The Works of Heinrich Heine/Vol. 7/Letter 5

The Works of Heinrich Heine  (1893)  by Heinrich Heine, translated by Charles Godfrey Leland
Letter 5: The Juste-milieu


Paris, March 25, 1832.

The Belgian campaign, the blockade of Lisbon, and the capture of Ancona are the three characteristic heroic deeds with which the juste milieu manifests to the world its power, its wisdom, and its grandeur; while in the Department of the Interior it gathers as glorious laurels beneath the pillars of the Palais Royal or at Lyons and Grenoble. France never stood so low before in foreign eyes, not even in the days of a Pompadour and of a Dubarry. People now perceive that there is something even more lamentable than the rule of royal-kept mistresses. There is more honour to be found in the boudoir of a femme galante than in the counting-house of a banker.[1] Even in the oratory of Charles IX. natural dignity was not so utterly lost sight of, and from it went forth the conquest of Algiers. And that our humiliation may be complete, this conquest is to be resigned—this last rag of the honour of France is to be sacrificed to the delusion of an alliance with England.[2] As if the vain hope of it had not already cost enough! On account of this alliance the French must bear the blame, and toil not only on the fort of Ancona, but on the plains of Belgium and under the walls of Lisbon. And should Lord Grey fall, England will ask yet more; but with him will fall Casimir Perier. Both keep themselves upright by their mutual tendency to tumble down, like two drunkards who remain standing by leaning one against the other.

In the interior embarrassments and inconsistencies have reached such a pitch that even a German would lose his patience over them. The French at present resemble those of the damned in the hell of Dante, whose state has become so intolerable that they wish to be freed from it at any cost, though it should be for something worse. This explains why the Republicans would prefer Legitimacy, and the Legitimists the Republic to the mud-hole of a juste milieu which lies between, and in which both are now friends. A common torture binds them both in one; they share not the same heaven, but the same hell, and there we hear them howl, amid weeping and wailing and the gnashing of teeth, "Vive la République!" "Vive Henri V.!"[3]

The partisans of the Ministry, that is to say, people in place, the bankers, owners of real estate, and shopkeepers, increase the very general discontent by declaring, with a smile, that we are all living in perfect peace, that that thermometer of popular prosperity, the Fonds, has risen, and that we have this winter seen in Paris more balls than ever, while the Opera attained its zenith. This was truly the case, for such people have the means to give balls, and they danced to show that France is prosperous; they danced for their system, for the peace and repose of Europe—they wanted, in fact, to dance stocks up, and foot it à la hausse. It is very true that very often the merriest entrechats or fancy figurings were interrupted by the diplomatic corps bringing all kinds of Job's messages from Belgium, Spain, England, and Italy, but they allowed no sign of disturbance to show itself, and danced while in despair all the more wildly, as did Aline, the Queen of Golconda, who swept on in her apparently absorbing, intoxicating waltz while the chorus of eunuchs continued to announce with shuddering voices one disaster after the other. All of this folk were dancing for their rentes or incomes; the more moderate they were, the wilder was their dance; and the fattest and most virtuous bankers whirled in the valse infernale—the infamous round of the nuns in Robert le Diable. Meyerbeer achieved also something unheard of by keeping captive or constant the fickle Parisians for a whole winter. The multitude still crowd to the Académie Royale de la Musique to see Robert le Diable; but the enthusiastic Meyerbeerians will pardon me when I say that many are attracted not so much by the music as by the political meaning of the opera libretto. Robert the Devil, son of a devil as reprobate as Philippe d'Egalité, and of a princess as pious as was the daughter of Penthièvre, is impelled to evil, or the Revolution, by the spirit of his father, and by that of his mother to good—that is to say, to the ancien régime. These two natures battle in his being; he swims between the two opposing principles, he is the juste milieu. In vain do the infernal voices from the gulf of hell[4] endeavour to draw him into "the movement;" in vain is he called by the spirits of the Convention who rise like Revolutionary nuns from their tombs; in vain does Robespierre, under the figure of Madame Taglioni, give him the accolade or stroke of knighthood—he resists all attacks, all temptations; he is led by the love of a princess of the Two Sicilies who is very pious, to becoming the same, so that at last we behold him in the bosom of the Church, amid the buzzing and droning of priests, and in clouds of incense. I cannot refrain from remarking by the way, that during the first representation of this opera, it happened, by a mistake of the machinist, that the trap-door on which the old father-devil had sunk into hell was not bolted, and that the devil-son soon after, by inadvertently stepping on it, went down into the depths after his parent.

Since so much has been said in the Chamber of Deputies of this opera, or of Robert the Devil, mention of it is not out of place in these pages. The incidents of society are here by no means of political unimportance, and I can now well understand how Napoleon, even in Moscow, busied himself with regulating the theatres in Paris. These have been during the late Carnival an object of special observation for Government, since at this time its attention is especially awakened, there being great fear of the misuse of masks and of an émeute on Shrove Tuesday. We have seen in Grenoble how easily a masquerade can afford opportunity for such disorders, and last year Mardi Gras was celebrated by the destruction of the palace of the Archbishop.

Since this is my first winter in Paris, I cannot decide whether the Carnival of this year has been so brilliant as the Government boasts, or as wretched as the Opposition deplores. Even in such superficial trifles one cannot here come at the truth. For every party seeks but to deceive, so that we cannot trust our very eyes. One of my friends, a juste-millionaire,[5] was kind enough, on the last Mardi Gras, to guide me through Paris, that I might see with my own eyes how prosperous and gay the people were. The same day he sent forth all his servants, giving them express orders to be extremely happy. Delightedly he clasped me by the arm, and ran delighted with me through the streets, and now and then burst into loud laughter. By the Porte Saint-Martin there lay on the damp pavement a death-pale, hoarsely-coughing man, of whom the crowd said that he was dying of hunger. But my companion assured me that this man died of hunger every day in another street, and got his living by it, being paid for it by the Carlists, in order that the mob by such a sight might be goaded against the Government. It would appear, however, that this cannot be a very remunerative calling, because such numbers of those who follow it actually starve to death. There is this which is remarkable as regards dying for want of food, which is that we should see daily many thousands of people in such a state if they could endure it longer. But generally after three days without food the poor sufferers perish. One after the other are silently interred and hardly noticed.

"See how happy the people are!" remarked my companion, showing me the many carriages full of maskers, who hurrahed and indulged in merriest madness. The Boulevards did indeed present a marvellously gay and brilliant sight, recalling the old proverb, "Quand le bon Dieu s'ennuie dans le ciel, il ouvre la fenêtre et regarde les boulevards de Paris."[6] But it seemed to me as if there were more gens d'armes or policemen about than were actually required for peaceful joys. A Republican whom I met quite spoiled my sport by assuring me that most of the masks who played so merrily were paid to sport, by the police, so that there might be no complaint that the people were not joyful. How far this was true I will not decide, the masked men and women seemed extremely sincere in their gaiety, and if over and above this they were paid for it by the police, it was certainly very kind of the latter.[7] What might have indicated its influence was the language of the masked common fellows and filles publiques, who, in hired court-dresses, with beauty-plasters on their rouged faces, parodied the aristocratic manners of the preceding régime, gave themselves grand Carlist titles, and fanned and spread themselves[8] in such courtly style that I involuntarily recalled the dignified festivities which I as a boy had the honour of beholding from the upper gallery, there being only this difference, that the poissardes or fishwives of Paris spoke better French than the cavaliers and noble ladies of my native land.[9]

To do justice to the latter, I confess that the Bœuf Gras or fatted ox of this year would not have caused the least sensation or attracted any attention in Germany. A German would have laughed at the insignificant creature whose immensity was here so generally admired. During an entire week the smaller journals abounded in allusions to the poor ox, and one heard everywhere the standing joke that he was gros, gras et bête, while in caricatures the procession of this half-fatted ox was parodied most disgustingly. It was indeed said that this year the cortège would be forbidden, but on happy second thought it was allowed. La marche du bœuf gras is now almost the only one remaining of so many popular jokes.[10] The throne of absolute autocracy (den absoluten Thron), the Parc aux Cerfs,[11] Christianity, the Bastile, and other similar institutions of the good old time, were destroyed by the Revolution—only the ox remains. So he is led in triumph through the town, crowned with flowers, amid the butchers' men, who are generally clad in helmets and armour, who have inherited from knights of yore, as their next of kin, this iron rubbish.

It is easy enough to understand the meaning of public masquerades, but much more difficult to understand the secret mumming which meets us everywhere under all circumstances. This higher and greater Carnival begins with the year and ends on the 31st of December. Its most brilliant masked balls (Redouten) are to be seen in the Palais Bourbon, in the Luxembourg, and the Tuileries. Not only in the Chamber of Deputies, but also in that of the Peers and in the royal cabinet there is played an abominable comedy, which will perhaps end as a tragedy. The men of the Opposition, who only keep on playing the comedy of the time of the Restoration, are masked Republicans, who, with evident irony or plain repugnance, act as apparent aids (comparses) to royalty. The peers now play the part of men who have not inherited office but earned it by merit;[12] yet when we look behind their masks we generally find the well-known noble faces, and however modern their attire may be, they are still the heirs of the old aristocracy, and they still bear the names which recall the ancient horrors (misère), so that we even find among them a Dreux-Brezé, of whom the National remarks that he is only famous for a good retort which he once made to one of his ancestors.[13] As for Louis Philippe, he always plays his part of roi-citoyen, and wears the citizen dress appropriate to it; but it is generally known that under his modest felt hat he wears an altogether unpretentious (unmassgebliche) crown of the usual pattern, and that in his umbrella he hides the most absolute sceptre. It is only when their nearest and dearest interests are discussed, or when some stinging word awakes their ire, that these men forget their studied parts and show themselves as they really are. These interests are, first of all, those of a pecuniary nature, and all must yield to them, as may be seen in the discussion of the Budget. The sarcasms by which the Republican feeling betrayed itself in the Chamber of Deputies are well known. The discussions of the word sujet were not so insignificant and casual as they have in Germany been supposed to be. This expression, even in the beginning of the first Revolution, caused expectorations by which the Republican spirit of the age expressed itself. How men raged when this word once accidentally escaped in a speech by poor Louis XVI.! As a comparison with this our time, I have read the journals of those days, and the tone of 1790 has not grown feebler (verhallt), but nobler. Nor are the Philippistes devoid of guile when they by such sarcasms irritate the Opposition. They took good care last year not to call the Tuileries the chateau, and the Moniteur was expressly directed to speak of it as the palace. Subsequently this was not so strictly observed. Now they are more daring, and the Debats writes about "the court"—la cour! "We are going full speed backward to the Restoration," said to me a too-susceptible friend, when he read that the sister of the King is called "Madame." Such distrust borders on the ridiculous.

"And we are going still farther back to the Restoration!" cried the same friend, since then pale with fright. For he had seen something horrible at a soirée, which was a beautiful young lady with powdered hair! To tell the truth, it was really very becoming; the blonde locks seemed to be lightly touched with frost, and the warm and fresh flowers peeped out from them with a more touching loveliness. The lady of whom I speak is Madam Lelion, wife of the Belgian ambassador, and she is an enchanting Flemish beauty, who would seem to have stepped out of a picture by Rubens.

"The Twenty-first of January" was in like manner the retort by which, in the Chamber of Peers, disguised hereditary passion and the boldest aristocracy revealed themselves. What I had long foreseen then came to pass. The aristocracy bore and behaved itself as if specially privileged to bewail the death of Louis XVI., and it mocked the French people by maintaining the decree of a day of expiation which Louis XVIII., that regal agent of the Holy Alliance, had laid on the whole French people. The 21st of December was a day when the regicide people should stand before Nôtre Dame in sackcloth and ashes, candle in hand, as a terror and warning to surrounding races. The Deputies justly voted for the abolition of a law which tended far more to humiliate the French than to console them for the national disaster which befell them on the 21st January 1793. The Chamber of Peers, by refusing to repeal the law, betrayed its irreconcilable grudge against Young France, and unmasked all its aristocratic vendetta against the children of the Revolution and the Revolution itself. The lifelong lords of the Luxembourg fought not so much for the vital interests of the day as against the principles of the Revolution. For this reason they did not reject the law proposed by Briqueville; they degraded their honour and suppressed their raging disaffection. That proposition in no degree concerned the principles of the Revolution; but the Law of Divorce could not be admitted, for it is thoroughly of a revolutionary nature, as every thoroughly Catholic gentleman can understand.

The schism which developed itself on this occasion between the Chamber of Deputies and the peerage will have the most lamentable results. It is said that the King is beginning to foresee its meaning, and the disaster which it will entail. That is the natural consequence of that half-way policy, that vacillating between heaven and hell, or of that Robert-the-devilish just-milieuism. Louis Philippe should beware[14] lest he should unguardedly tread upon a loose trap-door, for he stands on most uncertain ground. He has by his own fault lost his best support. He has committed the common error of hesitating, half-hearted men, who wish to be well with their enemies, and so offend their friends. He cajoled the aristocracy who hate him, and angered the people who were his best reliance. His sympathy for the hereditary rights of the peerage has alienated from him many hearts in this France who yearn for equality, and his trouble with the privileged for life will cause the former much malicious joy. But it is only when the question rises, "What was it that the Revolution of July meant?" that the mocking discontent disappears, and gloomy anger breaks forth in threatening speech. That is the most biting of the sarcasms which bursts forth to light when both parties drop disguise altogether. I believe that we could wake from their slumber the dead of the Great Week who lie buried under the walls of the Louvre, should one ask them if the men of the Revolution of July really wanted nothing more than what the Opposition demanded in the Chamber during the Restoration. Such was in fact the definition which the Ministry and its men gave of the Revolution during the most recent debates. We can perceive how pitiful this explanation was in itself when we recall that the Opposition has since confessed that it merely played a comedy during the whole period of the Restoration. How can there then be any question here of any precise or exact manifestations? Even that which the populace cried during the three days amid the thunder of cannon was not the exact expression of its will, as the Philippistes subsequently declared. The cry Vive la Charte! which was afterwards interpreted as a general desire to maintain the Charte, was really nothing but a rallying word or signal which served as a signe de ralliment. We should not attach too exact a meaning to every expression which men use in such circumstances. This is true for every revolution made by the people. Then came invariably "the men of the morrow," who pick out and peel words, finding in them only the letter which kills, and not the spirit which giveth life. Yet it is the former, not the latter, which we must seek, for the populace understand as little of the meaning of words as of their practical application. They understand only acts and facts or needs and deeds, and by these they speak. Such a deed was the Revolution of July, and this consists not merely in the fact that Charles X. was driven from the Tuileries to Holyrood, and that Louis Philippe took his place; such a personal change was of no consequence to any one except the porter of the palace. The people in banishing Charles X. saw in him only the representative of the aristocracy, such as he had shown himself all his life since 1788, when in his quality as prince of the blood-royal he declared in a presentation to Louis XVI. that a prince was before all things a nobleman,[15] that as such he nationally belonged to the corps de la noblesse, and must consequently defend its rights before all other interests. But in Louis Philippe the people saw a man whose father had recognised citizenly equality even in his name,[16] a man who had himself fought for freedom at Valmy and Jemappes, who from his earliest youth had ever had the words liberté, égalité, freedom and equality, in his mouth, and who, in opposition to his own kin, had put himself forward as a representative of democracy.

How gloriously he gleamed in the glow of the sun of July, which rayed his head as with an aureole, and even cast such splendour over his faults that we were even blinded more by them than by his virtues. Valmy and Jemappes was the patriotic refrain which ran through all his speeches, and he caressed the tri-coloured flag like a lady-love long lost and found again. He stood on the balcony of the Palais Royale, and beat time with his hand to the Marseillaise which the mob sang below, and he was altogether the son of Equality, of Egalité, the soldat tricolore of freedom, as he had himself sang by Delavigne in the Parisienne, and painted by Horace Vernet in the pictures which were so significantly placed on exhibition in the chambers of the Palais Royale. The multitude always had free access to them, and there they wandered about on Sundays, and were amazed to see how citizen-like everything looked in contrast to the Tuileries, where no poor common person could come in. And they regarded with special delight the picture in which Louis Philippe is represented standing as a schoolmaster in Switzerland before a globe teaching children geography.[17] The good folks wondered at thinking how much he must have learned himself while so doing; but what people now say is that all he learned was to faire bonne mine à mauvais jeu—to make the best of bad luck, and to think entirely too much of money. The glory from his head hath passed away, and all men see in it is but a pear.

That pear is always the permanent standing joke of the people in sarcastic publications and caricatures. The former, especially Le Revenant, Les Cancans, Le Brid'Oison, La Mode, and whatever such Carlistic vermin may be called, maltreat the King with an insolence which is the more revolting because it is well known that the noble Faubourg pays their expenses. It is said that the Queen often reads them and weeps. The poor lady receives them through the unwearied zeal of those worst of enemies who are to be found as good friends in all great families.[18]

The pear, as before said, is a standing joke, and hundreds of caricatures in which it is seen hang everywhere. In one is depicted Perier on the platform, holding in one hand a pear, which he offers at auction to all seated round, and knocks down to the highest bidder for eighteen millions. There again is a monstrous pear lying like a nightmare (Alf) on the breast of the slumbering Lafayette, who, as we see in writing on the wall, is dreaming of the best republic. And we may also behold Perier and Sebastiani, the former clad as Pierrot, the latter as a tri-coloured harlequin, wading through the deepest mud, bearing on their shoulders a staff from which hangs an immense pear. The young Henri appears as a pious pilgrim with cockle-shelled hat and staff, on which hangs a pear as if it were a decapitated head.[19]

I do not in very truth defend the indecency of these wretched caricatures, least of all when they attack the person of the Prince; but their incessant multitude is a popular voice,[20] and it means something. Such pictures are in a way pardonable when, without intending to offend the individual, they censure a deception by which the people have been duped. Then the effect is without limit. Since a caricature appeared in which a tri-coloured parrot replies continually to every question, "Valmy" or "Jemappes," Louis Philippe no longer repeats those words so frequently as he was wont to do; for he felt, in truth, that there was a promise in them, and he who had them ever in his mouth could seek for no quasi-legitimacy, nor maintain aristocratic institutions, nor beg for peace, nor allow any one to insult France without punishment, nor leave the liberties of other lands to their hangmen. It is necessary that Louis Philippe should base upon the confidence of the people that throne which the confidence of the people bestowed on him. He must surround it with republican institutions, as he promised to do, according to the testimony of the most blameless citizen of the two worlds.[21] The lies of the Charte should be destroyed, Valmy and Jemappes become a truth, and Louis Philippe fulfil what his whole life has symbolically promised. As he did once before in Switzerland, so must he now again step as schoolmaster before the globe, and pub- licly declare, "See these beautiful countries, all their inhabitants are free and equal, and if you small folk do not remember it, you will catch a switching."[22] Yes, Louis Philippe should have advanced at the head of European freedom, have identified its interests with his own, and, as one of his predecessors said boldly, "L'état, c'est moi!" so should he say with greater confidence, "La liberté c'est moi!"

He has not done it. Let us await the consequences. They are inevitable, although it is impossible to fix the time when they will come to pass.[23] We are told to be on our guard when the fine days of spring shall come to us. The Carlists think that the new throne will last till autumn; should it not have fallen then, it may hold good for four or five years. The Republicans will not commit themselves to close predictions. It is enough, they say, that the future is ours. And there they are probably in the right; for though they have been hitherto always the dupes of Carlists and Bonapartists, the time may come when the activity of both the latter parties will prove to have been all to the profit of the Republicans. And they rely all the more on this energy of their enemies, not being able themselves to act on the masses either with money or by sympathy. But gold is now flowing in streams from the Faubourg Saint-Germain, and whatever is for sale is bought. Unfortunately, there is always in the market in Paris a great deal of such ware as they want, and it is believed that the Carlists have made a great advance during the past month.[24] Many men who have always had great influence upon the people are said to have been won over. The pious machinations and movements of the black-robed gentry in the provinces are notorious, gliding and slipping and hissing softly everywhere, and lying in the name of God. The picture of the miracle-brat[25] is everywhere exhibited, generally in the most sentimental attitudes. Here he is on his knees praying for the prosperity of France and his unhappy subjects, in most touching fashion, and there he climbs the hills of Scotland, clad in Highland costume, without breeches. "Matin!" (the cur!) said a workman who was looking with me at the picture before a printshop. "On le représente sans-culotte, mais nous savons bien qu'il est jésuite." In a similar work of art he is seen weeping with his little sister, and beneath are these sentimental lines:—

"Oh! que j'ai douce souvenance
Du beau pays de mon enfance," &c.

Songs and poems of every kind in praise of the young Henry circulate in great numbers, and are well paid for.[26] As there was once a Jacobite poetry in England, so France has now its Carlistic.

But the Bonapartist poetry is far more significant, weighty, and threatening to the Government. There is not a grisette in Paris who does not sing and feel the songs of Beranger. The people best understand this Bonaparte poetry, the poets speculate on it, and other people in their turn on them.[27]

Victor Hugo is now writing a grand heroic poem on the old Napoleon and the paternal relatives of the younger one, in correspondence with such popular poets as are known to be the Tyrtæuses of Bonapartism, in the hope of turning to profit at the right time their inspiring lyrics.[28]

It is generally believed that "the son of the man" need only appear to put an end to the present Government. We know that the name of Napoleon enraptures the people and disarms the army, but the most sagacious and sincere democrats are by no means inclined to join in the general homage. The name of Napoleon is unquestionably dear to them, because it has almost become synonymous with the fame of France and the victory of the tricolour. In Napoleon they see the son of the Revolution; in young Reichstadt only the son of an emperor, the recognition of whom would be acknowledging or rendering homage to the principle of legitimacy, which would certainly be ridiculously illogical.[29] And quite as absurd is the opinion that the son, even if he should not attain the greatness of his father, is still certainly not quite out of his kind, and must always be a little Napoleon! A small Napoleon! As if the column of the Place Vendôme did not by its greatness alone awaken our admiration! It is because it is so great and strong that the people support themselves by it in these vague and tottering times, when the Vendôme pillar is the only thing in France which stands firmly.

Round this column all the thoughts of the people turn. It is for them an imperishable iron book of history, in which they read their own heroic deeds.[30] But there lives especially, in their memory, the infamous manner in which the statue of this column was treated by the Germans—how they sawed away the feet from the poor Emperor, and tied a rope round his neck as if he were a thief, and tore him down from his height. The good Germans did their duty. Every one has his mission on this earth, a mission which he unconsciously accomplishes, and leaves behind him a symbol that it has been fulfilled.[31] So Napoleon was destined to gain in every country the victory of Revolution, but, forgetful of this mission, he would fain glorify himself by his victory, and so, egoistically sublime, he placed his own image on the trophies conquered by the Revolution, or on the many melted cannon of the column of the Place Vendôme. And then the Germans had the mission to avenge the Revolution, and to tear down the Emperor from the usurped eminence on that pillar. Only the tricoloured flag is appropriate to this place, and since the days of July it floats there victorious and full of promise.[32] If after a time Napoleon should be replaced on the Vendôme column, he will no longer stand there as Emperor or as Cæsar, but as a representative of the Revolution, absolved by adversity and purified by death, or as an emblem of the all-conquering power of the people.

As I have spoken of the young Napoleon and the young Henri, I must also mention the young Duke of Orleans. In the printshops we generally see the three hung in a row, and our pamphleteers are ever busy in discussing these three strange legitimacies. That the latter is a leading theme of public gossip, speaks for itself. It is far too vague and profitless to be discussed here. The least information as to the personal peculiarities of the Duke of Orleans seems to me to be more important, because so many interests of deepest importance are attached to his personality. The most practical question is not whether he has the right to ascend the throne, but whether he has the power to do so; whether his party can rely on this strength, and what—since he in any event must play a prominent part—is to be expected of his character? As regards the latter, opinions are opposed, and even "different." Some say that the Duke of Orleans is quite narrow-minded, dull, and stupid;[33] that even in his family he is called grand poulot; that he is somewhat beset with Absolutist inclinations, and has at times mad attacks of ambition—as, for example, that he insisted with much obstinacy that his father during the workmen's émeutes should send him to Lyons, fearing that lest he did so the Duke de Reichstadt would be beforehand with him. Others declare, upon the other hand, that His Royal Highness the Crown Prince is all kind-heartedness, goodwill, and modesty; that he is very sensible, having had a most befitting education and admirable instruction; that he is full of courage, honourable feeling, and love of freedom, as he has often earnestly begged his father to adopt a liberal system; that he is altogether devoid of trick or vice—in fine, that he is amiability itself, and that the only vengeance which he inflicts on his enemies is to whisk away from them at a ball the prettiest partners. I need not say that the favourable opinion is from the dependents of the dynasty, and the unfavourable from its foes, and the one is worth about as much as the other.[34]

I cannot really give any very exact information regarding this young prince beyond what I have seen myself, and I know nothing of him beyond his personal appearance. To speak truthfully, I must declare that he looks well.[35] He is rather tall, and without being absolutely lean is certainly slender, with a long narrow head on a long neck, with equally long and noble features, and bold and free brow, a straight, well-proportioned nose, a fine fresh mouth, with gently arched imploring (bittenden) lips, small, bluish, very unimpressive (unbedeutende), thoughtless eyes, like small triangles, brown hair and light blonde side-whiskers, which meet under the chin, enclosing almost like a golden frame the rosy, healthy, blooming, youthful face. I think that I can read in the lineaments of this form a future, and yet not one too happy or cheerful. At best this young man is destined to a great martyrdom, for he will be king. If he does not see with clear intelligence (mit dem Geiste) through future events, he seems at least to forebode them instinctively; the animal nature or that of the body appears to be occupied with gloomy presentiments, whence a certain melancholy is apparent in him. He at times lets his long narrow head sink from his long neck as if in sad reverie. His gait is sleepy and slow, as of a man who fears to arrive too early, and his speech is drawling or in short accents, as if in half slumber. In this lies the melancholy referred to, or rather the melancholy indication (Signatur) of the future. In other respects his external appearance is rather simply citizen-like. This characteristic is the more marked because the contrary is apparent in his brother, the Duke de Nemours. The latter[36] is a handsome, very clever (gescheiter) youth, tall, but not stout, extremely well formed, a pale dainty little face, an intelligent and quick glance, a rather aquiline Bourbon nose—he is altogether a fine blonde (Blondin) of ancient noble appearance. He has not the arrogant traits of a Hanoverian rural noble (Krautjunker, French gentillâtre), but a certain air of distinction in deportment and behaviour such as is only found in the most cultivated higher nobility. As this kind daily diminishes in number or deteriorates by misalliances, the aristocratic exterior of the Duke de Nemours is all the more remarkable. I once heard some one say regarding him, "That face will, in the course of a few years, make a great sensation in America."[37]

  1. A saying with little sense or truth; but Heine never lost an opportunity to compliment Venus-Lorette. He professed to regard his uncle Solomon, the banker, as the most honourable man living, while in many passages he manifests a deep conviction that all gay women are utterly unprincipled.
  2. The passage following, until the words "in the interior," is omitted in the French version.
  3. This is a very interesting passage, as giving a clue to the association and transmission of thought and the origin of one of Heine's best epigrams. The damned in Dante's Inferno wishing for a change, suggested a memory of the hell of mud, and the comparison of the juste milieu to a bourbier, in which both parties arrived at mutual toleration and understanding, which is the basis of the epigram:—

    "Seldom did we know each other,
    Seldom were we understood.
    But our souls soon came together
    When we met in filth and mud."


  4. Wolfschluchtstimmen. The voices of the Wolf's Ravine. In reference to the incantation scene in Der Freyschutz.
  5. A millionaire of the juste milieu, also in German "just a millionaire." Heine describes Rothschild in the Reisebilder as conversing "famillionairly." Our author was very much given to this, which may be described as the agglutinative form of joke, manufactured by piecing together parts of words. It is carried to the highest possible development in the American Red Indian languages.—Translator.
  6. "When the good Lord in heaven is bored,
    He opens the window and looks down
    On a Parisian boulevard."

  7. A curious book might be written on the subject of gaiety and dissipation created for purely political purposes. Introduced by Napoleon I., it was further developed by Louis Philippe, and carried to an extreme by Louis Napoleon, under whose rule the Bal Mabille and other haunts which had once been "fast" were kept going with hired lorettes and rehearsed can-cans until the whole affair became lugubrious. The carnivals in Italy until 1847, with many other festas, were almost entirely sustained to keep the people "ignorant and happy," that is, to prevent them from meddling with politics. The proof of this was seen in the fact that as soon as Italy was free, the Carnival and similar shows became at once extremely thin, according to the saying: perdidisti vinum, infusa aqua—that is, as the intoxicating wine of dissipation disappeared, it was replaced by the cold sober water of common-sense.—Translator.
  8. "Und sich dabe so hoffährtig fächerten und spreizten." French "Se pavanaient avec des mimes de cœur." The American term "to spread oneself" expresses to perfection both the French se pavaner, "to peacock," and the German spreizen.—Translator.
  9. A fade joke which Heine repeats in all his prose works, so that it appears to have been to him an endless joy to reflect that even uneducated French people spoke their own native language better than foreigners, which is, however, really not very remarkable. The illustration of the poissardes is, however, unfortunate, for the French which they speak is not, "taking it all round," nearly so good as that which one generally hears from respectable Germans, as the reader may verify for himself from a small work entitled La Poissarde, the language of which would not be intelligible to an ordinary French lady.—Translator.
  10. Volksspässen. This is more piquant than the tame French divertissements nationaux, as appears by its application in the next sentence.—Translator.
  11. In the German original, Parc des cerfs.
  12. "Die Pairs spielen jetzt die Rolle von unerblichen, durch Verdienst berufenen Amtsleuten." In French—"Les pairs jouent maintenant le role de fonctionnaires viagers, choisis a cause de leur merite." Many such passages in these letters seem to indicate a French original.
  13. Vorfahren. In the French version "Un Dreux-Brézé, dont le National dit qu'il n'est remarquable que par une belle réponse qui fut fait à son père."
  14. The following here occurs in the original letter to the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung: "As Nourrit, when he acted Robert the Devil, on the first performance of the opera, fell through a trap in the stage by which his father had descended to hell, so should Louis Philippe beware," &c.—Note by the German Editor.
  15. "Dass ein Fürst vor Allem Edelmann sei." In the French version "Qu'un prince était gentilhomme avant tout." The latter is correct and gives the point to what follows.—Translator.
  16. Philippe d'Egalité.
  17. It is also said that he gave lessons in French in Philadelphia, wherewith there is also a romance; to all of which Heine would doubtless have done the fullest injustice had he ever heard of it.—Translator.
  18. The nineteen lines following are omitted in the French version.
  19. I have not seen the original of this picture, but I think it more likely that as a pear is exactly of the same shape as a gourd, from which pilgrims' bottles were commonly made (I have such a gourd before me as I write), this was the motive here referred to.—Translator.
  20. French version—"Mais leur foule incessante est peut-être une voix du peuple."
  21. Lafayette. This sentence is omitted in the French version, which omission is not noticed by the German editor.—Translator.
  22. French version—"Retenez bien cela, vous autres petites bons hommes, si non vous aurez des palettes," i.e., a spanking.—Translator.
  23. Here Heine again appears at his best as a political prophet. It would, however, seem as if at the moment when he uttered this he had seen a white horse, which, according to the lore of Italian witchcraft, means that a certain thing, e.g. a prediction, will inevitably come to pass, but not until after long delay. And the white horse also means a champion for the people, as was predicted of the celebrated Crescentius. Napoleon III. always declared that he appeared in this light, so to speak, as a white horse, though he eventually turned out to be a very dark one. But what is truly remarkable as regards Heine is that he, with very great accuracy, indicated the causes which led to the overthrow of Louis Philippe in 1848.—Translator.
  24. French version—"L'on croit que les Carlistes ont fait beauconp d'emplettes de ce genre," i.e., made many purchases. Here we have probably the original text.—Translator.
  25. Mirakeljunger. French—Mioche du miracle. The wondrous boy, or the miraculous child, as the infant Henry V. was called.—Translator.
  26. "Und sie werden gut bezahlt." Omitted in the French version. It would seem to have been absolutely impossible for any French artist or poet, in the beginning of this century, to be in the least degree pathetic or sentimental without becoming supremely silly, and the acme of this niaiserie and affectation was reached in these "Henridicules," which are still to be found in abundance in old printshops.—Translator.
  27. French version—"Et c'est là-dessus que spéculent les poëtes, les petits et les grands, qui exploitent l'enthousiasme de la foule au profit de leur popularité. Par exemple, Victor Hugo, dont la lyre résonne encore du chant du sacre de Charles X., se met a présent à célébrer l'empereur avec cette hardiesse romantique qui characterise son génie." This is all wanting in the first French version.—Translator.
  28. This passage is omitted from the French version, without observation from the German editor.—Translator.
  29. Omitted in the French version. There are also trivial deviations or differences between the French and German texts in the following passage.—Translator.
  30. French version—"Elle est le livre impérissable de son histoire, sa chronique d'airain." Which is certainly more correct from a metallic point of view.—Translator.
  31. A nonsensical fatalistic "utterance," which has been immensely popular, especially in America. If we are all specially destined unto what we do, it is a great pity that so many are specially planned to make fools of themselves, or, in fact, to misbehave in any way.—Translator.
  32. French version—"Depuis la révolution de juillet le drapeau tricolore a pris provisoirement la place de l'empereur sur la colonne, et il y flotte victorieux et plein d'avenir." There is much of a strange spirit of unconscious prophecy and truth in these remarks.—Translator.
  33. French version "Les uns, adversaires décidés de la nouvelle dynastic, disent que le due d'Orleans est tout a fait borné."
  34. French version—"Le premier jugement est dicté par la malveillance. Est-ce que l'autre serait plus vrai? Je le soupçonne."
  35. Er sieht gut aus. In the French version, il a l'air aimable.
  36. French version "Celui-ci est un jeune et joli garçon à la tournure aisée, svelte sans être grand, d'une complexion delicate en apparance, petite figure blanche et fine, regard spirituel; nez legérèment courbé à la Bourbon; un fair blondin d'antique et noble souche." The German appears to be, in all this letter, translated from the French.—Translator.
  37. An intimation that in due time his father and the royal family would be expelled from France.—Translator.
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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.