« AnteriorContinuar »
domestic chaplain. One word may be sufficiently intelligible, and when there is good intention on the wife's part, she has long years in which to discipline herself in silence thereon-often also to suffer. Albert was therefore meekly silent, and studied the holy condition of marriage with a devout mind, because the Lord had placed him in Paradise.
Under favour of his silence, everything in the house was soon directed and regulated according to Agnes's will; and what in itself appeared indifferent, through the number and association of things, was soon no longer so. Yet he let everything alone which was not really bad. For he knew well that he exercised a mental ascendancy which constrained his wife in her will, and against which she thought she could maintain an artificial equilibrium by opposition alone. She knew not the power of submission, not even that of submission to the best of husbands. And when she saw daily the two-headed eagle over the park gate, on the arms of the Imperial City, then she thought that in marriage there should also be two heads, without considering that no living creature can so exist, and that even when painted or hewn in stone it is a monster or represents one.
It should be said, however, in excuse for her, that she was the child of an old father, and had not learned obedience, even when he asked her to be happy, not to mention anything else. She had only laughed when her father once asked her quite gravely to laugh, so that he might see his daughter lively for once- --were it only in appearance.
Thus demure was her mind, and only directed towards a few objects in life, but to them so much the more firmly and constantly. And these things were not censurable, but, on the contrary, desirable and necessary for every one. Her sense of honour was great, strong, and pure; but she wished to carry it about with her through life, not only firmly maintained but undisputed.
Albert's father had, it is true, bought him a house, but he had not paid for it. And therefore the walls oppressed and confined poor Agnes, so that it was impossible to move her to look out at the window with him out of a borrowed house,
As often also as she went to church like a good Catholic, she avoided the streets in which any one dwelt who was in Albert's debt, that she might not appear needy or dunning.
Albert, with his usual candour, had also imparted to her letters he had received from Venice dunning him. They were for debts con tracted in travelling and for instruction ;--and he who would allow his neighbour, with whose circumstances he is intimately acquainted, to starve, will lend to the stranger; for when any one travels into far countries, he provides beforehand the means thereto, and is thought to be only in momentary embarrassment, which may even befal the richest. Albert, however, endured much distress in foreign lands, and willingly suffered want from his unconquerable love for the arts, which carried him cheerfully through a condition that might perhaps have killed another, without such an opposing power. When such a letter came, Agnes was silent for days. He, however, had the fruits of his journey in his heart and in his mind-no one could rob him of these ; and that he was in debt for them, and yet possessed them, appeared to him quite wonderful ; and he was satisfied when he felt his power, and saw the means how, and how soon, and with what thanks, he would be able to pay! But if he reckoned up all his prospects to Agnes, she only cast down her eyes, or looked at him with doubting looks, which made his whole heart tumultuous within him. He was as certain of the thing as he was of his life, and yet his own wife discouraged him by her doubts! His mind revolted; all his future works rose up within his bosom like fiery spirits; he felt himself raised by them above the evils of this life; he glowed, his lips quivered, tears flowed down his cheeks-and Agnes stole away from him speechless but not convinced-and, as he also plainly saw, not to be convinced; she was quite horror-struck, for she had never before so seen her gentle husband, so full of noble power! so full of inward holy wrath!
And yet he was soon again pacified, softened, yea dejected; for he was not always well able to procure for his Agnes the immediate necessaries of life, in the manner she, as mistress of a house, wished ! As for her, she saw the fulfilment of her most reasonable hopes only so much the longer delayed-and he, by the same means, her satisfaction with herself and with him; and thus his own peace hovered over him like a scared-away lark, no longer visible among the clouds till single notes of her song again penetrated down to him, as if the sun were singing and speaking to him.
Labour was life and delight to the master; for any one can make
mention of his own industry as he would of a duty, and of the want of it as a sin of omission. But the artist is no machine, no millwheel that turns round and round day and night; his work is mental, and his works are mind, produced by mind. Thoughts and images slumber within him like bees in a hive; they fly out and feed and grow upon the sweets of the eternal spring without; themselves satisfied and strengthened, they bring home nourishment with them, and feed the young bees who as yet only flap their wings and buzz around; they cover the brood, till they impregnate their queenFancy ;-and every new work is a swarm, which joyfully separating from the mother-stock, departs to the place it has traced out for a settlement. The swarm changes its voice by that of the queen who keeps them together; and when its bees and the bees of the motherstock meet on the flowers, they no longer recognise each other. Or as in spring, when it becomes hot, and the heavens are inflamed, and the thunder storm in the spring night, with its red flashes and great rain-drops, causes a thousand buds to spring, brings forth blossoms, opens up crocuses, violets, and hyacinths—and they, when the heavenly blessing hangs over them, stand there in the morning, as if by their own power they had grown out of the earth, because they are so beautiful, and every one gives them credit for possessing the wonderful power of self-production-in like manner, an inward mental sun opens up as suddenly the flowers in the head of the artist! But they must all wait patiently till their time comes, and he must wait patiently and wear them for a long time as germ and bud : and the restlessness, the laying on of the hand, the rubbing of the brow, and the painful self-torture, are of no avail! all in vain! If he tries this, nevertheless, then he is only a child who tears up a still closed snow-drop along with its stalk, and forces it open with his mouth; or peels a butterfly out of the chrysalis, and only beholds the wonder of incipient life-and then destroys.
Master Albert now often dreamed and delayed whole days; sat down, rose up, spoke to himself, drew with his stick on the sand, or began to make an eye or a nose with black chalk; and then Agnes called him a child, or thought that, dissatisfied with her, he held converse with his own soulOr he walked up and down in the garden, stood for a quarter of an hour at a time before the trunk of a tree, and studied its wonderfully bursting bark; looked up to the heavens, and imprinted on his memory the forms of the clouds; or he sat béfore the door, and called thither handsome children, placed one quite in the shade of the roof, another only half, and made a third stand in the full sunshine, that he might adjust for himself the colours of the dresses in light and shade; or he accosted old men and women, who came to him just as if they had been sent by God. Then Agnes called to him, and said, peevishly: My God! why not rather work! thou knowest well we need it.
I do work, said Albert. My picture is ready.
Just consider, my Agnes, said he then, smiling: does the carver carve the forms ? does the pencil paint? these are my spirits and slaves, who do my will when I call them.
But still thou canst sit down.
If thy pencil would only move of itself! were there such a pencilthen we should have our wants supplied.
I would burn, I would banish such a pencil, as if it were an evil spirit! I–I must do all myself, otherwise I should no longer be myself. That were just the same as if a strange woman were to love and foster me instead of thee.
Internal images now appeared to his mind, as if induced by constant devotion, and disclosed to his sight how the crocus, appearing out of the earth, tears its little delicate white child's shirt; and then the master glowed like a vessel full of molten gold, liquified and pure
for the casting; so that he trembled, knew nothing more of the world, and what was revealed to him he transferred to the tablet with inspired haste ;—then came Agnes, and called to him two or three times, always louder and louder, about some trifle. He then sprang up, neither knowing where he had been, nor where he now was ; the portals of the spiritual kingdom closed suddenly, and the only half-conjured-up images sunk back into night, and into spiritual death, and perhaps never returned to him,--ah! never thus again. Then he recognised Agnes, who, angry at his demeanour, stood before him and scolded him deaf and blind. Then his blood was like to a spring flood; he seized the charm-dispelling disturber violently by the armand held her thus till he awoke. Then he said, ashamed, Is it thou, my wife? I was not here just now! not with thee! Forgive me!
To vex even a child is more inhuman than to see and paint all the angels, and to hear them and one's self praised is desirable. Thou also livest in a beautiful world--and that the sun and moon shines upon it, that makes it none the worse! Where thou art, where I am, with soul and feeling, yea, with fancy and her works, that is to me the true, the holy world! And now he smiled, and asked her mildly: what dost thou want with me, then, my child ? But his eyes
flashed. She, however, believed that she had looked upon a demon! a conjuror of spirits! She examined the red mark on her arm, where he had seized her; tears gushed from her eyes; she bowed down and lamented : Ah! I know it, I have it always in my mind-thou wilt certainly one day murder me! Every time I go to bed, I pray that I may not perish in my sins, when thou again art as thou art now! when I am nothing to thee !
She spoke in so soft, so desponding a tone, and yet so resigned to her fate with him, that he was moved to tears by her confused words and frightened appearance.
Oh thou, my Heavenly Father! sighed he then, and stood with clasped hands; till at length he clasped his terrified wife, who could not comprehend him, who felt so patient, and so completely in his power, that she would not even scream, or call for help, if he should
-Oh! thou Heavenly Father ! till at length he clasped her in his arms, and felt her glowing on his cheek.
297.—A FAREWELL TO TOBACCO.