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also, he delighted in her fresh and lively feelings, and in her accounts of his youthful haunts of Frankfort and the Rhine, and above all, he cultivated her friendship because she was the chief friend and companion of his aged mother. He seldom finishes a letter without recommending the continuance of her care.
But it is time to turn from Bettina's enemies to herself.-As we have said, she was sixteen when she began to correspond with her favourite brother, Clemens. It is pleasant to observe the girlish merriment, and almost childish details of her letters, interspersed with bursts of imaginative sentiment, and crude, but original, philosophical speculations. At one time she excuses her delay in writing on account of the irresistible temptation of playing with the kitten, or amuses her brother with delightful nonsense about her adventures with bees and roses; at another time she provokes him with her heretical enthusiasm for Mirabeau, or alarms him by bold expressions of disbelief in the ordinary rules of ethics. His letters, too, are not without interest, though greatly inferior to his sister's. She is the confidante of his various love-affairs, and the depositary of the abstract speculations, which occupy an active mind so much in youth, to be, for the most part, forgotten in maturer years. We have not thought it necessary to study the philosophical revelations of either brother or sister profoundly. His are as they ought to be, more rational; Bettina's more bold and ingenious: but both delight to wrap up their meaning in riddles, which we think young minds may be wholesomely and pleasantly occupied in solving. In after years they will find that the paradoxes and enigmas which first make philosophy attractive are not the best mode of teaching it; and that in its simple form it is difficult and abstruse enough to repel all mankind, except two or three in a million.
Clemens was several years older than Bettina, and had already established a respectable literary reputation; but it is curious to observe how rapidly she passes from her first feelings of reverence and admiration to the tone of equality or superiority, which was naturally inspired by her far higher genius. She gives him good advice, which he treats as seriously as it deserves, but she shows no disposition to profit by his more solemn lectures. After a more than usually nonsensical, though very pretty burst of sentiment from her, her brother takes alarm at her state of excitement, and at an account which he had received of her eccentric behaviour at a ball; he complains that she sends no news, cautions her against falling in love with the gardener who tended the roses which were the subject of her rhapsody, recommends to her Müller's History of Switzerland' as solid reading, and lastly requests her to knit him six pairs of stockings. Bettina knows better
A Sister's Answer to a Brother's Lecture.
than to defend herself, or to admit that she was in the wrong, and yet who is not, in defiance of justice, on her side after reading her answer?
"DEAR CLEMENS.-Dear Günderode (her friend, of whom we shall have to speak again), for, dear Clemens, I must have somebody to complain of thee to-I can't tell thee to thy face all the harm I know of thee, and all I have discovered from thy letter.-Ah! I should be so glad to take no notice, but as I have observed it, it would be a double piece of cunning to pass it over-so I write here to Günderödchen, and you may know from this what fun two girls make of a crafty young man. Just think, Günderödchen, Clemens is jealous of the gardener-only read this letter from him-where he begins at once with reproaching me with my sentimentality with the flowers, and really he does bring in comparisons by neck and heels-potatoes, turnips, roses;-and then I am sentimental, and then he prescribes a remedy-half-a-dozen pair of yarn stockings, at which I am to knit for half-a-dozen years to cure myself; and only think, Günderode, so it goes on for three-four pages; but of what really provokes him he has got nothing to saythere he is quite innocent.-I am to associate with the steady Charlotte to cure my sentimentality; I am to send him black chalk and white chalk, and write about my brothers and sisters, about whom he reproaches me for having nothing to say,-and I had all the time intended to tell him that Lulu had got on a silk coffee and milkcoloured gown, which suited her so well. I am to tell him about the ball, he says, and how can I do that? If I was to confide to him my love-adventure of that nice ball-night, I'm sure he wouldn't like it.— Günderode, don't let any of that story be drawn out of you-don't tell him any thing of my triumphant journey home, and who it was that I saw as dawn was breaking, standing by the road-side, who bowed to me, and to whom I threw my wreath out of the carriage-don't tell him that we girls keep that to ourselves. And there is one whole silly page, when an unintelligible Hebrew word gets into the pulpit, and with the most solemn grimaces too, so that, at first, I was quite anxious, and puzzled head to know what the word was.- -But now I get over my scruples, because I see that the dear darling Clemens is urged on by all sorts of motives which are not clear to himself, to wish, and demand, and assert a great many things. The word is Duty, Do your duty seriously, take life lightly. When I look for my duty, I am very glad it gets out of my way, for if I caught it I would twist its neck. But now I will go at once and transgress my duty, and go to the gardener, for this is the time when he waters the flowers for the evening, and I promised to come; I am not going from a feeling of duty, but from pleasure in the pretty work. I will go to the cabbage-bed too, which Clemens thinks the gardener's duty-department; I will sit down there with my duty-stocking, and do some duty-stitches; and, in duty to my education, read in the ancient Swiss history that the Teuton wore no stockings while he was yet
free, and therefore, from a feeling of duty, I will lay my knitting-work on the altar of Freia, and make a vow to her never to knit stockings again, as they impose fetters on the free German character.
After all which, she proceeds to philosophise again, knowing very well that Clemens could not find fault with her this time.
The great charm of these letters is, that they are like real private letters, the epistolæ obscurorum, which are as much superior to the correspondence of statesmen and authors as a domestic dinner to the scraps of a public banquet. As youthful letters, also, they have the earnestness, eagerness, and extemporaneous freshness of minds still surprised and overflowing with the first rush of thought and feeling, and in Bettina's case they have the wit and finished clearness of narration, which is generally the result of experience and practice in the world. Her incidental sketches of character are excellent. Her correct and scolding aunt, her sentimental, finical and accomplished grandmother, the silent studious selfcontained Savigny, who could not endure the perverse girl, and whom she admired and defended, Madame de Gachet a transcendental emigrant Amazon, who carried Clemens' heart by storm, and evidently was felt by Bettina to be tinged with charlatanism; all these and many more are as distinctly characterised in her letters as the most famous of the French courtiers who owe their immortality to Madame de Sevigné. We like her best, however, when she writes of herself, for her mind is of that character which forms the scenes of past life into pictures, and makes a history or a romance of materials which many would have found too scanty for the driest journal. Her revelations are as fragmentary as those of Cuma and Mecca, but there are stories of almost every period of her short career to be found scattered about the different volumes before us. In her letter to Clemens she begins the history of her early childhood:
"Once on a time there was a child who had many brothers and sisters-a Lulu and a Meline, who were younger, the others were all much older. The child has counted up all, and they come to thirteen, and Peter fourteen, and Therese and Marie fifteen and sixteen, and then more still, but the child never knew them, for they were dead before; there were certainly twenty brothers and sisters, perhaps still more. Brother Peter died when the child was three years old, but of him it still knows much. He had black eyes which shot out a dazzling fire, and in them the child often lost itself with deep looking into them. Brother Peter often carried the child to the top of a little turret on the house, where Peter fed all kinds of birds, pigeons and a hen with young chickens; there the child sat with him and he told it stories. Those were hours that gleam beautifully out of earliest childhood, for what absurd
Peter and his Little Sister.
schemes Peter would set about with the child. He was deformed and therefore very little; he took the child to church on Christmas-day, and nobody was to see it, so he took a great bear skin muff and held it before himself and the child, so that neither head nor hand could be seen, only the four legs went trotting forwards, and the people wondered at the strange bit of fur that moved along the street by itself. Once the dear brother had made something in the garden, then he takes the child in. There is a little hill thrown up, and he lifts a stone, and all at once a spout of water springs up for a little while and then it stops. That hast thou done for thy little sister's pleasure, oh, brother Peter. But the child loved thee too, dearly. In a morning when it woke, there stoodst thou before its bed, and it laughed with thee before it opened its eyes. It learned to clamber up the stairs with thy hand, it always held by thee. And once it was late, the sun was just going to set, he stood with the child on the corkscrew staircase; the last rays of the sun shone in his face, he became so deathly pale, that the child clung to him- Let go,' he said, almost too low to hear, and fell down the stairs; but the child had held fast by his coat, and fallen with him. Then they carried Peter to bed, and the child saw its loving brother no more. In answer to its questions they told it that Peter was buried, but it did not, as yet, understand what that was. It still often longed for its brother, and often sat in a corner at evening, when the light did not reach so far, and then it saw his dark eyes shine on it, or was that imagination? The child's father was very fond of it, perhaps fonder than of its brothers and sisters; he could not resist its coaxing.-If its mother wanted to get any thing from its father, she used to send the child, and it was to beg till its father said 'Yes,' for he never refused it. In walking, he would stop at the meadow where the flowers were till the nosegay was big enough— the child would want to pick all the flowers, and it never came to an end; -night fell, and the nosegay was far too big for its hands, and its father held it for it. What lovely things too went on, and wove enjoyment of all kinds into the web of life. The merry life in the street-opposite our house, the open market, when the neighbours were out all day from May till autumn. Then the children played with the poodle, and the parrot on its perch shouted 'Rascal,' and we should have liked to hear it all day long. How happy the child was with the cowslips which the milkwoman brought in the morning. And the place where the ghost made a noise in the haunted-house, and Mr. Burgomaster had posted a watch,-ten men inside, and ten more outside leaning against the door, did the ghost upset at night, at night at the stroke of twelve! The next spring comes hand-inhand with Death, and takes the fairest of mothers to the grave and the father cannot bear it, wherever he goes he wrings his hands, and all are afraid of facing his sorrow-the brothers and sisters fly from him, the child stays and holds him fast by the hand, and he lets it lead him. 'Become as good as thy mother,' said in broken German, the Italian father."
At eight years old she was sent to be educated in a nunnery, of which her recollections are as inexhaustible as they are beautiful. Once for instance she was caught by a thunderstorm at night, outside the building, and took shelter under a lime-tree in the garden. Then the storm-bells pealed from the convent-tower, and the Fates and Muses (her friends the nuns) hurried in their night-clothes, with their consecrated candles, into the vaulted choir. I saw from under my tempest-shaken tree the hastening lights shoot through the long passages-soon their 'ora pro nobis' rang to me in the wind-at every flash they tolled the consecrated bell-as far as its sounds reached the thunder did not strike.' She was chosen, she says, as a favourite to be sacristan, and she had to wash and keep bright the sacred vessels of the altar, from which circumstance, in after times, gold and silver ornaments always impressed her with a secret reverence.
"To-day we have green Thursday (in Passion Week), and I, little servant of the temple, have much to do. All flowers which the early year allows us are gathered-snowdrops, crocus, marigold, and the whole field full of hayacinths deck the white altar; and then I bring the surplices, and twelve children, with flowing hair, are dressed in them; they represent the Apostles. After we have walked round the altar with burning candles hung with flowers, we sit down in a half circle, and the old abbess with her long silver staff, and her veil, and her long train vestment flowing round her, kneels before us to wash our feet. One nun holds the silver basin, and pours the water, another hands the towels for wiping-meanwhile all the bells peal, the organ plays, two nuns play the violin, one the base-viol, two blow the trumpet, one sounds a roll on the kettle drum, all the rest join in high notes in chanting the litany. Saint Peter, we hail thee-thou art the rock on which the church doth build.' Then they go to Paul, so all the Apostles are hailed in turn, till all the feet are washed. Now, seest thou, that is a day in which we have already delighted for a quarter of a year before. The whole church was full of people, they pressed into our procession, and wept tears of emotion over the laughing innocent Apostles."
We could wish that the nuns had abstained from playing on the fiddle and the kettle-drum-not the less because every thing else which Bettina tells of them is good and graceful. One of her chief friends was Mère Celatrice, the bee-wife, who had bees hanging on her veil in the garden, and said that they knew her, and that to be safe with them it was first necessary to get over fear of them, and if a bee does sting not to wince, and it will not sting hard-she always said that the bees liked best the flowers that Bettina tended, and she taught her to put her hand fearlessly into the hive, and to hold bunches of flowers in her mouth for the bees to settle on. Another nun kept a myrtle in her cell.