The Works of Heinrich Heine/Vol. 7/Letter 4

The Works of Heinrich Heine  (1893)  by Heinrich Heine, translated by Charles Godfrey Leland
Letter 4: English Aristocracy—Perier and Canning


Paris, March 1, 1832.

Events in England have for some time had special claims on our attention. We must finally admit that the open enmity of an absolute king is less dangerous than the equivocal friendship of constitutional John Bull. The folk-murdering[1] intrigues of the English aristocracy step forth, threateningly enough, into the clear light of official day, and the fogs of London scantly conceal the subtle snares and knots which connect the network of the protocols of the Conference with the parliamentary slip-nooses. Diplomacy has there watched more actively than ever[2] its hereditary interests, and spun more industriously than ever the most destructive webs, and Monsieur de Talleyrand seems to be at one and the same time araignée et mouche—"both spider and fly." Can it be that the veteran diplomatist is not so crafty as of old, when he, a second Hephaistos, caught the mighty god of war himself in his finely-forged network? Or did it happen to him, as of yore to the over-cunning Master Merlin, who, entwined in his own magic, lies word-chained and self-banned in the grave?[3] But why was Monsieur de Talleyrand put into a position of the very highest importance for the interests of the Revolution of July, when there was far greater need of the inflexible straightforwardness of an irreproachable citizen? I will not absolutely or distinctly declare that the slippery old ex-Bishop of Autun is not honourable. On the contrary, the oath which he has now sworn he will certainly keep, for it is his thirteenth. We have, it is true, no other guarantee of his honour or truth, but it will suffice, for there is no case on record of any honourable man ever having broken thirteen oaths in succession. And, moreover, we are assured that Louis Philippe, in his audience de congé, or farewell interview, said to him as precaution, "Monsieur de Talleyrand, do not forget that, however large the offers may be which you will receive, I in any case will give you double." However, with a faithless man that would still be no security, for it is in the character of treachery that it does not remain true to itself, so that we cannot count upon securing it even by satisfying its selfishness.

The worst is that the French imagine London as a second Paris, the West End as another Saint Germain quarter; that they regard the British reformers as allied Liberals, and Parliament as Chambers of deputies and peers—in short, that they measure and judge all that exists in England by a French standard. From all this result errors which will perhaps be eventually dearly paid for. Both nations have a character too sharply opposed one to the other to be capable of mutual intelligence, and all circumstances and relations in both countries are too radically different to admit comparison, especially in political relations. The additions to the Reisebilder—"Pictures of Travel," contain much information on this subject derived from direct observation, and I must refer to this to avoid repetition. And I will here again mention the admirable Briefe eines Verstorbenen—"Letters from a Dead Man,"[4] although the poetic feeling of the author has made him imagine that he perceived (hineingeschaut) more intellectual activity in stock-stiff Britishism than is to be actually found therein. To describe England accurately, one should adopt the style of a Manual of Advanced Mechanism, very much as if writing of a vast complicated manufactory, of a roaring, whizzing, choking, pounding, and wearisomely humming and buzzing machine existence, where the brightly polished wheels of utility turn around old and rusty historical dates.[5] The Saint-Simonians declare with right that England is the hand and France the heart of the world. Ah! this grand heart of the world would lose all its noble blood if, counting on English generosity, it should some day beg help from this dry and frozen hand. I do not imagine egoistic England as an enormously fat, prosperous, beer-belly, as caricaturists depict it, but, as a satirist describes, in the form of a tall, lean, bony old bachelor sewing a torn-off button on his breeches, and that with a thread the end knot of which is the globe; and then, cutting off the thread where he no longer needs it, he calmly lets the world fall into the abyss.

The French think that the English people cherish a desire for freedom like their own, and that it is striving like them against the usurpations of an aristocracy, and that this gives and guarantees many interests and assurances of both internal and external close alliance. But they do not know that the English race is in itself thoroughly aristocratic, that it only demands liberty in the most narrow-minded manner or sense of a small corporation—that is, liberties legally secured by documents—and that the French freedom for all mankind, in which the whole world shall share according to the charter of reason, is to its deepest depth utterly detested by the English. They only know an English freedom—one historically English, patented for the use of royal Great Britannic subjects, or based on some old law—let us say of the time of Queen Anne. Burke, who wished to burke souls,[6] and traded life itself to the anatomy of history, chiefly reproached the French Revolution because it was not formed, like the English, on old institutions, and he cannot comprehend that a state could exist without nobility. But England's nobility is altogether different from the French noblesse, and deserves that I here award it the most distinctive praise. English nobility has always opposed the absolutism of its kings, in common cause with the people, whose rights it sustained as identical with its own, while the noblesse of France, on the contrary, always yielded to royal authority—auf Gnade und Ungnade—in favour or in disgrace.[7] It has not since the days of Mazarin resisted their power; it has only sought to profit by supple court-service, and by most submissive and subordinate service (Handlangergemeinschaft); with its kings it oppressed and betrayed the people. All unconsciously the French nobility revenged itself for former wrongs from these monarchs by reducing them to a debilitating immorality, and making them almost idiotic by flattery. Of course, it also, weakened and deprived of all spirit, fell with the old royalty; the 10th of August only found in the Tuileries a grey-haired decrepid crowd, with brittle court-rapiers, and not one man—only a single woman who commanded resistance with firmness and courage; and even this last lady of French chivalry—the last representative of the perishing ancien régime—was not destined to descend to the grave in all the glory of her youth, and one single night made white as snow the blonde locks of the beautiful Antoinette.

It went differently with the English nobility. This has kept its strength; it is rooted in the people, in that healthy soil which receives as noble scions the younger sons of the nobility, and through these the real gentry remains allied to nobility itself. The English nobility is, withal, full of patriotism; it has thus far truly represented Old England with unfeigned zeal, and those lords, who cost so much, have also in time of need made great sacrifices for their country. It is true that they are arrogant,[8] and much more so than the noblesse of the Continent, who make a show of their pride, and distinguish themselves externally from the people by dress, ribbons, bad French, coats of arms, crosses, and other playthings. The English nobility despise the middle class too much to judge it to be necessary to impose on it by exterior means, and, to show off in public the parti-coloured indications of rank.[9] On the contrary, we see the English nobles, like gods incognito, clad in simple and citizen-like attire, and therefore unobserved, running about the streets, or to the theatres and receptions (routs—French version, raouts) of London. Their feudal decorations and similar tinsel they reserve for court festivals and old anniversaries. Therefore they are more respected among the people than are our gods on the Continent, who are so readily recognised with all their attributes. One day on Waterloo Bridge in London I heard one boy say to the other, "Have you ever seen a nobleman?" To which the other replied, "No, but I have seen the coach of the Lord Mayor." This said coach is an extravagantly large chest, excessively gilt, painted with fabulous richness of colour, with a red-velveted, stiff-golden, powder-wigged coachman, and three ditto powder-wigged lackeys behind on the box. If the English people quarrel with their nobility, it is not on account of social equality, of which they never think, and least of all about civil freedom, which they fully enjoy, but because of pure questions of money; because the nobility, in possession of all the sinecures, ecclesiastical endowments and offices, which are extravagantly salaried, revel bravely and luxuriously, while the greater part of the people, overloaded with taxes, languish in deepest misery and die of hunger. Therefore a parliamentary reform is required, and those among the nobility who support it have nothing else in view save to make it aid in material ameliorations.

Yes, the nobility of England is always more closely allied to the people than to their kings, as regards whom they have always maintained a strict independence, in which they differ entirely from the French aristocracy. It lent them only its sword and its word, taking in the delights and desires of their private life only an indifferently confidential part. This is true even of the most corrupt times. Hamilton, in his "Memoirs of the Duke de Grammont," has given a clear account of this relationship.[10] So the English nobility continued to the latest time kissing hands and kneeling according to etiquette, yet practically on equal footing with the kings, whom they opposed earnestly enough when their privileges were attacked, or aught was done to weaken their influence. This latter came to pass a few years ago in a most open manner, when Canning was Minister. During the Middle Ages, in such a case, the English barons met in helmet and cuirass, and sword in hand, and, accompanied by their vassals, they entered the royal castle, and, with ironical humility and weaponed courtesy, made known their will. In these our days they must have recourse to less chivalric means, and the gentlemen who composed the Ministry endeavoured to coerce the King by suddenly, and in a perfidiously arranged manner, giving in their resignations. The results of this are well known. George the Fourth relied on George Canning, the St. George of England, who came near slaying the mightiest dragon in the world. After him came Lord Goderich, with his flushed and flourishing face and affected lawyer-like vehemence of voice, who soon let fall from his weak hands the lance which was intrusted to them, so that the poor King was soon obliged to cast himself on the mercy or unmercifulness of his ancient barons, and the field-marshal of the Holy Alliance again resumed the staff of office. I have elsewhere shown why no Liberal Minister can do any special good in England, and must therefore resign to make room for the high Tories, who can of course pass a grand Bill for amelioration or reform, all the more easily because they have no occasion to overcome the obstinacy of parliamentary opposition. In all ages it is the devil who has built the greatest churches. Wellington gained the victory of that emancipation for which Canning had fought in vain, and he is perhaps the man destined to carry that Reform Bill on which Lord Grey will probably be wrecked. I foresee the speedy fall of this latter, and we shall then see again returning to power all the irreconcilable aristocrats who have for forty years fought unto life and death the French people as the representatives of democratic ideas. This time the ancient hatred will give way to more practical interests, and they will willingly see the more dangerous rival of the East and his satellites fought by French arms, and all the more so because they will weaken one another. Yes, the English will specially spur on the Gallic cock to fight with the autocratic eagle, and, eager to see the sight, stare with their long necks over the Channel, and applaud as at a cockpit, and bet many thousands of guineas on the result.

Will the great gods above in the blue pavilion regard this spectacle indifferently? Will they, like Englishmen of heaven, look down on the strife of nations, heartless and with leaden stare, unheeding our cries for aid and our bloody wounds?[11] Or was the poet right who declared that as we hate monkeys because they of all the mammalia most resemble us, and thereby wound our pride, so the gods hate men, who, made in their own image, have such great and aggravating likeness to them—for which cause the deities, the greater, fairer, and more divine mortals may be, persecute them the more by misfortune and annihilate them, while they graciously spare the little, ugly, mean mammalian-like of mankind, and let them flourish in prosperity? If this last melancholy view be true, then are the French much nearer to their fall than any other race upon the earth. Ah! may the example of their Emperor teach the French what is to be hoped for from the magnanimity of England! Did not the Bellérophon long since destroy this chimæra? May France never trust in England as Poland trusted in France!

But should the most terrible disaster come to pass, and France, the motherland of civilisation and liberty, be lost by frivolity and treason, and the dialect of Potsdam nobility be heard snarling in the streets of Paris, and dirty German boots again defile the holy ground of the Boulevards,[12] and the Palais Royal again smell of Russian leather, then there will be one man in the world more miserable than man has ever been—a man who, by his wretched haggling, tradesman-like small-mindedness, will have been guilty of betraying his country, and who will bear all the serpents of remorse in his heart and all the curses of mankind on his head. The damned in hell will then, to console one another, relate the torments of this man—the torments of Casimir Perier.[13]

What a terrible responsibility weighs on this one man! A shudder steals over me when I come near him. As if banned by an unholy spell, I lately stood near him one hour, and beheld that gloomy figure which has intruded so boldly between the people and the sun of July. "When this man falls," I said, "the great eclipse of that sun will be ended, the tricoloured flag on the Pantheon will gleam again as if inspired, and the trees of liberty bloom once more! This man is the Atlas who bears upon his shoulders the Bourse, and the House of Orleans, and all the State fabric of all Europe; and when he falls, there will fall with him the whole shop in which the noblest hopes of humanity are bargained for, and therewith the exchange-tables and the rates of stocks, and selfishness and meanness!"

He is not altogether inappropriately called an Atlas. Perier is an uncommonly great, broad-shouldered man, of powerful bony structure and very robust in general appearance. There are erroneous ideas current as to his looks, partly because the journals are always speaking of his feeble health to irritate him who is so thoroughly sound, and would fain remain President of the Council, partly because the most exaggerated anecdotes are told of his irritation, and the nervous passion which he displays in public is believed to be his normal condition. But the man is altogether a different being when seen in the domestic circle, in society, and, above all, in a quiet state. For then his face assumes, instead of the inspired and elevated or depressed expressions peculiar to the tribune, a truly imposing dignity, his form rises with more manly beauty and dignity, and he is seen with pleasure so long as he does not speak. In this respect he is quite the contrary of the femme du bureau in the Café Colbert,[14] who seems to be almost plain so long as she is silent, but whose face is brightly charming as soon as she opens her mouth to speak. Only that Perier, when he is long silent and listens to others with considerateness, contracts deeply his thin lips, causing his mouth to look like a hollow in his face. Then he has a habit of nodding his listening and bowed head like one who seems to say, "Das wird sich schon geben,"—"All that will be arranged." His forehead is high, and seems to be the more so because the front is covered with very little hair, which is grey or nearly white, lying smoothly and sparsely covering the rest of his head, the arch of which is beautiful and symmetrical, and in which the little ears may almost be called winsome and graceful,[15] but the chin is short and commonplace. The black thickets of his eyebrows hang wild and waste down to the deep hollows in which the small dark eyes, far hidden, lie in ambush, now and then flashing out like a stiletto. The complexion is yellowish-grey—the common colour of care and weary woe—and all kinds of strange wrinkles stray about in it, which are not vulgar nor yet noble—perhaps intermediate—highly respectable, peevish, juste-milieu wrinkles. It is thought that there is something of the banker in his mien, and that his general air is mercantile, and one of my friends says that he always feels tempted to ask him what is the price of sugar or the current rate of discount. "But when one knows that a man is blind," says Lichtenberg, "we think we can see it from behind."[16] I do not, indeed, find in all the person of Casimir Perier anything suggesting noble birth, but there is in his appearance much of the refined culture of the bourgeoisie as we find it in men who are charged with the most active cares of state, and therefore can occupy themselves but little with chivalric manners and such and similar toilet matters.[17]

Perier can be best judged by his speeches, which is indeed from his best side, or which at least was during the period of the Restoration, when he, as one of the best speakers of the Opposition, waged noblest war on windy parasite and parsondom.[18] I do not know whether he was so physically vehement and impetuous then as now. At the time I only read his speeches, which, while models of discretion in taste (Haltung) and dignity, were also so calm and carefully considered that I believed him to be a really old man. The strictest logic prevailed in these speeches; there was something stiff and set in them, stern arguments of reason ranged straight upright like rows of unbreakable iron bars, while behind them often lurked a tender sorrow or ombre de sensibilité like the pale face of a fair nun behind a cloister grate. The stiff and strong rational arguments, the iron bars are still in his speeches, but now we see behind them only an impotent rage which springs here and there like a wild beast.

Many of the latest speeches of Perier concerning projects of laws, as, for instance, that on the Peerage, are not composed by him; for time is wanting to a Minister for such great elaborate works, and he must now become more irritable, petty, and passionate in his addresses, the more doubtfully difficult, worthless, and ignoble the system is which he must defend.[19] What is most to his advantage, according to public opinion, is his contrast to Monsieur Sebastiani, the coquettish old man with an ashy-grey heart and yellow face, on which many a bit of red may yet be seen, as on autumnal trees where many a scarlet leaf grins out among dead orange-coloured leaves. Truly there is nothing so repulsive as this puffed-up nothing, who, though invalided, still comes often into the Deputies and sits upon the Ministerial benches, a fetched and feeble smile upon his lips, and some dull and silly remark on his tongue. I can hardly understand that this neatly gloved, nicely shod, weak dwarf with swimming vapoury eyes once did great things in field and council, as the historians of the Russian campaign and Turkish embassy relate. His whole art and knowledge now consist of a few played-out old diplomatic tricks, which are always rattling in his tin brain-pot. His own peculiar political ideas are like the great straps which the Carthaginian queen cut from a cowhide, and therewith spanned a whole country. The cycle of ideas of the good man is very great and taking in much land, but he himself is leather and naught else.[20] Perier once said of him, "He has a great idea of himself, and it is his only one idea."

I have placed the Cupid of the Imperial régime, as Sebastiani was called, by the Hercules of the juste milieu epoch, or Perier, that the latter may appear in all his greatness. I would, indeed, rather magnify than dimmish him, and yet I cannot refrain from declaring that even at the sight of him there comes into my memory a form by which he seems to be as small a man as is Sebastiani placed by him. Is it the spirit of satire which recalls antitheses? Or has Casimir Perier really some resemblance to the greatest Minister who ever ruled in England—with George Canning? But there are others who say that he strangely reminds them of the latter, and that there exists a hidden affinity or relation between them.

It is, perhaps, in their equally middle-class birth and personal appearance, in the difficulty of their position, in their invincible vigour, and in resistance to feudal aristocratic attack that the similarity between Perier and Canning consists. Not at all, in their careers and personally developed tendencies or aim. The first, born and nursed on the soft pillows of prosperity, could tranquilly work out his best desires, and calmly take his part in the opulent Opposition which led the bourgeoisie during the days of the Restoration against Aristocracy and Jesuitry. The other, George Canning, on the contrary, born of unhappy parents, was the poor child of a poor mother, who, waiting and weeping, nursed him by day, and to gain him bread by which to live, went by night to the theatre to play and laugh. Then passing from the minor misery of poverty to the greater misery of brilliant dependence, he endured the support of an uncle and the patronage of a proud nobility.[21]

But if these men differ by the conditions which Fortune imposed on them, and in which it long kept them, they are still more distinguished by the feelings and tendencies (Gesinnung) which they manifested when they attained the summit of power, and where the great Word of Life could be uttered free from all restraint. Casimir Perier, who was never dependent, who always possessed the golden mean to maintain in himself the feeling of freedom and to inform and elevate himself by culture, at once became small-minded, and then, like a petty shopkeeper, ignoring his true power, bowed low before the men of might whom he could have crushed, and begged for the peace which he should have demanded as a right or granted as a favour. For now he wrongs hospitality, and with it the most sacred adversity, and, like a reversed Prometheus, steals light and fire from men that he may return it to the gods. But George Canning, on the contrary, once a gladiator in the service of the Tories, when he at last shook off the chains of mental slavery, rose in all the majesty of his inborn citizenship, and, to the terror of his former patrons, like a Spartacus of Downing Street, proclaimed municipal and ecclesiastical freedom for all mankind, and won for England every liberal heart, and with it preponderance in Europe.

At that time all was dark in Germany—nothing but owls, censor's edicts, prison vapours, romances of resignation, night-watch or military parades, bigotry and stupidity; and when the gleam of Canning's words shone from afar on us, the few hearts which still felt hope rejoiced. As for the writer of these words, he kissed farewell to his loving and most loved ones, embarked, and went to London to see and hear Canning. There I sat whole days in the gallery of the Chapel of St. Stephen, and lived in his sight and drank the words from his mouth, and my heart was intoxicated. He was of middle height, a handsome man, who had a nobly formed and open countenance, very high forehead and somewhat bald, lips curving in a good-natured expression (wohlwollend-gewölbte), soft persuasive eyes, but a man vigorous enough in his movements when he now and then struck on the sheet-iron box which was before him on the table for documents. Yet, even in moments of excitement and passion, he was always well-mannered, dignified, gentlemanlike.[22] Wherein then consisted his personal likeness to Casimir Perier? I do not know, but it seems to me as if the shape of the head of the latter, though harsher and greater, was strikingly like him. The peculiar expression of invalidity, over excitement and lassitude which we see in Canning is as perceptible in Perier, and reminds us of the Englishman. As regards talents they are equally balanced, but Canning completes everything with a peculiar ease, like unto Ulysses, who drew the mighty bow as readily as players with deft fingers tune a lyre; while Perier manifests in the most trifling act a certain heaviness of effort, puts forth all his power on the most insignificant measure,[23] bringing out horse, foot, and dragoons, and when he touches the highest chord, strains himself with as mighty effort as if he were indeed bending the bow of Ulysses.

I have already spoken of his speeches, and Canning was also one of the greatest orators of his time, though it was objected that his language was too flowery and ornate. But this reproach was only applicable during his earlier period, while he was still in a dependent position, and, not daring to speak out his mind freely, gave instead flowers of oratory, beautiful arabesques, and brilliant witticisms. His eloquence was in those days no sword, but only a scabbard, and indeed a very costly one, on which gold repoussé flower-work and inlaid gems flashed in rich splendour. From this scabbard he in later time drew the straight, plain, steel blade which gleamed even more brilliantly, and was in truth both cutting and pointed.[24] I think that I still see the grinning faces which surrounded him, especially that of the ludicrous Sir Thomas Lethbridge, who asked him with much feeling if he had already selected the members for his Ministry. On which George Canning rose calmly, with the air of one who is about to deliver a grand oration, and exclaiming with equal pathos, simply, "Yes," sat down, while the whole House rang with laughter. There was then a great sight: nearly all the former Opposition sat behind the Minister, among them the valiant Russell, the indefatigable Brougham, the learned Mackintosh, Cam Hobhouse of the storm-worn countenance, the noble Wilson with the pointed nose, and even Francis Burdett, the inspired, tall, Don Quixote form, whose good heart is a never-fading garden of liberal thoughts, and whose lean knees, as Cobbett said, touched Canning's back. That time will ever live in my memory, and never can I forget the hour when I heard George Canning speak regarding the rights of nations, and listened to the words of liberation which rolled like sacred thunder over the whole earth, and left behind them a consoling echo in the hut of the Mexican as well as of the Hindoo. "That is my thunder!" Canning could well say in those days. His fine, full, deep voice came sadly, yet with energy, from his suffering breast in the clear unveiled parting words of a dying man. His mother had died a few days before, and the mourning apparel which he wore increased the solemnity of his appearance. I can still recall him in his black overcoat and the black gloves, at which he often looked while he spoke, and when he seemed to regard them with special attention, then I reflected, "Now he is thinking of his dead mother, and her long misery and suffering, and on that of all the other poor who hunger in wealthy England, and these gloves are the guarantees that Canning knows how they suffer (wie Ihm zu Muthe ist) and will help them." In the excitement of debate he tore one of these gloves from his hand, and I believed at the instant that he would cast it at the feet of the whole high aristocracy of England as the black gauntlet of defiance to all foes of suffering humanity.

If that aristocracy has not murdered him outright, any more than they did him of Saint Helena, who died of a cancer in the stomach, it has at least stuck enough poisoned needles into his heart. I was told, for instance, that once, as he was entering the House of Parliament, he received a letter sealed with a well-known coat-of-arms, which letter he opened in the chamber, and found in it an old theatrical play-bill, in which his mother's name appeared among those of the performers. Canning died soon after, and now for five years he has slept in Westminster Abbey by Fox and Sheridan, and it may be that a spider now spins her stupid silent web over the mouth which once uttered so much which was great and overwhelming. George the Fourth also now sleeps among his fathers and ancestors, who lie stretched out in effigies of stone upon their monuments, with stone heads on stony pillows, the balls of empire and sceptres in their hands, while round them in their lofty monuments repose the aristocracy of England, the stately dukes and bishops, lords and barons, who press around the king in death as they did in life—and he who will see them there in Westminster may do so on payment of one shilling and sixpence. This fee is taken by a poor little custodian, whose inherited office it is to exhibit the distinguished dead, and who in doing so chatters their names and deeds as if showing a cabinet of wax figures. I gladly look at such a sight, which makes me realise that the great ones of the earth are not immortal; therefore I did not regret my eighteen-pence, and as I left Westminster I said to the verger, "I am content with your exhibition, and I would gladly pay double if the collection were complete."

That is the whole story. Until all of England's aristocracy shall be gathered to their fathers—until the collection in Westminster be completed—the strife of the people with that of the aristocracy of birth will not be settled, and the alliance of the citizens of France with England will remain doubtful.

We will in another article set forth on this subject our bitterest needs, and determine by a comparison of the spirit of the two races and that of their rulers the limits to which the French may trust the British. Meanwhile we refer our readers to the profound and clever essays which the National has for some time published on the subject. The present number of this newspaper is, next to the writings referred to, best worthy of consideration.[25]

  1. Völkermeuchelnden. French version—populicide.
  2. French version—"Que partout ailleurs."
  3. Or a cavern. "'Chere Bertha,' répondit la fée Viviane, 'ce conte est une allégorie. L'antre ou tombeau, dont tu parles, est la caverne d'amour, que il Signore Merlin entre quand il veut, mais duquel il sort quand il lui plait.'"—Le Lutin du Chateau, Roman par Charles G. Leland.
  4. French version—"Je citerai encore les excellents Mémoires du Prince Puckler-Muskau."
  5. French version—"Une machine roulant, bourdonnant, grondant, pottant, sifflant, foulant et bruissant à en faire mal, où les rouages d'utilité, brillantes et polis, tournent autour des dates revêtues de rouille historique."
  6. "A play of words," says the German editor, "on that other Burke, who committed murder to provide anatomical lecturers with corpses, and caused in all England a panic-fear of being 'burked,' as it was called at the time."
  7. Omitted in the French version.—Translator.
  8. Though they bear this reputation, chiefly among those who are least familiar with them, I believe that the English nobility are by far the least arrogant of their kind, and I have certainly never met with or heard of anything among them to be compared to that of the Hanoverians, and especially of titled officers in the Prussian service.—Translator.
  9. It is not that they despise the middle class, but every form of idle personal ornament and all indications of vanity—an antipathy characteristic of the whole English, and, to as great a degree, of the American people. Hence the modern simplicity in men's clothing, which begun in England and has spread to the Continent.—Translator.
  10. This last passage is wanting in the French version.
  11. The two following passages are omitted in the French version. They are, however, in Heine's highest and most characteristic style. Fortunately, the singe-tigre, as Voltaire called him, is still flourishing.
  12. This will remind some of my older American readers of the indignant outbursts of the Richmond newspapers when the feet of the "Northern hordes" first defiled "the sacred soil" of Virginia. "C'est tout comme chez nous." In the French version "noble pavé." But, oddly enough, it has all come to pass as Heine predicted—even to the Russian leather, for I lately observed in the Palais Royal a shop where they sell beautiful objets de fantasie made of the objectionable material.—Translator.
  13. "Myself I named him once below,
    And all the souls in hell that be
    Leaped up at once in anarchy."

  14. French version—"Sous ce rapport, il est tout l'opposé de la dame du comptoir de mon café de prédilection."
  15. "Woran die kleinen Ohren fast anmuthig genannt werden könnten." These "pleasing ears" are too much for the French, which more prosaically states that "le long de laquelle de petites oreilles se dessinent presque avec grâce."—Translator,
  16. A shrewd remark well applied, and one capable of vast illustration. As a general rule, the more commonplace and feeble men are, the more they refer every peculiarity of another to some one trait, such as his nationality or family, which may have, in all likelihood, nothing whatever to do with it. "I believe," said a young American lady in a very provincial circle. "that if I had horns growing on my head, you would say, 'That is so like all you Yankees.'"
  17. Toilettengeschäfte. Moyens de toilette. An admirable designation, by which our author, without denying to style, manner, or deportment their real value, classes them correctly with mere physical matters of the exterior. A vast number of people, even in good society, need the lesson that because a thing may be very desirable it is not always quite essential, while it again may be essential and yet not the summum bonum or everything in itself.
  18. Pfaffen und Schranzenthum. We rather need a more extended use of this dom or German thum in English to indicate general collectiveness or attribute, though I do not assert that it need be carried so far as it was by a Pennsylvania exhibitor at an agricultural fair, who declared that his own particular prize-pig was "the noblest animal in all hog-dom." Haltung, in the next sentence, is an admirable word, combining the idea of judicious deportment with "holding the just proportion." Thus, as we say "in keeping," the Germans may declare that "it is in holding," which latter is better, as also indicating an act of will.
  19. From this period fifty lines are omitted in the French version. The word "petty" in the previous paragraph is also shrewdly left out.
  20. Er ist von Leder. As we may say in English, "hidebound." But leather in German by itself implies dulness or the tedious, while in English "nothing like leather" has wandered from its ancient Roman way into something complimentary.—Translator.
  21. This is an admirable passage, as every reader will observe, and it is made touching by truth. Heine himself was always dependent more or less, in a pecuniary sense, on an uncle, and, to maintain a social position, on so-called "betters;" and, while he was not at all ungrateful to them for their kindness, as his writings abundantly manifest, he still had the feeling of a proud and sensitive mind, that it would be in every way better for him had he been really independent. And it is well worth noting that this appreciation of the value of money never interfered with great generosity and charity. In this he was strikingly like Goldsmith, whose failings have been more noted than his feelings or his nobler traits.—Translator.
  22. Though there is much precedent against it in mere usage, still it is worth observing that while "gentleman-like" really means only resembling a gentleman, "gentlemanly," by analogy, implies being one in reality. Among the lower orders in America the expression "he is so like the gentleman," and "so very much of a gentleman," fully betray the consciousness that the one thus praised is only an unfinished article; albeit, some purists declare that the only "finished" gentleman in the world is one who is "dead, flat broke," or "laid out."—Translator.
  23. It is said of a very distinguished American politician who was noted for this peculiarity that he once, when he was one of the officers of a small church, remarked, in a passionate outburst of eloquence, and after exhausting Lemprière, "And in conclusion, I declare before my God that, though I should devote to it the energies and labour of my life and the fortune of my ancestors, the letter-box of this vestry shall be re-painted despite any opposition which I may encounter!"—Translator.
  24. In the German only scharf und schneidend genug, in the French version, assez de point et tranchant. It is natural for the French to take the lead in matters of fencing.—Translator.
  25. This final passage is omitted in the French version.
Copyright.svg PD-icon.svg This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.