תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

wind-still period, where life did not tear along so club as a bulwark against such enemies, and they fast, where love endured, where feuds were hotly were ever true to their cause, asked for no rewaged and not soon forgotten, where hurry and ward for their exertions, and placed all individual speed were words unknown. It is perhaps be- advantages in the background if these came into cause he realized this too vividly that Keller has conflict with their consciences. But now that spun out this story unduly.

since 1848 the new constitution seemed to have This censure does not apply to “Ursula.” guaranteed all they had struggled for, there were Here in a condensed narrative is brought before fewer political matters to discuss, and hence us with bold and powerful strokes the Zurich of domestic troubles were also brought forward and Zwingli's day, introducing the religious and politi- talked over with great impartiality at their meetcal changes wrought by this Reformer. Keller's ings. On the night that the story opens, the substory deals chiefly with the Anabaptist move- ject under discussion was a visit the club as a ment, which he regards as one of the inevitable body proposed to pay to the next shooting fête ugly excrescences produced by every great revo- at Aarau, the first held since the new constitulution, and he reproduces with horrible fidelity tion came into force. It was the evening of the the delirious speeches and deeds of this mis- club's political life-how could they close it more guided faction. In this story the plot is nothing worthily than by such a demonstration ? A the accessories are everything. “The Flag of member proposed that they should march to the Seven Upright Ones” is perfect all round, Aarau with a flag of their own, another that and a worthy pendant to the “Romeo and Juliet they should present a handsome prize at the fête. of the Village." Plot, treatment, mise en scène, Both proposals were accepted, and the details all are original and equally excellent, and give hotly discussed. The design of the flag did not full scope to Keller's peculiar talents. His best occupy them long, but what was the gift to be? quips and quirks, his best vein of drollery, his The seven stanch friends, whose friendship all gentle satire, his tenderness, are all represented political agitations and divergences had not shakhere. In the “Romeo and Juliet " the father's en, nearly fell out over this deliberation. For, hatred separated the children: here the fathers while seeking to do an honor to their country, were the best of friends, but they did not wish they also sought to do a little stroke of business the young people to marry because the one was for themselves. Kuser, the silversmith, proposed rich and the other poor. For the father of Karl they should present a silver cup that he had had Hediger was only a tailor, while Hermine Fry- by him for years, and which he would sell them mann's was a master carpenter, who owned a cheap for the glory of the Fatherland. Syfrig, the stately house and yard on the lake, and could blacksmith, recommended an ornamental plow afford to give his daughter a dowry. The two which he had exhibited at the last agricultural had known each other since childhood, and it show. Bürgi, the cabinet-maker, offered a fourwas hard that they should suddenly be forbidden post bedstead he had made for a couple whose to meet. But so it had been resolved at the last wedding never took place. This last proposition, meeting of the Club of the Seven Upright Ones. however, raised only ridicule. Then followed This club consisted of seven worthy friends who Pfister, one of the innkeepers, with a warm commet twice a week alternately at the house of two mendation of his red Schweizerblut of '34; and of their number who were innkeepers. They Erismann, the farmer, proposed a young cow of were all tradesmen, ardent politicians, patriots, pure breed, but who was known to be a kicker. lovers of freedom, and stern home despots. Born At last a cup was decided upon, but it was to be in the last century, they had witnessed as children made and designed for the occasion. This matthe downfall of the old times and the birth-throes ter settled, Frymann brought forward his grievof the new, and had held together manfully dur- ance, that Hediger's son was courting his daughing the agitated period of Swiss history, when ter, and he explained to him how he could not aristocrats and Jesuits threatened the unity and do with a poor son-in-law. Hediger by no means good fellowship of the little state, until in 1848, took his friend's frankness amiss; they were after the eighteen days' war with the Sonder- quite agreed that the match was undesirable. bund, Switzerland broke for ever with the Jesuits They would not become relations; they reiterated and revived to new strength and unity. Some they would remain friends—no more and no less. of these men came from the former subject states The other members twitted them gently with of the Confederacy, and remembered how as chil- their resolve, and asked them if they were so very dren they had to kneel down by the roadside sure that young love could be checked by conwhen a coachful of dignitaries passed; others vention, and were willing to bet that Cupid's had been related to imprisoned or executed revo- wiles would prove too strong for the fathers. lutionists, and all were filled with a burning hatred Not so; they persisted - were they not of the of aristocracy and priesthood. They formed this number of the upright and firm, and would they

[merged small][ocr errors]

not be so still ? But the young couple were re- no more money than was good for them. The solved not to be parted thus easily. July and story, of which this is the bald outline, is full of the shooting-festival approached, the cup and freshness and beauty. It is easy to see that what flag were ready, when it dawned on the club Keller describes here is a reflection of the men that their gift must be introduced by a speech. and scenes among which he moves, and the picBut who should hold this ? All hung back, none ture of Swiss life as here presented will be new would undertake the task. At last by lot it fell to most readers who know little or nothing of to Frymann. For days beforehand he was mis- the distinctive feelings and modes of life of this erable, could think of nothing to say but fierce little people. It also contains strongly emphasized and inappropriate invectives against the Jesuits. a distinctive feature of Keller's genius. This is The great day arrived, the little faithful band the genial nature of his humor. He makes us drove to Aarau in a four-horse omnibus, they smile at his characters without injury to their marched in procession, Frymann carrying the flag dignity. While we are amused at the weaknesses with a face as though he were going to execution. of poor humanity, we never lose our respect for They neared the confederate tent, and at the last the persons in whom these weaknesses are emmoment his courage failed him, and he declared bodied. We smile gently over the heads of the he could not speak : and so this glorious and seven upright veterans, while at the same time patriotic expedition seemed likely to end in fail- their creator forces us to bow down with respect ure. But Hermine had foreseen some such catas- for their integrity and high-minded purposes. trophe when she bade Karl be sure to come to We must still say a word about Keller's manAarau for the fête. He now volunteered to be ner, which is no less his own than his matter. spokesman for the band, and Frymann himself He handles the German language with rare skill ; was the first to assent, and hand him over the no conventional phrases, no rhetorical flourishes, flag. Karl then pronounced an admirable dis- no affectations or mannerisms disfigure his pages. course, in which he explained with tender humor His style is simple and unadorned, and hence. the aims and purposes of these seven gray-headed perfectly in keeping with the homely republican men, and offered their gift to the Fatherland. nature of his characters; yet withal so pithy, piApplause greeted his words ; the seven marched quant, quaint, that the most ordinary expressions away from the tent, pleased with themselves and acquire a new force under his pen, and the whole him. The friends seconded Frymann's proposal effect is far removed from commonplace. Not to give his daughter to this worthy youth; and the least of Keller's charms lies in his style, his at last, not without difficulty, the proud and happy mode of narration. Such, briefly, is the sternly radical Hediger also gave his consent, on Swiss writer whose remarkable originality we the condition that Frymann should allow the pair have tried faintly to indicate.

HELEN ZIMMERN (Fraser's Magasine).

DR E A M S.

PEOPLE

EOPLE need be very wide awake to find less man has been led by a dream to think of

a rational explanation of dreams. Like higher and more serious things. their father Sleep, they are still wrapped in mys- The opinions of learned men of all ages on tery; and science has yet to lay bare the secret this topic are widely divergent; and this diverwhich has puzzled many a patient thinker. The gence by no means arises from a flippant or subject concerns every one, especially if we be- superficial consideration of the subject, for some lieve what Shakespeare says, “ Thoughts are but of the ancients spent a great portion of their lives dreams till their effects be tried.” In olden in trying to reduce dreams to a science, or to times, before the written revelation of the Divine embody them in songs and poems. The language will was given to men, dreams were frequently of Homer is singularly rich in expressions for the made the medium of communication with human- visions of fancy which float before the dreamer. kind. Of this we have abundant evidence in the The sorely tried Ulysses, buffeted and tossed by Bible. By means of dreams, God taught his peo- the angry waves after leaving Calypso's isle, ple that they had spiritual faculties, and that there makes his bed of gathered leaves : was a spiritual universe beyond the material one. Over the uneducated mind, dreams have a great “And golden dreams (the gift of sweet repose) influence even to this day; and many a thought- Lulled all his cares, and banished all his woes.”

Indeed, so impressed is Homer's imagination dorus, another Ephesian, seems to have spent with the supernatural character of dreams, that the best of his days in reducing dreams to the he is careful to distinguish between the visions obedience of exact rules, but with little success. occurring during sound sleep and those between He said that all true dreams foretold some good sleeping and waking. The dreams most preg- or evil; that to dream of a chain meant a wife or nant with consequences occurred after midnight, hindrance, and to dream of the “belly" meant “about the time when the cows were milked.” children, for they cry for meat. Thus, in that beautiful dream so full of sweetest Coming to Latin writers of the later days of poetry, which is recorded at the end of the fourth the republic and the empire, we find that the book of the “Odyssey,” Penelope, heart-wounded skepticism which pervaded their ideas of the gods and weary with the pertinacity of her suitors, and religion extended itself to dreams; and Enretires to rest “without refection due,” and nius, who was often quoted by Cicero, is by no dreams at midnight that her“ phantom-sister,” means prepossessed in their favor, or in that of Iphthimia, appears and prophesies:

the oneirocritic: “Thy son the gods propitious will restore, “ Augurs and soothsayers, astrologers, And bid thee cease his absence to deplore.” Diviners, and interpreters of dreams,

I ne'er consult, and heartily despise. . . Penelope has been informed that the suitors in

Wanderers themselves, they guide another's steps, tend to destroy Telemachus on his way home;

And for poor sixpence promise countless wealth: and therefore this comforting dream at so fortu- Let them, if they expect to be believed, nate an hour is needed to allay her maternal Deduct the sixpence, and bestow the rest." fears. Philosophers at the present day would

-Addison's Translation. probably say that the fact of going to bed foodless, and torn with distracting thoughts, was Epictetus, whose opinions were so highly valquite enough to account for her dream without ued by the Emperor Antoninus, seemed to have the intervention of Pallas.

a thorough appreciation of Roman skepticism, Heraclitus, the Ephesian philosopher, who for one of his rules of conduct was, “Never flourished about B. C. 500, ought to have been a tell thy dream, for though thou thyself mayst good judge of dreams, for much of his life was take a pleasure in telling thy dream, another will spent in solitude. What does this “mourner" take no pleasure in hearing it"; from which we say? “All men while they are awake are in may infer that oneirocritics had a worse time one common world, but each of them when he is of it at Rome than at Athens. The acute and asleep is in a world of his own." Addison, in learned Tertullian, converted from paganism to commenting on this passage, says, “There is the doctrines of Christianity, naturally took the something in this consideration which intimates opposite extreme, and attached great importance to us a natural grandeur and perfection of soul to the soul's power of divining in dreams. Ву which is rather to be admired than explained.” some connection with the disembodied state, he

Setting aside the imagery of the Greek poets boldly asserts that the soul is able to see into and the opinions of their merely speculative phi- futurity—a view which has been vindicated by losophers, we find that dreams were considered many authors, both ancient and modern, who of such importance in the common life of the can not certainly be charged with enthusiasm or Greeks that one of the learned professions was superstition. that of oneirocritics, or interpreters of dreams. Passing on to the middle ages, and to the A Greek would probably consult one of these darker days of the Church, the interpretation of men as naturally as he would a lawyer or doctor, dreams became in the hands of unscrupulous and no doubt oftener; for the oneirocritics were priests a most dangerous power, and bore much very badly paid at Athens, and there was no bitter fruit. Dreams of fire and plagues were heavy fee “to open the eyes" of the dreamer. sure indications of consignment to eternal flames Thus we are told of a man who dreamed that he and everlasting agonies, unless the miserable and saw an egg hanging from the tester of his bed. ignorant dreamers should place themselves unBeing sorely exercised at the unwonted vision he reservedly in the hands of mother Church, or repaired to the oneirocritic, who informed him, rather in those of an abandoned priesthood. The as a wise and ready interpreter, that there was tales of Boccaccio bear abundant evidence of a treasure under his bed. He immediately set such moral and religious depravity. The Moabout digging, and, to his great joy, found some hammedans, too, were very superstitious about gold set round with silver. He gave the oneiro- dreams. With them the most fortunate dream a critic some silver in payment for his information; man could have was to see his wife's tongue cut but the sage asked: “Was there no gold? If off at the root. It would be curious to inquire not, what meant the yolk of the egg?" Artemi- how far this feeling has developed since the intro

duction of well-stocked harems. To dream of them has done much mischief. He then exone's teeth signified that something good or evil plains why they are often credited—an explanawas about to happen to the relations of the tion which is sufficient to account for some coindreamer. The Caliph Almanzor dreamed that cidences, but quite inapplicable to special cases. all his teeth fell out. He immediately sought an He maintains that “men mark when they hit, interpreter, who told him that all his relations and never mark when they miss, as they generwould die. Not relishing such a construction ally do, and also in dreams.” There can be no put upon his dream, he cursed the interpreter's doubt that this incisive remark exposes one of evil mouth, and sought another. The second the commonest fallacies in life. A chance coinsage told him that he should outlive all his rela- cidence is immediately seized upon and noted, tives. This explanation suiting the Caliph bet- while the numerous cases in which the predicter, he gave this prophet his blessing and ten tion fails is passed over or neglected. Many thousand drachms of gold.

popular superstitions are undoubtedly attributaChaucer is very severe on dreamers and ble to this fallacy. dreams; and his contempt for both is effectively Sir Thomas Browne, a traveler and a physiset forth in the following lines, polished by the cian, author of that charming book, the “Religio masterly hand of Dryden:

Medici,” has some quaint and interesting remarks

on dreams, which he had best relate in his own “Dreams are but interludes which fancy makes: inimitable way, and which are by no means so When monarch reason sleeps, this mimic wakes ;

skeptical as those of Bacon. He says: “We are Compounds a medley of disjointed things,

somewhat more than ourselves in our sleeps, and A court of cobblers, and a mob of kings,

the slumber of the body seems to be but the Light fumes are merry, grosser fumes are sad :

waking of the soul. It is the ligation of sense, Both are the reasonable soul run mad;

but the liberty of reason; and our waking conAnd many monstrous forms in sleep we see, That neither were, or are, or e'er can be.

ceptions do not match the fancies of our sleep. In short, the farce of dreams is of a piece

I was born in the planetary hour of Saturn, and In chimeras all ; and more absurd or less."

I think I have a piece of that leaden planet in

me. I am in no way facetious, nor disposed for Shakespeare's frequent references to dreams the mirth and galliardise of company; yet in one will occur to the mind of every reader; and we dream I can compose a whole comedy, behold need only revert to that horrible vision of Clar- the action, apprehend the jests, and laugh myself ence in “ Richard III.,” the vivid imagery of awake at the conceits thereof. Were my memory which is enough to make the flesh creep as we as faithful as my reason is then fruitful, I would read it. It is interesting, too, as being one of never study but in my dreams. . . . Thus it is those dreams which are represented as “coming observed that men sometimes in the hour of true," and of which so many people, whose veraci- their departure do speak and reason above themty is unquestionable, can furnish examples within selves; for then the soul, beginning to be freed their own experience.

from the ligaments of the body, begins to reason Lord Bacon, in his essay on “Prophecies,” like herself, and to discourse in a strain above relates some curious instances of dreams, which, mortality.” In another part of the “Religio” he however, crumble to pieces under the application expresses his belief in the supernatural with great of his keen intellect. “The daughter of Polycra- fervor and point, and thinks those narrow-minded tes,” he relates, “dreamed that Jupiter bathed who refuse to grant that the soul in slumber may her father, and Apollo anointed him; and it hold converse with disembodied beings. “We came to pass that he was crucified in an open do surely,” he says, owe the knowledge of many place, where the sun made his body run with secrets to the discovery of good and bad angels sweat, and the rain washed it. . . . Domitian ... and the ominous prognostics which forerun dreamed, the night before he was slain, that a the ruin of states, princes, and private persons, golden head was growing out of the nape of are the charitable premonitions of good angels.” his neck; and, indeed, the succession that fol- He would much rather believe too much than too lowed him, for many years, made golden times.” little; and in this respect is the exact opposite of He looks upon Cleon's dream as a jest; for the cautious, suspicious, logical Bacon. Cleon dreamed that he was devoured by a long Coming nearer to our own times, we find Addragon, and it was expounded as referring to a dison, in his grave and elegant way, discoursing maker of sausages who troubled him greatly. on dreams. His opinions are always the results Bacon's judgment of dreams is closely identical of much observation and experience. He diswith that of Chaucer. He says, “They ought to cusses the subject philosophically, and propounds be despised, and to serve but for winter talk by several questions which can not fail to set his the fireside"; and he thinks the publication of readers reflecting, The cardinal point round

[ocr errors]

which his arguments center is that the soul is ab-' The other asserts that body and mind are insolutely distinct from the body, and that the latter separable, and can no more exist without each but clogs and cripples its marvelous activity. In other than a fire can without fuel, that mind is a dreams the soul has full play, being as free from peculiar organization and development of matter, the trammels of the body as if it had left it for an affair of blood and nerve, a conglomeration a while, and was disporting itself in utter forget- of nucleated corpuscles which for all the world fulness of its fleshly charge. If this be true, resemble infinitesimal tadpoles, bundles of fibers what must be the freedom and energy of the in which that mysterious phosphorus holds its disembodied state; and what may not a soul sway in company with untold electric batteries. develop and achieve when the millstone of the The development of thought is therefore the debody, with its pains, its ailments, and its imperfec- velopment of matter; ideas become embodied in tions, does not require its watchful care ! Then ganglia and cerebral hemispheres, and as these indeed may souls, now apparently sluggish and increase in number and weight the intellect inwitless, be lively and intelligent, “the grave creases in “wisdom and stature.” Whether abound in pleasantries, the dull in repartees and thought be identical with brain-substance and points of wit.” This is a characteristic of dreams part and parcel of its structure, or whether it which is supported by considerable evidence, and exist independently of matter, and use matter Dr. Abercrombie relates some singular instances only as its vehicle for communicating with a in confirmation of Addison's remark. Emotions, material world, we will not stay to inquire, besuch as joy and sorrow, are intensified in dreams, yond hazarding the opinion that the truth as and can not fail to have a great effect on the life. usual lies between the two, that the connection And so Addison asks these two questions, which, between them is as intimate as it is mysterious, with him, we leave to the solution of the reader. and that if one suffer both suffer. It is, howFirst : "Supposing a man always happy in his ever, an established fact that intellect, as a gendreams, and miserable in his waking thoughts, eral rule, is proportionate to weight of brain, and and that his life were equally divided between that, the more convoluted a brain is, the more them, whether would he be more happy or mis- intelligent is the being which possesses it. The erable?" Second: “Were a man a king in his average weight of the human brain, we are told, dreams and a beggar awake, and dreamed as is about forty-eight ounces; but there are great consequentially, and in as continued unbroken occasional variations, as we might expect from schemes, as he thinks when awake, whether he the great varieties of men. Lord Campbell's would be in reality a king or a beggar, or rather brain, for instance, weighed seventy-nine ounces, whether he would not be both?” Although Cuvier's sixty-four, Dr. Abercrombie's sixty-three, there can be no doubt of the independent action a Bushwoman's brain, mentioned by Mr. Marof the soul in dreams, and its increased powers, shall Hall, thirty-one and a half ounces, and that he thinks it a pernicious practice to lay stress and of an idiot woman, whose age was forty-two, regulate the future conduct on the mere evidence only ten ounces. The last-mentioned could of transient dreams, which may have no meaning scarcely walk, was just able to nurse a doll and beyond the present hour.

to say a few words. In the matter of convoluLeaving history, let us ask ourselves, What tion some qualification is necessary. Cuvier's is it to dream ? and what evidence have we of brain was rich in convolutions, but men of known the state of the mind and body in dreaming?” mental superiority have not been so distinguished Well, then, to dream, is to think during sleep. in this respect as some of their intellectual inIdeas and trains of thought follow one another feriors. A dog's brain, moreover, is less convoin quick succession, and in a manner over which luted than that of a sheep, though none would we have no control. And what is thought ? deny that a dog is far more intelligent than a This is the question which has distracted the sheep. minds of philosophers from the most ancient It therefore appears that, if the bodily mechantimes down to the present day. Broadly speak- ism goes wrong, the mind will be more or less ing, there are two important theories which have affected ; and the phenomena of dreams are to a been put forth with equal vigor by opposing rea- great extent referable to this principle. To seek soners. The first maintains that thought is in- out the physical disarrangement or discomfort tuitive, an affair of the mind, is totally indepen- is the first and most natural interpretation of dent of the body, and can exist and will exist dreams. But this physical explanation is often hereafter without it, that the body is a tempo- insufficient to account for the far-reaching powrary habitation for the soul, a casket containing a ers of the mind in sleep, though it may account precious jewel which must be yielded up at death, for the irritation which has started the dream. and that in dreaming the mind is “ fancy free" Then, again, it has been said that we are not and uncontrolled while its sluggish jailer is asleep. wholly asleep when we dream, and that in really

« הקודםהמשך »