Imatges de pÓgina

LETTER II. (To a Lady.)


Meine liebe Freundin,

See how natural the German comes from me, though I have not yet been six week in the country!--almost as fluently as English from my neighbour the Amptschreiber (or public secretary) who as often as we meet, though it should be half a dozen times in the same day, never fails to greet me with "** ddam your ploot unt eyes, my dearest Englander! thee goes it!"-which is certainly a proof of great generosity on his part, these words being his whole stock of English. I had, however, a better reason than the desire of displaying my proficiency for I wished to put you in good humour with a language, from the acquirement of which I have promised myself much edification and the means too of communicating a new pleasure to you and your sister, during our winter readings. And how can I do this better than by pointing out its gallant attention to the ladies? Our English affix, ess, is, I believe, confined either to words drived from the Latin, as actress, directress, &c. or from the French, as mistress, duchess, and the like. But the German, in, enables us to designate the sex

in every possible relation of life. Thus the Amptman's lady is the Frau Amptmanin-the secretary's wife (by the bye the handsomest woman I have yet seen in Germany) is Die allerliebste Frau Amptschreiberin—the colonel's lady, Die Frau Obristin or colonellin--and even the parson's wife, die frau pastorin. But I am especially pleased with their freundin, which, unlike the amica of the Romans, is seldom used but in its best and purest sense. Now, I know, it will be said, that a friend is already something more than a friend, when a man feels an anxiety to express to himself that this friend is a female; but this I deny-in that sense at least in which the objection will be made. I would hazard the impeachment of heresy, rather than abandon my belief that there is a sex in our souls as well as in their perishable garments; and he who does not feel it, never truly loved a sister-nay, is not capable even of loving a wife as she deserves to be loved, if she indeed be worthy of that holy name.

Now I know, my gentle friend, what you are murmuring to yourself-"This is so like him! running away after the first bubble, that chance has blown off from the surface of his fancy; when one is anxious to learn where he is and what he has seen." Well then! that I am settled at Ratzeburg, with my motives and the particulars of my journey hither,

will inform you. My first letter to him, with which doubtless he has edified your whole fireside, left me safely landed at Hamburg on the Elbe Stairs, at the Boom House. While standing on the stairs, I was amused by the contents of the passage boat which crosses the river once or twice a day from Hamburg to Haarburg. It was stowed close with all people of all nations, in all sorts of dresses; the men all with pipes in their mouths, and these pipes of all shapes and fancies-straight and wreathed, simple and complex, long and short, cane, clay, porcelain, wood, tin, silver, and ivory; most of them with silver chains and silver bole-covers. Pipes and boots are the first universal characteristic of the male Hamburgers that would strike the eye of a raw traveller. But I forget my promise of journalizing as much as possible.

-Therefore, Septr. 19th Afternoon. My companion who, you recollect, speaks the French language with unusual propriety, had formed a kind of confidential acquaintance with the emigrant, who appeared to be a man of sense, and whose manners were those of a perfect gentleman. He seemed about fifty or rather more. Whatever is unpleasant in French manners from excess in the degree, had been softened down by age or affliction; and all that is delightful in the kind, alacrity and delicacy in little attentions, &c. remained, and without bustle, gesti


culation, or disproportionate eagerness. His demeanour exhibited the minute philantrophy of a polished Frenchman, tempered by the sobriety of the English character disunited from its reserve. There is something strangely attractive in the character of a gentleman when you apply the word emphatically, and yet in that sense of the term which it is more easy to feel than to define. It neither includes the possession of high moral excellence, nor of necessity even the ornamental graces of manner. have now in my mind's eye a parson whose life would scarcely stand scrutiny even in the court of honour, much less in that of conscience; and his manners, if nicely observed, would of the two excite an idea of awkwardness rather than of elegance and yet every one who conversed with him felt and acknowledged the gentlemen. The secret of the matter, I believe to be thiswe feel the gentlemanly character present to us, whenever under all the circumstances of social intercourse, the trivial not less than the important, through the whole detail of his manners and deportment, and with the ease of a habit, a person shews respect to others in such a way, as at the same time implies in his own feelings an habitual and assured anticipation of reciprocal respect from them to himself. In short, the gentlemanly character arises out of the feeling of Equality acting, as a Habit, yet flexible to the

varieties of Rank, and modified without being disturbed or superseded by them. This description will perhaps explain to you the ground of one of your own remarks, as I was englishing to you the interesting dialogue concerning the causes of the corruption of eloquence. "What perfect gentlemen these old Romans must have been! I was impressed, I remember, with the same feeling at the time I was reading a translation of Cicero's philosophical dialogues and of his epistolary correspondence: while in Pliny's Letters I seemed to have a different feelinghe gave me the notion of a very fine gentleman." You uttered the words as if you had felt that the adjunct had injured the substance and the encreased degree altered the kind. Pliny was the courtier of an absolute monarch -Cicero an aristocratic republican. For this reason the character of gentleman, in the sense to which I have confined it, is frequent in England, rare in France, and found, where it is found, in age or the latest period of manhood while in Germany the character is almost unknown. But the proper antipode of a gentleman is to be sought for among the Anglo.American democrats.

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I owe this digression, as an act of justice, to this amiable Frenchman, and of humiliation for myself. For in a little controversy between us on the subject of French poetry, he made me feel Oo

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