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The next picture that strikes us is not a | again as far as Marcheck; that, in the event family-piece, but a battle-piece: Deutsch-Wag- of a battle on the morrow, he might act on the ram, in the hot weather of 1809; whither enemy's right flank. With us too a resolute Varnhagen, with a great change of place and engagement was arranged. On the 4th of plan, has wended, proposing now to be a sol- July, in the evening, we were ordered, if there. dier, and rise by fighting the tyrannous French. was cannonading in the night, to remain quiet It is a fine picture; with the author's best ta- till daybreak; but at daybreak to be under lent in it. Deutsch-Wagram village is filled arms. Accordingly, so soon as it was dark, with soldiers of every uniform and grade; in there began before us, on the Danube, a vioall manner of movements and employments; lent fire of artillery; the sky glowed ever and Archduke Karl is heard "fantasying for an anon with the cannon flashes, with the courses hour on the piano-forte," before his serious ge- of bombs and grenadoes: for nearly two hours neralissimo duties begin. The Marchfeld has this thunder-game lasted on both sides; for its camp, the Marchfeld is one great camp of the French had begun their attack almost at many nations-Germans, Hungarians, Italians, the same time with ours, and while we were Madshars; advanced sentinels walk steadily, striving to ruin their works on the Lobau, drill serjeants bustle, drums beat; Austrian they strove to burn Enzersdorf town, and ruin generals gallop, "in blue-gray coat and red ours. The Austrian cannon could do little breeches"-combining "simplicity with con- against the strong works on the Lobau. On spicuousness." Faint on our south-western the other hand, the enemy's attack began to horizon appears the Stephans-thurm (St. Ste-tell; in his object was a wider scope, more phen's Steeple) of Vienna; south, over the decisive energy; his guns were more numeDanube, are seen endless French hosts defiling rous, more effectual: in a short time Enzerstowards us, with dust and glitter, along the dorf burst out in flames, and our artillery hill-roads; one may hope, though with mis- struggled without effect against their superigivings, there will be work soon. ority of force. The region round had been illuminated for some time with the conflagration of that little town, when the sky grew black with heavy thunder: the rain poured down, the flames dwindled, the artillery fired seldomer, and at length fell silent altogether. A frightful thunder-storm, such as no one thought he had ever seen, now raged over the broad Marchfeld, which shook with the crashing of the thunder, and, in the pour of rainfloods and howl of winds, was in such a roar, that even the artillery could not have been heard in it."
Meanwhile, in every regiment there is but one tent, a chapel, used also for shelter to the chief officers; you, a subaltern, have to lie on the ground, in your own dug trench, to which, if you can contrive it, some roofing of branches and rushes may be added. It is burning sun and dust, occasionally it is thunder-storm and water-spouts; a volunteer, if it were not for the hope of speedy battle, has a poor time of it: your soldiers speak little, except unintel gible Bohemian Sclavonic; your brother ensigns know nothing of Xenophon, Jean Paul, of patriotism, or the On the morrow morning, in spite of Austria higher philosophies; hope only to be soon and the war of elements, Napoleon, with his back at Prague, where are billiards and things endless hosts, and "six hundred pieces of arsuitable. "The following days were heavy tillery" in front of them, is across, advancing and void: the great summer-heat had withered like a conflagration, and soon the whole Marchthe grass and grove; the willows of the Russ-feld, far and wide, is in a blaze. bach were long since leafless, in part bark- "Ever stronger batteries advanced, ever less; on the endless plain fell nowhere a sha- larger masses of troops came into action; the dow; only dim dust-clouds, driven up by whole line blazed with fire, and moved forsudden whirlblasts, veiled for a moment the ward and forward. We, from our higher poglaring sky, and sprinkled all things with a sition, had hitherto looked at the evolutions hot rain of sand. We gave up drilling as im- and fightings before us, as at a show; but now possible, and crept into our earth-holes." It the battle had got nigher; the air over us sang is feared, too, there will be no battle: Varnha-with cannon-balls, which were lavishly hurled gen has thoughts of making off to the fighting at us, and soon our batteries began to bellow Duke of Brunswick-Oels, or some other that in answer. The infantry got orders to lie flat will fight. However," it would seem, "the on the ground, and the enemy's balls at first worst trial was already over. After a hot, did little execution; however, as they kept inwearying, wasting day, which promised no- cessantly advancing, the regiments ere long thing but a morrow like it, there arose on the stood to their arms. The Archduke General30th of June, from beyond the Danube, a issimo, with his staff, came galloping along, sound of cannon-thunder; a solacing refresh- drew bridle in front of us; he gave his comment to the languid soul! A party of French, mands; looked down into the plain, where the as we soon learned, had got across from the French still kept advancing. You saw by his Lobau, by boats, to a little island named Mühle- face that he heeded not danger or death, thai ninsel, divided only by a small arm from our he lived altogether in his work; his whole, side of the river; they had then thrown a bearing had got a more impressive aspect, a bridge over this too, with defences; our bat-loftier determination, full of joyous courage, teries at Esslingen were for hindering the ene- which he seemed to diffuse round him; he my's passing there, and his nearest cannons soldiers looked at him with pride and trust, about the Lobau made answer." On the fourth many voices saluted him. He had ridden a day after, little towards Baumersdorf, when an adjutant "Archduke John got orders to advance came galloping back, and cried: "Volunteers
forward!" In an instant, almost the whole company of Captain Marais stept out as volunteers we fancied it was to storm the enemy's nearest battery, which was advancing through the corn-fields in front; and so, cheering with loud shout, we hastened down the declivity, when a second adjutant came in with the order that we were but to occupy the Russbach, defend the passage of it, and not to fire till the enemy was quite close. Scattering ourselves into skirmishing order, behind willow-trunks, and high corn, we waited with firelocks ready; covered against cannon-balls, but hit by musket shots and howitzer grenades, which the enemy sent in great numbers to our quarter. About an hour we waited here, in the incessant roar of the artillery, which shot both ways over our heads; with regret we soon remarked that the enemy's were superior, at least, in number, and delivered twice as many shots as ours, which, however, was far better served; the more did we admire the active zeal and valorous endurance by which the unequal match was nevert..eless maintained.
tragical, comical, of mixed character; always dramatic, and vividly given. We have a grand Schwartzenberg Festival, and the Emperor himself, and all high persons present in grand gala, with music, light, and crowned goblets, in a wooden pavilion, with upholstery and draperies: a rag of drapery flutters the wrong way athwart some wax-light, shrivels itself up in quick fire, kindles the other draperies, kindles the gums and woods, and all blazes into swift choking ruin; a beautiful Princess Schwartzenberg, lost in the mad tumult, is found on the morrow as ashes amid the ashes! Then also there are soirces of Imperial notabilities; "the gentlemen walking about in varied talk, wherein you detect a certain cautiousness; the ladies all solemnly ranged in their chairs, rather silent for ladies." Berthier is a "man of composure," no! without higher capabilities. Denon, in spite of his kind speeches, produces an ill effect on one; and in his habit habile, with court-rapier and lace-cuffs, "looks like a dizened ape." Cardinal Maury in red stockings, he that was once Abbe Maury, "pet son of the scarlet woman," whispers diplomatically in your ear, in passing, Nous avons beaucoup de joie de vous voir ici. But the thing that will best of all suit us here, is the presentation to Napoleon himself:
"The Emperor Napoleon meanwhile saw, with impatience, the day passing on without a decisive result; he had calculated on striking the blow at once, and his great accumulated force was not to have directed itself all hitherward in vain. Rapidly he arranged his troops for storming. Marshal Bernadotte got orders "On Sunday, the 22d of Ju., (1810,) was to press forward, over Atterkla, towards Wa- to be the Emperor's first levee after that fatal gram; and, by taking this place, break the occurrence of the fire; and we were told it middle of the Austrian line. Two deep storm- would be uncommonly fine and grand. In ing columus were at the same time to advance, Berlin I had often accidentally seen Napoleon, on the right and left, from Baumersdorf over and afterwards at Vienna and Schönbrunn; the Russbach; to scale the heights of the Aus- but always too far off for a right impression trian position, and sweep away the troops of him. At Prince Schwartzenberg's festival, there. French infantry had, in the mean while, the look of the man, in that whirl of horrible got up close to where we stood; we skirmish-occurrences, had effaced itself again. I asers were called back from the Russbach, and sume, therefore, that I saw him for the first again went into the general line; along the time now, when I saw him rightly, near at whole extent of which a dreadful fire of mus- hand, with convenience, and a sufficient length ketry now began. This monstrous noise of of time. The frequent opportunities I afterthe universal, never-ceasing crack of shots, wards had, in the Tuileries and at St. Cloud, and still more, that of the infinite jingle of iron, (in the latter place especially, at the brilliant in handling more than twenty thousand mus- theatre, open only to the Emperor and his kets, all crowded together here, was the only guests, where Talma, Fleury, and La Raucourt new and entirely strange impression that I, in figured,) did but confirm, and, as it were, comthese my first experiences in war, could say I plete that first impression. had got; all the rest was in part conformable to my preconceived notion, in part even below it: but every thing, the thunder of artillery never so numerous, every noise, I had heard or figured, was trifling, in comparison with this continuous storm-tumult of the small arms, as we call them-that weapon by which indeed our modern battles do chiefly become deadly."
What boots it? Ensign Varnhagen and Generalissimo Archduke Karl are beaten; have to retreat in the best possible order.The sun of Wagram sets as that of Austerlitz had done; the war has to end in submission and marriage; and, as the great Atlantic tidestream rushes into every creck and alters the current there, so for our Varnhagen too a new chapter opens-the diplomatic one, in Paris first of all. Varnhagen's experiences "At the Court of Napoleon," as one of his sections is headed, are extremely entertaining. They are
"We had driven to the Tuileries, and arrived through a great press of guards and people at a chamber, of which I had already heard, under the name of Solle des Ambassa deurs. The way in which, here in this narrow ill-furnished pen, so many high personages stood jammed together, had something ludicrous and insulting in it, and was indeed the material of many a Paris jest.-The richest uniforms and court dresses were, with difficulty and anxiety, struggling hitherward and thitherward; intermixed with Imperial liveries of men handing refreshments, who always, by the near peril, suspended every motion of those about them. The talk was loud and vivacious on all sides; people seeking acquaintances, seeking more room, seeking better light. Seriousness of mood, and dignified concentration of oneself, seemed foreign to all; and what a man could not bring with him, there was nothing here to produce. The whole matter
had a distressful, offensive air; you found yourself ill off, and waited out of humour. My look, however, dwelt with especial pleasure on the members of our Austrian Embassy, whose bearing and demeanour did not discredit the dignity of the old Imperial house.-Prince Schwartzenberg, in particular, had a stately aspect; ease without negligence, gravity without assumption, and over all an honest goodness of expression; beautifully contrasted with the smirking saloon-activity, the perked up courtierism and pretentious nullity of many here.
"At last the time came for going up to audience. On the first announcement of it, all rushed without order towards the door; you squeezed along, you pushed and shoved your neighbour without ceremony. Chamberlains, pages, and guards, filled the passages and ante-chamber; restless, overdone officiousness struck you here too; the soldiers seemed the only figures that knew how to behave in their business, and this, truly, they had learned, not at Court, but from their drill-sergeants.
"We had formed ourselves into a half-circle in the Audience Hall, and got placed in several crowded ranks, when the cry of • L'Empereur !' announced the appearance of Napoleon, who entered from the lower side of the apartment. In simple blue uniform, his little hat under his arm, he walked heavily towards us. His bearing seemed to me to express the contradiction between a will that would attain something, and a contempt for those by whom it was to be attained. An imposing appearance he would undoubtedly have liked to have; and yet it seemed to him not worth the trouble of acquiring; acquiring, I may say, for by nature he certainly had it not. Thus there alternated in his manner a negligence and a studiedness, which combined themselves only in unrest and dissatisfaction. He turned first to the Austrian Embassy, which occupied one extremity of the halfcircle. The consequences of the unlucky festival gave occasion to various questions and remarks. The Emperor sought to appear sympathetic, he even used words of emotion; but this tone by no means succeeded with him, and accordingly he soon let it drop. To the Russian Ambassador, Kurakin, who stood next, his manner had already changed into a rougher; and in his farther progress some face or some thought must have stung him, for he got into violent anger; broke stormfully out on some one or other, not of the most important there, whose name has now escaped me; could be pacified with no answer, but demanded always new; rated and threatened, and held the poor man, for a good space, in tormenting annihilation. Those who stood nearer, and were looking at this scene, not without anxieties of their own, declared afterwards that there was no cause at all for such fury; that the Emperor had merely been seeking an opportunity to vent his ill humour, and had done so even intentionally on this poor wight, that all the rest might be thrown into due terror, and every opposition beforehand beaten down. "As he walked on, he again endeavoured to speak more mildly; but his jarred humour
still sounded through. His words were short, hasty, as if shot from him, and on the most indifferent matters had a passionate rapidity; nay, when he wished to be kindly, it still sounded as if he were in anger. Such a raspy, untamed voice as that of his I have hardly heard.
"His eyes were dark, overclouded, fixed on the ground before him; and only glanced backwards in side-looks now and then, swift and sharp, on the persons there. When he smiled, it was but the mouth and a part of the cheeks that smiled; brow and eyes remained gloomily motionless. If he constrained these also, as I have subsequently seen him do, his countenance took a still more distorted expression. This union of gloom and smile had something frightfully repulsive in it. I know not what to think of the people who have called this countenance gracious, and its kindliness attractive. Were not his features, though undeniably beautiful in the plastic sense, yet hard and rigourous like marble; foreign to all trust, incapable of any heartiness
"What he said, whenever I heard him speaking, was always trivial both in purport and phraseology; without spirit, without wit, without force, nay, at times, quite poor and ridiculous. Faber, in his Notices sur l'Interieur de la France,' has spoken expressly of his questions, those questions which Napoleon was wont to prepare before-hand for certain persons and occasions, to gain credit thereby for acuteness and special knowledge. This is literally true of a visit he had made a short while before to the great Library: all the way on the stairs he kept calling out about that passage in Josephus where Jesus is made mention of; and seemed to have no other task here but that of showing off this bit of learning; it had altogether the air of a question got by heart. *** His gift lay in saying things sharp, or at least unpleasant; nay, when he wanted to speak in another sort, he often made no more of it than insignificance: thus it befel once, as I myself witnessed in Saint-Cloud, he went through a whole row of ladies, and repeated twenty times merely these three words, “Il fait chaud.”
"At this time there circulated a song on his second marriage; a piece composed in the lowest popular tone, but which doubtless had originated in the higher classes. Napoleon saw his power and splendour stained by a ballad, and breathed revenge; but the police could no more detect the author than they could the circulators. To me among others a copy, written in a bad hand and without name, had been sent by the city post; I had privately with friends amused myself over the burlesque, and knew it by heart. Altogether at the wrong time, exactly as the Emperor, gloomy and sour of humour, was now passing me, the words and tune of that song came into my head; and the more I strove to drive them back, the more decidedly they forced themselves forward; so that my imagination, excited by the very frightfulness of the thing, was getting giddy, and seemed on the point of breaking forth into the deadliest offence,..
and deep repeated bows accompanied the exit of Napoleon; who to me had addressed none of his words, but did, as he passed, turn on me one searching glance of the eye, with the departure of which it seemed as if a real danger had vanished.
when happily the audience came to an end; | strongest feelings I have ever seen, and the completest mastery of them." Richter addresses her by the title geflügelte, winged one." Such a Rahel might be worth knowing. We find, on practical inquiry, that Rahel was of Berlin; by birth a Jewess, in easy not affluent circumstances; who lived, mostly "The Emperor gone, all breathed free, as there, from 1771 to 1833. That her youth if disloaded from a heavy burden. By degrees passed in studies, struggles, disappointed pasthe company again grew loud, and then went sions, sicknesses, and other sufferings and viover altogether into the noisy disorder and vacities to which one of her excitable organihaste which had ruled at the commencement. zation was liable. That she was deep in The French courtiers especially took pains to many spiritual provinces, in poetry, in art, in redeem their late downbent and terrified bear-philosophy;-the first, for instance, or one of ing by a free jocularity now; and even in de- the first to recognise the significance of scending the stairs there arose laughter and Goethe, and teach the Schlegels to do it. That quizzing at the levee, the solemnity of which she wrote nothing; but thought, did, and had ended here." spoke, many things, which attracted notice, admiration spreading wider and wider. That Such was Varnhagen von Ense's presenta- in 1814 she became the wife of Varnhagen; tion to Napoleon Bonaparte in the Palace of the loved wife, though her age was forty-three, the Tuileries. What Varnhagen saw remains exceeding his by some twelve years or more, a possession for him and for us. The judg- and she could never boast of beauty. That ment he formed on what he saw will-depend without beauty, without wealth, foreign ceupon circumstances. For the eye of the in-lebrity, or any artificial nimbus whatsoever, tellect "sees in all objects what it brought she had grown in her silently progressive way with it the means of seeing." Napoleon is a to be the most distinguished woman in Berlin; man of the sort which Varnhagen elsewhere admired, partly worshipped by all manner of calls daimonisch, a "demonic man ;" whose high persons, from Prince Louis of Prussia meaning or magnitude is not very measurable downwards; making her mother's, and then by men; who, with his ownness of impulse and her husband's house the centre of an altoinsight, with his mystery and strength, in a gether brilliant circle there. This is the word, with his originality, (if we will under-"social phenomenon of Rahel." What farther stand that,) reaches down into the region of the could be readily done to understand such a perennial and primeval, of the inarticulate and social phenomenon we have endeavoured to unspeakable; concerning whom innumerable do; with what success the reader shall see. things may be said, and the right thing not said for a long while, or at all. We will leave him standing on his own basis, at present; bullying the hapless, obscure functionary there; declaring to all the world the meteorological fact, Il fait chaud.
First of all, we have looked at the Portrait of Rahel given in these volumes. It is a face full of thought, of affection, and energy; with no pretensions to beauty, yet loveable and attractive in a singular degree. The strong high brow and still eyes are full of contemplaVarnhagen, as we see, has many things to tion; the long upper lip (sign of genius, some write about; but the thing which beyond all say) protrudes itself to fashion a curved others he rejoices to write about, and would mouth, condemuable in academies, yet beautigladly sacrifice all the rest to, is the memory fully expressive of laughter and affection, of of Rahel, his deceased wife. Mysterious indi- strong endurance, of noble silent scorn; the cations have of late years flitted round us, con- whole countenance looking as with cheerful cerning a certain Rahel, a kind of spiritual clearness through a world of great pain and queen in Germany, who seems to have lived disappointment; one of those faces which the in familiar relation to most of the distinguish- lady meant when she said, “But are not all ed persons of that country in her time. Travel-beautiful faces ugly, then, to begin with?" In lers to Germany, now a numerous sect with the next place, we have read diligently whatus, ask you as they return from æsthetic capi- soever we could anywhere find written about tals and circles, Do you know Rahel?" Rahel; and have to remark here that the things Marquis Custine, in the "Revue de Paris," written about her, unlike some things written (treating of this book of Rahel's Letters,") by her, are generally easy to read. Varnhasays, by experience "She was a woman as gen's account of their intercourse; of his first extraordinary as Madame de Staël, for her young feelings towards her, his long waiting faculties of mind, for her abundance of ideas, and final meeting of her in snowy weather her light of soul, and her goodness of heart: under the Lindens, in company with a lady she had, moreover, what the author of whom he knew, his tremulous speaking to her Corinne' did not pretend to, a disdain for there, the rapid progress of their intimacy; oratory; she did not write. The silence of and so onward to love, to marriage: all this minds like hers is a force too. With more is touching and beautiful; a Petrarcan rovanity, a person so superior would have mance, and yet a reality withal. sought to make a public for herself: but Rahel desired only friends. She spoke to communicate the life that was in her; never did she speak to be admired." Goethe testifies that she is a 66 right woman; with the
Finally, we have read in these three thick volumes of Letters,-till in the second thick volume, the reading faculty unhappily broke down, and had to skip largely thenceforth, only diving here and there at a venture with
considerable intervals! Such is the melancholy fact. It must be urged in defence that these volumes are of the toughest reading; calculated, as we said for Germany, rather than for England or us. To be written with such indisputable marks of ability, nay of genius, of depth and sincerity, they are the heaviest business we perhaps ever met with. The truth is, they do not suit us at all. They are subjective letters, what the metaphysicians call subjective, not objective; the grand material of them is endless depicturing of moods, sensations, miseries, joys, and lyrical conditions of the writer; no definite picture drawn, or rarely any, of persons, transactions, or events which the writer stood amidst a wrong material, as it seems to us. To what end? To what end? we always ask. Not by looking at itself, but by looking at things out of itself, and ascertaining and ruling these, shall the mind become known. "One thing above all other," says Goethe once, "I have never thought about think ing." What a thrift almost of itself equal to a fortune in these days: "habe nie ans Denken gedacht!" But how much wastefuller still it is to feel about Feeling! One is wearied of that; the healthy soul avoids that. Thou shalt look outward, not inward. Gazing inward on one's own self-why, this can drive one mad, like the monks of Athos, if at last too long. Unprofitable writing this subjective sort does seem; at all events, to the present reviewer, no reading is so insupportable. Nay, we ask, might not the world be entirely deluged by it, unless prohibited? Every mortal is a microcosm; to himself a macrocosm, or universe large as nature; universal nature would barely hold what he could say about himself. Not a dyspeptic tailor on any shopboard of this city but could furnish all England, the year through, with reading about himself, about his emotions, and internal mysteries of wo and sensibility, if England would read him. It is a course which leads nowhither; a course which should be avoided.
Add to all this, that such self-utterance on the part of Rahel, in these letters, is in the highest degree vapourous, vague. Her very mode of writing is complex, nay, is careless, incondite; with dashes and splashes, with notes of admiration, of interrogation, (nay, both together sometimes,) with involutions, abruptness, whirls, and tortuosities; so that even the grammatical meaning is altogether burdensome to seize. And then when seized, alas, it is as we say, of due likeness to the phraseology; a thing crude, not articulated into propositions, but flowing out as in bursts of interjection and exclamation. No wonder the reading faculty breaks down! And yet we do gather gold grains and precious thought here and there; though out of large wastes of sand and quicksand. In fine, it becomes clear, beyond doubting, both that this Rahel was a woman of rare gifts and worth, a woman of true genius; and also that her genius has passed away, and left no impress of itself there for us. These printed volumes produce the effect not of speech, but of multifarious, confused wind-music. It seems to require the aid of pantomime, to tell us what it means.
But after all, we can understand how talk of that kind, in an expressive mouth, with bright deep eyes, and the vivacity of social move ment, of question and response, may have been delightful; and moreover that, for those to whom they vividly recall such talk, these letters may still be delightful. Hear Marquis de Custine a little farther:
"You could not speak with her a quarter of an hour without drawing from that fountain of light a shower of sparkles. The comic was at her command equally with the highest degree of the sublime. The proof that she was natural is, that she understood laughter as she did grief; she took it as a readier means of showing truth; all had its resonance in her, and her manner of receiving the impressions which you wished to communicate to her modified them in yourself: you loved her at first because she had admirable gifts; and then, what prevailed over every thing, because she was entertaining. She was nothing for you. or she was all; and she could be all to several at a time without exciting jealousy, so much did her noble nature participate in the source of all life, of all clearness. When one has lost in youth such friend," &c., &c. ... "It seems to me you might define her in one word: she had the head of a sage and the heart of an apostle, and in spite of that, she was a child and a woman as much as any one can be. Her mind penetrated into the obscurest depths of nature; she was a thinker of as much and more clearness than our Theosophist Saint Martin, whom she comprehended and admired; and she felt like an artist. Her perceptions were always double; she attained the sublimest truths by two faculties which are incompatible in ordinary men, by feeling and by reflection. Her friends asked of themselves,-Whence ame these flashes of genius which she threw from her in conversation? Was it the effect of long studies? Was it the effect of sudden inspirations? It was the intuition granted as recompense by Heaven to souls that are true. These martyr souls wrestle for the truth, which they have a forecast of; they suffer for the God whom they love, and their whole life is the school of eternity."*
This enthusiastic testimony of the clever sen. timental marquis is not at all incredible to us, in its way: yet from these letters we have nothing whatever to produce that were adequate to make it good. As was said already, it is not to be made good by excerpts and written documents; its proof rests in the memory of living witnesses. Meanwhile, from these same wastes of sand, and even of quicksand dangerous to linger in, we will try to gather a few grains the most like gold, that it may be guessed, by the charitable, whether or not a Pactolus once flowed there:
"If there be miracles, they are those that are in our breast; what we do not know, we call by that name. How astonished, almost how ashamed are we, when the inspired mo ment comes, and we get to know them!"
"One is late in learning to lie and late in learning to speak the truth."-"I cannot, be
"Revue de Paris," Novembre, 1837