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strings of a violin, and consequently “I am violating your father's inhas no vibration, and therefore cannot structions perhaps," said the gentlerespond to the vibrations of a violin; man smiling; “but every one must but I have since thought that there have a beginning. Nevertheless, he was more truth in this wild idea of a has much on his side. It has been child's ignorance than would at first said, rather cypically, 'The moment a appear, and it seemed to lead the way man touches an instrument, he ceases to a second thought which crossed my to be a musiciad.'' mind in the transport of ecstasy pro I did not understand this then, but duced by this, the first violin-playing I understood it well afterwards. worthy of the name which I had ever The gentleman left one of his less heard.
cherished instruments behind him, I knew the secret now, both of the with some simple exercises which he entrancing whisper of the wind-music, enjoined me to practise only and to and also, why, at a certain point, it attempt nothing else, but I blush to had failed. The blind, senseless wind, say that I did not follow his advice. blowing merely where it listed, had I played the chords he left me now aroused the human spirit through the and again, but I was absorbed in the medium of grass and reed and rock one idea that his playing had left with and forest, and called it through the me—the thought of the human spirit fairy gate into cloud and dreamland; informing the senseless wind. I but when, instead of the blind, sense delighted only in the fancy that I less wind, the instructed human spirit was a mere automaton, and that the itself touched the strings, music, born pervading spirit—the spirit that inof cultured harmony, through all the spires man and breathes in Naturelong scale of octave and according was playing through my spirit upon the pitch, won for the listening, rapt, obedient vibrating strings. In this way ecstatic spirit an insight and an I played fantasias of the most striking entrance into realms which the out and original character, and at the ward eye had not seen, the secrets of same time destroyed all my chances, which it is not lawful or possible to or ran a serious risk of doing so, of utter to any save to the spirit-born. ever becoming a violinist.
“You seem absorbed in the music, Three quiet years passed in this my boy,” said this gentleman to me : manner, during which I lived almost “ do you play the violin, perchance ?” constantly at Geiselwind with the
I said that I had played on no in Graffinn, who, in fact, treated me as strument save picking out harmonious
At the end of that thirds on an old harpsichord at the time she informed me that she in. parsonage house.
My father was tended to send me to the university of perfectly an amateur : he loved music Wenigstaat. She chose this university so much that he refused to play bim for me, she told me, because it was self, or to allow any one else to play near, but above all because it was not in his hearing save those who could famous, but was, in fact, a mere appanplay well : " playing a little
age to a kingly city, and was therefore dread.
less likely to pervert from the correct The gentleman shut up his precious and decorous habits in which they had violin in its case and produced another, been brought up the ideas and habits on which he showed me the possibility of young men. She would provide me of varying the note through every with a sufficient income, and would shade of pitch by the position of the take care that my wardrobe and finger on the vibrating string. It is appointments were those of a gentleimpossible to describe the delight I felt man, a station which she wished me when I was able to feel out a chord of to occupy and to maintain without three notes,
The habits of society in the uni and fir: through these woods running versities and elsewhere were very streams and cascades forced their way different in those days from what now through the green mountainthey have since become. The old meadows, now over rocky steeps and society of the days before the revo dingles : a soft blue sky brooded over lution existed in its full strength. this
world of leaf and grass and French taste in costume and amuse song-birds, and sunlit showers swept ments was universal ; and the fashion over the woodland and deepened the of philosophic inquiry which was verdure into fresher green.
In the copied from the French was a mere centre of this plain, almost encircled intellectual toy, and had no effect by a winding river, the city was built upon the practical conclusions of those upon a hill which divided itself into who amused themselves with it. The two summits, upon one of which merits of republican institutions and stood the cathedral and upon the other the inviolability of the rights of man the King's palace. Between these were discussed as abstract questions, summits the old town wound its way without a thought that the conclusions up past gates and towers and marketwould ever be applied to modern life, place and rathhaus and the buildings or to the daily relationships of nobles of the university, with masses of old and peasants and townspeople. Before gabled houses of an oppressive height the bursting of the torrent which was and of immemorial antiquity, with to sweep it out of existence, the old huge over-hanging stories and tiers of world slumbered in a rainbow-tinted rooms wandering on, apparently withevening light of delicately fancied out plan or guide, from house to culture and repose.
house and street to street-a human The habits and appearance of uni hive of intricate workmanship, of versity students have changed more carpentry-work and stone-work and completely than those of any other brick-work, all crowded together in class. In the most advanced cities the little space of the rising hill-street even in those days they dressed com above the rushing stream, a space pletely in the French manner, in em small in itself but infinite in its broidered suits and powdered hair, thronged stories of centuries of life fluttering from toilette to toilette, and vast grave, not only of generations of caring little for lectures or professors. the dead, themselves lying not far In the old stately city of Wenigstaat, from the foundations of their homes, it may be easily understood, the ideas but of buried hopes, of faded beauty, and habits of the past existed with a of beaten courage and stricken faith peculiar unchangeableness.
and patience crushed and lost at last I regretted leaving the life of hill in the unequal fight with fate. The and forest and dreamy phantasy in dim cathedral, full of storied windows which I had found so much to of deep blood-stained glass and of delight me, but the natural love of colossal figures of mailed heroes guardyouth for change and adventure con ing emblazoned tombs, faced the soled me.
One great advantage I King's palace, a massive ivy-covered derived from the choice the Graffin fortress relieved here and there with had made for me was that I did not façades of carved work of the later change the character of my outward Renaissance. surroundings. I was nearly nineteen The tired horses of my postchaise when I left Geiselwind and arrived struggled up over the stone pavement one evening in a postchaise at Wenig- of this steep street amid the crowd staat.
of loiterers and traffickers and gay The city lay in a wooded valley sur pleasure-seekers that thronged it and rounded by hills covered to their drew
before the Three Roses in the summits with woods of beech and oak Peterstrasse, where a room had been
" that my I am,
provided for me. Here I slept, and nected. I am a professor-a professor here I dined every day at an ordinary of belles lettres and music, and I have frequented by many of the principal been tutor to the Crown Prince. I citizens, by some of the wealthier may possibly be of some service to students, and by some officials and you: some of the great professors are courtiers, when it was not the turn of rather difficult of access.' the latter in waiting at the palace. “I am the adopted son of the Graffinn This table was one at least of the von Wetstein, sir,” I answered. “I centres of life and interest in the little have letters to several of the prokingly city.
fessors of the university, but I find To a boy, reared in a country par them much occupied in their duties, sonage and an old half-deserted manor and not very easy of approach." house, all this, it may be conceived, “ We will soon remedy all that,” he was strange enough; but somehow it said smiling. “To what course of study did not seem to me wholly strange. I are you most inclined, and what is the bad been trained at the table of the future to which your friends design Graffinn to the usages of polite life, and the whispering wind and the solemn “I fear, sir,” I returned, forests of my childhood had seemed to future is very undefined. lift me above a sense of embarrass
you say you are a professor of music, ment, as though the passing scenes very fond of the violin; but I am a before me were but the shadows and very poor performer, and I fear I shall visions of a dream. I looked down never be a proficient.” the long table at the varied faces, at “I profess music," said the old the talkers and showy ones, at the gentleman, with his quaint smile, grave citizens, at the quiet humorous " but do not teach it: I only talk students, who now and then said a few about it. I will introduce you, howwords that turned the laugh against ever, to a great teacher of the violin, the talkers, at the courtiers affecting and, indeed, if you would like it we some special knowledge of affairs of can go to him now. This is about state about which the King probably the time that we shall find him troubled himself little ; and I remem disengaged.” ber that it all seemed to me like turn We went out together into the ing the pages of a story book, or like crowded market-place and turned to the shifting scenes of a play, about the left hand up a street of marvellous which latter, though I had never seen height, narrowness and steepness, one, I had read and beard much.
which led round the eastern end of On the second and third day I found the cathedral, and indeed nearly conmyself seated by a little elderly man, cealed it from sight. At the top of very elaborately dressed, with pow this street, on the side farthest from dered hair and a beautifully em the cathedral, the vast west window broidered coat. I have always felt an of which could just be seen over the attraction towards old men : they are gables, chimneys and stork-nests of so polite, and their conversation, when the opposite houses, we stopped before they do talk, is always worth listening the common door of one of the lofty to. Something of this feeling, perhaps, old houses, against the posts of which showed itself in my manner.
attached several affiches third day he said to me on rising from notices of differing forms and material. dinner : “I perceive, sir, that you are Among these my companion pointed a stranger here : you seem to me to be out one larger and more imposing a quiet well-bred young man, and I than the rest : “ Veitch, teacher of the shall be glad if I can be of any use to violin.” you.
You are doubtless come to the “I ought to tell you,” said the old university and are evidently well con gentleman, " that my daughter is
reader to the Princess, and that she the front of the house looked down comes to Herr Veitch for lessons on the steep winding street : from the the violin, that she may assist her other I saw, over the roofs of the Highness. If the Graf von Wetstein city, piled in strange confusion beneath should take lessons here also, he may the high-pitched windows of the upper possibly meet her.”
town, a wide prospect of sky and river "I beg your pardon," I said: “I and valley, and the distant blue must correct an important mistake. mountains and forests of the FichtelI am only the adopted son of the geberge, where my home had been. Graffinn von Wetstein. I am not the
was somewhat crowded Graf : my name is Saale."
with furniture, chiefly large old oaken The old gentleman seemed rather presses or cabinets apparently full of disappointed at this, but he rallied books, a harpsichord, clavichord, and sufficiently to say: “ You may never
several violins. In the centre of this theless meet my daughter, Herr von apartment, as he rose to receive us, Saale."
stood an elderly man, rather shabbily It sounded so pleasantly that I had dressed, with an absent expression in not the hardihood to correct him again. his face.
I was accordingly introduced to “ Herr Veitch," said my guide, every one in Wenigstaat as Herr von “permit me to present to you Herr Saale, and I may as well say, once for von Saale, a young gentleman of all, that I did not suffer for this pre- distinguished family and connections, sumption as I deserved. Some weeks who has come to reside in our unilater on I received a letter from the
versity. He is anxious to perfect Graffinn, in which she said: “I have himself in the violin, upon which he noticed that you have been men is already no mean performer.” tioned to me in letters as Otto von I was amazed at the glibness with Saale. As I have chosen to adopt which this surprising old gentleman you, and as Saale is the name of a discoursed upon that of which he knew river, and therefore is to a certain
so little. extent territorial, I think perhaps The old violinist looked at me with that this may not be amiss; and I a dazed and even melancholy expresflatter myself that I have sufficient sion, his eyes seemed to me to say as influence at the Imperial Court to pro clearly as words could have spoken: cure for you a faculty which will “ Here is another frivolous impostor enable you to add the prefix von to intruded upon me.” your patronymic.” Accordingly, some “Is this one of my daughter's months afterwards I did receive a days ?" said my friend, the old most important and wordy document; gentleman. but I had by that time become so “No, I expect her to-morrow about accustomed to my aristocratic title this time.” that I thought little of it, though its “The Princess,” said my friend, possession, no doubt, may have saved “ is very shy: she dislikes taking me from some serious consequences.
lessons from men, and prefers to gain We have been standing too long on her knowledge of music from my the staircase which led up to Herr daughter." Veitch's room on the second floor of The old master took up a violin that the great rambling house. The room lay upon the table and handed it to which the old gentleman led me into I played a simple lesson that had was one of great size, occupying the been left me by the Italian, the only entire depth of the house. It had one that had taken my fancy, for it long deep-latticed windows at either had in its few notes, as it seemed to end raised by several steps above the me, something of the pleading of the level of the room : the window towards whispering wind.
The old man took the violin from as one looks from a lofty, precipitous me without a word : then he drew the height down into the teeming streets bow across the strings himself and of a great city, full of pigmy forms, so played some bars, from I imagine in the majestic march of sound we get some old forgotten Italian master. away from life and its littleness, and As he played the solemn chords of see the whole of life spread out before the sonata, in the magnetic resonance us and feel the pathos of it with the of its full smooth rich notes there was pity of an archangel, as we could never something that seemed to fill all space, have done in the bustle of the streets to lead and draw the nerves and brain, there below." as over gorgeous sun-coloured pave “You are cutting the ground from ments and broad stately terraces, with under my feet, my friend,” said the alluring sound and speech.
old Professor, rather testily. “It is He laid down the violin after he your business to teach music, mine to had played for a few minutes and talk about it.” went to the harpsichord, which stood The old master smiled at this sally, near to the window looking down into but he went on all the same. I thought the street.
that he perceived in me a sympathetic “You know something of music,” listener. he said to me:
“ do you understand “ Have you never felt that in the this ?”
shrill clear surging chords of the He struck a single clear note upon higher octaves you were climbing into the harpsichord and turned towards a loftier existence, and do you not feel the window, a casement of which was that for the race itself something like open towards the crowded street. this is also possible? It will be in and
“ Down there,” he said, -—" where I through music that human thought know not, but somewhere down there, will be carried beyond the point it has -is a heart and brain that beats with hitherto reached." that beat, that vibrates with the He paused a moment and then went vibration of that note, that hears on in a lower, less confident voice. and recognises and is consoled. To “This is my faith, and I shall die every note struck anywhere there is in it. There is one thing only which an accordant note in
There are men, ay, great brain, toiling, dying, suffering, here performers, real masters of the bowbelow."
who know nothing of these things, He looked at me and I said : “I have who have no such faith. There is understood something of this also.” none whom I would sooner regard as
“ This is why," he went on, “in a devil than such a one. Sometimes music all hearts are revealed to us : we when I hear them they almost destroy sympathise with all hearts, not only the faith that is in me—the faith in with those near to us but with those afar off. It is not strange that in the "Pooh! Pooh! my friend,” said high treble octaves that speak of child the Professor. “ They are not so hood and of the lark singing and of bad as that! They have simply the heaven, you, who are young, should divine gift of the perception of harhear of such things; but, in the
instinctive harmonic sudden drop into the solemn lower touch, They know not why notes, why should you, who know how. They are not devils. Herr nothing of such feelings, see and feel von Saale,' he went on, with for with the old man who returns to the him considerable earnestness, “ do not streets and fields of his youth? He believe it. I fancy that you are lives, his heart vibrates in such notes : in danger of falling into the fatal his life, his heart, his tears exist in error of supposing that you can play them, and through them in you. Just on the violin in the same way that