places in which the wild boar
can be assailed with any effect; and these are just between the eyes and
between the shoulders. Great caution, however, is necessary in aiming
these blows, for the boar is very adroit in transfixing the weapon on
his snout or his tusks; and if once you miss, particularly if you are
not assisted by dogs, which Vivian was not, 'tis all over with you; for
the enraged animal rushes in like lightning, and gored you must be.
But Vivian was fresh and cool. The animal suddenly stood still and eyed
its new enemy. Vivian was quiet, for he had no objection to give the
beast an opportunity of retreating to its den. But retreat was not its
object; it suddenly darted at the huntsman, who, however, was not off
his guard, though unable, from a slight wound in his knee, to rise.
Vivian again annoyed the boar at the rear, and the animal soon returned
to him. He made a feint, as if he were about to strike his pike between
its eyes. The boar, not feeling a wound which had not been inflicted,
and very irritated, rushed at him, and he buried his spear a foot deep
between its shoulders. The beast made one fearful struggle, and then
fell down quite dead. The fawn-coloured bitch, though terribly wounded,
gave a loud bark; and even the other dog, which Vivian thought had been
long dead, testified its triumphant joy by an almost inarticulate groan.
As soon as he was convinced that the boar was really dead, Vivian
hastened to the huntsman, and expressed his hope that he was not
"A trifle, which our surgeon, who is used to these affairs, will quickly
cure. Sir! we owe you our life!" said the huntsman, with great dignity,
as Vivian assisted him in rising from the ground. He was a tall man, of
distinguished appearance; but his dress, which was the usual hunting
costume of a German nobleman, did not indicate his quality.
"Sir, we owe you our life!" repeated the stranger; "five minutes more,
and our son must have reigned in Little Lilliput."
"I have the honour, then, of addressing your Serene Highness. Far from
being indebted to me, I feel that I ought to apologise for having so
unceremoniously joined your sport."
"Nonsense, man! We have killed in our time too many of these gentry to
be ashamed of owning that, had it not been for you, one of them would at
last have revenged the species. But many as are the boars that we have
killed or eaten, we never saw a more furious or powerful animal than the
present. Why, sir, you must be one of the best hands at the spear in all
"Indifferently good, your Highness: your Highness forgets that the
animal was already exhausted by your assault."
"Why, there is something in that; but it was neatly done, man; it was
neatly done. You are fond of the sport, we think?"
"I have had some practice, but illness has so weakened me that I have
given up the forest."
"Pity! and on a second examination we observe that you are no hunter.
This coat is not for the free forest; but how came you by the pike?"
"I am travelling to the next post town, to which I have sent on my
luggage. I am getting fast to the south; and as for this pike, my
servant got it this morning from some peasant in a brawl, and was
showing it to me when I heard your Highness call. I really think now
that Providence must have sent it. I certainly could not have done you
much service with my riding whip. Hilloa! Essper, where are you?"
"Here, noble sir! here, here. Why, what have you got there? The horses
have jibbed, and will not stir. I can stay no longer: they may go to the
devil!" So saying, Vivian's valet dashed over the underwood, and leaped
al the foot of the Prince.
"In God's name, is this thy servant?" asked his Highness.
"In good faith am I," said Essper; "his valet, his cook, and his
secretary, all in one; and also his Jagd Junker, or Gentilhomme de la
Chasse, as a puppy with a bugle horn told me this morning."
"A merry knave!" said the Prince; "and talking of a puppy with a bugle
horn reminds us how unaccountably we have been deserted to-day by a
suite that never yet were wanting. We are indeed astonished. Our bugle,
we fear, has turned traitor." So saying, the Prince executed a blast
with great skill, which Vivian immediately recognised as the one which
Essper George had imitated.
"And now, my good friend," said the Prince, "we cannot hear of your
passing through our land without visiting our good castle. We would that
we could better testify the obligation that we feel under to you in any
other way than by the offer of an hospitality which all gentlemen, by
right, can command. But your presence would, indeed, give us sincere
pleasure. You must not refuse us. Your looks, as well as your prowess,
prove your blood; and we are quite sure no cloth-merchant's order will
suffer by your not hurrying to your proposed point of destination. We
are not wrong, we think, though your accent is good, in supposing that
we are conversing with an English gentleman. But here they come."
As he spoke, three or four horsemen, at the head of whom was the young
huntsman whom the travellers had met in the morning, sprang into
"Why, Arnelm!" said the Prince, "when before was the Jagd Junker's ear
so bad that he could not discover his master's bugle, even though the
wind were against him?"
"In truth, your Highness, we have heard bugles enough this morning. Who
is violating the forests laws we know not; but that another bugle is
sounding, and played; St. Hubert forgive me for saying so; with as great
skill as your Highness', is certain. Myself, Von Neuwied, and Lintz have
been galloping over the whole forest. The rest, I doubt not, will be up
directly." The Jagd Junker blew his own bugle.
In the course of five minutes, about twenty other horsemen, all dressed
in the same uniform, had arrived; all complaining of their wild chases
after the Prince in every other part of the forest.
"It must be the Wild Huntsman himself!" swore an old hand. This solution
of the mystery satisfied all.
"Well, well!" said the Prince; "whoever it may be, had it not been for
the timely presence of this gentleman, you must have changed your green
jackets for mourning coats, and our bugle would have sounded no more in
the forest of our fathers. Here, Arnelm! cut up the beast, and remember
that the left shoulder is the quarter of honour, and belongs to this
stranger, not less honoured because unknown."
All present took off their caps and bowed to Vivian, who took this
opportunity of informing the Prince who he was.
"And now," continued his Highness, "Mr. Grey will accompany us to our
castle; nay, sir, we can take no refusal. We will send on to the town
for your luggage. Arnelm, do you look to this! And, honest friend," said
the Prince, turning to Essper George, "we commend you to the special
care of our friend Von Neuwied; and so, gentlemen, with stout hearts and
spurs to your steeds, to the castle."
The cavalcade proceeded for some time at a brisk but irregular pace,
until they arrived at a less wild and wooded part of the forest. The
Prince of Little Lilliput reined in his steed as he entered a broad
avenue of purple beeches, at the end of which, though at a considerable
distance, Vivian perceived the towers and turrets of a Gothic edifice
glittering in the sunshine.
"Welcome to Turriparva!" said his Highness.
"I assure your Highness," said Vivian, "that I view with no unpleasant
feeling the prospect of a reception in any civilised mansion; for to say
the truth, for the last eight-and-forty hours Fortune has not favoured
me either in my researches after a bed, or that which some think still
more important than repose."
"Is it so?" said the Prince. "Why, we should have thought by your home
thrust this morning that you were as fresh as the early lark. In good
faith, it was a pretty stroke! And whence come you, then, good sir?"
"Know you a most insane and drunken idiot who styles himself the Grand
Duke of Johannisberger?"
"No, no!" said the Prince, staring in Vivian's face earnestly, and then
laughing. "And you have actually fallen among that mad crew. A most
excellent adventure! Arnelm! why, man, where art thou? Ride up! Behold
in the person of this gentleman a new victim to the overwhelming
hospitality of our Uncle of the Wines. And did they confer a title on
you on the spot? Say, art thou Elector, or Palsgrave, or Baron; or,
failing in thy devoirs, as once did our good cousin Arnelm, confess that
thou wert ordained with becoming reverence the Archprimate of
Puddledrink. Eh! Arnelm, is not that the style thou bearest at the
Palace of the Wines?"
"So it would seem, your Highness. I think the title was conferred on me
the same night that your Highness mistook the Grand Duke's proboscis for
Oberon's horn, and committed treason not yet pardoned."
"Good! good! thou hast us there. Truly a good memory is often as ready a
friend as a sharp wit. Wit is not thy strong point, friend Arnelm; and
yet it is strange that in the sharp encounter of ready tongues and idle
logomachies thou hast sometimes the advantage. But, nevertheless, rest
assured, good cousin Arnelm, that wit is not thy strong point."
"It is well for me that all are not of the same opinion as your Serene
Highness," said the young Jagd Junker, somewhat nettled; for he prided
himself on his repartees.
The Prince was much diverted with Vivian's account of his last night's
adventure; and our hero learnt from his Highness that his late host was
no less a personage than the cousin of the Prince of Little Lilliput,
an old German Baron, who passed his time, with some neighbours of
congenial temperament, in hunting the wild boar in the morning, and
speculating on the flavours of the fine Rhenish wines during the rest of
the day. "He and his companions," continued the Prince, "will enable you
to form some idea of the German nobility half a century ago. The debauch
of last night was the usual carouse which crowned the exploits of each
day when we were a boy. The revolution has rendered all these customs
obsolete. Would that it had not sent some other things equally out
At this moment the Prince sounded his bugle, and the gates of the
castle, which were not more than twenty yards distant, were immediately
thrown open. The whole cavalcade set spurs to their steeds, and dashed
at full gallop over the hollow-sounding drawbridge into the courtyard of
the castle. A crowd of serving-men, in green liveries, instantly
appeared, and Arnelm and Von Neuwied, jumping from their saddles,
respectively held the stirrup and the bridle of the Prince as he
"Where is Master Rodolph?" asked his Highness, with a loud voice.
"So please your Serene Highness, I am here!" answered a very thin
treble; and, bustling through the surrounding crowd, came forward the
owner of the voice. Master Rodolph was not much above five feet high,
but he was nearly as broad as he was long. Though more than middle-aged,
an almost infantile smile played upon his broad fair face, to which his
small turn-up nose, large green goggle-eyes, and unmeaning mouth gave no
expression. His long hair hung over his shoulders, the flaxen locks in
some places maturing into grey. In compliance with the taste of his
master, this most unsportsman-like-looking steward was clad in a green
jerkin, on the right arm of which was embroidered a giant's head, the
crest of the Little Lilliputs.
"Truly, Rodolph, we have received some scratch in the chase to-day, and
need your assistance. The best of surgeons, we assure you, Mr. Grey, if
you require one: and look you that the blue chamber be prepared for this
gentleman; and we shall have need of our cabinet this evening. See that
all this be done, and inform Prince Maximilian that we would speak with
him. And look you, Master Rodolph, there is one in this company; what
call you your servant's name, sir? Essper George! 'tis well: look you,
Rodolph, see that our friend Essper George be well provided for. We know
that we can trust him to your good care. And now, gentlemen, at sunset
we meet in the Giants' Hall." So saying, his Highness bowed to the
party; and taking Vivian by the arm, and followed by Arnelm and Von
Neuwied, he ascended a stair case which opened into the court, and then
mounted into a covered gallery which ran round the whole building. The
interior wall of the gallery was alternately ornamented with stags'
heads or other trophies of the chase, and coats of arms blazoned in
stucco. The Prince did the honours of the castle to Vivian with great
courtesy. The armoury and the hall, the knights chamber, and even the
donjon-keep, were all examined; and when Vivian had sufficiently admired
the antiquity of the structure and the beauty of the situation, the
Prince, having proceeded down a long corridor, opened the door into a
small chamber, which he introduced to Vivian as his cabinet. The
furniture of this room was rather quaint, and not unpleasing. The
wainscot and ceiling were painted alike, of a light green colour, and
were richly carved and gilt. The walls were hung with green velvet, of
which material were also the chairs, and a sofa, which was placed under
a large and curiously-cut looking glass. The lower panes of the windows
of this room were of stained glass, of vivid tints; but the upper panes
were untinged, in order that the light should not be disturbed which
fell through them upon two magnificent pictures; one a hunting-piece, by
Schneiders, and the other a portrait of an armed chieftain on horseback,
by Lucas Cranach.
And now the door opened, and Master Rodolph entered, carrying in his
hand a white wand, and bowing very reverently as he ushered in servants
bearing a cold collation. As he entered, it was with difficulty that he
could settle his countenance into the due and requisite degree of
gravity; and so often was the fat steward on the point of bursting into
laughter, as he arranged the setting out of the refreshments on the
table, that the Prince, with whom he was at the same time both u
favourite and a butt, at last noticed his unusual and unmanageable
"Why, Rodolph, what ails thee? Hast thou just discovered the point of
some good saying of yesterday?"
The steward could now contain his laughter no longer, and he gave vent
to his emotion in a most treble "He! he! he!"
"Speak, man, in the name of St. Hubert, and on the word of as stout a
huntsman as ever yet crossed horse. Speak, we say; what ails thee?"
"He! he! he! in truth, a most comical knave! I beg your Serene Highness
ten thousand most humble pardons, but, in truth, a more comical knave
did I never see. How call you him? Essper George, I think; he! he! he!
In truth, your Highness was right when you styled him a merry knave; in
truth, a most comical knave; he! he! a very funny knave! He says, your
Highness, that I am like a snake in a consumption! he! he! he! In truth,
a most comical knave!"
"Well, Rodolph, so long as you do not quarrel with his jokes, they shall
pass as true wit. But why comes not our son? Have you bidden the Prince
Maximilian to our presence?"
"In truth have I, your Highness; but he was engaged at the moment with
Mr. Sievers, and therefore he could not immediately attend my bidding.
Nevertheless, he bade me deliver to your Serene Highness his dutiful
affection, saying that he would soon have the honour of bending his knee
unto your Serene Highness."
"He never said any such nonsense. At least, if he did, he must be
changed since last we hunted."
"In truth, your Highness, I cannot aver, upon my conscience as a
faithful steward, that such were the precise words and exact phraseology
of his Highness the Prince Maximilian. But in the time of the good
Prince, your father, whose memory be ever blessed, such were the words
and style of message which I was schooled and instructed by Mr. von
Lexicon, your Serene Highness' most honoured tutor, to bear unto the
good Prince your father, whose memory be ever blessed, when I had the
great fortune of being your Serene Highness' most particular page, and
it fell to my lot to have the pleasant duty of informing the good Prince
your father, whose memory be ever blessed--"
"Enough! but Sievers is not Von Lexicon, and Maximilian, we trust,
"Papa! papa! dearest papa!" shouted a young lad, as he dashed open the
door, and, rushing into the room, threw his arms round the
"My darling!" said the father, forgetting at this moment of genuine
feeling the pompous plural in which he had hitherto spoken of himself.
The Prince fondly kissed his child. The boy was about ten years of age,
exquisitely handsome. Courage, not audacity, was imprinted on his
"Papa! may I hunt with you to-morrow?"
"What says Mr. Sievers?"
"Oh! Mr. Sievers says I am excellent; I assure you, upon my honour, he
does, I heard you come home; but though I was dying to see you, I would
not run out till I had finished my Roman History. I say, papa! what a
grand fellow Brutus was; what a grand thing it is to be a patriot! I
intend to be a patriot myself, and to kill the Grand Duke of Reisenburg.
Who is that?"
"My friend, Max, Mr. Grey. Speak to him."
"I am happy to see you at Turriparva, sir," said the boy, bowing to
Vivian with dignity. "Have you been hunting with his Highness
"I can hardly say I have."
"Max, I have received a slight wound to-day. Do not look alarmed; it is
slight. I only mention it because, had it not been for this gentleman,
it is very probable you would never have seen your father again. He has
saved my life!"
"Saved your life! saved my papa's life!" said the young Prince, seizing
Vivian's hand. "Oh! sir, what can I do for you? Mr. Sievers!" said the
boy, with eagerness, to a gentleman who entered the room; "Mr. Sievers!
here is a young lord who has saved papa's life!"
Mr. Sievers was a tall, thin man, about forty, with a clear sallow
complexion, a high forehead, on which a few wrinkles were visible,
bright keen eyes, and a quantity of grey curling hair, which was combed
back off his forehead, and fell down over his shoulders. He was
introduced to Vivian as the Prince's particular friend; and then he
listened, apparently with interest, to his Highness' narrative of the
morning's adventure, his danger, and his rescue. Young Maximilian never
took his large, dark-blue eyes off his father while he was speaking, and
when he had finished the boy rushed to Vivian and threw his arms round
his neck. Vivian was delighted with the affection of the child, who
whispered to him in a low voice, "I know what you are!"
"What, my young friend?"
"Ah! I know."
"But tell me!"
"You thought I should not find out: you are a patriot!"
"I hope I am," said Vivian; "but travelling in a foreign country is
hardly a proof of it. Perhaps you do not know that I am an Englishman."
"An Englishman!" said the child, with an air of great disappointment. "I
thought you were a patriot! I am one. Do you know I will tell you a
secret. You must promise not to tell, though. Promise, upon your word!
Well, then," said the urchin, whispering with great energy in Vivian's
ear through his hollow fist, "I hate the Grand Duke of Reisenburg, and I
mean to stab him to the heart." So saying, the little Prince grated his
teeth with an expression of bitter detestation.
"What the deuce is the matter with the child!" thought Vivian; but at
this moment his conversation with him was interrupted.
"Am I to believe this young gentleman, my dear Sievers," asked the
Prince, "when he tells me that his conduct has met your approbation?"
"Your son, Prince," answered Mr. Sievers, "can only speak truth. His
excellence is proved by my praising him to his face."
The young Maximilian, when Mr. Sievers had ceased speaking, stood
blushing, with his eyes fixed on the ground; and the delighted parent,
catching his child up in his arms, embraced him with unaffected
"And now, all this time Master Rodolph is waiting for his patient. By
St. Hubert, you can none of you think me very ill! Your pardon, Mr.
Grey, for leaving you. My friend Sievers will, I am sure, be delighted
to make you feel at ease at Turriparva. Max, come with me!"
Vivian found in Mr. Sievers an interesting companion; nothing of the
pedant and much of the philosopher. Their conversation was of course
chiefly on topics of local interest, anecdotes of the castle and the
country, of Vivian's friends, the drunken Johannisberger and his crew,
and such matters; but there was a keenness of satire in some of Mr.
Sievers' observations which was highly amusing, and enough passed to
make Vivian desire opportunities of conversing with him at greater
length, and on subjects of greater interest. They were at present
disturbed by Essper George entering the room to inform Vivian that his
luggage had arrived from the village, and that the blue chamber was now
prepared for his presence.
"We shall meet, I suppose, in the hall, Mr. Sievers?"
"No; I shall not dint; there. If you remain at Turriparva, which I
trust you will. I shall be happy to see you in my room. If it have no
other inducement to gain it the honour of your visit, it has here, at
least, the recommendation of singularity; there is, at any rate, no
other chamber like it in this good castle."
The business of the toilet is sooner performed for a hunting party in a
German forest than for a state dinner at Château Desir, and Vivian was
ready before he was summoned.
"His Serene Highness has commenced his progress towards the hall."
announced Essper George to Vivian in a treble voice, and bowing with
ceremony as he offered to lead the way with a white wand waving in his
"I shall attend his Highness," said his master; "but before I do, if
that white wand be not immediately laid aside it will be broken about
"Broken about my back! what, the wand of office, sir, of your steward!
Master Rodolph says that, in truth, a steward is but half himself who
hath not his wand: methinks when his rod of office is wanting, his
Highness of Lilliput's steward is but unequally divided. In truth, he is
stout enough to be Aaron's wand that swallowed up all the rest. But has
your nobleness any serious objection to my carrying a wand? It gives
such an air!"
The Giants' Hall was a Gothic chamber of imposing appearance; the oaken
rafters of the curiously-carved roof rested on the grim heads of
gigantic figures of the same material. These statues extended the length
of the hall on each side; they were elaborately sculptured and highly
polished, and each one held in its outstretched arm a blazing and
aromatic torch. Above them, small windows of painted glass admitted a
light which was no longer necessary at the banquet to which we are now
about to introduce the reader. Over the great entrance doors was a
gallery, from which a band of trumpeters, arrayed in ample robes of
flowing scarlet, sent forth many a festive and martial strain. More than
fifty individuals, all wearing hunting dresses of green cloth on which
the giant's head was carefully emblazoned, were already seated in the
hall when Vivian entered: he was conducted to the upper part of the
chamber, and a seat was allotted him on the left hand of the Prince. His
Highness had not arrived, but a chair of state, placed under a crimson
canopy, denoted the style of its absent owner; and a stool, covered with
velvet of the same regal colour, and glistening with gold lace,
announced that the presence of Prince Maximilian was expected. While
Vivian was musing in astonishment at the evident affectation of royal
pomp which pervaded the whole establishment of the Prince of Little
Lilliput, the trumpeters in the gallery suddenly commenced a triumphant
flourish. All rose as the princely procession entered the hall: first
came Master Rodolph twirling his white wand with the practised pride of
a drum-major, and looking as pompous as a turkey-cock in a storm; six
footmen in splendid liveries, two by two, immediately followed him. A
page heralded the Prince Maximilian, and then came the Serene father;
the Jagd Junker, and four or five other gentlemen of the court, formed
His Highness ascended the throne, Prince Maximilian was on his right,
and Vivian had the high honour of the left hand; the Jagd Junker seated
himself next to our hero. The table was profusely covered, chiefly with
the sports of the forest, and the celebrated wild boar was not
forgotten. Few minutes had elapsed ere Vivian perceived that his
Highness was always served on bended knee; surprised at this custom,
which even the mightiest and most despotic monarchs seldom exact, and
still more surprised at the contrast which all this state afforded to
the natural ease and affable amiability of the Prince, Vivian ventured
to ask his neighbour Arnelm whether the banquet of to-day was in
celebration of any particular event of general or individual interest.
"By no means," said the Jagd Junker, "this is the usual style of the
Prince's daily meal, except that to-day there is, perhaps, rather less
state and fewer guests than usual, in consequence of many of our
fellow-subjects having left us with the purpose of attending a great
hunting party, which is now holding in the dominions of his Highness'
cousin, the Duke of Micromegas."
When the more necessary but, as most hold, the less delightful part of
banqueting was over, and the numerous serving-men had removed the more
numerous dishes of wild boar, red deer, roebuck, and winged game, a
stiff Calvinistic-looking personage rose and delivered a long and most
grateful grace, to which the sturdy huntsmen listened with a due mixture
of piety and impatience. When his starch reverence, who in his black
coat looked among the huntsmen very like (as Essper George observed) a
blackbird among a set of moulting canaries, had finished, an old man,
with long snow-white hah--and a beard of the same colour, rose from his
seat, and, with a glass in his hand, bowing first to his Highness with
great respect and then to his companions, with an air of condescension,
gave in a stout voice, "The Prince!" A loud shout was immediately
raised, and all quaffed with rapture the health of a ruler whom
evidently they adored. Master Rodolph now brought forward an immense
silver goblet full of some crafty compound, from its odour doubtless
delicious. The Prince held the goblet by its two massy handles, and then
said in a loud voice:
"My friends, the Giant's head! and he who sneers at its frown may he rue
The toast was welcomed with a cry of triumph. When the noise had
subsided the Jagd Junker rose, and prefacing the intended pledge by a
few observations as remarkable for the delicacy of their sentiments as
the elegance of their expression, he gave, pointing to Vivian, "The
Guest! and may the Prince never want a stout arm at a strong push!" The
sentiment was again echoed by the lusty voices of all present, and
particularly by his Highness. As Vivian shortly returned thanks and
modestly apologised for the German of a foreigner, he could not refrain
from remembering the last time when he was placed in the same situation;
it was when the treacherous Lord Courtown had drank success to Mr.
Vivian Grey's maiden speech in a bumper of claret at the political
orgies of Château Desir. Could he really be the same individual as the
daring youth who then organised the crazy councils of those ambitious,
imbecile grey-beards? What was he then? What had happened since? What
was he now? He turned from the comparison with feelings of sickening
disgust, and it was with difficulty that his countenance could assume
the due degree of hilarity which befitted the present occasion.
"Truly, Mr. Grey," said the Prince, "your German would pass current at
Weimar. Arnelm, good cousin Arnelm, we must trouble thy affectionate
duty to marshal and regulate the drinking devoirs of our kind subjects
to-night; for by the advice of our trusty surgeon, Master Rodolph, of
much fame, we shall refrain this night from our accustomed potations,
and betake ourselves to the solitude of our cabinet; a solitude in good
sooth, unless we can persuade you to accompany us, kind sir," said the
Prince, turning to Mr. Grey. "Methinks eight-and-forty hours without
rest, and a good part spent in the mad walls of our cousin of
Johannisberger, are hardly the best preparatives for a drinking bout;
unless, after Oberon's horn, ye may fairly be considered to be in
practice. Nevertheless, I advise the cabinet and a cup of Rodolph's
coffee. What sayest thou?" Vivian acceded to the Prince's proposition
with eagerness; and accompanied by Prince Maximilian, and preceded by
the little steward, who, surrounded by his serving-men, very much
resembled a planet eclipsed by his satellites, they left the hall.
"'Tis almost a pity to shut out the moon on such a night," said the
Prince, as he drew a large green velvet curtain from the windows of
"'Tis a magnificent night!" said Vivian; "how fine the effect of the
light is upon the picture of the warrior. The horse seems quite living,
and its fierce rider actually frowns upon us."
"He may well frown," said the Prince of Little Lilliput, in a voice of
deep melancholy; and he hastily redrew the curtain. In a moment he
started from the chair on which he had just seated himself, and again
admitted the moonlight. "Am I really afraid of an old picture? No, no;
it has not yet come to that."
This was uttered in a distinct voice, and of course excited the
astonishment of Vivian, who, however, had too much discretion to evince
his surprise, or to take any measure by which his curiosity might be
His companion seemed instantly conscious of the seeming singularity of
"You are surprised at my words, good sir," said his Highness, as he
paced very rapidly up and down the small chamber; "you are surprised at
my words; but, sir, my ancestor's brow was guarded by a diadem!"
"Which was then well won, Prince, and is now worthily worn."
"By whom? where? how?" asked the Prince, in a rapid voice. "Maximilian,"
continued his Highness, in a more subdued tone; "Maximilian, my own
love, leave us; go to Mr. Sievers. God bless you, my only boy.
"Good night, dearest papa, and down with the Grand Duke of Reisenburg!"
"He echoes the foolish zeal of my fond followers," said the Prince, as
his son left the room. "The idle parade to which their illegal loyalty
still clings; my own manners, the relics of former days; habits will not
change like stations; all these have deceived you, sir. You have
mistaken me for a monarch; I should be one. A curse light on me the
hour I can mention it without a burning blush. Oh, shame! shame on the
blood of my father's son! Can my mouth own that I once was one? Yes,
sir! you see before you the most injured, the least enviable of human
beings. I am a mediatised Prince!"
Vivian had resided too long in Germany to be ignorant of the meaning of
this title, with which, perhaps, few of our readers may be acquainted. A
mediatised Prince is an unhappy victim of those Congresses which, among
other good and evil, purged with great effect the ancient German
political system. By the regulations then determined on, that country
was freed at one fell swoop from the vexatious and harassing dominion of
the various petty Princes who exercised absolute sovereignties over
little nations of fifty thousand souls. These independent sovereigns
became subjects; and either swelled, by their mediatisation, the
territories of some already powerful potentate, or transmuted into a
state of importance some more fortunate petty ruler than themselves,
whose independence, through the exertions of political intrigue or
family influence, had been preserved inviolate. In most instances, the
concurrence of these little rulers in their worldly degradation was
obtained by a lavish grant of official emoluments or increase of
territorial possessions; and the mediatised Prince, instead of being an
impoverished and uninfluential sovereign, became a wealthy and powerful
subject. But so dominant in the heart of man is the love of independent
dominion, that even with these temptations few of the petty princes
could have been induced to have parted with their cherished sceptres,
had they not been conscious that, in case of contumacy, the resolutions
of a Diet would have been enforced by the armies of an emperor. As it
is, few of them have yet given up the outward and visible signs of regal
sway. The throne is still preserved and the tiara still revered. They
seldom frequent the courts of their sovereigns, and scarcely condescend
to notice the attentions of their fellow nobility. Most of them expend
their increased revenues in maintaining the splendour of their little
courts at their ancient capitals, or in swelling the ranks of their
retainers at their solitary forest castles.
The Prince of Little Lilliput was the first mediatised sovereign that
Vivian had ever met. At another time, and under other circumstances, he
might have smiled at the idle parade and useless pomp which he had this
day witnessed, or moralised on that weakness of human nature which
seemed to consider the inconvenient appendages of a throne as the great
end for which power was to be coveted; but at the present moment he only
saw a kind and, as he believed, estimable individual disquieted and
distressed. It was painful to witness the agitation of the Prince, and
Vivian felt it necessary to make some observations, which, from his
manner, expressed more than they meant.
"Sir," said his Highness, "your sympathy consoles me. Do not imagine
that I can misunderstand it; it does you honour. You add by this to the
many favours you have already conferred on me by saving my life and
accepting my hospitality. I sincerely hope that your departure hence
will be postponed to the last possible moment. Your conversation and
your company have made me pass a more cheerful day than I am accustomed
to. All here love me; but, with the exception of Sievers, I have no
companion; and although I esteem his principles and his talents, there
is no congeniality in our tastes, or in our tempers. As for the rest, a
more devoted band cannot be conceived; but they think only of one thing,
the lost dignity of their ruler; and although this concentration of
their thoughts on one subject may gratify my pride, it does not elevate
my spirit. But this is a subject on which in future we will not
converse. One of the curses of my unhappy lot is, that a thousand
circumstances daily occur which prevent me forgetting it."
The Prince rose from the table, and pressing with his right hand on part
of the wall, the door of a small closet sprung open; the interior was
lined with crimson velvet. He took out of it a cushion of the same regal
material, on which reposed, in solitary magnificence, a golden coronet
of antique workmanship.
"The crown of my fathers," said his Highness, as he placed the treasure
with great reverence on the table, "won by fifty battles and lost
without a blow! Yet in my youth I was deemed no dastard; and I have shed
more blood for my country in one day than he who claims to be my
suzerain in the whole of his long career of undeserved prosperity. Ay,
this is the curse; the ancestor of my present sovereign was that
warrior's serf!" The Prince pointed to the grim chieftain, whose stout
helmet Vivian now perceived was encircled by a crown similar to the one
which was now lying before him. "Had I been the subject, had I been
obliged to acknowledge the sway of a Caesar, I might have endured it
with resignation. Had I been forced to yield to the legions of an
Emperor, a noble resistance might have consoled me for the clanking of
my chains. But to sink without a struggle, the victim of political
intrigue; to become the bondsman of one who was my father's slave; for
such was Reisenburg, even in my own remembrance, our unsuccessful rival;
this was too had. It rankles in my heart, and unless I ran be revenged I
shall sink under it. To have lost my dominions would have been nothing.
But revenge I will have! It is yet in my power to gain for an enslaved
people the liberty I have myself lost. Yes! the enlightened spirit of
the age shall yet shake the quavering councils of the Reisenburg cabal.
I will, in truth I have already seconded the just, the unanswerable
demands of an oppressed and insulted people, and, ere six months are
over, I trust to see the convocation of a free and representative
council in the capital of the petty monarch to whom I have been
betrayed. The chief of Reisenburg has, in his eagerness to gain his
grand ducal crown, somewhat overstepped the mark.
"Besides myself, there are no less than three other powerful princes
whose dominions have been devoted to the formation of his servile duchy.
We are all animated by the same spirit, all intent upon the same end. We
have all used, and are using, our influence as powerful nobles to gain
for our fellow-subjects their withheld rights; rights which belong to
them as men, not merely as Germans. Within this week I have forwarded to
the Residence a memorial subscribed by myself, my relatives, the other
princes, and a powerful body of discontented nobles, requesting the
immediate grant of a constitution similar to those of Wirtemburg and
Bavaria. My companions in misfortune are inspirited by my joining them.
Had I been wise I should have joined them sooner; but until this moment
I have been the dupe of the artful conduct of an unprincipled Minister.
My eyes, however, are now open. The Grand Duke and his crafty
counsellor, whose name shall not profane my lips, already tremble. Part
of the people, emboldened by our representations, have already refused
to answer an unconstitutional taxation. I have no doubt that he must
yield. Whatever may be the inclination of the Courts of Vienna or St.
Petersburg, rest assured that the liberty of Germany will meet with no
opponent except political intrigue; and that Metternich is too well
acquainted with the spirit which is now only slumbering in the bosom of
the German nation to run the slightest risk of exciting it by the
presence of foreign legions. No, no! that mode of treatment may do very
well for Naples, or Poland, or Spain; but the moment that a Croat or a
Cossack shall encamp upon the Rhine or the Elbe, for the purpose of
supporting the unadulterated tyranny of their new-fangled Grand Dukes,
that moment Germany becomes a great and united nation. The greatest
enemy of the prosperity of Germany is the natural disposition of her
sons; but that disposition, while it does now, and may for ever, hinder
us from being a great people, will at the same time infallibly prevent
us from ever becoming a degraded one."
At this moment, this moment of pleasing anticipation of public virtue
and private revenge, Master Rodolph entered, and prevented Vivian from
gaining any details of the history of his host. The little round steward
informed his master that a horseman had just arrived, bearing for his
Highness a despatch of importance, which he insisted upon delivering
into the Prince's own hands.
"Whence comes he?" asked his Highness.
"In truth, your Serene Highness, that were hard to say, inasmuch as the
messenger refuses to inform us."
A man whose jaded looks proved that he had travelled far that day was
soon ushered into the room, and, bowing to the Prince, delivered to him
in silence a letter.
"From whom comes this?" asked the Prince.
"It will itself inform your Highness," was the only answer.
"My friend, you are a trusty messenger, and have been well trained.
Rodolph, look that this gentleman be well lodged and attended."
"I thank your Highness," said the messenger, "but I do not tarry here. I
wait no answer, and my only purpose in seeing you was to perform my
commission to the letter, by delivering this paper into your own hands."
"As you please, sir; you must be the best judge of your own time; but we
like not strangers to leave our gates while our drawbridge is yet
echoing with their entrance steps."
The Prince and Vivian were again alone. Astonishment and agitation were
visible on his Highness' countenance as he threw his eye over the
letter. At length he folded it up, put it into his breast-pocket and
tried to resume conversation; but the effort was both evident and
unsuccessful. In another moment the letter was again taken out, and
again read with not less emotion than accompanied its first perusal.
"I fear I have wearied you, Mr. Grey," said his Highness; "it was
inconsiderate in me not to remember that you require repose."
Vivian was not sorry to have an opportunity of retiring, so be quickly
took the hint, and wished his Highness agreeable dreams.
No one but an adventurous traveller can know the luxury of sleep. There
is not a greater fallacy in the world than the common creed that sweet
sleep is labour's guerdon. Mere regular, corporeal labour may certainly
procure us a good, sound, refreshing slumber, disturbed often by the
consciousness of the monotonous duties of the morrow; but how sleep the
other great labourers of this laborious world? Where is the sweet sleep
of the politician? After hours of fatigue in his office and hours of
exhaustion in the House, he gains his pillow; and a brief, feverish
night, disturbed by the triumph of a cheer and the horrors of a reply.
Where is the sweet sleep of the poet? We all know how harassing are the
common dreams which are made up of incoherent images of our daily life,
in which the actors are individuals that we know, and whose conduct
generally appears to be regulated by principles which we can comprehend.
How much more enervating and destroying must be the slumber of that man
who dreams of an imaginary world! waking, with a heated and excited
spirit, to mourn over some impressive incident of the night, which is
nevertheless forgotten, or to collect some inexplicable plot which has
been revealed in sleep, and has fled from the memory as the eyelids have
opened. Where is the sweet sleep of the artist? of the lawyer? Where,
indeed, of any human being to whom to-morrow brings its necessary
duties? Sleep is the enemy of Care, and Care is the constant companion
of regular labour, mental or bodily.
But your traveller, your adventurous traveller, careless of the future,
reckless of the past, with a mind interested by the world, from the
immense and various character which that world presents to him, and not
by his own stake in any petty or particular contingency; wearied by
delightful fatigue, daily occasioned by varying means and from varying
causes; with the consciousness that no prudence can regulate the
fortunes of the morrow, and with no curiosity to discover what those
fortunes may be, from a conviction that it is utterly impossible to
ascertain them; perfectly easy whether he lie in a mountain-hut, or a
royal palace; and reckless alike of the terrors and chances of storm and
bandits, seeing that he has a fair chance of meeting both with security
and enjoyment; this is the fellow who, throwing himself upon a down
couch or his mule's pack-saddle, with equal eagerness and equal
sangfroid, sinks into a repose, in which he is never reminded by the
remembrance of an appointment or an engagement for the next day, a duel,
a marriage, or a dinner, the three perils of man, that he has the
misfortune of being mortal; and wakes not to combat care, but only to
feel that he is fresher and more vigorous than he was the night before;
and that, come what come may, he is, at any rate, sure this day of
seeing different faces, and of improvising his unpremeditated part upon
a different scene.
We have now both philosophically accounted and politely apologised for
the loud and unfashionable snore which sounded in the blue chamber about
five minutes after Vivian Grey had entered that most comfortable
apartment. In about twelve hours' time he was scolding Essper George for
having presumed to wake him so early, quite unconscious that he had
enjoyed anything more than a twenty minutes' doze.
"I should not have come in, sir, only they are all out. They were off by
six o'clock this morning, sir; most part at least. The Prince has gone;
I do not know whether he went with them, but Master Rodolph has given
me--I breakfasted with Master Rodolph. Holy Virgin! what quarters we
have got into!"
"To the point; what of the Prince?"
"His Highness has left the castle, and desired Master Rodolph; if your
Grace had only seen Master Rodolph tipsy last night; he rolled about
like a turbot in a tornado."
"What of the Prince?"
"The Prince desired this letter to be given to you, sir."
Vivian read the note, which supposed that, of course, he would not wish
to join the chase this morning, and regretted that the writer was
obliged to ride out for a few hours to visit a neighbouring nobleman,
but requested the pleasure of his guest's company at a private dinner in
the cabinet on his return.
After breakfast Vivian called on Mr. Sievers. He found that gentleman
busied in his library.
"You never hunt, I suppose, Mr. Sievers?"
"Never. His Highness, I apprehend, is out this morning; the beautiful
weather continues; surely we never had such a season. As for myself, I
almost have given up my indoor pursuits. The sun is not the light of
study. Let us take our caps and have a stroll."
The gentlemen accordingly left the library, and proceeding through a
different gate to that by which Vivian had entered the castle, they came
upon a part of the forest in which the timber and brushwood had been in
a great measure cleared away; large clumps of trees being left standing
on an artificial lawn, and newly-made roads winding about in pleasing
irregularity until they were all finally lost in the encircling woods.
"I think you told me," said Mr. Sievers, "that you had been long in
Germany. What course do you think of taking from here?"
"Straight to Vienna."
"Ah! a delightful place. If, as I suppose to be the case, you are fond
of dissipation and luxury, Vienna is to be preferred to any city with
which I am acquainted. And intellectual companions are not wanting
there, as some have said. There are one or two houses in which the
literary soirées will yield to few in Europe; and I prefer them to most,
because there is less pretension and more ease. The Archduke John is a
man of considerable talents, and of more considerable acquirements. An
excellent geologist! Are you fond of geology?"
"I am not in the least acquainted with the science."
"Naturally so; at your age, if, in fact, we study at all, we are fond of
fancying ourselves moral philosophers, and our study is mankind. Trust
me, my dear sir, it is a branch of research soon exhausted; and in a few
years you will be very glad, for want of something else to do, to
meditate upon stones. See now," said Mr. Sievers, picking up a stone,
"to what associations does this little piece of quartz give rise! I am
already an antediluvian, and instead of a stag bounding by that wood I
witness the moving mass of a mammoth. I live in other worlds, which, at
the same time, I have the advantage of comparing with the present.
Geology is indeed a magnificent study! What excites more the
imagination? What exercises more the reason? Can you conceive anything
sublimer than the gigantic shadows and the grim wreck of an antediluvian
world? Can you devise any plan which will more brace our powers, and
develop our mental energies, than the formation of a perfect chain of
inductive reasoning to account for these phenomena? What is the boasted
communion which the vain poet holds with nature compared with
conversation which the geologist perpetually carries on with the
elemental world? Gazing on the strata of the earth, he reads the fate of
his species. In the undulations of the mountains is revealed to him the
history of the past; and in the strength of rivers and the powers of the
air he discovers the fortunes of the future. To him, indeed, that
future, as well as the past and the present, are alike matter for
meditation: for the geologist is the most satisfactory of antiquarians,
the most interesting of philosophers, and the most inspired of prophets;
demonstrating that which has past by discovery, that which is occurring
by observation, and that which is to come by induction. When you go to
Vienna I will give you a letter to Frederic Schlegel; we were
fellow-students, and are friends, though for various reasons we do not
at present meet; nevertheless a letter from me will command respect. I
will recommend you, however, before you go on to Vienna, to visit
"Indeed! from the Prince's account, I should have thought that there was
little to interest me there."
"His Highness is not an impartial judge. You are probably acquainted
with the disagreeable manner in which he is connected with that Court.
Far from his opinion being correct, I should say there are few places in
Germany more worthy of a visit than the little Court near us; and above
all things my advice is that you should not pass it over."
"I am inclined to follow it. You are right in supposing that I am not
ignorant that His Highness has the misfortune of being a mediatised
Prince; but what is the exact story about him? I have heard some odd
It is a curious story, but I am afraid you will find it rather long.
Nevertheless, if you really visit Reisenburg, it may be of use to you to
know something of the singular characters you will meet there. In the
first place, you say you know that Little Lilliput is a mediatised
Prince, and, of course, are precisely aware what that title means.
About fifty years ago, the rival of the illustrious family in whose
chief castle we are both of us now residing was the Margrave of
Reisenburg, another petty Prince with territories not so extensive as
those of our friend, and with a population more limited: perhaps fifty
thousand souls, half of whom were drunken cousins. The old Margrave of
Reisenburg, who then reigned, was a perfect specimen of the
old-fashioned German Prince: he did nothing but hunt and drink and think
of the quarterings of his immaculate shield, all duly acquired from some
Vandal ancestor as barbarous as himself. His little Margraviate was
misgoverned enough for a great empire. Half of his nation, who were his
real people, were always starving, and were unable to find crown pieces
to maintain the extravagant expenditure of the other moiety, the
cousins; who, out of gratitude to their fellow-subjects for their
generous support, harassed them with every species of excess. Complaints
were of course made to the Margrave, and loud cries for justice
resounded at the palace gates. This Prince was an impartial chief
magistrate; he prided himself upon his "invariable" principles of
justice, and he allowed nothing to influence his decisions. His plan for
arranging all differences had the merit of being brief; and if brevity
be the soul of wit, it certainly was most unreasonable in his subjects
to consider his judgments no joke. He always counted the quarterings in
the shields of the respective parties, and decided accordingly. Imagine
the speedy redress gained by a muddy-veined peasant against one of the
cousins; who, of course, had as many quarterings as the Margrave
himself. The defendant was regularly acquitted. At length, a man's house
having been burnt down out of mere joke in the night, the owner had the
temerity in the morning to accuse one of the privileged, and to produce,
at the same tune, a shield, with exactly one more quartering than the
reigning shield itself contained. The Margrave was astounded, the people
in raptures, and the cousins in despair. The complainant's shield was
examined and counted, and not a flaw discovered. What a dilemma! The
chief magistrate consulted with the numerous branches of his family, and
the next morning the complainant's head was struck off for high treason,
for daring to have one more quartering than his monarch!
"In this way they passed their time about fifty years since in
Reisenburg; occasionally, for the sake of variety, declaring war against
the inhabitants of Little Lilliput, who, to say the truth, in their
habits and pursuits did not materially differ from their neighbours. The
Margrave had one son, the present Grand Duke. A due reverence of the
great family shield, and a full acquaintance with the invariable
principles of justice, were early instilled into him; and the royal
stripling made such rapid progress, under the tuition of his amiable
parent, that he soon became highly popular with all his relations. At
length his popularity became troublesome to his father; and so the old
Margrave sent for his son one morning and informed him that he had
dreamed the preceding night that the air of Reisenburg was peculiarly
unwholesome for young persons, and therefore he begged him to get out of
his dominions as soon as possible. The young Prince had no objection to
see something of the world. He flew to a relative whom he had never
before visited. This nobleman was one of those individuals who
anticipate their age, which, by-the-bye, Mr. Grey, none but noblemen
should do; for he who anticipates his century is generally persecuted
when living, and is always pilfered when dead. Howbeit, this relation
was a philosopher; all about him thought him mad; he, in return, thought
all about him fools. He sent the Prince to an University, and gave him
for a tutor a young man about ten years older than his pupil. This
person's name was Beckendorff. You will hear more of him.
"About three years after the sudden departure of the young Prince, the
old Margrave his father and the then reigning Prince of Little Lilliput
shot each other through the head in a drunken brawl, after a dinner
given in honour of a proclamation of peace between the two countries.
The cousins were not much grieved, as they anticipated a fit successor
in their former favourite. Splendid preparations were made for the
reception of the inheritor of the family shield, and all Reisenburg was
poured out to witness the triumphant entrance of their future monarch.
At last two horsemen in plain dresses, and on indifferent steeds, rode
up to the palace gates, dismounted, and without making any enquiry
ordered the attendance of some of the chief nobility in the presence
chamber. One of them, a young man, without any preparatory explanation,
introduced the Reisenburg chieftains to his companion as his Prime
Minister, and commanded them immediately to deliver up their
portefeuilles and golden keys to Mr. Beckendorff. The nobles were in
dismay, and so astounded that they made no resistance, though the next
morning they started in their beds when they remembered that they had
delivered their insignia of office to a man without a von before his
name. They were soon, however, roused from their sorrow and their
stupor, by receiving a peremptory order to quit the palace: and as they
retired from the walls which they had long considered as their own,
they had the mortification of meeting crowds of the common people, their
slaves and their victims, hurrying with joyful countenances and
triumphant looks to the palace of their Prince, in consequence of an
energetic proclamation for the redress of grievances, and an earnest
promise to decide cases in future without examining the quarterings of
the parties, in a week's time the cousins were all adrift. At length
they conspired, but the conspiracy was tardy, they found their former
servants armed, and they joined in an unequal struggle; for their
opponents were alike animated with hopes of the future and with revenge
for the past. The cousins got well beat, and this was not the worst; for
Beckendorff took advantage of this unsuccessful treason, which he had
himself fomented, and forfeited all their estates; destroying in one
hour the system which had palsied, for so many years, the energies of
his master's subjects. In time many of the chief nobility were restored
to their honours and estates; but the power with which they were again
invested was greatly modified, and the privileges of the Commons greatly
increased. At this moment the French Revolution broke out. The French
crossed the Rhine and carried all before them; and the Prince of Little
Lilliput, among other true Germans, made a bold but fruitless
resistance. The Margrave of Reisenburg, on the contrary, received the
enemy with open arms; he raised a larger body of troops than his due
contingent, and exerted himself in every manner to second the views of
the Great Nation. In return for his services he was presented with the
conquered principality of Little Lilliput and some other adjoining
lands; and the Margraviate of Reisenburg, with an increased territory
and population, and governed with consummate wisdom, began to be
considered the most flourishing of the petty states in the quarter of
the empire to which it belonged. On the contrary, our princely and
patriotic friend, mortified by the degenerate condition of his country
and the prosperity of his rival house, quitted Little Lilliput, and
became one of those emigrant princes who abounded during the first years
of the Revolution in the northern courts of Europe Napoleon soon
appeared upon the stage; and vanquished Austria, with the French
dictating at the gates of her capital, was no longer in a condition to
support the dignity of the Empire. The policy of the Margrave of
Reisenburg was as little patriotic and quite as consistent as before.
Beckendorff became the constant and favoured counsellor of the French
Emperor. It was chiefly by his exertions that the celebrated
Confederation of the Rhine was carried into effect. The institution of
this body excited among many Germans, at the time, loud expressions of
indignation; but I believe few impartial and judicious men now look upon
that league as any other than one in the formation of which consummate
statesmanship was exhibited. In fact, it prevented the subjugation of
Germany to France, and by flattering the pride of Napoleon saved the
decomposition of our Empire. But how this might be it is not at present
necessary for us to enquire. Certain it was, that the pupil of
Beckendorff was amply repaid for the advice and exertions of his master
and his Minister; and when Napoleon fell the brows of the former
Margrave were encircled with a grand ducal crown, and his duchy, while
it contained upwards of a million and a half of inhabitants, numbered in
its limits some of the most celebrated cities in Germany and many of
Germany's most flourishing provinces. But Napoleon fell. The Prince of
Little Lilliput and his companions in patriotism and misfortune returned
from their exile panting with hope and vengeance. A Congress was held to
settle the affairs of agitated Germany. Where was the Grand Duke of
Reisenburg? His hard-earned crown tottered on his head. Where was his
crafty Minister, the supporter of revolutionary France, the friend of
its Imperial enslaver, the constant enemy of the House of Austria? At
the very Congress which, according to the expectations of the exiled
Princes, was to restore them to their own dominions, and to reward their
patriotic loyalty with the territories of their revolutionary brethren;
yes! at this very Congress was Beckendorff; not as a suppliant, not as a
victim, but seated at the right hand of Metternich, and watching, with
parental affection, the first interesting and infantile movements of
that most prosperous of political bantlings, the Holy Alliance. You may
well imagine that the Military Grand Duke had a much better chance in
political negotiation than the emigrant Prince. In addition to this, the
Grand Duke of Reisenburg had married, during the war, a Princess of a
powerful House; and the allied Sovereigns were eager to gain the future
aid and constant co-operation of a mind like Beckendorff's. The Prince
of Little Lilliput, the patriot, was rewarded for his conduct by being
restored to his forfeited possessions: and the next day he became the
subject of his former enemy, the Grand Duke of Reisenburg, the traitor.
What think you of Monsieur Beckendorff?"
"One of the most interesting characters I have long heard of. But his
pupil appears to be a man of mind."
"You shall hear. I should, however, first mention that while Beckendorff
has not scrupled to resort to any measures or adopt any opinions in
order to further the interests of his monarch and his country, he has in
every manner shown that personal aggrandisement has never been his
object. He lives in retirement, scarcely with an attendant, and his
moderate official stipend amply supports his more moderate expenditure.
The subjects of the Grand Duke may well be grateful that they have a
Minister without relations and without favourites. The Grand Duke is,
unquestionably, a man of talents; but at the same time, perhaps, one of
the most weak-minded men that ever breathed. He was fortunate in meeting
with Beckendorff early in life; and as the influence of the Minister has
not for a moment ceased over the mind of the monarch, to the world the
Grand Duke of Reisenburg has always appeared to be an individual of a
strong mind and consistent conduct. But when you have lived as much and
as intimately in his Court as I have done, you will find how easily the
world may he deceived. Since the close connection which now exists
between Reisenburg and Austria took place, Beckendorff has, in a great
degree, revived the ancient privileges of blood and birth. A Minister
who has sprung from the people will always conciliate the aristocracy.
Having no family influence of his own, he endeavours to gain the
influence of others: and it often happens that merit is never less
considered than when merit has made the Minister. A curious instance of
this occurs in a neighbouring state. There the Premier, decidedly a man
of great talents, is of as humble an origin as Beckendorff. With no
family to uphold him, he supports himself by a lavish division of all
the places and patronage of the State among the nobles. If the younger
son or brother of H peer dare to sully his oratorical virginity by a
chance observation in the Lower Chamber, the Minister, himself a real
orator, immediately rises to congratulate, in pompous phrase, the House
and the country on the splendid display which has made this night
memorable, and on the decided advantages which must accrue both to their
own resolutions and the national interests from the future participation
of his noble friend in their deliberations. All about him are young
nobles, quite unfit for the discharge of their respective duties. His
private secretary is unable to coin a sentence, almost to direct a
letter; but he is noble! The secondary officials cannot be trusted even
in the least critical conjunctures; but they are noble! And the Prime
Minister of a powerful empire is forced to rise early and be up late;
not to meditate on the present fortunes or future destinies of his
country, but by his personal exertions to compensate for the
inefficiency and expiate the blunders of his underlings, whom his
unfortunate want of blood has forced him to overwhelm with praises which
they do not deserve, and duties which they cannot discharge. I do not
wish you to infer that the policy of Beckendorff has been actuated by
the feelings which influence the Minister whom I have noticed, from
whose conduct in this very respect his own materially differs. On the
contrary, his connection with Austria is, in all probability, the
primary great cause. However this may be, certain it is that all offices
about the Court and connected with the army (and I need not remind you
that at a small German Court these situations are often the most
important in the State) can only be filled by the nobility; nor can any
person who has the misfortune of not inheriting the magical monosyllable
_von_ before his name, the shibboleth of nobility and the symbol of
territorial pride, violate by their unhallowed presence the sanctity of
Court dinners, or the as sacred ceremonies of a noble fête. But while a
monopoly of those offices which for their due performance require only a
showy exterior or a schooled address is granted to the nobles, all those
State charges which require the exercise of intellect are now chiefly
filled by the bourgeoisie. At the same time, however, that both our
Secretaries of State, many of our Privy Councillors, war Councillors,
forest Councillors, and finance Councillors, are to be reckoned among
the second class, still not one of these exalted individuals, who from
their situations are necessarily in constant personal communication with
the Sovereign, ever see that Sovereign except in his Cabinet and his
Council-Chamber. Beckendorff himself, the Premier, is the son of a
peasant; and of course not noble. Nobility, which has been proffered
him, not only by his own monarch, but by most of the sovereigns of
Europe, he has invariably refused; and consequently never appears at
Court. The truth is, that, from disposition, he is little inclined to
mix with men; and he has taken advantage of his want of an escutcheon
completely to exempt himself from all those duties of etiquette which
his exalted situation would otherwise have imposed upon him. None can
complain of the haughtiness of the nobles when, ostensibly, the Minister
himself is not exempted from their exclusive regulations. If you go to
Reisenburg, you will not therefore see Beckendorff, who lives, as I have
mentioned, in solitude, about thirty miles from the capital;
communicating only with his Royal master, the foreign Ministers, and one
or two official characters of his own country. I was myself an inmate of
the Court for upwards of two years. During that time I never saw the
Minister; and, with the exception of some members of the royal family
and the characters I have mentioned, I never knew one person who had
even caught a glimpse of the individual who may indeed be said to be
regulating their destinies.
"It is at the Court, then," continued Mr. Sievers, "when he is no longer
under the control of Beckendorff, and in those minor points which are
not subjected to the management or influenced by the mind of the
Minister, that the true character of the Grand Duke is to be detected.
Indeed it may really be said, that the weakness of his mind has been the
origin of his fortune. In his early youth his pliant temper adapted
itself without a struggle to the barbarous customs and the brutal
conduct of his father's Court; that same pliancy of temper prevented him
opposing with bigoted obstinacy the exertions of his relation to educate
and civilise him; that same pliancy of temper allowed him to become the
ready and the enthusiastic disciple of Beckendorff. Had the pupil, when
he ascended the throne, left his master behind him, it is very probable
that his natural feelings would have led him to oppose the French; and
at this moment, instead of being the first of the second rate powers of
Germany, the Grand Duke of Reisenburg might himself have been an
mediatised Prince. As it was, the same pliancy of temper which I have
noticed enabled him to receive Napoleon, when an Emperor, with
outstretched arms; and at this moment does not prevent him from
receiving, with equal rapture, the Imperial Archduchess, who will soon
be on her road from Vienna to espouse his son; for, to crown his
career, Beckendorff has successfully negotiated a marriage between a
daughter of the House of Austria and the Crown Prince of Reisenburg. It
is generally believed that the next step of the Diet will be to
transmute the father's Grand Ducal coronet into a Regal crown; and
perhaps, my good sir, before you reach Vienna, you may have the supreme
honour of being presented to his Majesty the King of Reisenburg."
"But when you talk only of the pupil's pliancy of temper, am I to
suppose that in mentioning his talents you were speaking ironically?"
"By no means! The Grand Duke is a scholar; a man of refined taste, a
patron of the fine arts, a lover of literature, a promoter of science,
and what the world would call a philosopher. His judgment is sound, and
generally correct, his powers of discrimination acute, and his knowledge
of mankind greater than that of most sovereigns; but with all these
advantages he is cursed with such a wavering and indecisive temper, that
when, which is usually the case, he has come to a right conclusion, he
can never prevail upon himself to carry his theory into practice; and
with all his acuteness, his discernment, and his knowledge of the world,
his mind is always ready to receive any impression from the person who
last addresses him, though he himself be fully aware of the inferiority
of his adviser's intellect to his own, or the imperfection of that
adviser's knowledge. Never for a moment out of the sight of Beckendorff,
the royal pupil has made an admirable political puppet, since his
talents have always enabled him to understand the part which the
Minister had forced him to perform. Thus the world has given the Grand
Duke credit, not only for the possession of great talents, but almost
for as much firmness of mind and decision of character as his Minister.
But since his long-agitated career has become calm and tranquil, and
Beckendorff, like a guardian spirit, has ceased to be ever at his elbow,
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