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   Chapter 9 No.9

Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family By Elizabeth Rundle Charles Characters: 41907

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Elsè's Story.

Eisenach, April.

The last words I shall write in our dear old lumber-room, Fritz's and mine! I have little to regret in it now, however, that our twilight talks are over for ever. We leave early to-morrow morning for Wittemberg. It is strange to look out into the old street, and think how all will look exactly the same there to-morrow evening,-the monks slowly pacing along in pairs, the boys rushing out of school, as they are now, the maid-servants standing at the doors with the baby in their arms, or wringing their mops,-and we gone. How small a blank people seem to make when they are gone, however large the space they seemed to fill when they were present-except, indeed, to two or three hearts! I see this with Fritz. It seemed to me our little world must fall when he, its chief pillar, was withdrawn. Yet now everything seems to go on the same as before he became a monk,-except, indeed, with the mother and Eva and me.

The mother seems more and more like a shadow gliding in and out among us. Tenderly, indeed, she takes on her all she can of our family cares; but to family joys she seems spiritless and dead. Since she told me of the inclination she thinks she neglected in her youth towards the cloister, I understand her better,-the trembling fear with which she receives any good thing, and the hopeless submission with which she bows to every trouble, as to the blows of a rod always suspended over her, and only occasionally mercifully withheld from striking.

In the loss of Fritz the blow has fallen exactly where she would feel it most keenly. She had, I feel sure, planned another life for him. I see it in the peculiar tenderness of the tie which binds her to Eva. She said to me to-day, as we were packing up some of Fritz's books, "The sacrifice I was too selfish to make myself my son has made for me. O Elsè, my child, give at once, at once, whatever God demands of you. What he demands must be given at last; and if only wrung out from us at last, God only knows with what fearful interest the debt may have to be paid."

The words weigh on me like a curse. I cannot help feeling sometimes, as I know she feels always, that the family is under some fatal spell.

But oh, how terrible the thought is that this is the way God exacts retribution!-a creditor, exacting to the last farthing for the most trifling transgression; and if payment is delayed, taking life or limb, or what is dearer, in exchange. I cannot bear to think of it. For if my mother is thus visited for a mistake, for neglecting a doubtful vocation, my pious, sweet mother, what hope is there for me, who scarcely pass a day without having to repent of saying some sharp word to those boys (who certainly are often very provoking), or doing what I ought not, or omitting some religious duty, or at least without envying some one who is richer, or inwardly murmuring at our lot,-even sometimes thinking bitter thoughts of our father and his discoveries!

Our dear father has at last arranged and fitted in all his treasures, and is the only one, except the children, who seems thoroughly pleased at the thought of our emigration. All day he has been packing, and unpacking, and repacking his machines into some specially safe corners of the great wagon which cousin Conrad Cotta has lent us for our journey.

Eva, on the other hand, seems to belong to this world as little as the mother. Not that she looks depressed or hopeless. Her face often perfectly beams with peace; but it seems entirely independent of everything here, and is neither ruffled by the difficulties we encounter, nor enhanced when anything goes a little better. I must confess it rather provokes me, almost as much as the boys do. I have serious fears that one day she will leave us, like Fritz, and take refuge in a convent. And yet I am sure I have not a fault to find with her. I suppose that is exactly what our grandmother and I feel so provoking. Lately she has abandoned all her Latin books for a German book entitled "Theologia Teutsch," or "Theologia Germanica," which Fritz sent us before he left the Erfurt convent on his pilgrimage to Rome. This book seems to make Eva very happy; but as to me, it appears to me more unintelligible than Latin. Although it is quite different from all the other religious books I ever read, it does not suit me any better. Indeed, it seems as if I never should find the kind of religion that would suit me. It all seems so sublime and vague, and so far out of my reach;-only fit for people who have time to climb the heights; whilst my path seems to lie in the valleys, and among the streets, and amidst all kinds of little every-day secular duties and cares, which religion is too lofty to notice.

I can only hope that some day at the end of my life God will graciously give me a little leisure to be religious and to prepare to meet him, or that Eva's and Fritz's prayers and merits will avail for me.

Wittemberg, May, 1510.

We are beginning to get settled into our new home, which is in the street near the University buildings. Martin Luther, or Brother Martin, has a great name here. They say his lectures are more popular than any one's. And he also frequently preaches in the city church. Our grandmother is not pleased with the change. She calls the town a wretched mud village, and wonders what can have induced the Electors of Saxony to fix their residence and found a university in such a sandy desert as this. She supposes it is very much like the deserts of Arabia.

But Christopher and I think differently. There are several very fine buildings here, beautiful churches, and the University, and the Castle, and the Augustinian Monastery; and we have no doubt that in time the rest of the town will grow up to them. I have heard our grandmother say that babies with features too large for their faces often prove the handsomest people when they grow up to their features. And so, no doubt, it will be with Wittemberg, which is at present certainly rather like an infant with the eyes and nose of a full-grown man. The mud walls and low cottages with thatched roofs look strangely out of keeping with the new buildings, the Elector's palace and church at the western end, the city church in the centre, and the Augustinian cloister and university at the eastern extremity, near the Elster gate, close to which we live.

It is true that there are no forests of pines, and wild hills, and lovely green valleys here, as around Eisenach. But our grandmother need not call it a wilderness. The white sand-hills on the north are broken with little dells and copses; and on the south, not two hundred rods from the town, across a heath, flows the broad, rapid Elbe.

The great river is a delight to me. It leads one's thoughts back to its quiet sources among the mountains, and onwards to its home in the great sea. We had no great river at Eisenach, which is an advantage on the side of Wittemberg. And then the banks are fringed with low oaks and willows, which bend affectionately over the water, and are delightful to sit amongst on summer evenings.

If I were not a little afraid of the people! The father does not like Eva and me to go out alone. The students are rather wild. This year, however, they have been forbidden by the rector to carry arms, which is some comfort. But the town's people also are warlike and turbulent, and drink a great deal of beer. There are one hundred and seventy breweries in the place, although there are not more than three hundred and fifty houses. Few of the inhabitants send their children to school, although there are five hundred students from all parts of Germany at the university.

Some of the poorer people, who come from the country around to the markets, talk a language I cannot understand. Our grandmother says they are Wends, and that this town is the last place on the borders of the civilized world. Beyond it, she declares, there are nothing but barbarians and Tartars. Indeed, she is not sure whether our neighbors themselves are Christians.

St. Boniface, the great apostle of the Saxons, did not extend his labours further than Saxony; and she says the Teutonic knights who conquered Prussia and the regions beyond us, were only Christian colonists living in the midst of half-heathen savages. To me it is rather a gloomy idea, to think that between Wittemberg and the Turks and Tartars, or even the savages in the Indies beyond, which Christopher Columbus has discovered, there are only a few half-civilized Wends, living in those wretched hamlets which dot the sandy heaths around the town.

But the father says it is a glorious idea, and that, if he were only a little younger, he would organize a land expedition, and traverse the country until he reached the Spaniards and the Portuguese, who sailed to the same point by sea.

"Only to think," he says, "that in a few weeks, or months at the utmost, we might reach Cathay, El Dorado, and even Atlantis itself, where the houses are roofed and paved with gold, and return laden with treasures!" It seems to make him feel even his experiments with the retorts and crucibles in which he is always on the point of transmuting lead into silver, to be tame and slow processes. Since we have been here, he has for the time abandoned his alchemical experiments, and sits for hours with a great map spread before him, calculating in the most accurate and elaborate manner how long it would take to reach the new Spanish discoveries by way of Wendish Prussia. "For," he remarks, "if I am never able to carry out the scheme myself, it may one day immortalize one of my sons, and enrich and ennoble the whole of our family!"

Our journey from Eisenach was one continual fête to the children. For my mother and the baby-now two years old-we made a couch in the wagon, of the family bedding. My grandmother sat erect in a nook among the furniture. Little Thekla was enthroned like a queen on a pile of pillows, where she sat hugging her own especial treasures,-her broken doll, the wooden horse Christopher made for her, a precious store of cones and pebbles from the forest, and a very shaggy disreputable foundling dog which she has adopted, and can by no means be persuaded to part with. She calls the dog Nix, and is sure that he is always asking her with his wistful eyes to teach him to speak, and give him a soul. With these, her household gods, preserved to her, she showed little feeling at parting from the rest of our Eisenach world.

The father was equally absorbed with his treasures, his folios, and models, and instruments, which he jealously guarded.

Eva had but one inseparable treasure, the volume of the "Theologia Germanica," which she has appropriated.

The mother's especial thought was the baby. Chriemhild was overwhelmed with the parting with Pollux, who was left behind with Cousin Conrad Cotta, and Atlantis was so wild with delight at the thought of the new world and the new life, from which she was persuaded all the cares of the old were to be extracted for ever, that, had it not been for Christopher and me, I must say the general interest of the family would have been rather in the background.

For the time there was a truce between Christopher and me concerning "Reinecke Fuchs," and our various differences. All his faculties-which have been so prolific for mischief-seemed suddenly turned into useful channels, like the mischievous elves of the farm and hearth, when they are capriciously bent on doing some poor human being a good turn. He scarcely tried my temper once during the whole journey. Since we reached Wittemberg, however, I cannot say as much. I feel anxious about the companions he has found among the students, and often, often I long that Fritz's religion had led him to remain among us, at least until the boys had grown up.

I had nerved myself beforehand for the leave-taking with the old friends and the old home, but when the moving actually began, there was no time to think of anything but packing in the last things which had been nearly forgotten, and arranging every one in their places. I had not even a moment for a last look at the old house, for at the instant we turned the corner, Thekla and her treasures nearly came to an untimely end by the downfall of one of the father's machines; which so discouraged Thekla, and excited our grandmother, Nix and the baby, that it required considerable soothing to restore every one to equanimity; and, in the meantime, the corner of the street had been turned, and the dear old house was out of sight. I felt a pang, as if I had wronged it, the old home which had sheltered us so many years, and been the silent witness of so many joys, and cares, and sorrows!

We had few adventures during the first day, except that Thekla's peace was often broken by the difficulties in which Nix's self-confident but not very courageous disposition frequently involved him with the cats and dogs in the villages, and their proprietors.

The first evening in the forest was delightful. We encamped in a clearing. Sticks were gathered for a fire, round which we arranged such bedding and furniture as we could unpack, and the children were wild with delight at thus combining serious household work with play, whilst Christopher foddered and tethered the horses.

After our meal we began to tell stories, but our grandmother positively forbade our mentioning the name of any of the forest sprites, or of any evil or questionable creature whatever.

In the night I could not sleep. All was so strange and grand around us, and it did seem to me that there were wailings and sighings and distant moanings among the pines, not quite to be accounted for by the wind. I grew rather uneasy, and at length lifted my head to see if any one else was awake.

Opposite me sat Eva, her face lifted to the stars, her hands clasped, and her lips moving as if in prayer. I felt her like a guardian angel, and instinctively drew nearer to her.

"Eva," I whispered at last, "do you not think there are rather strange and unaccountable noises around us? I wonder if it can be true that strange creatures haunt the forests?"

"I think there are always spirits around us, Cousin Elsè," she replied, "good and evil spirits prowling around us, or ministering to us. I suppose in the solitude we feel them nearer, and perhaps they are."

I was not at all reassured.

"Eva," I said, "I wish you would say some prayers; I feel afraid I may not think of the right ones. But are you really not at all afraid?"

"Why should I be?" she said softly; "God is nearer us always than all the spirits, good or evil,-nearer and greater than all. And he is the Supreme Goodness. I like the solitude, Cousin Elsè, because it seems to lift me above all the creatures to the One who is all and in all. And I like the wild forests," she continued, as if to herself, "because God is the only owner there, and I can feel more unreservedly, that we, and the creatures, and all we most call our own, are His, and only His. In the cities, the houses are called after the names of men, and each street and house is divided into little plots, of each of which some one says, 'It is mine.' But here all is visibly only God's, undivided, common to all. There is but one table, and that is His; the creatures live as free pensioners on His bounty."

"Is it then sin to call anything our own?" I asked.

"My book says it was this selfishness that was the cause of Adam's fall," she replied. "Some say it was because Adam ate the apple that he was lost, or fell; but my book says it was 'because of his claiming something for his own; and because of his saying, I, mine, me, and the like.'"

"That is very difficult to understand." I said, "Am I not to say, My mother, my father, my Fritz? Ought I to love every one the same because all are equally God's? If property is sin, then why is stealing sin? Eva, this religion is quite above and beyond me. It seems to me in this way it would be almost as wrong to give thanks for what we have, as to covet what we have not, because we ought not to think we have anything. It perplexes me extremely."

I lay down again, resolved not to think any more about it. Fritz and I proved once, a long time ago, how useless it is for me, at least, to attempt to get beyond the Ten Commandments. But trying to comprehend what Eva said so bewildered me, that my thoughts soon wandered beyond my control altogether. I heard no more of Eva or the winds, but fell into a sound slumber, and dreamt that Eva and an angel were talking beside me all night in Latin, which I felt I ought to understand, but of course could not.

The next day we had not been long on our journey when, at a narrow part of the road, in a deep valley, a company of horsemen suddenly dashed down from a castle which towered on our right, and barred our further progress with serried lances.

"Do you belong to Erfurt?" asked the leader, turning our horses' heads, and pushing Christopher aside with the butt end of his gun.

"No," said Christopher, "to Eisenach."

"Give way, men," shouted the knight to his followers; "we have no quarrel with Eisenach. This is not what we are waiting for."

The cavaliers made a passage for us, but a young knight who seemed to lead them rode on beside us for a time.

"Did you pass any merchandise on your road?" he asked of Christopher, using the form of address he would have to a peasant.

"We are not likely to pass anything," replied Christopher, not very courteously, "laden as we are."

"What is your lading?" asked the knight.

"All our worldly goods," replied Christopher, curtly.

"What is your name, friend, and where are you bound?"

"Cotta," answered Christopher. "My father is the director of the Elector's printing press at the new University of Wittemberg."

"Cotta!" rejoined the knight more respectfully, "a good burgher name;" and saying this he rode back to the wagon, and saluting our father, surveyed us all with a cool freedom, as if his notice honoured us, until his eye lighted on Eva, who was sitting with her arm round Thekla, soothing the frightened child, and helping her to arrange some violets Christopher had gathered a few minutes before. His voice lowered when he saw her, and he said,-

"This is no burgher maiden, surely? May I ask your name, fair Fraülein?" he said, doffing his hat and addressing Eva.

She made no reply, but continued arranging her flowers, without changing feature or colour, except her lip curled and quivered slightly.

"The Fraülein is absorbed with her bouquet; would that we were nearer our Schloss, that I might offer her flowers more worthy of her handling."

"Are you addressing me?" said Eva at length, raising her large eyes, and fixing them on him with her gravest expression; "I am no Fraülein, I am a burgher maiden; but if I were a queen, any of God's flowers would be fair enough for me. And to a true knight," she added, "a peasant maiden is as sacred as a queen."

No one ever could trifle with that earnest expression of Eva's face. It was his turn to be abashed. His effrontery failed him altogether, and he murmured, "I have merited the rebuke. These flowers are too fair, at least for me. If you would bestow one on me, I would keep it sacredly as a gift of my mother's or as the relics of a saint."

"You can gather them anywhere in the forest," said Eva; but little Thekla filled both her little hands with violets, and gave them to him.

"You may have them all if you like," she said; "Christopher can gather us plenty more."

He took them carefully from the child's hand, and, bowing low, rejoined his men who were in front. He then returned, said a few words to Christopher, and with his troop retired to some distance behind us, and followed us till we were close to Erfurt, when he spurred on to my father's side, and saying rapidly, "You will be safe now, and need no further convoy," once more bowed respectfully to us, and rejoining his men, we soon lost the echo of their horse-hoofs, as they galloped back through the forest.

"What did the knight say to you, Christopher?" I asked, when we dismounted at Erfurt that evening.

"He said that part of the forest was dangerous at present, because of a feud between the knights and the burghers, and if we would allow him, he would be our escort until we came in sight of Erfurt."

"That, at least, was courteous of him," I said.

"Such courtesy as a burgher may expect of a knight," rejoined Christopher, uncompromisingly; "to insult us without provocation, and then, as a favour, exempt us from their own illegal oppressions! But women are always fascinated with what men on horseback do."

"No one is fascinated with any one," I replied. For it always provokes me exceedingly when that boy talks in that way about women. And our grandmother interposed,-"Don't dispute

, children; if your grandfather had not been unfortunate, you would have been of the knights' order yourselves, therefore it is not for you to run down the nobles."

"I should never have been a knight," persisted Christopher, "or a priest or a robber." But it was consolatory to my grandmother and me to consider how exalted our position would have been, had it not been for certain little unfortunate hindrances. Our grandmother never admitted my father into the pedigree.

At Leipsic we left the children, while our grandmother, our mother, Eva, and I went on foot to see Aunt Agnes at the convent of Nimptschen, whither she had been transferred, some years before, from Eisenach.

We only saw her through the convent grating. But it seemed to me as if the voice, and manner, and face were entirely unchanged since that last interview when she terrified me as a child by asking me to become a sister, and abandon Fritz.

Only the voice sounded to me even more like a muffled bell used only for funerals, especially when she said, in reference to Fritz's entering the cloister, "Praise to God, and the blessed Virgin, and all the saints. At last, then, He has heard my unworthy prayers; one at least is saved!"

A cold shudder passed over me at her words. Had she then, indeed, all these years been praying that our happiness should be ruined and our home desolated? And had God heard her? Was the fatal spell, which my mother feared was binding us, after all nothing else than Aunt Agnes's terrible prayers?

Her face looked as lifeless as ever, in the folds of white linen which bound it into a regular oval. Her voice was metallic and lifeless; the touch of her hand was impassive and cold as marble when we took leave of her. My mother wept, and said, "Dear Agnes, perhaps we may never meet again on earth."

"Perhaps not," was the reply.

"You will not forget us, sister?" said the mother.

"I never forget you," was the reply, in the same deep, low, firm, irresponsive voice, which seemed as if it had never vibrated to anything more human than an organ playing Gregorian chants.

And the words echo in my heart to this instant, like a knell.

She never forgets us.

Nightly in her vigils, daily in church and cell, she watches over us, and prays God not to let us be too happy.

And God hears her, and grants her prayers. It is too clear He does! Had she not been asking Him to make Fritz a monk? and is not Fritz separated from us for ever?

"How did you like the convent, Eva?" I said to her that night when we were alone.

"It seemed very still and peaceful," she said. "I think one could be very happy there. There would be so much time for prayer. One could perhaps more easily lose self there, and become nearer to God."

"But what do you think of Aunt Agnes?"

"I felt drawn to her. I think she has suffered."

"She seems to be dead alike to joy or suffering," I said.

"But people do not thus die without pain," said Eva very gravely.

Our house at Wittemberg is small. From the upper windows we look over the city walls, across the heath, to the Elbe, which gleams and sparkles between its willows and dwarf oaks. Behind the house is a plot of neglected ground, which Christopher is busy at his leisure hours trenching and spading into an herb-garden. We are to have a few flowers on the borders of the straight walk which intersects it,-daffodils, pansies, roses, and sweet violets and gilliflowers, and wallflowers. At the end of the garden are two apple trees and a pear tree, which had shed their blossoms just before we arrived, in a carpet of pink and white petals. Under the shade of these I carry my embroidery frame, when the house work is finished; and sometimes little Thekla comes and prattles to me, and sometimes Eva reads and sings to me. I cannot help regretting that lately Eva is so absorbed with that "Theologia Germanica." I cannot understand it as well as I do the Latin hymns when once she has translated them to me; for these speak of Jesus the Saviour, who left the heavenly home and sat weary by the way seeking for us; or of Mary his dear mother; and although sometimes they tell of wrath and judgment, at all events I know what it means. But this other book is all to me one dazzling haze, without sun, or moon, or stars, or heaven, or earth, or seas, or anything distinct,-but all a blaze of indistinguishable glory, which is God; the One who is all-a kind of ocean of goodness, in which, in some mysterious way, we ought to be absorbed. But I am not an ocean, or any part of one; and I cannot love an ocean, because it is infinite, or unfathomable, or all-sufficient, or anything else.

My mother's thought of God, as watching lest we should be too happy and love any one more than himself, remembering the mistakes and sins of youth, and delaying to punish them until just the moment when the punishment would be most keenly felt, is dreadful enough. But even that is not to me so bewildering and dreary as this all-absorbing Being in Eva's book. The God my mother dreads has indeed eyes of severest justice, and a frown of wrath against the sinner; but if once one could learn how to please him, the eyes might smile, the frown might pass. It is a countenance; and a heart which might meet ours! But when Eva reads her book to me, I seem to look up into heaven and see nothing but heaven-light, space, infinity, and still on and on, infinity and light; a moral light, indeed-perfection, purity, goodness; but no eyes I can look into, no heart to meet mine-none whom I could speak to, or touch, or see!

This evening we opened our window and looked out across the heath to the Elbe.

The town was quite hushed. The space of sky above us over the plain looked so large and deep. We seemed to see range after range of stars beyond each other in the clear air. The only sound was the distant, steady rush of the broad river, which gleamed here and there in the starlight.

Eva was looking up with her calm, bright look. "Thine!" she murmured, "all this is Thine; and we are Thine, and Thou art here! How much happier it is to be able to look up and feel there is no barrier of our own poor ownership between us and Him, the Possessor of heaven and earth! How much poorer we should be if we were lords of this land, like the Elector, and if we said, 'All this is mine!' and so saw only I and mine in it all, instead of God and God's!"

"Yes," I said, "if we ended in saying I and mine; but I should be very thankful if God gave us a little more out of his abundance, to use for our wants. And yet, how much better things are with us then they were!-the appointment of my father as director of the Elector's printing establishment, instead of a precarious struggle for ourselves; and this embroidery of mine! It seems to me, Eva, sometimes, we might be a happy family yet."

"My book," she replied thoughtfully, "says we shall never be truly satisfied in God, or truly free, unless all things are one to us, and One is all, and something and nothing are alike. I suppose I am not quite truly free, Cousin Elsè, for I cannot like this place quite as much as the old Eisenach home."

I began to feel quite impatient, and I said,-"Nor can I or any of us ever feel any home quite the same again, since Fritz is gone. But as to feeling something and nothing are alike, I never can, and I will never try. One might as well be dead at once."

"Yes," said Eva gravely; "I suppose we shall never comprehend it quite, or be quite satisfied and free, until we die."

We talked no more that night; but I heard her singing one of her favourite hymns:[6]-

In the fount of life perennial the parched heart its thirst would slake,

And the soul, in flesh imprisoned, longs her prison-walls to break,-

Exile, seeking, sighing, yearning in her Fatherland to wake.

When with cares oppressed and sorrows, only groans her grief can tell,

Then she contemplates the glory which she lost when first she fell:

Memory of the vanished good the present evil can but swell.

Who can utter what the pleasures and the peace unbroken are

Where arise the pearly mansions, shedding silvery light afar-

Festive seats and golden roofs, which glitter like the evening star?

Wholly of fair stones most precious are those radiant structures made;

With pure gold, like glass transparent, are those shining streets inlaid;

Nothing that defiles can enter, nothing that can soil or fade.

Stormy winter, burning summer, rage within those regions never;

But perpetual bloom of roses, and unfading spring for ever:

Lilies gleam, the crocus glows, and dropping balms their scents deliver;

Honey pure, and greenest pastures,-this the land of promise is

Liquid odours soft distilling, perfumes breathing on the breeze;

Fruits immortal cluster always on the leafy, fadeless trees.

There no moon shines chill and changing, there no stars with twinkling ray-

For the Lamb of that blest city is at once the sun and day;

Night and time are known no longer,-day shall never fade away.

There the saints, like suns, are radiant,-like the sun at dawn they glow;

Crownèd victors after conflict, all their joys together flow;

And, secure, they count the battles where they fought the prostrate foe.

Every stain of flesh is cleansèd, every strife is left behind;

Spiritual are their bodies,-perfect unity of mind;

Dwelling in deep peace for ever, no offense or grief they find.

Putting off their mortal vesture, in their Source their souls they steep,-

Truth by actual vision learning, on its form their gaze they keep,-

Drinking from the living Fountain draughts of living waters deep.

Time, with all its alternations, enters not those hosts among,-

Glorious, wakeful, blest, no shade of chance or change o'er them is flung;

Sickness cannot touch the deathless, nor old age the ever young.

There their being is eternal,-things that cease have ceased to be.

All corruption there has perished,-there they flourish strong and free;

Thus mortality is swallowed up of life eternally.

Nought from them is hidden,-knowing Him to whom all things are known

All the spirit's deep recesses, sinless, to each other shown,-

Unity of will and purpose, heart and mind for ever one.

Diverse as their varied labours the rewards to each that fall;

But Love, what she loves in others evermore her own doth call:

Thus the several joy of each becomes the common joy of all.

Where the body is, there ever are the eagles gathered;

For the saints and for the angels one most blessed feast is spread,-

Citizens of either country living on the self-same bread.

Ever filled and ever seeking, what they have they still desire;

Hunger there shall fret them never, nor satiety shall tire,-

Still enjoying whilst aspiring, in their joy they still aspire.

There the new song, new forever, those melodious voices sing,-

Ceaseless streams of fullest music through those blessed regions ring!

Crownèd victors ever bringing praises worthy of the King!

Blessed who the King of Heaven in his beauty thus behold,

And, beneath his throne rejoicing, see the universe unfold,-

Sun and moon, and stars and planets, radiant in his light unrolled.

Christ, the Palm of faithful victors! of that city make me free;

When my warfare shall be ended, to its mansions lead thou me;

Grant me, with its happy inmates, sharer of thy gifts to be!

Let thy soldier, still contending, still be with thy strength supplied;

Thou wilt not deny the quiet when the arms are laid aside;

Make me meet with thee for ever in that country to abide!

Passion Week.

Wittemberg has been very full this week. There have been great mystery-plays in the City Church; and in the Electoral Church (Schloss Kirche) all the relics have been solemnly exhibited. Crowds of pilgrims have come from all the neighbouring villages, Wendish and Saxon. It has been very unpleasant to go about the streets, so much beer has been consumed; and the students and peasants have had frequent encounters. It is certainly a comfort that there are large indulgences to be obtained by visiting the relics, for the pilgrims seem to need a great deal of indulgence.

The sacred mystery-plays were very magnificent. The Judas was wonderfully hateful,-hunchbacked, and dressed like a rich Jewish miser; and the devils were dreadful enough to terrify the children for a year.

Little Thekla was dressed in white, with gauze wings, and made a lovely angel-and enjoyed it very much. They wanted Eva to represent one of the holy women at the cross, but she would not. Indeed she nearly wept at the thought, and did not seem to like the whole ceremony at all. "It all really happened!" she said; "they really crucified Him! And He is risen, and living in heaven; and I cannot bear to see it performed, like a fable."

The second day there was certainly more jesting and satire than I liked. Christopher said it reminded him of "Reinecke Fuchs."

In the middle of the second day we missed Eva, and when in a few hours I came back to the house to seek her, I found her kneeling by our bed-side, sobbing as if her heart would break. I drew her towards me, but I could not discover that anything at all was the matter, except that the young knight who had stopped us in the forest had bowed very respectfully to her, and had shown her a few dried violets, which he said he should always keep in remembrance of her and her words.

It did not seem to me so unpardonable an offence, and I said so.

"He had no right to keep anything for my sake!" she sobbed. "No one will ever have any right to keep anything for my sake; and if Fritz had been here, he would never have allowed it."

"Little Eva," I said, "what has become of your 'Theologia Teutsch?' Your book says you are to take all things meekly, and be indifferent, I suppose, alike to admiration and reproach."

"Cousin Elsè," said Eva very gravely, rising and standing erect before me with clasped hands, "I have not learned the 'Theologia' through well yet, but I mean to try. The world seems to me very evil, and very sad. And there seems no place in it for an orphan girl like me. There is no rest except in being a wife or a nun. A wife I shall never be, and therefore, dear, dear Elsè," she continued, kneeling down again, and throwing her arms around me, "I have just decided-I will go to the convent where Aunt Agnes is, and be a nun."

I did not attempt to remonstrate; but the next day I told the mother, who said gravely, "She will be happier there, poor child! We must let her go."

But she became pale as death, her lip quivered, and she added,-"Yes, God must have the choicest of all. It is in vain indeed to fight against Him!" Then, fearing she might have wounded me, she kissed me and said,-"Since Fritz left, she has grown so very dear! But how can I murmur when my loving Elsè is spared to us?"

"Mother," I said, "do you think Aunt Agnes has been praying again for this?"

"Probably!" she replied, with a startled look. "She did look very earnestly at Eva."

"Then, mother," I replied, "I shall write to Aunt Agnes at once, to tell her that she is not to make any such prayers for you or for me. For, as to me, it is entirely useless. And if you were to imitate St. Elizabeth, and leave us, it would break all our hearts, and the family would go to ruin altogether."

"What are you thinking of, Elsè?" replied my mother meekly. "It is too late indeed for me to think of being a saint. I can never hope for anything beyond this, that God in his great mercy may one day pardon me my sins, and receive me as the lowest of his creatures, for the sake of his dear Son who died upon the cross. What could you mean by my imitating St. Elizabeth?"

I felt reassured, and did not pursue the subject, fearing it might suggest what I dreaded to my mother.

Wittemberg, June 14.

And so Eva and Fritz are gone, the two religious ones of the family. They are gone into their separate convents, to be made saints, and have left us all to struggle in the world without them,-with all that helped us to be less earthly taken from us. It seems to me as if a lovely picture of the Holy Mother had been removed from the dwelling-room since Eva has gone, and instead we had nothing left but family portraits, and paintings of common earthly things; or as if a window opening towards the stars had been covered by a low ceiling. She was always like a little bit of heaven among us.

I miss her in our little room at night. Her prayers seemed to hallow it. I miss her sweet, holy songs at my embroidery; and now I have nothing to turn my thoughts from the arrangements for to-morrow, and the troubles of yesterday, and the perplexities of to-day. I had no idea how I must have been leaning on her. She always seemed so child-like, and so above my petty cares-and in practical things I certainly understood much more; and yet, in some way, whenever I talked anything over with her, it always seemed to take the burden away,-to change cares into duties, and clear my thoughts wonderfully,-just by lightening my heart. It was not that she suggested what to do; but she made me feel things were working for good, not for harm-that God in some way ordered them-and then the right thoughts seemed to come to me naturally.

Our mother, I am afraid, grieves as much as she did for Fritz; but she tries to hide it, lest we should feel her ungrateful for the love of her children.

I have a terrible dread sometimes that Aunt Agnes will get her prayers answered about our precious mother also,-if not in one way, in another. She looks so pale and spiritless.

Christopher has just returned from taking Eva to the convent. He says she shed many tears when he left her; which is a comfort. I could not bear to think that something and nothing were alike to her yet! He told me also one thing, which has made me rather anxious. On the journey, Eva begged him to take care of our father's sight, which, she said, she thought had been failing a little lately. And just before they separated she brought him a little jar of distilled eye-water, which the nuns were skillful in making, and sent it to our father with Sister Ave's love.

Certainly my father has read less lately; and now I think of it, he has asked me once or twice to find things for him, and to help him about his models, in a way he never used to do.

It is strange that Eva, with those deep, earnest, quiet eyes, which seemed to look about so little, always saw before any of us what every one wanted. Darling child! she will remember us, then, and our little cares. And she will have some eye-water to make, which will be much better for her than reading all day in that melancholy "Theologia Teutsch."

But are we to call our Eva, Ave? She gave these lines of the hymn in her own writing to Christopher, to bring to me. She often used to sing it, and has explained the words to me:-

"Ave, maris stella

Dei mater alma

Atque semper virgo

Felix c?li porta.

Sumens illud Ave

Gabrielis ore

Funda nos in pace

Mutans nomen Ev?."

It is not an uncommon name, I know, with nuns.

Well, dearly as I loved the old name, I cannot complain of the change. Sister Ave will be as dear to me as Cousin Eva, only a little bit further off, and nearer heaven.

Her living so near heaven, while she was with us, never seemed to make her further off, but nearer to us all.

Now, however, it cannot, of course, be the same.

Our grandmother remains steadfast to the baptismal name.

"Receiving that Ave from the lips of Gabriel, the blessed Mother transformed the name of our mother Eva! And now our child Eva is on her way to become Saint Ave,-God's angel Ave in heaven!"

June 30.

The young knight we met in the forest has called at our house to-day.

I could scarcely command my voice at first to tell him where our Eva is, because I cannot help partly blaming him for her leaving us at last.

"At Nimptschen!" he said; "then she was noble, after all. None but maidens of noble houses are admitted there."

"Yes," I said, "our mother's family is noble."

"She was too heavenly for this world!" he murmured. "Her face, and something in her words and tones, have haunted me like a holy vision, or a church hymn, ever since I saw her."

I could not feel as indignant with the young knight as Eva did. And he seemed so interested in our father's models, that we could not refuse him permission to come and see us again.

Yes, our Eva was, I suppose, as he says, too religious and too heavenly for this world.

Only, as so many of us have, after all, to live in the world, unless the world is to come to an end altogether, it would be a great blessing if God had made a religion for us poor, secular people, as well as one for the monks and nuns.

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