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machinery of existence. To this am I come. Do you understand this? I do not mean, have you thought about it, but have you lived it ?"'*
A woman, a weak one too, suffering from the same malady, writes thus :
"“What states of mind and soul I have lived through! with what demons I have wrestled! what a languishing thirst for happiness at first, and what an aversion for the joys of the world at last came over me. Ob, there are no words for it! Yet who among us has not wrestled and suffered ? who among us has not gone through the illusion.destroying, spirit-crushing process ? who among us has not seen his altars tottering, and his idol tumbling from its throne ? But, somewhere or other, there is a green oasis for us all ! If it does not bloom in the present, it dawns in the future, or smiles mournfully from the past. He who is saddened by his recollections, throws himself boldly into the arms of hope or into the bewitching enjoyment of the moment; he who suffers from the world, takes refuge in a loving heart or in his own; he who cannot luxuriate in feeling, seeks relief in action; he who cannot find a resting point that satisfies him in things external, has a wide unbounded domain bestowed upon him by thought. Existence is an ever-blooming Eden for none; for most, it is a soil which they must laboriously build upon, a soil scattered over with wastes and rocks; yet the dry waste is sprinkled with sweet flowers, moss and ivy are entwined about the rock, and the fir-tree springs from its crevices. Vegetation plants itself every where, and developes life—except in drift-sand.”'
As for our minor miseries, these also depend much upon ourselves; and a habit of self-examination, she thinks, will effectually remove most of them. When you are fretful, uneasy, desponding, without any assignable cause-or inclined to think yourself neglected by your friends, pause a moment and consider whether they have not as much reason to complain of you as you of them ; whether you are not suffering from some chronic malady, moral or physical; whether you are not approximating to the state of Louis XIV. at that period of his life when Madame Maintenon complained, that she had to amuse a King who was no longer amusable.
Again, according to Madame Hahn-Hahn's theory, although it may not be in
to be contented or constant, it is in every one's power to be true; and she has no mercy for any sort of trifling, mental sophistication, or deceit
• This, above all, to tbine own self be true;
Thou canst not then be false to any man.'
* Vol. II. p. 12.
dialogue between the young artist Polydor and the Countess Schönholm, his patroness, in Aus der Gesellschaft:
““ But you will write to me osten and much, won't you ?”
««• That is as it may be. I can promise nothing beforehand, because I do not know whether I shall be able to keep my word.”
• “ But you must know what you will do ?”
““ It is, therefore, quite possible for you to forget me altogether in a new object or a new idea ?”
"“ No, but you may certainly be thrown into the background.”
« «« I, however, say it to you designedly, that you might not, young as you are, imagine yourself to be dearer to me than you are."
« « Countess, why do you say such hard things to me?”
"" Because you are a man, my poor Polydor, consequently a little vain and confident. In every relation between men and women, I deem it best for both sides to know, as precisely and clearly as possible, what they are to one another; otherwise misunderstandings capable of giving great pain, may easily occur.''
We have said that allowances are made for passion, but we we must limit the proposition. The indulgence extends no further than to the unconscious growth or progress of feeling; the moment ladies or gentlemen become aware of a guilty wish or forbidden liking, they must fly. No paltering with conscience, no tampering with duty, no references to Plato or his creed; judgment of instant separation is pronounced without appeal. Otto (in Aus der Gesellschaft) gives up Ilda. Margaret (in
) Ulrich) flies Ulrich. Ohlen (in Der Rechte) quits Vincenza for ever at her bidding. Renata (in Cecil) nobly resists temptation. In the few instances in which the bounds of duty are transgressed, the transgression is not defended ; and the character (Faustine, for example) is described as an exceptionable one. It should also be added, that Madame Hahn-Hahn's respect for inconstancy originates in a conviction that the highest naturesgenerally the most imaginative and impressible—are incapacitated, by the law of their being, from resting satisfied with what they possess; or resisting the attractions of any new and unknown object, if it happens to bear a closer resemblance to the ideal image of grace and beauty which is ever moving before them with a glory round its head. Moreover, their minds and hearts are constantly advancing; and the same amount of excellence, or the same sort of sympathy, will no more suffice for them in their more advanced stages, than the pursuits of boyhood will satisfy the man. Still, this tendency does not prevent them from throwing themselves, heart and soul, into their first grand passion ; and an adorer, after Madame Hahn
1 Hahn's own heart, would be more likely to be thought too devoted than the contrary. The required sentiment, seasoned with a spice of Wertherism, is embodied in some spirited verses printed in her first novel,* and we have therefore attempted a translation of them. It is as literal as we can make it; but, as one of the innumerable translators of Faust has remarked, it is only by a lucky chance that a succession of simple heartfelt expressions or idiomatic felicities in one language, are ever capable of exact representation in another. I
4 • If you'll be my own,
Right up tow'rds the sun Then list to me now,
I soar, tempest-tost ; My love shall be shown
And bliss has been won Long as fate will allow.
Where peace has been lost. All hours you shall bear it, Yet I grow calm, and care Or feel it, or see
Dies away at its birth, And if you can't bear it,
As I bathe in the air You do not love me.
That's untainted by earth. 2
5 • Thorn-tangled and wild,
Let the war-cries of life And o'er rocks, is my path; Ring loud as they will, Oh ! am I the child
Through the thick of the strife, Of God's favour or wrath ?
You must follow me still. At times I feel riven
The shame you must bear, So sbatter'd, so drear
Ay, make it your own; And then, as if heaven
And the crown you must wear Were opening to cheer.
As if born to a throne. 3
6 « The lark trills her note
• If your soul is thus steel'd, Unseen and on high;
Self-sustain'd, self-possess'd, The eagle will float
Unable to yield,
able to rest; Just so is my being ;
Come to me-no shrinkingI pour out my lay
I'll live on for you, Unseen and unseeing,
But if you stay thinking And hover, as they.
One moment-Adieu.' We have gradually wandered from our parallel; but we must return to it, if only to mention one more difference, the most decided of the whole. Some gifted and many common-place women, feeling or thinking themselves fitted for a wider field of exertion than is ordinarily held compatible with the appropriate virtues of their sex, have murmured, or railed in good set terms at the alleged injustice of the restraints imposed on it; and Madame Dudevant, not
* Aus der Gesellschaft, p. 189.
satisfied with assuming a masculine name, and displaying (it must be owned) a masculine strength of understanding, has occasionally adopted the garb, together with a few of the distinctive habits, of thestronger sex. The statuette by which she is best known throughout Europe, represents her standing in an easy independent attitude, attired in pantaloons and a frock coat. Madame Hahn-Hahn, on the contrary, is thoroughly feminine in all her tastes, habits, feelings and modes of thought-in her weakness as well as in her strength; nor does she appear to have made up her mind that women are qualified to contend for the greater prizes in art, science, and philosophy. For example:
«« Without pleasure in that which has been undertaken in good earnest, without devotion to it, satisfaction in it, triumph with it—nothing great was ever yet accomplished ; and what is the quintessence of these feelings except inspiration? What else is the pulse of their life? Inspi. ration is the electric shock which runs through the chain of existence; and history shows that it is only received by men.”
6" Only by men ?" interrupted Faustine —"and the prophetesses of the Hebrews, and the Roman matrons who laughed at death! and the priestesses of the Germanic tribes ! and the heroines of Saragossa !”
"“ I except the mere impulse. When a woman's heart is touched, when it is moved by love- be it for an individual, for her country, or for her God, then the electric spark is communicated, and the fire of inspiration flames up. But even then, woman desires no more than to suffer and die for what she loves. No woman was ever excited to the creating, controlling, world-lifting point: no, never ; that is, never by inspiration. By intrigue, by caprice-likely enough; she amuses terself with these occasionally. But it never yet entered the mind of woman to make her lover immortal, like Petrarch's Laura and Dante's Beatrice. They do not even master art; much less science. That woman remains to be born who is capable of interesting herself for an abstract idea, to the extent of enduring chains and torture for its sake, like Galileo with his e pur si muove. We cannot so much as form a notion of a female Socrates.” '-(Faustine, p. 149.)
She does not even maintain their superiority in matters of the heart.
«« Under ordinary circumstances," said Faustine, " we may be superior to men in tact and fineness of perception ; but when a man loves-and this bappens oftener than women are willing to allow he enfolds the beloved one like a sensitive plant, and feels sooner, stronger, every dawning emotion, every shade of feeling, every growing thorn of disagreement, every swelling bud of happiness. But then he must love in good earnest.” —(P. 177.)
Enough has been said to distinguish Madame Hahn-Hahn from her celebrated cotemporary; and the course of the parallel has naturally led us to state the leading qualities of her style. We may now, therefore, proceed to a more detailed examination of her books ; but it is only fair to say, that their great charm
consists in the succession of skilful touches by which characters
point of which is a star; but no Orion, no Sirius, overpoweringly attracts the view. She is just the sort of writer who must be read, and read carefully by a qualified reader, to be appreciated. We will do our best however, to convey as precise a notion of her as can be conveyed by extract or analysis, within the limits of an article.
Gräfin Faustine, the third on our list, is the book in which Madame Hahn-Hahn first put forth her full strength, and displayed her peculiar qualities. It is marked by more unity of purpose and compactness of plot, than Aus der Gesellschaft or Der Rechte; which, short as they are, are more than half made up of episodical narratives or detached scenes. It has also been said, and is currently believed, that Gräfin Faustine, and Ida, Gräfin Hahn-Hahn, are one and the same person.
The opening scene is laid at Dresden, on the terrace overlooking the river, where several young men are lounging and chatting, one fine afternoon in June. It was too early for the female promenaders.
It was consequently the more remarkable that a woman, apparently belonging to the higher class, was seated on a bench, with her back towards the pavilion, undisturbed by the talking of the men, or the noise of the children. But it struck no one. She must therefore be somebody whom every one knew and no one minded. She was sketching diligently. A servant stood statue-like by her side, holding a parasol, so that neither a dazzling ray of light, nor the quivering shade of the leaves, might fall on the hand, eye, or paper, of his lady. Her large dark eye flew with keen quick glances bither and thither between the drawing and the landscape; and the delicate hand, relieved from the glove for the sake of greater fineness of touch, and careless of exposure to the air, skilfully followed the glance. She was completely buried in her occupation.'
The group of loungers were joined by one of their com