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one of those oddities Seldwyla breeds. Viggi his pocket-book behind him containing Grittli's Störteler, a shrewd and respectable merchant, letters. This Viggi finds, and, hoping to receive has the maggot to be thought learned, and by some ideas from the contents, reads with growand by even aspires to authorship. Under the ing astonishment and anger as he recognizes his pseudonym of “Kurt of the Forest ” he pro- own words and his wife's writing. He storms duces some wretched high-flown novelettes, con- home, will listen to no reason, and turns Grittli cocted with ideas stolen from various sources, out of the house. Both sue for divorce, which is and a tenth-rate paper publishes his lucubrations. accorded on the ground of incompatibility, and He now thinks himself an author, and desires Grittli's character is fully reëstablished, while that his good homely wife should rise to his Viggi is the general mark for ridicule. William, level, and become educated to be his muse. He however, is dismissed from his post as an unfit plies her in vain with old anthologies and ex- guide for youth. He leaves Seldwyla and farms tract-books. They convey no meaning to the a lonely plot of land some hours distant. In due good housewife accustomed to look after her do- time he becomes a worthy, steady character. He mestic concerns and lead an active life. No sug- still loves Grittli, and she has grown to love him. gestive utterances fall from her lips. Viggi now The story of their courtship and ultimate marthinks a correspondence might rouse her. He riage is a prose pastoral that makes us forget the has a business journey to make, and will write ludicrous opening of the tale. While in the forher romantic letters, to which she must reply. mer part we are in a false and distorted atmosOn no account, he enjoins, must domestic or phere, here a breeze which has come across trivial details creep into the letters; these she Alpine flowers and pure meadow-heights animates can add on a separate sheet. The despair of the whole. As a skit upon the pretensions of Grittli is great when a few hours after her hus- would-be authors, the story contains masterly band's departure there comes a missive of the touches, such as when Viggi is always on the most high-flown, turgid phrases that were ever search for ideas and characteristics which he bred in the brain of a foolish man. And to this carefully notes down, or when he passes an evenshe is to reply in a like strain. In despair she ing with authors of his sort, in whose converbethinks herself of her neighbor, an usher, who sations the words clique, honorarium, publisher, has the reputation of being a poetical dreamer, editor, paper, are the most prominent, while and who had often cast admiring eyes at the books are only read for business, and the classihandsome young woman next door. Copying cal writers are barely known by name. In “Diher husband's letter and changing it so that it etegen " the scene is laid at the close of the fifreads as if addressed to a man, she puts it into teenth century, and deals with the feuds between the youth's hands and begs him to let her have Seldwyla and a neighboring town, totally unlike
She meant no harm : the usher was it in character. The connecting links are two held fair game by the women-folk of Seldwyla, children, and here again Keller displays his marto all of whom he was more or less devoted. In velous insight into the complex workings of the due course William returns her an answer, in no childlike mind. His children are singularly real, wise behind her husband in sentimentality, and neither abnormally good nor naughty, but actual far exceeding it in sense and in reality of feeling. flesh and blood, little mortals foreshadowing This letter Grittli copies, making the needful their future failings and virtues. And these chilchanges of sex. Her foolish husband is beside dren remain true to their first draught: the youth himself with joy when he gets this reply, and in- and maiden are the parents of the boy and girl. stantly writes another yet longer and more bom- And every incident in their lives and in the hosbastic epistle. Grittli again has recourse to Wil- tile attitude of the two towns is rendered with liam. So for some weeks the twofold comedy of the same fidelity to nature. “Dietegen " is a errors is played on, Viggi remaining absent long- complete and well-rounded composition, container than he had meant in order that a sufficient ing some dainty scenes and picturesque sketches number of these letters may accumulate, for he of mediæval life, with its beauty and its cruelty. intends to publish them as “ The Correspondence While “ Dietegen” takes us into the Switzerland of Two Contemporaries.” Meantime Grittli counts of the middle ages, “The Lost Laugh” shows on William's good nature not to be hurt when us its modern aspect, its political agitations, its he hears the whole thing is a joke. Indeed, she commercial activity, its religious dissensions. The has hinted as much to him from the first. But story opens with a national fête upon the Lake of William takes it seriously. One warm autumn Zurich, at which the hero and heroine first meet. day, as he is sitting in the wood, he is sudden- The parents of the latter are silk-manufacturers ; ly surprised by Viggi Störteler, who has come the former has tried all manner of trades, but home unexpectedly. Wishing to avoid him, he has settled to none. This, however, in Switzerrises and walks away, but unfortunately he leaves land does not necessarily characterize a good-for
nothing as it would with us. There various call- against the worship of mere forms that he comings are not so sharply separated. A merchant bats in these legends. But his purpose is hidden will turn clergyman, a clergyman merchant, an under airy conceits, and it is possible to read and officer a silk-weaver, without losing caste. Thus enjoy these dainty stories without a guess at Jucundus is no turncoat, but a versatile and rest- their deeper aim. Written in the spirit of the less youth, who, however, proves not sufficiently middle ages, which saw no irreverence in familiworldly wise to cope with others, and nearly arity with divine things, they are carried out in comes to grief. The story is loosely put togeth- the pure and delicate spirit of noble humanism. er, and often halts to allow of disquisitions. Yet Perhaps the most racy and original is Keller's these are always put into the mouths of the va- amplification of the old legend told by St. Gregrious characters. The author never obtrudes. ory of Nyssa, of Musa, the girl who loved danNevertheless, we may safely infer that here we cing and was forbidden by the Virgin to exercise gain an insight into Keller's views on the burn- her pastime upon earth. In accordance with the ing questions of the day. We see his ardent records of the same Church father, the nine Liberalism, his hatred of formalism in any shape, Muses were permitted to quit hell once a year his dislike to phrase-making and the ritual ob- and enter heaven. Keller has availed himself of servances which have invaded even the plain this notion, and depicts the manner in which this Church of Calvin. In “ The Lost Laugh " it is one day was spent. The Muses, in gratitude for particularly prominent how Keller's mind has a this annual respite from torment, compose a gait of its own, so that the development of his hymn of praise, which they propose to perform stories is often slow of growth, and his grasp, the next time they are admitted within the prethough penetrating, seems at times a little uncer- cincts of paradise. Words and melody are modtain in outline. Consequently he is apt to devi- eled upon the psalms they hear the angels sing. ate, but in the end he generally gathers up all But, alas! the earth-tones, the earth-yearnings, his threads, and we come to understand the hid- the minor key of unfulfilled desires and aspiraden reason of apparent digressions. The Swiss tions so sobs through their composition that character, with its healthy and often jejune com- what seemed cheerful sounds like wailing when mon sense, its national self-consciousness and heard in heaven. Their hymn creates a disturbdemocratic pride, its absence of abstract range ance, and the nine are thenceforth banished from of thought, its stolidity, its true-heartedness and heaven for all time. The semi-comic, semisturdy honesty, is reproduced in the various char- mournful manner in which this incident is told is acters of this story.
incomparable, and so is the roguish gravity, the Between the publication of the first and quiet, unforced satire, that runs through these second volumes of “The People of Seldwyla" seven tales. falls a work of a somewhat different kind, name- We now come to the last book published by ly, a cycle of “Seven Legends." These stories Keller. He is not, therefore, as we see, a prolific (“ Märchen ") are perhaps the most individual of writer, and hence has the right to be heard, as Keller's productions, in which his comic instincts, he only speaks when he has something to say. his mirth, now purely genial, now underlaid with “Zurich Novelettes ” (“ Zürcher Novellen ") is the earnestness, his fantastic humors, have full play. collective title of the series. The fair city of The legends are all constructed upon the basis Zurich was till lately full of old-fashioned ways of Church traditions. In some cases Keller has and things, and boasts a long and agitated hismerely expanded these, in others he has caught tory, which furnishes rich matter to a chronicler. the spirit and form of the narrative but changed Keller traces this from mediæval times down to the conditions. The fundamental idea, however, the present day, connecting the whole by a loose is in all cases subverted. It is the human and framework, which probably serves an allegorical natural elements in man that are made to tri- purpose. The stories are supposed to be told by umph over the unnatural asceticisms of religious a godfather to his godson, Jaques, a youth whose fanatics. We are shown how enthusiasm can one desire it was to be an original, and who had be carried to an absurd pitch; how, when love read, to his sorrow, that our modern conditions interposes, the subject succumbs to natural emo- do not produce originals, but that all people are tions and is brought back to earth. Their whole alike, as though turned out by the dozen. He purport is to show that while we are in the world was determined to make an attempt to rise above we must do the world's work, and have no right this modern curse. He had various projects for thus to withdraw ourselves from its duties and achieving distinction. He had already planned a temptations for the selfish gratification of our new Ovid, which was to deal with the metamorown inclinations. Keller is a freethinker in the phoses of nymphs and mortals into the plants best and noblest sense of the word, a profoundly and dyes used in his father's factory, only somereligious soul unfettered by forms, and it is how the subject was not inspiring, and the book
advanced no further than the title. One fine able man, who, wanting in all powers of endurafternoon he wandered along the banks of the ance, sprang restlessly from one occupation to Sihl, recalling all the classical memories that another, came to no good, and missed everyhung around them, and hoping for inspiration where the blessings and joys that life could there; instead, the more prosaic observation afford him. There was still one Manesse, a dewould force itself upon him that Zurich must generate scion, who was known as the Fool, and consume a great deal of firewood, to judge by inhabited the ruined family castle until it was the quantity of timber that floated down the burned down over his head. This man's one aim stream, and he began a rough calculation as to in life was to pass off as something different costs and profits. His godfather undertook to from what he was, and over this endeavor his prove to him how such forced attempts are not character warped and his brain gave way. Now originality, how a good original is only a person it was his desire to impress the landfolk with the who deserves to be imitated, and such a one is conviction that he was a learned prelate, again any person who carries out thoroughly whatever he wished to appear a valiant warrior. Distinche undertakes to do, even though this something tion at all hazards was his craving, but when be nothing specially extraordinary. And to do the moment came to prove the reality of his this is so rare that those who achieve it are there- boasts his courage evaporated like Falstaff's. fore original, and stand forth from among their He is a grotesque and ludicrous figure, conceived fellows. Is this a note of warning from Keller and delineated with power and psychological into his townsfolk, who still arrogate to themselves sight. learned airs because once upon a time their city So far the symbolical has been uppermost in was a center of learning, and whose present these stories, and there is less of the humorous hard-headed manufacturing proclivities are not element than usual. This comes forward again compatible therewith, and hence produce a mon- in the next, “The Landvogt of Greifensee,” a grel and far from pleasant type of character ? story that misses excellence from its prolixity,
As a type of excellence the first stories intro- but which would be delicious if tersely told. duce us to the old Zurich family of Manesse, and The fundamental idea is sufficiently humorous, we follow their fortunes from the end of the and we are assured that it is founded on fact. thirteenth to the middle of the fifteenth century. The hero is Salomon Landolt, who created the Till quite recently there stood in Zurich an old corps of Zurich sharp-shooters. He was not tower, the last remnant of the town-house of the happy in his love-affairs : four fair ones jilted Manesse family, of whom one at least, Rüdiger him, and a fifth refused to marry him, although von Manesse, erected to himself a less perishable she loved him truly, on account of madness in monument. For to him we owe the “ Manesse her family. After many years, when all but this Codex," preserved at Paris, the most important one were married, to give himself a happy day MS. collection of Minnesinger songs on record. and to banish all irritation for ever, Landolt inThis was made at Rüdiger's instigation by Had- vited his five former loves to spend a day with laub, the son of a free Zurich peasant, and who him at his official residence, not informing any became known as an early German poet. He is one that she was to meet the others. The déthe hero of the story, which consists of a series nouement is highly absurd, and the whole ends of episodes, and is somewhat rambling and dis- merrily and well. These five ancient flames fur. cursive. As is the case with all Keller's stories, nish vignettes of various types of Swiss women, its charm lies in the telling. There are no stir- of whom the brightest and most charming is ring incidents, but there is much naïveté and the unmarried Figura Leu. The background is many pretty scenes. Mediæval Zurich is con- formed of pictures from the life of eighteenthjured before us; we live among its worldly bish- century Zurich, with its sumptuary laws, its strict ops and nuns, its knights and ladies, and share Calvinism, its æsthetic coquetries. It was the their intellectual pleasure when Hadlaub discov- period of the literary controversies between Switzers a forgotten poem of Walter von der Vogel- erland and Leipsic, and Bodmer is introduced as weide, or timidly brings forward one of his own. he walks on the ramparts, surrounded by admirThe occupation with poetry has made him a poeting disciples, to whom he is dictatorially expoundtoo, who by his songs and his charms wins the ing his views on poetry, or telling them news of hand of Fides, the lovely daughter of the Bishop what is going on in the world, as, for example, of Constance. The love-story, which runs like that the magistrates of Dantsic have resolved in a golden thread through the narrative, beginning council that the young burghers of their town unconsciously when the two are children, is told shall be forbidden to employ the hexameter meain Keller's happiest and most delicate vein. No sure in their poetic flights, on account of the imless finely drawn, and absolutely natural, is the proper and revolutionary character of this form last of the race, Ital Manesse, a gifted and agree- of rhythm. We are transported back into a
wind-still period, where life did not tear along so club as a bulwark against such enemies, and they fast, where love endured, where feuds were hotly were ever true to their cause, asked for no rewaged and not soon forgotten, where hurry and ward for their exertions, and placed all individual speed were words unknown. It is perhaps be- advantages in the background if these came into cause he realized this too vividly that Keller has conflict with their consciences. But now that spun out this story unduly.
since 1848 the new constitution seemed to have This censure does not apply to “Ursula." guaranteed all they had struggled for, there were Here in a condensed narrative is brought before fewer political matters to discuss, and hence us with bold and powerful strokes the Zurich of domestic troubles were also brought forward and Zwingli's day, introducing the religious and politi- talked over with great impartiality at their meetcal changes wrought by this Reformer. Keller's ings. On the night that the story opens, the substory deals chiefly with the Anabaptist move- ject under discussion was a visit the club as a ment, which he regards as one of the inevitable body proposed to pay to the next shooting fête ugly excrescences produced by every great revo- at Aarau, the first held since the new constitulution, and he reproduces with horrible fidelity tion came into force. It was the evening of the the delirious speeches and deeds of this mis- club's political life—how could they close it more guided faction. In this story the plot is nothing, worthily than by such a demonstration ? A the accessories are everything. “The Flag of member proposed that they should march to the Seven Upright Ones" is perfect all round, Aarau with a flag of their own, another that and a worthy pendant to the “Romeo and Juliet they should present a handsome prize at the fête. of the Village.” Plot, treatment, mise en scène, Both proposals were accepted, and the details all are original and equally excellent, and give hotly discussed. The design of the flag did not full scope to Keller's peculiar talents. His best occupy them long, but what was the gift to be? quips and quirks, his best vein of drollery, his The seven stanch friends, whose friendship all gentle satire, his tenderness, are all represented political agitations and divergences had not shakhere. In the Romeo and Juliet " the father's en, nearly fell out over this deliberation. For, hatred separated the children: here the fathers while seeking to do an honor to their country, were the best of friends, but they did not wish they also sought to do a little stroke of business the young people to marry because the one was for themselves. Kuser, the silversmith, proposed rich and the other poor. For the father of Karl they should present a silver cup that he had had Hediger was only a tailor, while Hermine Fry- by him for years, and which he would sell them mann's was a master carpenter, who owned a cheap for the glory of the Fatherland. Syfrig, the stately house and yard on the lake, and could blacksmith, recommended an ornamental plow afford to give his daughter a dowry. The two which he had exhibited at the last agricultural had known each other since childhood, and it show. Bürgi, the cabinet-maker, offered a fourwas hard that they should suddenly be forbidden post bedstead he had made for a couple whose to meet. But so it had been resolved at the last wedding never took place. This last proposition, meeting of the Club of the Seven Upright Ones. however, raised only ridicule. Then followed This club consisted of seven worthy friends who Pfister, one of the innkeepers, with a warm commet twice a week alternately at the house of two mendation of his red Schweizerblut of '34; and of their number who were innkeepers. They Erismann, the farmer, proposed a young cow of were all tradesmen, ardent politicians, patriots, pure breed, but who was known to be a kicker. lovers of freedom, and stern home despots. Born At last a cup was decided upon, but it was to be in the last century, they had witnessed as children made and designed for the occasion. This matthe downfall of the old times and the birth-throes ter settled, Frymann brought forward his grievof the new, and had held together manfully dur- ance, that Hediger's son was courting his daughing the agitated period of Swiss history, when ter, and he explained to him how he could not aristocrats and Jesuits threatened the unity and do with a poor son-in-law. Hediger by no means good fellowship of the little state, until in 1848, took his friend's frankness amiss; they were after the eighteen days' war with the Sonder- quite agreed that the match was undesirable. bund, Switzerland broke for ever with the Jesuits They would not become relations; they reiterated and revived to new strength and unity. Some they would remain friends—no more and no less. of these men came from the former subject states The other members twitted them gently with of the Confederacy, and remembered how as chil- their resolve, and asked them if they were so very dren they had to kneel down by the roadside sure that young love could be checked by conwhen a coachful of dignitaries passed; others vention, and were willing to bet that Cupid's had been related to imprisoned or executed revo- wiles would prove too strong for the fathers. lutionists, and all were filled with a burning hatred Not so; they persisted- were they not of the of aristocracy and priesthood. They formed this number of the upright and firm, and would they
not be so still? But the young couple were re- no more money than was good for them. The solved not to be parted thus easily. July and story, of which this is the bald outline, is full of the shooting-festival approached, the cup and freshness and beauty. It is easy to see that what flag were ready, when it dawned on the club Keller describes here is a reflection of the men that their gift must be introduced by a speech. and scenes among which he moves, and the picBut who should hold this ? All hung back, none ture of Swiss life as here presented will be new would undertake the task. At last by lot it fell to most readers who know little or nothing of to Frymann. For days beforehand he was mis- the distinctive feelings and modes of life of this erable, could think of nothing to say but fierce little people. It also contains strongly emphasized and inappropriate invectives against the Jesuits. a distinctive feature of Keller's genius. This is The great day arrived, the little faithful band the genial nature of his humor. He makes us drove to Aarau in a four-horse omnibus, they smile at his characters without injury to their marched in procession, Frymann carrying the flag dignity. While we are amused at the weaknesses with a face as though he were going to execution of poor humanity, we never lose our respect for They neared the confederate tent, and at the last the persons in whom these weaknesses are emmoment his courage failed him, and he declared bodied. We smile gently over the heads of the he could not speak : and so this glorious and seven upright veterans, while at the same time patriotic expedition seemed likely to end in fail- their creator forces us to bow down with respect ure. But Hermine had foreseen some such catas- for their integrity and high-minded purposes. trophe when she bade Karl be sure to come to We must still say a word about Keller's manAarau for the fête. He now volunteered to be ner, which is no less his own than his matter. spokesman for the band, and Frymann himself He handles the German language with rare skill ; was the first to assent, and hand him over the no conventional phrases, no rhetorical flourishes, flag. Karl then pronounced an admirable dis- no affectations or mannerisms disfigure his pages. course, in which he explained with tender humor His style is simple and unadorned, and hence, the aims and purposes of these seven gray-headed perfectly in keeping with the homely republican men, and offered their gift to the Fatherland. nature of his characters; yet withal so pithy, piApplause greeted his words; the seven marched quant, quaint, that the most ordinary expressions away from the tent, pleased with themselves and acquire a new force under his pen, and the whole him. The friends seconded Frymann's proposal effect is far removed from commonplace. Not to give his daughter to this worthy youth; and the least of Keller's charms lies in his style, his at last, not without difficulty, the proud and happy mode of narration. Such, briefly, is the sternly radical Hediger also gave his consent, on Swiss writer whose remarkable originality we the condition that Frymann should allow the pair have tried faintly to indicate.
HELEN ZIMMERN (Fraser's Magazine).
PEOPLE need be very wide awake to find less man has been led by a dream to think of
a rational explanation of dreams. Like higher and more serious things. their father Sleep, they are still wrapped in mys- The opinions of learned men of all ages on tery; and science has yet to lay bare the secret this topic are widely divergent; and this diverwhich has puzzled many a patient thinker. The gence by no means arises from a flippant or subject concerns every one, especially if we be- superficial consideration of the subject, for some lieve what Shakespeare says, “ Thoughts are but of the ancients spent a great portion of their lives dreams till their effects be tried.” In olden in trying to reduce dreams to a science, or to times, before the written revelation of the Divine embody them in songs and poems. The language will was given to men, dreams were frequently of Homer is singularly rich in expressions for the made the medium of communication with human- visions of fancy which float before the dreamer. kind. Of this we have abundant evidence in the The sorely tried Ulysses, buffeted and tossed by Bible. By means of dreams, God taught his peo- the angry waves after leaving Calypso's isle, ple that they had spiritual faculties, and that there makes his bed of gathered leaves : was a spiritual universe beyond the material one. Over the uneducated mind, dreams have a great “And golden dreams (the gift of sweet repose) influence even to this day; and many a thought- Lulled all his cares, and banished all his woes.”