previous next

Chapter 24:


January 20.—I passed an hour this forenoon very profitably with Prince John, in looking over the apparatus criticus he has used in his study of Dante. It was less complete than I expected to find it, but more curious. I made a good many memoranda, and shall turn the visit to good account. He was, I thought, free in showing me everything, conscientious in confessing to some little oversights and ignorances, and glad to get any hints that will be useful to him hereafter; but, on the whole, it is quite plain his study of Dante has been most thorough, and that his knowledge and feeling of the power and beauty of the Inferno and Purgatorio are really extraordinary. With the Paradiso he has not yet made a beginning; I mean, with its translation.

Early in the afternoon I made a similar visit to Tieck, and looked over his collection of books and manuscripts in old English literature, and especially the old English drama. Few Englishmen have so fine a library in this department as he has; fewer still have a knowledge in it at all to be compared to his. Many of his notions are very bold; as, for instance, that the ‘ Fair Emm’1 is by Shakespeare. He told me to-day that he thinks Milton superintended the edition of Shakespeare to which his sonnet is prefixed, because the changes and emendations made in it, upon the first folio, are poetical and plainly made by a poet. It would be a beautiful circumstance if it could be proved true.

When Tieck was in England, in 1817, he bought a great many curious books, and even had eight or ten manuscript plays copied in the British Museum, so far and so thoroughly has he pushed his inquiries on this interesting and delightful subject. I talk with him [473] about it, more or less, almost always when I go to see him, and he never fails to be agreeable and instructive. This afternoon he was particularly so.

January 21.—In the evening I went to Tieck's by appointment, and heard him read the whole of the first part of ‘ Henry IV.,’ in Schlegel's admirable translation. He has universally the reputation of being the best reader in Germany, and certainly I am not at all disposed to gainsay his fame. His reading was admirable in all respects; sometimes very curious and striking to me, because his tones and manner, now and then, gave a small shade of difference to the interpretation of a passage from what I had been accustomed to give it, or hear given to it on the stage. His conception of Falstaff's character was more like Cooke's, and less like Bartley's, than any I recollect; that is, more intellectual, and less jovial, less vulgar; and the conception of the King's character was more violent and angry than I have been used to. Very likely he was right in both cases; certainly he was quite successful in the effect he produced.2

This reading is an exercise of which he is very fond, and in which he often indulges his friends, and the society that assembles at his house every evening; but for the last two months he has had a cough and abstained entirely, so that I have never heard him before to-night. He never goes out to walk or take exercise, and his physician—Carus—says these readings are physically useful to him as substitutes. He gave me my choice of what he should read, after I arrived, so that there was no possibility of preparation; and he read the whole through at once, without the least pause, without speaking or being spoken to. It occupied a little more than two hours and a half, and did not fatigue him in the least, so fine is his organ. . . . . I hope I shall hear him often.

January 22.—There was a small party at Count Baudissin's3 this evening, not above thirty or forty persons, and generally among the [474] most intellectual and distinguished in Dresden, collected to hear a famous performer on the piano-forte,—Miss Clara Wieck,4—only seventeen or eighteen years old. She played with more expression than I have been accustomed to hear from persons who play so scientifically, and produced certainly a great effect upon the audience. Once, when she was accompanied on the violin by Schubardt,5 in a remarkable piece which they had never played together, and which she did not know he would ask her to play, the astonishment of those who had the best right to judge of her merit seemed to reach its utmost limit. It was altogether beyond my comprehension. Indeed, the whole affair was above me, and, as very little conversation could be enjoyed, I did not stay it out.

January 28.—Last evening M. de Bulow spent a long and quiet evening with us, which was filled with very agreeable conversation, for which he has large resources. Among other things I heard from him, to my great surprise, that Tiedge, the author of ‘ Urania,’ is still alive; and, what is more, living over in the Neu-Stadt, eighty-four years old, but still lively and enjoying society, though his infirmities prevent him from going abroad.

This morning I went to visit him. He lives in the house where his friends the Reckes lived; among the rest, the famous Frau von der Recke, who exercised not a little political influence in her time, and was connected with a large number of its most distinguished men, both statesmen and men of letters. When she died, she ordered the house to remain for the use of Tiedge, and the income of her moderate fortune to be paid over for his benefit. . . . In the midst of these comforts, then, we found him, and quite able, from the freshness of his faculties, to enjoy them all. His hair is white and very neatly combed back; his dress more cared for than is common in old men in Germany; his manners kind, and even courteous; and his conversation and sympathy quite ready. He prefers to talk of old times, and lives in the midst of the portraits of generations gone by. . . . . Altogether my visit was quite interesting and amusing, and I shall be glad to go and see him occasionally, as the last authentic representative of an age long gone by.

From Tiedge's I went to see Retzsch, the author of the famous designs for Faust, Schiller, and Shakespeare. . . . He does not live in Dresden, but in a little vineyard a few miles off, coming to the [475] city only once a week. . . . . I was surprised to find him with a short, stout person, and a decidedly easy look; so that if it were not for his large, deep gray eyes, I should hardly have been able to mark in him any symptom of his peculiar talent. He showed me some of his works; the rest I shall go to see another time. . . .

January 31.—This evening Prince John invited four of us— Professor Forster, the translator of Petrarca, Dr. Carus, Count Baudissin, and myself — to hear Tieck read a part of the unpublished translation of the Purgatorio.6 I went punctually at six. . . . After coffee and a little conversation, we all sat down at a table, and Tieck read, most admirably, five cantos, beginning with the eighteenth. The rest of us looked over the original text, and at the end of each canto observations were made on the translation. There was not, however, one word of compliment offered, or the smallest flattery insinuated. On the contrary, errors were pointed out fairly and honestly; and once or twice, where there was a difference of opinion between the Prince and Carus, Carus adhered, even with pertinacity, to his own, which, in one case, I thought was wrong. The translation, however, was as close as anything of the sort well can be; and in general, I have no doubt, most faithfully accurate.7 After the reading was over, and refreshments had been handed round, the conversation was very gay, and fell at last into downright story-telling and cormerage. About nine o'clock, however, some message was brought to the Prince,. . . . and he bowed to us and left us.

February 1.—To-day I dined with the venerable Tiedge. He had that nice and exact look which is always so agreeable in old men, was alert in his mind and interested in what is going forward, and talked well and pleasantly with everybody. Falkenstein, Bulow, and Reichenbach, the distinguished botanist, were at table, and the conversation was very animated. We were there three hours, the longest German dinner I have been at.

February 2.—I dined very agreeably to-day at Count Baudissin's, with Tieck and half a dozen other pleasant persons. Tieck was quite [476] powerful, and talked well about the present state of the German theatre. In consequence of some suggestion about America we got upon the sea-serpent, and I was, for a few moments, flooded with questions; but they were very willing to believe, when the state of the case was fairly explained, especially those who had any knowledge of natural history.

February 3.—We had a very agreeable visit to-day from Baron Lindenau and General Leyser, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, who talked English a part of the time with a success that quite surprised me. . . . He [Baron Lindenau] is, however, one of those uncommon men who have so much earnestness as well as power within them, that their ideas are forced out through almost any obstacles. In debate in the Chamber of Deputies he is by far the first, as I hear from all sides.

We passed the evening at a small and very sociable supper-party at Countess Bose's,—Mr. Krause of Weisstropp, Count Baudissin with his pretty niece, and Mons. and Mad. de Luttichau.8 Mad. de Luttichau is not only one of the prettiest ladies in Dresden, but she has more good sense and is more spirituelle; besides which her good and pleasant qualities are all brought out by natural manners and a sort of abandon which is very winning. She speaks French, English, and Italian well, paints in oils beautifully, plays and sings well, talks well upon books, and yet lives chiefly at home in retirement, devoted to her children, the two that remain; for she has been deeply touched by sorrow, the traces of which are still plainly perceptible. . . . .

February 4.—This morning we spent with Retzsch. He had promised to bring in his wife's album, and he was as good as his word. . . . . This album contains the most beautiful, graceful, and characteristic of his works; and when it is considered that his wife is a peasant with a lively and strong character,—as I am told,—with great sweetness and gentleness but little cultivation, it shows well for his own good qualities that he is so deeply attached to her, and dedicates and devotes to her the whole force of his peculiar talent.

There are now just forty sketches in the book, all done in pencil, with that exquisite finish which makes one of them so much more valuable than one of his oil-paintings. The first is the four elements, Earth, Water, Air, and Fire, bringing to his wife—who is represented [477] as an innocent infant sleeping—the most beautiful of their appropriate treasures; intimating by it that he would himself gladly give to her beauty and purity all that there is most precious and graceful in the universe. Others have also a direct or allegorical relation to her, but in general they were mere offerings of his fancy. . . . . The whole is exquisite, and as we turned it over seemed the very concentration, or perhaps I ought to say the fragrant exhalation, of what is most peculiar, delicate, and graceful in his genius.9

February 6.—This evening. . . . I heard Tieck read ‘Midsummer Night's Dream.’. . . . I found quite a party. . . . . Several of them asked me to select something from Shakespeare, as it is known Tieck prefers to read from him, and I mentioned ‘Midsummer Night's Dream,’ because it contains such a variety. Luckily the piece is a favorite with him. . . . . He read it admirably. Puck's frolicsome mischief and the lightness of the dainty fairies were done with the greatest tact and delicacy. . . . . When he came to the play represented before Theseus I received quite a new idea, that some of the repetitions and groans, especially in the part of Pyramus, are merely the expression of the actor's personal embarrassment and anguish, and not what was set down for him. The whole was a great pleasure.

As soon as it was over, and I had made my acknowledgments with the rest to Tieck for the great treat we had enjoyed, I hurried off to the British Minister's, where we finished the evening in a very small party.

February 7.—There was a Court ball to-night. . . . . I had a great deal of talk there with Prince John, and one or two other persons, about the state of the art of painting in Germany at this moment. It has, in the course of the last twenty or thirty years, begun anew upon the old foundations, as Walter Scott began, upon the foundations of the old ballads, traditions, and histories of the country, to renew its literature. . .. . I supped this evening at the table of the Princess Amelia. . .. . The Princess seemed to know a good deal about Shakespeare, and I was glad to have her say, very decidedly, that she could not imagine how anybody could think of making the character of Lady Macbeth interesting, by an expression of more human feeling and tenderness in the mode of representation; for it is quite the fashion in Germany now, to consider her a sort of abused person who is not half so bad as people have thought her, and it is [478] even now said that Tieck is instructing Mlle. Bauer how to produce this impression upon the audience.10

February 8.—I dined to-day at Mr. Forbes's, with only Jordan, the Prussian Minister, and Baron von Herder. The latter is the son of the famous Herder, and head of the great Saxon mining establishment and school at Freyberg. His proper title is Berghauptmann,—‘Captain of the Mountains,’—a picturesque title, which has come down from the Middle Ages; and his dress is no less picturesque. I saw him in costume at the Court ball yesterday.

He has lately, with the consent of his government, and at the request of Prince Milosch of Servia, been there to examine a tract of country believed previously to be rich in mineral wealth, some portions of which are supposed to have been mined by the Romans. Mr. Von Jordan and myself were invited to-day to hear him give some account of his journey and adventures. The whole was very curious. Prince Milosch is an intelligent person, much in advance of the condition of the country over which he presides. His private possessions are immense; he himself does not know how large, either in territory or in the number of serfs attached to it. One part of his income consists in swine, and of these he sends annually between one and two millions to the neighboring countries for sale. But still, notwithstanding his wealth and his intelligence, his castle and domestic establishment were on the footing of those of one of the barons on the Rhine in the Middle Ages. The Princess spills and sews with her maids; the cookery does not savor of French skill, though it is healthy; and their hospitality is abundant if not luxurious.

Baron von Herder was abroad on the mountains and in the mineral districts, which he did not find very rich, sixty-three days. The country is everywhere perfectly safe for travellers, but he had a guard of honor of thirty persons sent with him, besides all that was necessary for his civil purposes and his cuisine. He showed us a musical instrument on which the ladies of Servia play, very little more deserving the name than an African banjo, which it much resembled; and several pieces of the handiwork of the Princess Milosch and her maids, which were given him as parting presents. They consisted of handkerchiefs, gloves, turbans, embroidery, etc., as simple and unsophisticated as the work of the Middle Ages.


To William H. Prescott, Boston.

Dresden, February 8, 1836.
. . . . Your remarks about Dr. Channing's book on Slavery bring up the whole subject fresh before me. You cannot think how difficult and often how disagreeable a matter it is to an American travelling in Europe, to answer all the questions that are put to him about it, and hear all the remarks that are made in consequence. All the complications that arise from our constitutional provisions and local situations are nearly unintelligible to foreigners. Once or twice, indeed, here, and oftener in England, I went at large, with sensible individuals, into the whole subject, and they were, of course, satisfied. But, in general, the naked fact of the existence of a slave population, under a government that rests entirely on the doctrine of equal rights, with the additional fact that it is thought wrong to do anything in the purely free States to promote immediate emancipation, is all that is understood; and on these two grounds we are condemned in a tone that would surprise you, I think, if you were here; and which is none the less decided or disagreeable, because so many, from a conservative spirit, are disposed to find fault with us whenever they can.

Dr. Channing's little book, therefore, will be received with unhesitating and unmingled consent and applause in Europe, and will add at once to his reputation, which is already much greater than I supposed; not as extensive as that of Washington Irving, but almost as much so, and decidedly higher. My bookseller here told me, to-day, he thought an English edition of his works would sell well on the Continent, they are so frequently asked for in his shop; and Baron Billow, a young Prussian, brought me the other night a letter from the Duchess of Anhalt Dessau, inquiring earnestly how she could procure them for herself.11 In England, again and again, where I should least have suspected it, I found him held in the highest estimation; one of the old Besborough family, for instance, looking upon a present of one of his sermons as one of the most agreeable things that could happen to him; and Mrs. Somerville, Miss Joanna Baillie, and several other persons, of no less note, declaring to me that he was generally regarded by their friends, as well as themselves, as the best writer of English prose alive.

If the book on Slavery is written with only the usual talent of his [480] other works, I will venture to predict that it will be more admired than anything he has yet printed. One good, and only one that I know of, can come from this state of opinion in Europe; the Southern States must be rebuked by it, and it is better the reproach should come from abroad than from New England and the North. How general and strong it is in Great Britain I need not tell you, for you see how Sir Robert Peel, and O'Connell, the ‘Standard,’ and the ‘Morning Chronicle,’—the High Tories because they dislike us, and the Whigs because they choose to be consistent,—all unite in one chorus, ever since they have gotten rid of slavery in the West Indies so much more easily than they feared. Just so it is on the Continent. Tocqueville's acute book, which contains so much truth as well as error about us,—and which Talleyrand says is the ablest book of the kind published since Montesquieu's ‘Spirit of Laws,’—has explained the matter with a good degree of truth, but with great harshness. So, too, lately, a series of very able articles in the Journal des Debats, the government paper, mixing up slavery and the mobs of last summer, and showing up the infirmities of our institutions and character, with much knowledge of facts and an extremely evil disposition towards us as a people, have produced a good deal of effect. And just so, too, all the leading papers throughout Germany, who repeat these reproaches against us in perfect good faith, cause us to be here very frequently set down for a good deal of humbug in our pretensions to freedom.

One thing, however, has won us much honor. General Jackson's message, as far as France is concerned,—for they know nothing about the rest of it,—has been applauded to the skies. The day it arrived I happened to dine with the Russian Minister here, in a party of about thirty persons; and I assure you it seemed to me as if nine-and-twenty of them came up to me with congratulations. I was really made to feel awkward at last; but this has been the tone all over the Continent, where they have been confoundedly afraid we might begin a war which would end no prophecy could tell where. The spirit, too, with which New York has met the great calamity it has suffered—and which was vastly exaggerated—has redounded to our honor more, I suppose, than we deserved.

So that, taking all things together, notwithstanding the slave question, and the mobs and riots of last summer,—which it was both disagreeable and difficult to explain,—and notwithstanding the reproaches of now and then a philanthropist who has heard about the Cherokees, it is still very comfortable to be an American; [481] and is, on the whole, an extremely good passport to general kindness and good-will. At any rate, I would not change my passport-signed by some little scamp of an under-secretary at Washington, whose name I have forgotten — for any one of the fifteen hundred that are lying with it at the Police in Dresden, from Russia, France, and England.

My own life here is, in the main, a quiet and very agreeable one. Society makes no claims till dinner-time, and even then few; for dinner-parties are rare. . . .. . Calls are made at five or six o'clock in the evening, and parties begin at eight or nine. . . . . . We have the whole day, and often the evenings, to ourselves. I read pretty hard, for I find a great deal to make up, and every moment of my time is occupied. I pick up, among other things, a good deal for my Spanish matters; but it is quite impossible to write out a book here, so importunate are the demands for mere reading and studying upon one who wishes to talk, in such society as I see constantly, upon anything like equal terms with the persons of which it is composed, or improve the advantages pressed upon him.


February 16.—To-day being Mardi-gras, the last day of Carnival, the King gave his last ball. It began at six o'clock, as usual; we had supper at half past 8, and the dancing continued until twelve, immediately after which all amusements and refreshments were stopped, the princes and princesses went round and spoke to as many of the company as they could, and then all came away. It is the only ball of the season which we have stayed through to the end, but this time we saw the whole of it,—the dance of the grossvater, with which these entertainments are ended, and all. It was brilliant and animated; the party being required to come in full dress, and the populace being admitted behind the barriers to see the show, as they were at the first ball. . . . .

Before supper, in a corner of the presence-chamber, I had an hour of most agreeable talk with Mad. de Luttichau, Prince John, Countess Bose, and Mad. de Blumner; a part of which was none the less piquant from being on the principle and feeling of loyalty, which I told them I supposed an American republican was not fairly capable of comprehending. Mad. de Luttichau managed the conversation with great dexterity and esprit.

February 20.—I was engaged this evening at Tieck's, but we were [482] both summoned to Prince John's, where, to the same party that was there before,—viz. Forster, Carus, and Baudissin,—Tieck read five more cantos of the Prince's translation of the Purgatorio, XXIV.— XXIX. Everything went on just as it did before, and was equally creditable to all parties concerned in it; the criticisms being free, full, and fair, and the spirit in which they were received that of a person really disposed to profit by them.

February 24.—This evening we had a counterpart to the amusement of last evening [when Tieck had read, at his own house, the Second Part of ‘Henry IV.’]. Tieck read ‘As You Like It,’ and showed another aspect of his remarkable talent in this way. I noticed as peculiarities that he read the part of Orlando with more of an angry movement than I have been accustomed to hear it, and that he made Sir Oliver Martext stutter, which, of course, was arbitrarily done. It was throughout very amusing. The reading took place at Mad. de Luttichau's. . . .

March 2.—It is a week since I wrote last, for the Carnival being over, and society much more quiet, we have been able to stay at home and enjoy the luxury of doing what we have a mind to do, and not what we are invited to do. I have passed one evening with Lindenau and Tiedge, and divided another between Reichenbach and the Circourts, for my own pleasure. . . ..

The only time I have dined abroad was to-day, at Vogel's, the portrait and historical painter. It was a genuinely German dinner, and curious to me because it is the first one at which I have been present in Dresden; for, though I have dined in several German houses, there has been too much of a French or Italian air about the entertainment to have it properly national. Vogel is rich, and his dinner was abundant and good, and his company excellent; consisting of Falkenstein, Forster, Carus, Dahl, Lohrmann, Haase, etc. But Mad. Vogel was only the upper servant; sitting, to be sure, sometimes at the head of her table, but constantly running out to the kitchen, and often serving her guests. I remember such things frequently when I was in Germany before, but this is the first time I have seen them on my present visit. It is bad taste, but it belongs to the whole German people, and is only avoided in the highest classes, where there is always some touch of foreign manners. The conversation was spirited and various, and the sitting was continued, in consequence, nearly three hours,—a long time for Germany.

March 9.—Another week is gone, and it has been so much filled with useful and agreeable occupations that it seems to have been very [483] short. Of society, however, I have not much to record. . . . . One evening the Count and Countess Circourt spent with us, at our lodgings, and made themselves very interesting, till quite late, by conversation about Italy, etc. And one evening I went alone to Tieck's, who read to a small party, consisting of Bulow, Sternberg, Mad. de Luttichau, and two or three others, some acute remarks of his own upon Goethe, whom he treated with admiration, indeed, but with an admiration more measured and discriminating than is usual among the Germans.

There remains still one evening more of which something special should be said,—an evening that we gave to seeing Hamlet, in Schlegel's excellent translation.

The house was entirely full, not a ticket remaining to be sold when the play began,—a fact which has not occurred before this season,— and the audience was excessively impatient of the smallest noise, in one case hissing a man for blowing his nose louder than they thought seemly. Almost the whole piece, as it stands in the original, was given, so that the representation lasted quite three hours and a half.

Taken as a whole, it was better given than I ever saw it. All the inferior parts, without exception, were well played. Polonius was no more ridiculous than the poet intended he should be; and the King was a bold, bad man, indeed, but had that force of character which his very crimes imply, and by which it is plain he overawes Hamlet, and checks Laertes. The ceremonies of a Court were well observed; and whatever belonged to the mechanism, scenery, dresses, and costumes of the piece was nicely considered and excellently carried through.

Ophelia was not tender and gentle enough, and treated her father and brother too much like a spoiled school-girl .. . . . Hamlet himself was a still greater failure. Devrient12 played it, and made it sentimental and weak, full of grimaces, starts, and extravagances, and wanting princely dignity everywhere. The ghost was very good, shadowy,. . . . and each time had a long, thin, grayish cloak which swept like a veil and train, far behind. Hamlet most unsuitably fell on the ground at both visitations, though he kept his eyes fastened on the spectre continually. However, one or two things pleased me, even in Hamlet, and were new, as far as I know. In the talk about the stage he addressed the greater part of the remarks to Horatio, and not to the actor, in a very natural and easy manner, sitting the whole time; and in changing the foils he did it evidently because [484] he felt himself wounded treacherously, threw down his own weapon and grasped that of Laertes, which he wrenched from him, while Laertes in turn caught up Hamlet's and defended himself as well as he could. Indeed, the piece was acted with great effect. Many wept bitterly, and all seemed deeply interested. The royal family were all out to see it, which was quite remarkable; and, what seemed very curious to me, it was, for the sake of convenience in making the stage arrangements, divided into six acts.

Every now and then the want of the English came over me with a strange power. I was seeing what was familiar to me, and hearing what was foreign; and sometimes when a portion of the original recurred to my recollection, with its rich and beautiful rhythm, I felt most oddly confused. But it was on the whole a very interesting evening.

I spent one forenoon with Retzsch, whose genius and simplicity I admire more, the more I know him; and another forenoon I spent with Count Colloredo, the Austrian Minister, who has been with his family in Vienna all winter, on account of the death of his sister, and is but just returned to Dresden. He is a young man, and has the reputation of great abilities, belongs to one of the oldest and most powerful families in the Austrian Empire, and has a right therefore to great promotion in the state. I went to see him, to look at some fine maps of Austria, and to ask him about roads and scenery in reference to our next summer's journeyings, and found him quite familiar with all I wanted to know, and much disposed to be kind and useful.

March 21.—Last evening we were invited to the palace, and passed the time quite pleasantly in a small party of forty or fifty persons, in the Princess Augusta's apartments. The occasion was a curious one. Every spring she purchases a large amount of lace, needlework, etc., which the poor women from the mountains bring to Dresden for sale, and then, making a lottery of the whole, which contains many tempting prizes for the ladies, her grand-maitre gets rid of the tickets among the Court and her friends;. . . . and then she has the pleasure of distributing the money thus received among the same class of the poor whose work she had originally purchased.

After tea to-night we went into her beautiful saloon, where are the admirable tapestries, and there, amidst much laughing and talking, the lottery was drawn by the Princess Frederick and the Princess John.13 Whenever any person of the party drew a prize it was delivered [485] to them at once. A. drew an embroidered pocket-handkerchief, which was appropriate enough; but some of the lace dresses that fell to single gentlemen excited a good deal of merriment. There was a great cry among the princesses for ‘Fritz,’ as they called him,—meaning the Co-Regent,—two or three times, when he gained prizes; and in general there was as little ceremony as possible, except that the princes and princesses retired before the rest of the company. It was an elegant party, and there were many agreeable persons at it.

April 1.—This morning we had a visit from Von Raumer, who is here, as he always is at Easter and Michaelmas, to spend a few days with Tieck. I liked him. He is a small man, a little more, I suppose, than fifty years old, quick in his motions and perceptions, and very frank in the expression of his opinions and feelings.

He was originally one of the confidential employes in the Chancery at Berlin, when Stein and Prince Hardenberg were Chancellors; and Tieck says that the famous Stadte-Ordnung, by which the inhabitants of the towns have been permitted to elect their own municipal officers, was a measure projected and arranged by Von Raumer. When he found, however, that Prince Hardenberg would go no further in giving free institutions to Prussia, he asked for his dismission from office, assigning this as his reason for leaving the government. Still they parted as friends, and the Prince told him that he should have his choice of any of the places in the gift of the crown for which he was fitted; expecting and intending that he should take some presidency, or other similar place, worth from five to eight thousand thalers a year. But Von Raumer. . . . asked for a professorship of history at Breslau, worth twelve hundred thalers a year. . . . It was given, of course, without an instant's hesitation, and his success there, his removal to Berlin, his fame as a teacher, his Hohenstauffen, his great work now in progress on the history of the three last centuries, etc., etc., show he chose rightly. He is, too, I am told, a very happy man, and is certainly much valued and loved by his friends.

In the evening I met him at Tieck's, who read part of a small unpublished work of Von Raumer's on Mary Queen of Scots, which gives a less favorable view of her character than even Turner's work. . . . . It is interesting, and went so far as to excuse Elizabeth entirely up to the moment of Mary's arrival in England. . . . .

April 5.—This evening we went by invitation to Tieck's, and found there the Einsiedels, the Circourts, Mad. de Luttichau, Von Raumer, etc.,. . . . to whom Tieck read ‘Twelfth Night’ most [486] amusingly well But his evenings, after the genuine Saxon fashion, are over by nine o'clock; and at nine we took the Count and Countess Circourt in our carriage and finished the evening at Mr. Forbes's. . .

When we carried home the Circourts and set them down at their hotel, we were obliged to bid them farewell, for they leave Dresden for France in the morning. We were sorry, quite sorry, to part with them, for they are among the most intellectual, accomplished, and agreeable people we have seen in Dresden. Between them, they speak fourteen languages; English, French, German, and Italian extremely well, I am sure; and, of course, the Russian, of which I know nothing.

April 11.—Last evening the Regent gave a ball. . . . . It was the most splendid entertainment we have had, because the suite of seven apartments which he opened on the occasion were all fitted up since he was made Regent in 1831; and, if they are less grand and solemn than the King's, are better fitted, by their beautiful and fresh tapestry and furniture, for such a fete. . . . . The supper was like all the suppers at the palace. . . . . I sat at the table of the Princess Augusta, where, as the room for the royal party was smaller than heretofore, so that each member had not a table, I found also, and was glad to find, Prince John. I had talked with him a good deal already, and now the conversation was very agreeably kept up, Mr. Forbes, Countess Stroganoff, Mad. de Zeschau, and two or three other pleasant persons making up the party. Among other things we talked about Mary Stuart, and there was a great disposition in everybody present to defend Elizabeth,—except in Mr. Forbes and myself,—which was curious, as two or three of them were Catholics.

Mr. Forbes, apropos of this discussion, said that in his family they still preserve the autograph letter of one of his ancestors, who was a maid of honor to Queen Elizabeth, begging her friends to let her come home to them, because her life was made miserable at Court by the Queen's ill-temper, who, she said, was just then in constant bad-humor about her lovers, and plagued her — the writer—all day long with ‘sly pinches and privy nips,’ which last, Mr. Forbes said, were the very words of the letter.

April 22.—To-day we dined with General Von Leyser, the President of the Chamber of Deputies. . . .. . It was quite elegant and very pleasant. The old general himself has been through all, perhaps, that man could go through in the last thirty years. He fought [487] at the battle of Jena, with the Prussians, against the French, and six weeks afterwards fought with the French against the Prussians.14 He went through the Russian campaign,—still on the French side; was one of eleven, out of above seven hundred officers under his command, that came back alive; was left for dead at the battle of Moskwa, and had his fingers and toes frozen in the night, but was picked up in the morning by the Russians and sent as a prisoner, with nearly four hundred other officers, into Asia, where he was kindly and well treated, but where the climate was so fatal to them that he was the only person that lived to get home,—a happiness which he enjoyed only because his wife, at Prague, procured, through the intercession of the Grand Duchess of Weimar with her brother, the Emperor Alexander, an Ukase for his liberation, for he was already ill, when it arrived, with the disease of which all the rest, sooner or later, died. He did not reach home till after the battle of Leipzic, and then was sent directly into France to fight against the French, which he seems to have done with a hearty good-will

He talks quite agreeably, and relates well, so that some of his stories produce a striking effect. I remember one night, at the theatre, he made me shudder at an account of his feelings during an evening of the Russian campaign, when, successively, every person belonging to his military household, seven in number, was cut off and put to death by the Cossacks.

I spent the evening-after nine o'clock, when her salon opensat the Countess Stroganoff's, where I was amused with a repartee of the Princess Lowenstein. From some accident we fell into conversation in German, and Count Gourieff, the Russian Ambassador at Rome, changed it back to French, saying that, though he spoke German fluently enough, he always felt awkwardly when he talked it with such persons as were round the table then; because, said he, ‘Je le parle si rarement en bonne compagnie.’ The thing was very simply said, and very truly said, and he meant by it only, that, talking German with servants and tradespeople every day, and French in all good society, he had come to separate and distinguish the two languages accordingly. But the Princess Lowenstein's German blood was up, and turning rather shortly, but very gayly upon him, she said, ‘Mais vous parlez l'allemand si parfaitement, Mons. le Comte, qu'il parait que vous avez beaucoup de pratique.’ The Count laughed as heartily and as good-naturedly as anybody, but, as he said to me, ‘I n'y a pas de reponse à cela, j'irai jouer’.; and he went off to the [488] whist-table, not more disconcerted, perhaps, than a well-bred gentleman may be permitted to be when a handsome, fashionable, and spirituelle lady gives him a hard hit.

April 26.—The spring is so much advanced now, and is become so very beautiful, that we have indulged more than ever in driving through the neighborhood of Dresden, chiefly about the Grosse Garten and up the picturesque little valley of Plauen, but also upon the Elbe by Findlater's, and once out to Moreau's monument. . . . . The time and circumstances of Moreau's death will be judged of differently, of course, according to the different points of view from which they may be considered; but I cannot help regretting that one of the few elevated and respectable men formed by the French Revolution should have died in arms against his country; and I felt the other day that there was deep truth in the reply of a Frenchman to an English gentleman, who said, ‘Je viens de visiter le monument de votre compatriote, Moreau ’; to which the French gentleman replied, ‘Pardon, monsieur, il naetait pas mon compatriote, car moi je suis Francais.’. . . .

May 1.—To-day there was a Court, and I went to it and took the proper ceremonious leave of the royal family. It was very full, because it is the last of the season, as they all go to Pillnitz tomorrow, and do not return till October. The circle lasted a good while; the princesses were there, and it was plain they intended not only to be civil, but to be kind.

Our Charge d'affaires at Brussels, Mr. Legare, arrived at Dresden early this morning, to pass a few days. We missed him when we were in Belgium, but he wrote to me soon afterwards that he would come and return our visit in Dresden.

May 4.— Mr. Legare left us this evening. . . . . We were sorry to part from him, for he is a man of very agreeable as well as remarkable powers, and he has literally been the whole of each day with us. . . . . His conversation is very rich, and was truly refreshing to us, after having been so long without the pleasure of good, solid English talk. He is a good scholar, with a good and rather severe taste; a wise and deep thinker, who has reflected a great deal, and made up his opinions on a great number of subjects; and a politician who sees the weakness and defects of our government, and the bad tendencies of things among us, as clearly as any person I have ever talked with.

He seems to belong to the Jackson party, only from the circumstance that he was of the Union party in South Carolina; for his views [489] are quite too broad and high for any faction, and he is as far from being a Democrat as any man in the United States. We have few men like him, either as scholars, thinkers, or talkers. I knew him very well at Edinburgh in 1819, and thought him then an uncommon person; but it is plain he has taken a much higher tone than I then anticipated.

Sunday, May 8.—This morning Prince John, being in town for mass, sent for me to come and see him. He was, as he always is, agreeable and kind, offering us letters for Berlin, and for his brother-in-law, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, which I gladly accepted.

May 10.—. . . . I dined to-day most agreeably with Prince John, nobody present but the aide-de-camp de service, who did not open his lips, though the conversation was extremely various as well as voluble. I do not know whether this was etiquette or not. The Prince told a good many stories; a habit into which persons of his rank often fall, from the circumstance that it tends to relieve them from the embarrassment of either answering or asking questions. But he tells them very well, and quite apropos. He was pleasant and kind, and protracted the conversation after dinner, until he was obliged to get into his carriage for Pillnitz. I was sorry to part from him, for if I were to see many more princes in Europe than I shall see, I should not find one so good a scholar, and few so entirely respectable in their whole characters, public and private.

I spent the evening with Baron Lindenau, and had much interesting and exciting talk with him, for he is one of those men who always stir the minds of those with whom they converse, partly by kindness and genuine bonhomie, partly by great acuteness. I think he is, on the whole, the wisest man I have seen since I left America.

May 11.—To avoid the preparations necessary to our removal again, as well as to enjoy a pleasant day, we went to-day to Tharand, a small village at the end of the picturesque valley of Plauen, about nine or ten miles from Dresden .. . . . We had a good dinner at a nice old inn, and in the evening went back to Dresden, where we had visits from Baron Bulow, from Mr. Paez de la Cadena, the late Spanish Minister to Russia, the Princess Lowenstein and her sister Baroness Kahlden, and Mr. Forbes. Mr. Forbes outstayed them all, and at last bade us good by with a degree of feeling which I had not at all anticipated, notwithstanding his constant kindness to us.

May 12.—It was not agreeable to leave Dresden to-day. . . . We have been in all respects well there. . . . almost six months; kindly received by everybody, and much regarded by a few. It has more, [490] much more than fulfilled the expectations we indulged when we entered it,. . . . and I think not one of us, not even one of our servants, left it without a strong feeling of regret.

While travelling in Europe, 1815-19, Mr. Ticknor, after having studied the resources, collections, and peculiarities of a city, wrote at length, and with some minuteness, a sketch of what he found in each, of its externals and its society; so now, before leaving Dresden, he wrote at large of its institutions and its splendid collections. Of the state of the arts and character of society we give the following remarks, omitting the rest, though it is interesting and acute:—

The state of the arts in Dresden is not, perhaps, so high as might be expected from the great opportunities offered to form artists, and from the great number of artists who constantly avail themselves of these opportunities. Of sculpture, or sculptors, I heard almost nothing, and certainly nothing that induced me to visit a single atelier. An architect has not been named to me. But a great deal is done in lithography, and well done, as the beautiful work now publishing on the Gallery proves beyond all doubt; and there is at least one distinguished engraver here,—Steinla,—who says that in Weimar, in 1816, he called on me, and asked me if I would advise him to emigrate to America, and that I dissuaded him, on the ground that he showed much promise in his art, and that in America he would not be able to form himself to such eminence as he could at home, —a piece of advice which was, I think, judicious, but which I do not at all remember to have given.15

Of painters there are enough. Retzsch, though his coloring is bad, is undoubtedly at the head of the whole, and one of the most genial, original, and interesting persons I have ever known; but Retzsch has not been formed by Dresden, and has had but little influence on it. Just so is it with Dahl, the Norwegian, who is a very gifted person, but who has taken too much to Northern, wild, and fantastic scenery. Vogel is a true child of the Gallery, and is as stiff and hard as mere imitation need to make a man; but he paints chiefly portraits. . . . . [491]

Of the society, as a general remark, it may be observed, that it is divided into many circles, which know little of each other; but that, like all the Continental cities,—except those which depend on commerce, and a few of the very largest,—it is only in the highest circles that real elegance or real ease is to be found. The reason is plain. There is little wealth in the other circles, and little habit of receiving or entertaining company. Fortunately, the Court of Saxony is a truly moral, respectable, and, in many respects, quite an intellectual Court, so that the tone of the society about it is good. . . . . The diplomatic gentlemen, who form a very prominent part of this circle necessarily, are very pleasant persons, have no difficulties with one another, and add their full proportion to its agrements. . . . . Of the Saxons who belong to it, nothing can be more respectable than Lindenau, the Watzdorffs, the Zeschaus, Luttichaus, Leysers, etc. The rich and luxurious Russians and Poles, who swarm here in the winter, form a sort of appendix to the society of the Court, but not very closely connected with it. Their headquarters this winter have been at Count Stroganoff's. . . .

To the men of letters I went whenever I wanted their highly cultivated knowledge and conversation, and nothing else, for they are best seen in their studies. Tieck, indeed, received every evening, but his soirees would have been very formal and dull, except for his own racy talk and his admirable readings; besides which, the res angusta domi are perceptible, though he is not so poor but that he has the great luxury of a capital and curious library. Count Baudissin's, however, and Mad. de Luttichau's houses should be noted as places where elegance and letters, the first society in rank, and the first in intellectual culture, were always to be found. . . . .

After all, however, though we have now been more than five months in Dresden, we have not been really of it. The accounts, which speak of us only in our connection with society here, might leave the impression that it has consumed a great deal of our time, but such an impression would be entirely false. We have been abroad a good deal, it is true, but still we never before passed so much time in quiet enjoyment and occupation at home. We seldom went out in the forenoon till one o'clock, when we took a drive and a walk for exercise. . .. . The afternoon, too, has brought its regular occupations with it, and even the majority of the evenings have been spent at home, where I have read aloud the whole of the ‘Paradise Lost,’ and, indeed, nearly the whole of Milton's poetry, the whole of the ‘Task,’ and eleven of Shakespeare's Plays. . . . . [492] And it is owing mainly to this-though I would not undervalue the very picturesque, new, and striking society we have seen so much of, from the Court down—that I think we feel, as Washington Irving said to me in New York about his own visit here, that the Dresden winter has been one of the pleasantest winters of our life.

1 A Pleasant Comedie of Faire Em, the Miller's Daughter of Manchester, with the Love of William the Conqueror. Acted by the Lord Strange his Servants. 4to. 1631.

2 Mr. Ticknor's habit of reading Shakespeare's Plays, in a similar way, to parties of friends at home, heightened his interest in these interpretations. His own reading was much admired.

3 A few days earlier, Mr. Ticknor wrote: ‘We went to Count Baudissin's and found a beautiful family group sitting round the table in the early evening, for it is the fashion here to make calls, at this season of the year, after candlelight. The family consists of the Count and his wife, and their two nieces, one married to a French marquis, and the other just come out, both very beautiful. . . . . The Count is a rich Holstein nobleman, who has no children, and lives in Dresden because he is very fond of letters, and likes the literary society he finds here.’

4 Since Madame Clara Schumann.

5 Probably F. Schubert, for many years first violinist of the Royal Chapel in Dresden.

6 By Prince John.

7 Of Mr. Ticknor's knowledge of Dante, Count Circourt wrote thus to Mr. Prescott in January, 1841: ‘The Commentary which Mr. Ticknor has begun ’—his notes made in 1832 (see p. 394), but never published, which he carried with him—‘is one of the highest interest. Few persons in the world are so intimately acquainted with the old bard; and nowhere, perhaps, such a combination of profound learning, acute criticism, and serene elevation of mind can be found as in this highly gifted and excellent man.’

8 M. de Luttichau was Court Director of the Theatre, Tieck being its literary supervisor, while the practical management was of course in inferior hands. It is by such arrangements that the German theatre is kept at such a high standard of intellectual and artistic merit.

9 Mr. Ticknor afterwards obtained from Retzsch a repetition of one of these drawings.

10 When Macbeth was brought out Mr. Ticknor wrote: ‘The story that Lady Macbeth was to be produced as quite an amiable person proved untrue. She was represented, indeed, as more affectionate to her husband, and less imperious to him, than I have been accustomed to see her, and I am not sure but it was right.’

11 Note by Mr. Ticknor: ‘She is a Prussian princess, and the most intimate friend of the present Empress of Russia, having been brought up with her. Both are women of talent, especially the Princess.’

12 Emil Devrient.

13 This Princess had been ill during the winter, and therefore never present at the Court entertainments.

14 Following the course of the King of Saxony.

15 This was one of many instances of unexpected recognition which occurred to Mr. Ticknor in this and his later visit to Europe. Steinla saw him in a room of the gallery, and, going towards him, called him at once by name, and referred to his former visit to him, which he made at the suggestion of Goethe. The strong impression he made caused several similar incidents.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Friedrich Tieck (22)
De Luttichau (8)
Francis Forbes (8)
George Ticknor (7)
Moritz Retzsch (7)
Baudissin (7)
Shakespeare (6)
Von Raumer (6)
Von Lindenau (5)
Vogel (4)
C. F. Tiedge (4)
De Circourt (4)
Carus (4)
Macbeth (3)
Laertes (3)
Karl Forster (3)
Di Dante (3)
M. De Bulow (3)
Elisha Ticknor (2)
Stroganoff (2)
Frederick Schlegel (2)
H. T. L. Reichenbach (2)
William H. Prescott (2)
Von Leyser (2)
Hugh Swinton Legare (2)
Von Jordan (2)
Washington Irving (2)
Von Herder (2)
Wolfgang A. Von Goethe (2)
German (2)
Falkenstein (2)
Emil Devrient (2)
J. C. C. Dahl (2)
Edward T. Channing (2)
Comtesse Bose (2)
Mad. Zeschau (1)
Clara Wieck (1)
Urania (1)
Turner (1)
De Tocqueville (1)
Theseus (1)
M. Talleyrand (1)
Mary Stuart (1)
Ungern Sternberg (1)
Moritz Steinla (1)
Stein (1)
Somerville (1)
Walter Scott (1)
Clara Schumann (1)
Probably F. Schubert (1)
Schiller (1)
Saxon (1)
Frau Von Der Recke (1)
Mary Queen (1)
Pyramus (1)
Robert Peel (1)
Daniel O'Connell (1)
Moreau (1)
Montesquieu (1)
Mlle (1)
Milton (1)
Oliver Martext (1)
Manchester (1)
M. Luttichau (1)
Paradise Lost (1)
W. G. Lohrmann (1)
Krause (1)
Baroness Kahlden (1)
James Jackson (1)
Italian (1)
Holstein (1)
Gourieff (1)
Fritz (1)
French (1)
Faust (1)
Falstaff (1)
Easter (1)
G. F. Cooke (1)
Colloredo (1)
Catholics (1)
Paez De la Cadena (1)
M. Bulow (1)
Mad. Blumner (1)
Billow (1)
Demoiselle Bauer (1)
Bartley (1)
Joanna Baillie (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: