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From Bentley's Miscellany. persons who were gathered around her by THE SALONS OF VIENNA AND BERLIN. the force of her charms and her griefs. She
The first symptoms of the awakening of possessed, besides, all those feminine qualisociety in Berlin in the commencement of ties that are so particularly attractive to the present age, correspond to the era of men. Endowed with marvellous perspicuity, French domination. That epoch is one of she could see in a moment what was passing those which, morally speaking, is the great- in the mind of other persons, and could act est in the history of Prussia. She must be with them, and counsel them accordingly. contemplated at that moment, if we wish to At the time when Rahel's salon sprang enjoy the always agreeable spectacle of a into existence war had ceased, and literary nation working all its energies and all its and intellectual questions were beginning to resources, even to the last available, to effect take the place of political debates. Philosits deliverance. Berlin replied to the vigor- ophers, poets, and artists were congregating ous literary impulse of Weimar by a patri- at Berlin. Schelling, the two Schlegels, and otic rising in mass, and it is thus that the Tieck were already there, and were taking two capitals complete themselves the one by possession of the field, either by their perthe other. The influence of the salon in sons or their works. The reputation of this morement of Berlin has been depicted Thorwaldsen extended from Rome to the by M. Schmidt Weissenfels, in a work en- Baltic, and the Rhine rocks echoed the titled “ Rahel und ihre Zeit ;" but, accord complaints of Overbeck. Then there were ing to the author of " Les Salons de Vienne the two Humboldts, M. de Raumer, and a et de Berlin," this influence has been much host of others, who united to render Berlin exaggerated. The salon he declares not to a kind of metropolis of science, letters, fine be understood in Germany as it is in France. arts, and of the genius of all Germany. To be at home in company is opposed, he M. de Varnhagen was a native of Dusselavers, alike to the character and the habits dorf, and he studied at Hamburg, Halle, of the German—a statement which, being and Strasburg, till his young imagination purely Gallican, may be taken ‘at its just was carried to Berlin by the Arnims, Chaworth.
misso, and Novalis. The wars of the It is to M. Varnhagen d'Ense, author, empire gave an entirely new turn to his soldier, and diplomatist, and to his clever thoughts. He entered the service of Ausand amiable spouse Rahel, that Berlin is tria, and fought at Wagram. He visited accredited with its first salon. There had Paris in the suite of Prince Schwarzenberg, been plenty of gatherings before. Queen and he afterwards entered the service of Sophia Charlotte had gathered round her at Russia, under General Tettenborn, whose Lutzelburg, the Charlottenburg of the pres- memoirs he subsequently indited. Accient day, the Leibnitzes, and other eminent dent having brought him into relation with men of the day; the great Frederick had Hardenberg, he gave up the turmoil of the also his meetings of philosophers; but it camp for the more congenial pursuit of was not till Rahel, whilst still unmarried, diplomacy. He was present at the Congress assembled at her house all that was culti- of Vienna, where he became noted for the vated and refined in court and city, and at constitutional tendency of his ideas. He the head of whom were Prince Louis Ferdi- was afterwards appointed minister at Carlsnand and Charles of Mecklenburg Strelitz, ruhe, but dismissed at the same time as that the salon, in the Parisian acceptation William de Humboldt. He does not appear of the word, was really founded. Rahel is to have taken office again. It was proposed said to have begun life with sad trials. She that he should be sent to the United States, is said to have loved twice, and twice to but he declined the expatriation; he prehave been disappointed. Naturally frail, of ferred spending his latter days at the head slight frame and delicate constitution, she of all that was most polished, most intelwould have sunk under those trials, but lectual in Berlin. It is not that Berlinese that the spirit that animated so tender a society at that epoch had not its faults, its frame, and which bore her up, enabled her intrigues, its hatreds, and its passions, but to live, as it were, no longer for herself, but it was that, under the dominion of M. and for the group of poets, artists, and titled | Madame de Varnhagen, it never forgot “les
." It never tolerated an impro- Napoleon into the world, the full bearing of priety, and this, after all, is the best test of which may not even yet be fully understood. good society. M. de Varnhagen had the It is not, however, surprising to find the advantage, also, of having graduated in the polished representative of the aristocratic salons of Vienna and of Paris ; but so en- salons of Vienna and Berlin, the practised tirely was his mind filled up by the necessi- diplomatist who piqued himself upon the ties and conveniences of a society made up restraint placed upon all his motions and of forms and ceremonies, that he could not attitudes, and his conversational powers of afford to admire any thing that did not ex- giving to airy nothings a local habitation ist in its powdered and perfumed circle. and a name, underrating the impetuous agiThus, speaking of the great Napoleon, he tation of the great devastator, with neither says, “His manners were embarrassed, the time nor inclination for the effeminacies of struggle of a will in a hurry to obtain its language or the pedantry of forms. If what objects, at the same time that he despised Napoleon said was ever “ mesquin," it must the means employed, was to be detected in have been in contempt of those by whom he all his actions. It would, perhaps, have was surrounded. But the polish of an hebeen gratifying to him to possess a less re- reditary aristocracy could not be expected in pulsive physiognomy; but then it would the representative of Revolution, nor would have required some little exertion on his the manner of a "petit maitre” have prepart, and he could not condescend to it. I cisely tallied with the idea which we form to say condescend to it, for in his own nature ourselves of the man who overran Europe. there was nothing agreeable. There was At the outbreak of the Revolution the nothing but a mixture of negligence and Germans were without nationality or patriothaughtiness, that betrayed itself in a kind ism, disinherited of all that constitutes of uneasiness and agitation. His gloomy honor and vitality. They had given up the and half-closed eyes were habitually fixed on defence of the country to the soldiery, and the ground, and only cast sharp and rapid the labor of negotiations to the diplomatists; glances around. If he smiled or laughed, they were so thoroughly prostrated by cenonly the mouth and lower part of the face turies of despotism that they did not care took part in it, the eyes and forehead re- even to think or to interfere in governmained unmoved ; and when he did bring mental matters, and if the defence was badly them into play, as I had occasion to observe managed, or the negotiations turned out disat a later period, his face only assumed a astrous, the public philosophically left the more grimacing aspect. The alliance there shame and the remorse to their rulers. We of the serious and the comic had something now know what long days of humiliation in it that was hideous and frightful. I have and mourning this state of things cost Gernever, for my part, been able to understand many; we now know how much it costs to how some people pretend to have discovered nations that permit their vitality to be prostraces of goodness and mildness in that face. trated and their honor trampled under foot; His features, of incontestable plastic beauty, and even the devastations of a Napoleon were cold and hard as marble, strangers to might have a beneficial result, could they all sympathy, and to all cordial emotion. but awaken the Fatherland to a sense of What he said—at least to judge by what I national honor and integrity, and, binding have heard over and over again—was almost it in one common brotherhood, render all always insignificant (mesquin) in its nature, further Napoleonisms impossible. as well as in its mode of expression, without Unfortunately at the time in question, wit, without philosophy—utterly valueless. just as in our own days, that element of In the world of conversation-in which he rancor and discord, which has been so fatal had the weakness to wish to be admired—he to Germany and so favorable to France, had worse than no success."
which is so much dwelt upon at the time in It is a pity, perhaps, for the repose of the question in the “Correspondences" of Baron world that Napoleon was not equally unsuc- de Stein, as well as in the " Fragments cessful in other spheres, but that is a point Historiques” of Gentz, the “Souvenirs ” of which is not so easy to determine, for Prov- Immermann, as well as in those of M. de idence must have had an object in sending a Varnhagen, the old standing antagonism of the north and south, the irreconcilable an- and became personally acquainted with a tipathy of Protestant and Catholic Germany, host of celebrities, and in his old age he was was in full operation, and the disasters of a master in the art of inditing those meAustria on the Rhine or on the Danube moirs, revelations, and cor
correspondences, were, strange to say, looked upon with the which have alike an important biographical same difference on the Weser, the Elbe, and historical interest. and the Oder, as in our days were the dis- M. de Varnhagen carried the formularies asters on the Po. Constitutionalism in Italy of the salon into his literature. With him may have a wondrous friend in the antago- history presents nothing but a succession of nism of parties in Germany, but France individualities, who are studied or portrayed knows best how to avail herself of it. without any regard to generalizations. "I
The sentiment of nationality and of pat- have always preferred,” Rahel used to say, riotism cannot be extemporized. It was so " reading the human heart than books; it is utterly extinct in Germany at the epoch of easier and more convenient.” And M. de the Revolution, that it was at the very time Varnhagen seems to have adopted, to a certhat the existence of Germany was cast into tain extent, the opinions of his wife. The the scale that the passion ran highest for interest of his “Memoirs ” are entirely of a the poetry of Goethe and Schiller, that personal character. His portrait of Metterminds were most occupied with the theories nich is almost as good as that of Napoleon. of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling, that the He had met the great diplomatist in early brothers Schlegel were best listened to in life when all was fine weather ; he met him their explanations of Shakspeare, Calderon, again at Baden, near Vienna, after the disand Dante, and that people most took re- asters of the great wars, and after he had fuge in the romances of Jean Paul. Just taken to himself a third wife. “ As to his as we have in our bosom “patriots” who exterior," he relates, “he appeared to me to would lull the nation into a supine and be changed, but less aged than I had been ruinous confidence, so at such a crisis the told. • Time, without bending him, had made people of one of the petty sovereignties of him very serious; the grace and elegance of Germany disavowed the remainder, and de- early years had become haughtiness and digclared that they would not take part in the nity, although now and then a movement of defence of the nation, as the interests of the head would remind one of olden times. Germany did not concern her in the most What struck me most was the sound of his remote degree! And so we have seen the voice, which, never having had anything resame thing repeated in the present day; and markable in it, had contracted a drawling, thus it is that in every succeeding epoch we nasal sound, which put all vivacity of consee all Central Europe sacrificed to purely versation out of the question. His features dynastic interests.
always preserved the impression of that subM. de Varnhagen, aristocrat by birth, ed-lime impassibility so much admired by some ucation, manners, and associations, was still and so much criticised by others, and a full too much of a patriot, and his intelligence sense of his own importance, which he used was too much expanded, not to see the ruin- formerly to disguise a little, now openly ous influences that corrupted the country. manifested itself. His eyes, around which His youth-that is to say, from 1785, the time had worn deep furrows, showed, by an epoch of his birth, to 1814, the epoch of his occasional want of expression, the progresmarriage with the famous Rahel—was passed sive failure of the physical faculties." M. in the utmost activity. He was alternately de Metternich was, like some other great soldier, diplomatist, and author; he was al- and little men, very proud of his impassibilways a kind of adjutant—he had been so to ity. * My imperturbable calm, my invinGeneral Tettenborn in the campaign of cible, immovable stability,” he used to say 1814, of which he afterwards penned a his- himself, “ have won for me the confidence of tory; he had been so to Prince Hardenberg the whole world.” This impassibility, howat the Congress of Vienna, and was just as ever much assumed, and, therefore, conmuch to “his Excellency Marshal Goethe.” stantly in danger of breaking down, served He thus participated in a multitude of stir- him well on great occasions. Napoleon ring events, visited the courts of all Europe, seized him by the button-hole on a public occasion, and apostrophized him in anger : moment. Hence they have an instinctive “Mais enfin, que veut votre empereur ? " abhorrence of what we also designate as a (What does your master really want?) M. bore, and they look upon the paroxysmal de Metternich, without being in the slight- attempts of a Frenchman to be always witty est degree disconcerted, replied, “What as a kind of gymnastic exercise of the mind, does he want ? he wishes you to respect his which must be as fatiguing and exhausting ambassador.” Princess M nie was a Zichy, to the performer as it is to the listener. a family renowned in Vienna for its pride, “Ce Molière est de mauvais goût,” said one petulance, originality, and exclusiveness. day Marie Antoinette to Louis XVI. “ Vous The old Countess of Zichy, mother of the vous trompoz, madame,” the king replied; princess, was admitted by the Viennese to "on peut reprocher à Molière d'être quelhave been the most excessive type of this quefois de mauvais ton, mais il n'est jamais ferocious spirit—“l'esprit des Zichy," as the de mauvais goût.” Now to be witty in the Viennese termed it. Princess Melanie was salons of Vienna is not only considered as no less independent, only she loved to dom- bad taste, but also as bad manners—harleineer with some grace and seductiveness. quinade or pedantry, according as the centre But she never could condescend to keep her of gravity carried the auditors in preference likes and her dislikes to herself. She so far on the side of Paris or Berlin. insulted the ambassador of Louis Philippe, M. de Varnhagen, speaking of the salons Marshal Maison, that he appealed to the of Madame de Metternich, describes them as prince. “What would you have me do ?” Austrian in the haughtiest sense of the word, replied the latter. "I did not bring her replete with indolence, free and easy, the up.” It was thus that the old fox used conversation that of a coterie, and, above all often, by an offhand, bantering reply, screen things, no politics. One day by accident, himself from unpleasant official explana- | however, Count Zichy was complaining that tions.
he had not yet received a copy of the “ParViennese society is well known generally oles d'un Croyant,” which at that epoch had for its exclusiveness; it does not travel caused a great sensation. “Perchance," much, and, as a natural result, abides by its observed M. de Varnhagen, “ the work is prejudices. But if it dislikes demonstrative- forbidden.” “Forbidden ? ” interrupted M. ness, so also it is especially regardful of the de Metternich ; " certainly and unquestioncourtesies of life. It disregards forms, and ably so ; forbidden in so far as it cannot be there is nothing more repulsive to it than publicly announced and sold, but not in any not to be at ease or to live for however short way excluded from that class of readers to a time upon the stilts of pretensions. Peo- whom its perusal can do no harm. The ple who lay store by such pretensions are Austrian censorship never forgets the resvery soon left by it in the lurch. Among pect due to persons.” Prince Metternich themselves the Viennese aristocrats are alike then referred to the case of the well-known familiar and offhand, using all kinds of banker Eskeles, who openly received the nicknames, and treating one another with National, and he added, with a sly smile, the most unconstrained familiarity. This “I even believe that he finds the Parisian renders it all the more difficult for a stranger paper too moderate for him ; but what matto accommodate himself to a kind of free- ter is it to us ? we know that he is a good masonry to which he has not previously been Austrian.” Among other sayings reported of initiated. But once known and accepted, the veteran diplomatist, one was to the effect once your particular cast of nose, twist of that he detested the tribune, or, as we should head, or style of address has become famil- say, the bar of the House of Commons, but iar, you get your nickname too, and are ad- that for motives which had nothing personal mitted for once and forever. This amiable in them. As far as he was concerned, he spirit of family coteries is never roughed by courted argument and inquiry. He admired conversations on politics, literature, or trav- the institution of Jesuits, he also declared, as els: the Viennese are like the English, they every impartial Protestant ought to do, but keep the intellectual treasures of their minds he detested Jesuitism as he would the plague. in reserve, and cannot be troubled with the Another favorite sophism was that he was exertion of bringing such forward at every the irreconcilable enemy to liberalism, and yet he gloried in being liberal in the true ply was a shrug of the shoulders, and the sense of the word—that is, we suppose, just observation that M. de Gentz was a mere as much as he liked. M. de Metternich did publicist, and that he never could undernot go as far as Louis XIV., and say, " The stand anything of diplomacy. M. de Gentz state, that is I,” but in all his words and ac- was remarkable for his extravagance. “ It tions he let it be plainly perceived that he is a pity that we must live,” Talleyrand is considered himself as the sole living and su- said to have observed, “or one might really preme incarnation of Austria. One day, a fall in love with virtue.” M. de Gentz, too, certain General de Gerzelles was soliciting might perchance have practised virtue, only him for an appointment, as he did not wish that he had to live; he required hotels, and to be inactive. The prince suggested cards equipages, and he spent no end of money in or dominoes, and that failing, fishing, boat- intrigues and bribery. The ducats of ing, and shooting. The general, losing pa- the Wallachian and Moldavian hospodars, tience, said: “And you, prince, what would princely annuities, and the subsidies of you do, if you were not in place ? ” “Oh !" France and England, were alike swallowed replied the minister, “you admit a case up in this tub of the Danaides. He was acthere that is impossible.” With a mind tually subsidized by M. Cotta, editor of the formed in the school of Diderot and Mar- | Gazette Universelle-four thousand florins montel, Metternich had all the petty preju- per annum- -for articles which seldom or dices, the dissimulation, and pride of official ever made their appearance? When people life, weaknesses that men of a more vigor- had no ready money, he would accept valous stamp, as Stein and Blücher, did not uable presents. Even snuff-boxes did not fail to reproach him with. When only am- come amiss, especially if set with precious bassador, he complained on one occasion to stones that he could detach to adorn the M. de Champagny that the emperor, no shoulders of some favorite sultaness. longer spoke to him.
“ It is because,” the Fanny Elssler imparted a last charm to latter replied, “ he has long ago perceived M. de Gentz's latter days. Old, dull, faded, that it was utterly useless to do so, and that he first saw the graceful child when dressed you have lost, by dint of lying, all the credit as a genius in the “ Arabian Nights Enterthat can be given to an ambassador.” tainments." She used to come with the
Behind the great man's chair was gener- torch of Eros in her hand to preside in front ally to be seen the intelligent but wily and of a revolving sun, and an equally classical vicious physiognomy of M. de Gentz, a spe- waterfall, over the nuptials of IIarlequin cies of Figaro, always ready for an intrigue and Columbine! The old man was won by or act of political dissimulation. A note of the child ; the veteran diplomatist and blasé M. de Gentz was once shown to an old man, of the court conquered by a mere girl. who, by dint of perusing autographs, de- Fanny, on her side, is said to have been clared that he could read a person's charac- grateful ; for, after all, the old man was M. ter by their writing. “A distinguished per- de Gentz, the counsellor of potentates, and son,” was the answer, “but with corrupt the right hand of ministers. manners, a pusillanimous heart, bitter and M. de Gentz was at this time upwards of envious.” The only relieving point in this sixty years of age. He had become painstrange character was that, although himself fully sensitive, could not bear loud converaged, he was in his time almost the sole sation or laughter, or to be suddenly visited representative of the new spirit in the coun- or approached, and he disliked even the cils of feudal Austria. “ Things no longer countenance of a military man. So he go on as they used to do,” he would often took advantage of the new passion awakened repeat, " and it is madness to fancy that in him to withdraw more and more from the such a struggle against ideas can be indefi- court. The pen, of which the Baron d’Andnitely prolonged. Humanity has its laws, law says, in his Souvenirs, “that it was which you altogether ignore; it marches, something as prodigious as the sword of and you think it is stationary. Take care Napoleon, and will never be met with again," that one of these fine mornings the torrent was laid aside, and the great diplomatist does not carry you away, you and your in- and publicist settled down into mere Sybstitutions." The arch-chancellor's only re- arite.